Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How My Stupid Skin is Making Me Healthier

I am pale.  Ghastly.  Usually by this point in the summer, I have applied enough self tanner to get a relatively nice glow on, something that, while not permanent at all, would at least be maintainable.  But not now.  I am the color of a sheet.

And why, you ask?  Oh, because my skin decided to declare war on me.  Fucking skin.

I have always had relatively sensitive skin.  My mom can still rattle off a list of things that broke me out as a small child (most notably heartbreaking of which was Mr. Bubble bubble bath which was the stuff rose colored dreams are made of), and I've never been one for heavy fragrances or scented products at all.   Well, except for the time that I decided--DAMN THE TORPEDOES!--that I would wear Bath and Body Works Sun Ripened Raspberry in all of its manifestations at one time.  I think I was about 14.  Around the same time, I also found out that I am HIGHLY allergic to all Origins products because they have some kind of fruit acid in them that turns me into Lobster Boy.  College was marked by my discovery that I am insanely allergic to Tide, and couldn't even use a washing machine after someone had used Tide powder in it, as the residue was enough to cause a week of misery.  ANYWAY, I use Almay Skin Relief Body Wash and coconut body butter and during the summer, I use self-tanner.  And none of this has ever given me a problem.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I planned a little getaway for ourselves.  We got a hotel room with a whirlpool, bought some champagne and ahem, some stuff, and worked out plans with my mother in law so that she could watch the kids.  In preparation, I went ahead and bought a box of L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Tanning Towelettes, and decided to do the ole double dip where I used my gradual tanner as lotion and then added the extra oomph of the tanning towels.  I used them a couple of times in pretty quick succession.  Yeah, it smelled.  Matt complained about it, as he always does when I use self tanner.  But ultimately, I guess he decided not to say too much because he didn't want to dare come between a girl and her horrible body image.

But then I woke up with hives down both of my arms.  At first, it was mostly confined to my upper arms, but by the time I got to work, it had spread down to my inner elbows and there was a patch on my right ankle.  All of these little TAN bumps running down my arms, all these little TAN bumps that itched like crazy.  I scratched and scratched.  Matt begged me to go to the doctor, but I decided against it because it was a rash that I've had multiple times before--I'm not new to this go-round.  I layered Eucerin calming cream over it, and a little bit of calamine lotion.  Still.  It itched.  Actually, that's not giving you an appropriate feeling of what it was like...hmmm...GOOD GRAVY IT WAS LIKE A MILLION FIRE ANTS BITING ME...GAHHH.

We went on our trip.  I brought my gradual tanning lotion with me, but Matt begged me not to use it, and since I was feeling romantical, I relented.  That and the fact that all of the scratching had made my skin start peeling so the tan was coming off in sheets.  ATTRACTIVE.  My upper arms looked like I had some kind of horrible skin disease where I was literally molting.  I wore a cardigan over my dress when we went out to dinner and called it a day.  Love is blind, ya'll.

Still, the itching did not totally go away, despite getting some better.  We washed our sheets several times, thinking that it was something there because it always seemed worse in the mornings.  I started confronting facts that I was either allergic to self-tanner or chocolate, and to be honest, I couldn't imagine a day without either one.  I sulked.  A lot.  Matt stayed on me though about laying off the tanner until we figured out what it was.  And then one night, after dulling myself with Benadryl and going to bed, only to wake up at 4:00 a.m.  with my mind racing, I realized that it was my robe.  My fluffy robe hadn't been laundered since I broke out and was the thing I put on directly after tanning.  If anything was coated in it, it would be the robe.  I washed the robe in hot water, hoping that was not really it, but within a day, it was over.

So, somehow, someway, I am allergic to that particular cocktail of self-tanner.  Which means that that very day, I was on the internet, looking at Kiehl's Tanner, which MUST be better for me, RIGHT?!?!

I have refrained though.  My legs are horrible, yes, but the stuff really does smell and is it worth putting Matt through all that?  Is it worth the obvious streaks that appear sometimes despite my best intentions?  Maybe not.  It is not the paleness that I abhor so much, it is just that I think the tan makes my legs look thinner.  And does it really?  Or is it all in my head?  And is it worth breaking out in hives for something that very well could be all in my head?

So on Monday I went running.  And then again this morning.  Running is the goddamn worst, and I don't care if you love it.  It's horrible.  But it works, and it is free, and if you play it right, you get to listen to good music while you're doing it.  So I'm back on that horse.  I am doing C25K again, because it has seriously been that freaking long, and I was surprised that it wasn't totally horrible this morning.  Ok, yeah, it was horrible.  But not as horrible as it could have been.  It was just mildly torturous, not "MY FACE IS GETTING EATEN OFF BY A CANNIBAL" torturous.  I gave myself a little victory hop when it was over before I remembered that GOD I FUCKING HATE RUNNING.

I am not totally back on WW, but I'm trying to be mindful while eating.  I'm trying to convince myself that there is no moderation in eating only vegetables for lunch.  I want to be healthy, I really do, so I am trying.  Did I eat a bowl of the celebratory dirt cake I made for my kids last night?  Damn right I did.  But today is a new day and the blueberries I had this morning were damn good.  And it is Berry Almond Chicken Salad time at Wendy's!  FUCK YEAH BERRY ALMOND CHICKEN SALAD.

I am a work in progress.  A pale, fluffy work in progress.  But maybe it'll stick this time.


  1. I have given up on having any sort of glow. I am a pasty white with a twinge of blue and green. I feel too old to chance a streak or rash. This is Year 2 of dontcurr and now I've gotten used to it. That is until I get old lady legs...

  2. YES. The minute I start getting old lady legs, it's back on like Donkey Kong. Hives or no hives.

    I love your "Year 2 of dontcurr." Dontcurr is mine and Gabby's fave internet meme. We say we are getting airbrushed "dontcurr" t-shirts while on vacation this year.

  3. Late to the party here...this summer's been crazy and I can JUST NOW catch up with all my blogs...

    Anywho, add me to the pale club. I'm just lazy. I can admit it. And even when I get old lady legs, I probably will care even less then. I suppose I am on Year 4 of dontcurr, if we want to get right down to it...