Lessons from the Sun

How sun poisoning taught me more than a vacation.


How can a vacation go wrong? Is it all fate or did I make a huge mistake? Have you ever ruined a great time for yourself? If you know me personally you know I enjoy myself when I can but have only taken a handful of week-long vacations in the last 6 years. I’ve gotten time off via great employers but you will usually find me doing something productive. Well I finally went on vacation…with somewhat mixed results.

Recently I was able to go with some family members on a cruise. It goes without saying that it was great to get away and spend some time alone, as well as with family. I also have zero complaints overall when it comes to the experience. My only mistake? Forgetting that my body spends most of the time indoors…in Michigan…with pants on.

My view from the beach.

My view from the beach, I had no idea it would be such a lesson.

It was really quite enjoyable. I sat around with my shirt off, donning shorts and sunglasses, sipping beer and snapping pictures of the surf and the seagulls. After returning to the ship I took a shower and a nap, hoping to wake up and enjoy myself some more. So how did that go wrong?

I once had three wisdom teeth removed at once, while awake, and can confidently say this was not only 100x worse pain but in ways humans should never know.

When I woke up I couldn’t walk. After waking up, the next morning actually, I put my feet on the ground and stood only to feel the most immense pain I have ever experienced in my life. My shins and inner calves had been for lack of a better term: cooked. I once had three wisdom teeth removed at once, while awake, and can confidently say this was not only 100x worse pain but in ways humans should never know. I lost a whole day having to lay in bed: with swollen, sensitive legs and an upper body that was slowly readying itself to rebel against me.

My entire upper body was and is peeling in total rebellion. From love-handles toΒ  shoulders, my back and my biceps, all is in a state of peeling. Even days later. Among this basic peeling, most of which actually doesn’t hurt but is just weird, a few real blisters formed. The worst of which is dead center of my chest. Almost like a piece of exposed flesh, any rubbing or air current over this area brings up such horror and terror only discussed in a HP Lovecraft or Poe story. Not. Good.

I woke up and thought I was going to die. When I woke up that next morning, after struggling to stand and get to the restroom, I was flooded with sickness. I started to sweat, got weak vision and the sound of the room around me was muffled almost to silence. All of this on top of feeling like a bookie had smashed my legs in an attempt to get some money they were owed. I somehow managed to make my way to my bed, lay back and pass out quite literally. All the while thinking “Oh, this might be it”. That definitely ranks high on my list of this-could-be-the-end experiences.

Pain makes you think long and hard about things. And think I did! Not only about the mistake I had made but about many other things. I started to remember that only in some levels of suffering or persevering can certain subjects be thought of in their most realistic senses. In this way I was actually able to contemplate more intense subjects that I could have with a drink in my hand, throwing all care overboard. Yes that was a pun. As I lay there I actually did listen to some HP Lovecraft audio-books and read parts of books on my Kindle. Most of these ranging from philosophy, old samurai writings and spiritual teachings of all sorts. The combination of these things had an impact I am still fully sorting in my mind. Luckily by the next night I was able at least to stand and walk around, enjoying myself with jeans on, inside the air conditioned ship!

So here I am almost a week after the cruise has ended. My shins are still quite sensitive and swollen, but overall they are getting better. My upper body? Let’s just say I feel like a snake that is shedding to reach it’s next level of life. In some ways the lesson of preparedness, forgetfulness and justified self-preservation I have learned ARE that next level. I never thought a wrench in my plans could teach me so much. I was left with pain but also a lot to think about. Luckily the cruise line had strong drinks and indoor seating!