Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Avoid direct sunlight

Warning: this post may contain traces of self pity

So after a couple of years of recurring skin infections, over the details of which we shall draw a delicate veil, I have been put on a three month long course of antibiotics to see if we can clear up the problem. As usual the leaflet accompanying these pills is thoroughly terrifying, though comfortingly death isn't listed as a side effect, which I have seen before, so that's a start. However, aside from the stern instruction to drink a full glass of water when taking this pill (why? is it that bad for the insides? And what exactly is a glass of water - how big?), the instruction that has thrown me the most is "Avoid direct sunlight".

This is written on the pharmacist's label on the box and repeated inside and given it is now May and that the three months will then take in June and July, dismays me considerably. You see, until a couple of years ago any sort of warm weather would leave me limper than last week's lettuce, trying not to move and seeking out coolness where soever it could be found. However, bizarrely at the start of the winter a couple of years ago I suddenly discovered that I could not get warm, a problem that has continued subsequently, to the point where the woolly sock and fingerless glove season now stretches from September to May, with the summer months only offering temporary respite. Great news for opportunities to knit, but not so good for pain levels or comfort.

Conversely now I find that not only can I tolerate really quite warm weather, I even enjoy it, soaking up sunlight and warmth like a salamander or lizard, loving the feeling of relaxed comfort it brings to my muscles and joints after the painful cold of the winter. I have loved the sunlight of the last month, sitting out when I can and letting the heat soak into me, while being careful to avoid sunburn and skin damage. Sunlight has become one of the simple pleasures of my life, even in winter when I enjoy it streaming onto the sofa in the bay window.

Now it seems that this pleasure too is gone and I have to admit to feeling sad. In fact I have felt sad all day, ever since reading this pronouncement, even the purchase of a new covering up linen/cotton blend cardigan from Boden in an eye-wateringly bright turquoise has done little to alleviate my sadness. Yes, this is self pity: I admit it. However, it is also yet another adjustment to new conditions, yet another loss to mourn, albeit hopefully only temporarily. There are things I can do to ameliorate this situation - linen long sleeved tops, high factor sun cream, discovering what exactly avoiding direct sunlight means, shady hats, pretending I am a high status ancient Greek lady using my paleness to advertise my wealth and freedom from having to perform outdoor work in the sun. (I was scraping the barrel rather with that last one I know). But it will reduce the amount of time I can spend in the garden, a much needed haven, since sitting in the direct sun has been the only way to stay warm enough while sitting outside; in the shade certainly so far this year I have often felt too cold. It feels at this moment like the one time of the year when each day is not just about staying warm and trying to get through the day, the time of year when I have a slight chance of living a little, has been taken away too and I'm left with nothing to make up for the misery of winter. Melodramatic maybe, but it's how it feels.

So I will try to adjust and hope and pray that I escape the side effects of this medication and that it works to solve the problem in hand. I will try to remember that in the context of the suffering going on all over the world at this moment this is nothing. And of course I shall seek Jesus, who is as good, patient and kind as when I got up this morning, who has not changed and who ultimately offers true hope that things will get better, sometime.


  1. is there anyway that you could postpone the antibiotics? seems such a shame that the time of year that you enjoy most will be spent in the shade. xxx

  2. Under the circumstances I think self pity is justified!

    Em makes a good point but I'm assuming that's not possible or you'd have chosen that option. I really do feel for you because I always look forward to summer warmth and light and having to hide away from it sounds like cruel and unusual punishment to me.

    Sending you hugs.