Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Cool Way to Staying Hot

In the heat it can be hard being a loopy. This year I found a better way of being...

As I said before, my efforts in the past to protect myself from the sun have been somewhat half-hearted. I realise this was probably due to a vain desire to turn from a ‘pasty Londoner’ into a lovely ‘honey-brown babe’ (well you can but dream!) and a misguided belief that the sun didn’t affect my lupus much.

I guess some things you have to learn for yourself - the hard way. Looking back, the reality of too much sun exposure for me has not only been a complete disaster in terms of my vanity (!), but also detrimental to my health. A deep crimson ‘moustache’ rash (visible in one of my pictures) that lasted in excess of six months after the holiday in question (that only disappeared when I was given very serious treatment in hospital when my general condition had become dangerous – potentially all caused by the same holiday), a long lasting brown blotch on my forehead that looked like an expansive country sprawling across a globe, itchy rashes on my body and a gelatinous lump on my eyeball – enough to make you squirm - are all some of the delightfully visible physical signs I have had when I’ve had to too much sun. Not exactly the ‘beach babe’ look then! Other non-visible symptoms include headaches and lupus fatigue.

The entertaining picture at the top is an example of just how unglamorous my attempts to catch a few rays ultimately became. On a holiday in Sardina a few years ago, after too much sun, no hat and no sun umbrella, on a beach with no shade and with a terrible headache Tony ended up lending me his t-shirt, wrapping me in a sarong and using an umbrella to shade my head. As you will, see I ended up more like a beach tramp than a beach babe!

I was therefore rather pleased with the more effective way I managed the sun this year. Firstly, we consciously decided to book our summer holiday (to Umbria in Italy) in late spring to avoid the truly scorching weather – although I have to say it was still hotter than we were expecting. Like most women I still hoped to look nice while I was there and even better when I got back. To address this I did a few things that worked very well.

1. As I often feel a bit ridiculous and decidedly un-‘continental’ under functional oversized hats and sunglasses, this year I put a bit of effort into developing a more stylish hat / sunglasses combo– so while I was protected from the sun I also felt stylish (or at least not like a complete idiot!)

2. AND most importantly I developed a routine that meant I still managed to return from holiday with a nice sun-kissed look! I achieved this by following every morning application of high-factor sun cream with a layer of fake tan. Just as a natural tan does, the fake tan seemed to build up over the time we were away. Although I admit it did require a fair bit of effort, it didn’t seem to matter because we were on holiday and so I had more time and inclination. It meant I returned with a holiday glow that looked as if I’d done hours of dedicated sunbathing without having to go to all the effort (and if the truth be known I’d far rather be snoozing in the shade or reading a good novel or magazine anyway – after all, the sun is so uncomfortable)

3. Another useful thing I did was to take siestas during the day at the same time as the locals to avoid the hottest part of the day and I found beautiful trees to sit under, so I could still enjoy being in the sun without the problems.

I’ve come to rely on a few reliable products that I’ll recommend in case you want to give them a go:
1. Clinique Super City Sunblock SPF 40 – a permanent fixture in my handbag
2. Soltan Mini Spray SPF 50 – I find this great because it’s small enough to carry around and because it’s a spray you can put it on ‘hard-to-reach’ places for yourself (from Boots)
3. A lip balm with sun block – I admit I forgot my lips this year and burnt them (I learnt not to forget eyelids last year, behind the ears the year before!), so have started using Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick SPF 15 that my Mum bought for me which seems pretty good
4. Sunglasses with UK protection (to protect your eyes and avoid the ‘gelatinous’ eye thing)
5. Hats, hats and hats and caps – to go with any outfit – ‘Accessorizes’ has a good selection

Please let me know if there is anything else I should be onto or doing...

(By the way, if your lupus is flaring I’d recommend staying out of the sun entirely if at all possible and keeping yourself as cool as you can. From my experience, even just the heat makes you feel more unwell than ever and I know other loopies have said the same)


Manic Mom said...

We do a camping trip in Malibu every year. I have 2 umbrallas, pickled with lotion & dressed like it's fall, it's a sight. But, I was therewith my family so I was happy. Warm, but happy!

Mizee said...

hi! somehow i stumbled across your blog, and it is now a beam of light in my day. i have lupus too, and for everything you say, i can just nod my head. it's so nice to hear someone else say the things i had been thinking, or describe the way flares make me feel. anyway, thanks so much for your words!

Daisy Seale-Barnes said...

Hey Mizee - I am delighted to have brought some light to your day and your saying so, has brought some light to mine ... so thanks.

It's good to hear that I am not alone in my experiences. Hope you are getting some ideas and managing to find a good way of getting by.

Keep 'tuning in' - it's nice to have you here.


Anonymous said...

This is such an excellent blog - I'm still pre-diagnosis (although my doctor is sure that it's at least a CTD) and this seems to apply to me too. I feel like writing down your tips and carrying them around with me everyday...

Thank you - and congratulations on your new baby!

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