Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Burning Desire Wound Up Burning Like The Fiery Pits of Hell

In my youth I was an avid sunbather.   From the time I was a tween I have memories of laying on a lounge chair in my back yard with baby oil smeared from top to bottom.  I don't ever remember burning in my younger days, but instead turning this beautiful Italian-like nut-brown.

But for some reason, as soon as I hit the teenage years my skin changed, going from my old Italian olive- tone to sickly looking sallow.  I don't know how or why this happened, but it's the God's honest truth.

This, of course, did not change my desire for nutty-toned skin, so each summer I would lay myself out like a lizard to soak up the rays.

Who the hell thought of wrinkles and skin cancer back then?  Certainly not I!

In May of 1985 my boyfriend, Matt, and I went to the beach, even though the temperature was only in the mid 70s.  It was our first taste of summer that year and we were grasping it wholeheartedly.  So what if he was a redhead and could burn on a stormy day?  I was ready for some rays and off we went on his moped, me with a Stephen King book in hand.

Me and Matt, 1986, his Junior Prom

Damn that book was good.

And geez, the weather was so cool and delicious.  No need to go in the water.

In fact, no need to ever flip over to my other side because hey, it was only May, it was cool out, no way was I going to burn.

Matt told me many times that he thought I was turning a little pink and should turn over.

But my book was so good, I didn't want to put it down.  And hey, it's only May.  I won't burn!

Four hours later, Matt got very insistent with me, that I either needed to turn over or we'd have to go.  I was no longer pink, but a mean, dark red.

So I flipped over.

Big mistake.


It immediately felt like I had laid my body down on a bed of hot coals.  I stood up quickly but holy shit, my skin now felt like Matt was holding a blow torch to my legs and back.

And back then, even my one-piece was quite skimpy so quite a bit of hiney was showing.  Previously very white hiney.

All I could think was, "Get me the hell out of this evil sunlight, NOW."

Let me tell you, sitting on a hot moped seat in this condition was not a good thing.  I've basically blanked out the entire drive to Matt's house, which is probably a good thing.

The next thing I remember is laying on my stomach on his bed, screaming and crying that my legs were on fire.  His mom standing over me not knowing what to do.  Finally, one of them had the idea to blow a fan directly on my legs.  Ahhhhhhh... that felt so damn good, but if someone even so much as stepped in front of the fan, blocking the air flow to my sizzling skin, I would once again scream and whimper.

Matt somehow got me home that day, where I proceeded to lay upon my bed, barely able to move for the next 3 days straight.  My mom had fans blowing on me constantly, and several times a day she would crack open an aloe leaf and spread that cool goodness all over me.  The pain of her touch was intense, but at least I got some temporary relief once she was done.

At one point, when Mom came in to spread the aloe, she said something like, "Justine, this isn't looking too good.  Your skin is turning purple and bubbling.

Purple???  Bubbling?  Like, little tiny bubbles?

Oh no, big, quarter-size bubbles.  That were purple.

It would be at this point that most parents would take their kid to the ER or something, but not my mom!  Nope, she'd just keep that aloe coming and I could just keep duck-walking to the bathroom because my skin was so tight I couldn't bend my legs.  I would eat laying down on my belly and just lay there being miserable.

After 3 days I would be forced to go to school for a few hours to take a final.

Standing up the entire time.

With gigantic, oozing bubbles on the back of my legs.

I won't even go into detail about what it was like when those bubbles started popping open.  I'll just tell you that there was wet skin flapping everywhere.

It was the worst burn I've ever seen a human being get from sunbathing, and if I sit here and really think about it, I can remember the pain like it was yesterday.

That was not my last bad burn, although, thank God, it was the last super bad burn.

I still rarely use sunscreen, but I also rarely lay out in the sun these days.

The best medicine for a major burn?  Definitely fresh aloe.

My best advice?  Don't lay out in the sun.  Or if you do, use sunscreen!

This post was inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, and the prompt:  "What was your medicine?  Write about a time you remember being ill." 

**Note to self:  Call dermatologist tomorrow and make appointment for a baseline examination.**

40 "Sister" Lovin' Friends Said:

  • Jill

    You poor thing. I am a whitey and I burn and fade any time I am in the sun. I use sunscreen all the time to help prevent this. I get pink in 10 minutes! Never had that kind of problem like you though (thankfully).


  • Gucci Mama

    I couldn't even really read this very well because I was so distracted by how amazingly hot you are. I LOVE that picture. Absolutely beautiful.

    Yes, Justine, I realize that was in 1984. So don't worry about reminding me. You're only more beautiful now.

    Love ya.

