Sunday, July 8, 2012

Left my skin in Venice

Come on. You know the tune. Give it the old Tony Bennett treatment. :)

The week before I went to Italy for 9 days (10, when you find out what Heathrow did to us!) I went with my brother and nephew to Hilton Head, South Carolina. Ah, it was lovely. I used sunscreen.

I didn't use enough sunscreen. Mistake number 1.

I fell asleep on the beach, and nobody sitting right next to me thought to wake me up so I could flip over to my front. Mistake number 2.

I didn't wash off the salt when we left the beach. Mistake number 3.

I felt a little bit sunburned, yes. But no more than any other day of summer sun exposure. Just tired. So tired I didn't take a shower when we got back to our aunt and uncle's house. Mistake number 4.

Boy, those booboos just keep a'pilin up, don't they? I don't live near a beach, so cut me some slack for my ignorance.

The next day I needed some Solarcaine spray because my sunburn was in the most inaccessible part of my back between my shoulder blades. Well, we got busy and I couldn't get any until later in the day. The skin on my back was a little stingy, tight, and warm, but my face just looked a little sun-kissed in normal light. Under halogen lights, I looked like I had escaped from demons.

So I sprayed myself, and that moisturized and cooled the burn, which was beginning to heat up. Later that night, the sun poisoning hit. I wasn't nauseated, but I had a flash-fever and a nasty headache for days afterward.

When I got back home, the blisters came up in a palm-sized area right where I couldn't reach it. When one broke and oozed, it caused maddening itching. I didn't realize how bad the blisters were until I scratched and tore the skin myself.

Oops. I thought it was just sunburn itch. The more it itched, the more I was compelled to scratch, even though I knew NOT to scratch or break the blisters. I felt possessed and absolutely insane.

Later that night someone verified for me that my back was now an open wound, and still producing new blisters, each filled with my own itching blood serum. Apparently this is what caused an allergic rash on my chest, to add insult to injury. I've had that rash once before with an immune system flipout.

Not much I could do. Solarcaine says NOT to use it on open wounds... Or blistered areas. So much for a little first aid. Second degree sunburn and my only options were Tylenol and aloe Vera gel that I couldn't exactly spray on myself....

Wait a minute... Who says I can't make it into a spray???

I researched that tea tree and lavender essential oils (diluted!!!) are good for sunburn. Tea tree is an antibacterial, and it always speeds up my healing. Lavender is soothing and the smell chills out the medicinal odor of the tea tree. So off to the local health food store I went. Lavender and tea tree, plus some old fashioned ginger beer and sparkling apple cider ale, just to cheer me up.

1 1/2 ounces of water
10 drops tea tree oil
10 drops lavender oil
As much aloe as I could keep dissolved thinly in water
Pour into small spray bottle and shake until aloe is dissolved.

Spray and feel immediate relief from the godforsaken ITCHING!!!!

Still, the next day it was raw and oozing because new blisters were still coming up, and I got my dad to put Neosporin on it for me. He sent me off on my travels with a long-blade plastic spatula so that I could reach the right spot. Ahhh.

On my first flight, I napped. And woke up to the sensation of thick liquid dripping down my back. Yep. Increased pressure in-flight ruptured the blisters. Fortunately, I was ashamed of the possibility giving away my embarrassing situation, so I had opened a large gauze pad to wear like a cape under my shirt, attached at the shoulders with fabric bandaids. Lol.

I'm not sure if it was funny, creepy, or just downright pathetic. But I didn't want other people to see my blood components soaking my shirt.

A whole day later I got to take a shower. Eww. Neo and bandage, repeat.

The next day we were in Venice and the tightness of my back was causing worse itching. I reached back to gingerly scratch near the area, hoping for some relief by association, and came back with a piece of.... Um, shed skin the size of my thumb.

At this point the only thing I could do about the itching was to try and rub my shoulder blades together. That hastened my molting and I dropped rather large sections of my greenish (the aloe did that), yellowish (plasma is yellowish), scabby (not really, but it was several layers of skin I lost cemented together) old skin all over Venice. Fascinating, but disgusting, painful, humiliating and frightening.

Parts of me in St. Mark's Square, on the Bridge of Sighs, and the Rialto Bridge. It ain't the Trevi Fountain, but I wonder if that might not be the Venetian equivalent. LOL

Yeah, I know it's gross. So take it from me.... Wear sunblock!! Get a long plastic spatula to put it on, or by golly, you'll need one for the Neosporin!

It took a full seven days to regenerate my skin, and several more before the remaining skin smoothed back out to normal unpebbled epidermis. I was indeed afraid it might have scarred that way.

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