Seperis (seperis) wrote,

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how escalation happens

So lets start with the end of the story: according to the labs from my doctor's appointment on Thursday, I am very vitamin D deficient. The helpful and deeply ominous chart showed a range, with 30 to 100 being good, with an alarming legend explaining the following:

Optimal: >=30 ng/ML
Insufficient: 20-29 ng/ML
Deficient: <20 ng/ML

My number? Nine. Yeah.

So I am constantly suspicious of my thyroid since its inexplicable and unjustifiable breakdown circa 2008. Anything goes wrong, I blame it. Probably the last year and a half, I've been noticing some tiredness (THYROID BULLSHIT) but it really took off around August/September, though at this point I can't be sure about the timelin. Anyway, I went to the doctor to get a check on my meds and my thyroid, fully prepared to hear the fucker had acquired knives and was cutting up some important glands at this point, it does this shit. However, all my labs are fine there--great even--which could be it being tricky, like Loki (wouldn't surprise me) but as it turns out, is not the case. It's Vitamin D, which yeah, is something of a problem, so I am on weekly supplements for the foreseeable future with a three month check in.

So being a white woman whose coloring might be described as 'translucent' or 'post-mortem but pre-rictus', who walks to and from work about half a mile every day and plays Pokemon Go and goes outside to vape every day at work--again, in Texas, where there is nothing but sun--that honestly shouldn't be possible. I am getting at least forty-five minutes to an hour of pure, unfiltered, unforgiving sunlight from a merciless Texas sun daily and average at least an hour of indirect sunlight sitting outside and I eat healthily because I like to have groceries delivered and whole foods makes me do that. This is fairly recent: how?

I can tell you exactly how this happened: trying to live my best skin care, cancer-free life. My bad.

Here's the timeline:

In my twenties, I got much more into avoiding the sun because of the risk of skin cancer (my great-grandfather on my mom's mom's side) and also, vanity; this was the late nineties/early 00s, and that's when got the internet, so much news about the dangers of sunbathing, and also, all the adults I knew when I was a child and who tanned a lot were hitting forty-fifty and well, yeah. To be fair, I also have excoriation disorder, so hiding the scarring and recent--activities--on my upper arms was also a thing. So I mostly wore a lot of long-sleeve tops or in summer, elbow length, or sleeveless with light cardigan or something and sunscreened like crazy when at the beach, avoided mid day, all reasonable and laissez-faire as well. I got sun, is what I'm saying, just a lot less. kind of escalated.

You see, once you hit this level of pigmentless skin, you burn like super fast and it hurts like hell. I was in track and field in high school and cross country, I spent a lot of time outside, got sunburns, but when you're reasonably tanned from normal exposure, it may hurt and peel, but that's like, a day or two, and ti's pretty much aloe vera and whatever unless it's pretty bad.

By my late twenties, I'd not only burn in under fifteen minutes, it would blister, welt, and it felt like someone branded me and would last for days. Also can't lie, I lost my tolerance for sunburns. On the upside, since 2003, I've only had three sunburns, and here's a history of the last two and also a history of escalation.

Circa mid-00s I went on a cruise to the Bahamas with other fangirls and got a sunburn on the top on my right thigh (not left, oddly) on the way back to port because I went outside, in shorts, during daylight, and did my sunscreening after the shorts were on because--wait for it--I forgot to do that first. It hurt like hell, it looked horrifying, there was blistering, and I haven't bought a pair of shorts since but transitioned to long, light wrap skirts that provide coverage but also you can sunscreen after putting them on

The last time I got a sunburn was circa 2014, and I can even tell you where--a one inch wide, three to four inch long strip on my right shoulder under the strap of my sensible bathing suit top, where somehow, I missed sunscreening because the strap covered the skin and I didn't move it and I still don't know how that happened. This wouldn't have been a problem: yes, I was out at three (my family was baffled by this development) but I wanted to spend quality time with my nieces and nephew. It was fine: i had my skirt and a long-sleeve light summer top.

Then. Then I went swimming for fifteen minutes at three o'clock with my nieces at the pool. Do you know why I know that so specifically? THAT WAS THE ONLY TIME I WAS OUTSIDE WHEN THE SUN WAS WITHOUT MY LONG SLEEVE BEACH TOP AND WRAP SKIRT. I took them off--I TOOK THEM OFF. VOLUNTARILY--like a crazy person because with my nieces and nephew in the pool, I didn't want to risk being hampered by loose clothing in the water in case of emergency. And for my sins, a bright red line on my pre-corpse-colored shoulder before I even got out of the pool that turned into a line of hideously painful blisters and some gross but super fun peeling which was not worth it but you take consolation where you have it. The only pool I've been in since was indoors with [profile] nora_bombay at Escapade at like, eleven at night. Yeah.

This probably would have been fine overall, except about four-five years ago, my mother went to the doctor, there was a completely nondescript spot on her hand that wasn't even a worry except in an excess of caution, the doctor did testing and to literally everyone's shock, it was cancer. It was caught early, didn't spread, no worries, but you can see what happened next.

In reaction, I managed in sheer panic to make and stick to a skin care routine and--I cannot emphasize this enough, habits are very hard for me to form, even reasonable ones like eating regularly, without outside influence (aka my parents). How this happened was to put the sunscreen moisturizer by my toothbrush but in front of the brush so I'd knock it over when reaching for it while sleep deprived in the morning. I may forget to brush my teeth but on't leave without my face, neck, and upper chest are slathered down in SPF-35.

(This is the reason my bathroom sink is a hellscape, and not just because the bathroom has literally no storage; if I need it regularly, even if it's just weekly, it has to be in my line of sight on the sink or I will forget it for literal years. My gummy vitamins were moved two feet onto the open metal over the toilet storage unit and so were my tweezers. Not hidden at all, but it was a full year before I remembered they existed and that was only when I found them again doing something not unlike cleaning (if you're very generous in definition) and it took me some time to realize those gummy vitamins were mine and I'd been taking them for a year before their two foot move. Yeah.)

Also in reaction, I bought about half a dozen cardigans in multiple colors, all light fabric, to match anything sleeveless or short sleeve that I owned, and if I'm not wearing long sleeves, I don't go anywhere outside without one. And when at the beach, I combine 'all the sunscreen, every two hours' with 'refusing to go outside during daylight hours' except like, a covered, shady porch, and I still wear a light cardigan and wrap skirt. In November I went to the beach with some friends, and--yeah, layers and jeans, or wrap skirt and top in the condo, beach at night.

So using this data, it's likely that my skin hasn't actually been regularly exposed to sun in roughly five years, and in the last three years, living in an apartment with only three windows and a glass porch door, none of which ever get direct sunlight combined with summer layering--well, I can see how this happened.

Looking up Vitamin D deficiency, boy does that explain a lot.

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Tags: jenn's life
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