  • Jo

    I fell asleep on my honeymoon in June at a lake in AZ - no one wanted to wake me can you believe that - should've told me how the marriage was going to go - I ended up slathering in refrigerated Noxema and iced sheets it was awful - I couldn't even wear clothing - so I can sympathize - somewhere I never want to visit again

  • Melissa

    We went to adventure island this past sunday. As I sit here and read this my shoulders are a deep red and have blisters all over them. I put on tanning lotion instead of sunblock. I guess I thought my pasty white winter self would automatically tan golden brown!

  • Happy To Be/ Gl♥ria

    Oh Justine, I got that way when I was 11 and really thought so long as I was in the lake I would't get burned...bad idea I ended up in the hospital with sun second degree burns on my back and this day I don't do sun..Hey I'm a real red head and it don't like me...But guess what the Dr. just put me on vitamin D because of a lack of sun...never heard of such a thing...Glad to see you back my friend...Hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

  • Amy K.

    Wow, what a story! I winced when reading the entire second half. You must've wanted to die. But you learned something. Aloe. Lots of aloe. Oh yeah, and don't lay out in the sun without sunscreen. That helps too. Hehe! ;)

  • Sara's Sweet Surprise

    J~Wow, did this ever bring back memories of my tanning days in Southern CA. I remember coming home for summer from Utah to the dessert heat and sun. It's like your on a spigot in a rotisserie slowly turning until your charred. My favorite sun tan oil was Hawaiian tropic. I loved the smell so I'd bath myself in the stuff.
    Now ,I (bug) constantly remind Paul every summer to wear sunscreen cause he burns,but he doesn't
    Yea,I know. He really should be checked out since his mom had problems with melanoma.


  • myorii

    Oh, I feel for you. I can't imagine ever getting that badly burned but just the thought and the images going through my mind when reading your post made me whimper in pain. Yea, getting sunburned is a awful.

  • Shanda

    Oh, I've been there. Bubbling up is the worst! I'm shuddering in fear just thinking about it.

  • paige


    You're right - I'm a big fan of aloe. I have my own plants because I tend to burn myself while cooking.

    When my boyfriend and I went to Mexico the same thing (although not as bad) happened to him and there were aloe plants all over th grounds of the hotel. I went to fetch a few and rubbed them on him. He had never heard of such a thing and thought I was awesome.


  • squawmama

    Wow that was painful just reading about it... I felt like I was there with you! We are 4 days from entering Canada... I don't know if we'll have internet there because it would be double our cost to add Canada. We sre hoping to hit WI-FI hot spots. Keep an eye on our adventures but if we don't come visit you it's because we have no service.
    Love & HUGS

  • Dawna

    Hi there... I popped by from Mama Kat's and read your post, cringing all the way. I had a similar burn experience when I basked on the beach for the day (with my coconut oil slathered on my teenage body) and I fell asleep. No one woke me up until it was time to go. I am normally not one to burn but if I fall asleep in the sun for several hours then I come out looking like a red piece of bubble wrap. It was awful!!! I now use SPF 50 whenever I go out... definitely do not desire to relive that day.

  • Jennifer

    I tanned when I was younger too. Super easy. Now? If I'm out for more than fifteen minutes without sunscreen I'm burnt. And I still forget to put it on all the time.

  • KLZ

    Over from Mama Kat's.

    I can FEEL your words. Ouch, so ouchy.

  • Stef

    I did the same prompt, but you reminded me of when I was in high school. I had an all day out door sand volleyball tournament and I was burned so bad. Moving hurt, I felt like I was going to vomit all the time and there was no comfortabl position.
    You poor thing!!

  • Tootsie

    OUCH!!!!!! how awful! lucky you didn't scar!

  • Jeanette

    As someone who spent much of my youth fried crispy (and blistered) let me give you an empathetic OUCH!!! My skin hurts right now just thinking about it. Guess I'd better call the dermatologist too.

  • Putz

    i am here from gucci manmas and i once got a courtmartial, yes an article 15 courtmartial for getting a sunburn on fort ord beach in southern california>>>i was so miserable i couldn't report to work and to dock my pay they had to give me a court martial in the army

  • Charlene

    Oh my...that sounds familiar. I did the exact same thing, only I was laying in a lounge chair in my Husband's grandparent's yard soaking up the sun and reading. I was reading a killer book, loved it...but, same as you, four hours later when I finally went was aweful! If you have time check this out ( is what laying out that long did to me!!!

  • Tabby

    I was just cringing reading about that burn....ohhhh the pain! I myself have been a sun worshipper and have got my fair share of burns but nothing like that. I love being tan but for some reason as I have aged I cant stand sitting in the sun for hours on end unless I am near a pool or ocean.

  • Grand Pooba

    Holy Hell Justine! Why didn't you listen to that damn red head! LOL

    I have never ever heard of a sunburn THAT bad! I've had horrible sunburns that keep you up at night and all that but never any that turned purple and blistered!!!!!

    Oh man, I wish I was there to pop them blisters. Sadly, I was only 4 years old.


  • Life with Kaishon

    Justine! It hurts just to read this. OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! I am so glad you survived though. Phew!

    I used to get terrible sunburn too. I do remember laying on my cool sheets and not wanting to move for the life of me. If course I couldn't tan like me friends...

  • AndreaLeigh

    that is scary! have you been screened for skin cancer?! yikes!

  • Brianne

    OMG JUSTINE!! Just READING about it makes me hurt! Thank God you only got the one side of you. Can you imagine if it had been both sides? Good Lord...

  • Natalie

    Avid ex-sunbather that's been burned more times than I can count! I TOTALLY relate to this post...and the lobster color...and the blisters. Ugh!

  • The Queen

    EVERYONE should keep bag balm in your frig... sunburns.. go away almost overnight with cool bag balm.. and you get it at the vet so it does not cost an arm and a leg..

  • pegbur7

    You poor thing. I've lots of Irish in my background so I'm of the burn and peel set anyway. I REFLECT sunlight. I always wished I could tan and several times ended up with burns because I was determined to get a tan. I finally gave up!

  • pegbur7

    You poor thing. I've lots of Irish in my background so I'm of the burn and peel set anyway. I REFLECT sunlight. I always wished I could tan and several times ended up with burns because I was determined to get a tan. I finally gave up!

    Stopping by from Mama Kat's.

  • MaBunny

    OUCH! I had a bad sunburn once ,when we went to Hawaii. To me it wsn't that hot, and i had on a black suit, and all, yeah that was a good mix. I slept on my tummy for two days. I chose this prompt also:) Good for you to keep getting your skin checked.

  • If SHE can figure it out..........

    Just popping in from Mama Kat's - I am a redhead and I have felt your pain. many, many times - nobody ever used sunscreen when I was a kid and ESPECIALLY not my dad, who would take us out on the boat for hours at a time.....I'm sure there is some melanoma lurking somewhere just waiting for me.

  • Lo

    Stopping by from Mama Kat's. I'm very fair, and the 70s weren't known for their high SPF sunscreens, so EVERY SUMMER I would get quarter sized blisters on my shoulders. I can feel your pain - literally! People always say of my kids "Oh, they must just fry." To which I promptly respond "I wouldn't know - we use sunscreen!" :) Lo

  • Irritatingly Optimistic

    OOOOh that sounds nasty! Luckily I'm a blonde that tans quite well and have never been badly burnt - but I get so bored lying in the sun that I only do that for about 15 mins.
    I wonder if we can grow proper Aloe here? Like ours just comes out of a bottle.

  • Ginger

    Growing up in Southern Calif. I used to go to the beach all the time and like you, slathered on baby oil. If you added a little iodine to it, it really made you look cool.
    I still don't use sunscreen. Someday I am going to the dr. to have my skin checked!!
    Cute, cute picture of you

  • Mama Kat

    Now THAT sounds painful!! I wonder what they would have done for you in the ER... And I'm so glad your sexy boyfriend insisted on removing you from the sunshine. Too bad he didn't think of that like 2 hours prior.

  • wendy

    I was cringing the whole time reading this.
    I AM A BIG BELIEVER OF SUNSCREEN, especially on my face. It will help save on the wrinkles down the road girly.
    I remember when I was pregnant with my first and had a "similar" horrible sunburn on the back of my legs. I couldn't bend my legs either, so between not being able to bend my legs, and being prego fat and having to go to the bathroom......I was almost tempted to just wet myself.

    My 2nd husband was just diagnosed with a melanoma on his arm ande they had to dig a big hole in his arm to get it out -------SO BE CAREFUL.

  • woman:confused

    I cannot IMAGINE the pain of that. It sounds worse than the time when my kids called my brother "Uncle Lobster"!!

    On a side note - here's an award for being a fab blogger :)

  • NurseChessie

    so I just finally took a shower at 4pm after spending most of the day walking and sitting on the patio in the sun, and after my shower I put on my face cream, and it burned like hell.. and I thought... man I wish I could pull a leaf of aunt ginny's aloe plant. like, WTF? where did that thought come from? then I started thinking about how she used to give me some for my rashes as a kid. ahhhh. thats a thought of pure pleasure.. then I jumped online and read this. crazy.
    love ya

    btw.. I totally wanna go to the beach now!!

  • angie

    Holy Cow Justine. That is terrible. I'm a little sick to my stomach thinking about it..the pain...the Thank goodness you learned from that lesson, and how crazy that olive skinned, Italian you could get that fried!

  • Happy To Be/ Gl♥ria

    Justine are you ok girl...Hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

  • Jason, as himself

    This is HORRIBLE! The worst burn I ever got was on an overcast day on the beach, too. But not quite this bad!

    I really hope you don't get skin cancer.