An expat and her thin skin………………….

zzz2The worst thing for this blog writer to do is just sit around a house staring at a computer.  Especially when I live in Cozumel, my current idea of paradise that celebrates tropical beauty just about everywhere one looks.    But, that is what is required of me these days since it seems that I have developed, quite literally, a form of thin skin.  In other words, I have just moved back to sunny Mexico only to discover that I am now allergic to the sun.  How’s that for irony?

About a week ago I had visited a beach with a new acquaintance.  She and I had met through friends we have in common and when she invited me to go to Playa Palancar with her I was happy to oblige. I enjoy getting to know people and seldom will turn down an opportunity to make a new friend.  So, the next morning when she called for my address  I happily gave it to her and got ready to go.  Unfortunately, as it turned out, the excursion started out rocky.  I didn’t give her the right address.  For some reason I had the location of my landlord’s business in my head and she followed it quite correctly.  Even told me where she was when she called back.  Turns out I need lots of coffee in the mornings before giving out directions.  Problem resolved, a bit of laughter at my ineptitude and off we went.

For those of you who have been there, how great is that beach?  If you have never been there then let me just mention that the water is clear, the  food is good, the peacocks are fun, and the beach was clean and pretty.  And, yes, I said peacocks, but I don’t know why either.   Asking for their history would have spoiled it for me;  I’d rather just believe they’ve been here all along.   But, back to the story.

We weren’t there long, about an hour and a half, and I was certainly not concerned about overdoing it in the heat since I had plenty of water to drink and lots of water for swimming.  I was, however, lax in my attention to use sun block assuming, as I often have, that my own Mexican ancestors would protect me from something as trite as a sunburn.  And I was right, I did not get a burn.  But, two mornings later I woke up with shoulders and a neck that felt like someone was poking them with tiny needles.   The wretched little pygmies kept it up all day forcing me to head to the store for some baking soda.  It would turn out to be the one substance I should have stuck with for the duration.

The next morning I noticed a rash.  And not just any rash, this looked like a serious burn that might follow an incident with boiling water.  It was located on my shoulder, but I noticed that it seemed to be spreading both directions.  By that night I was in the emergency room, or the ” Urgencia” located on Calle 11 South (Sur) near the intersection with Avenida 20 South, complaining in Spanglish about the pain (dolor) and the itch (comezon).  They brought me in the back immediately.

The doctor was young, but they all look young to me these days.  He was quite patient with my attempts to speak in Spanish, but I am sure that if he knew more English he would have switched, they usually do.  A nurse cleaned the rash for me, he examined it again and prescribed Avapena and a creme.  He also recommended that I stay cool, dry, and, most importantly, out of the sun for a week.  To be honest, at that point I would have stood on my head in the middle of San Miguel if it would work.  With genuine humility I thanked him and left.   The visit cost me $110 pesos, or about $11.00 usd.  Now that’s affordable.

A few days later and the pills are working, but the creme did not seem to help.  Four cremes and $700 pesos later I sit here with a healing rash that is now covered in baking soda.  As I mentioned, it is the only substance that seems to work.   I’m such a sight that even my new dog is sitting across the room.   Admittedly, I am a bit disheartened, but it is easy to realize that there are plenty of things to do without baking in the sun.  However, during my hunt for the perfect creme I was able to find a zinc oxide product at Chedraui and you can be certain I will be wearing it whenever I leave the safety of my home.  In fact, there may be a large hat and some long sleeved cotton in my future as well.  I have finally become a member of that group that, in the past, were viewed by me as “overly cautious.”  No longer will I smile and shake my head at their prudent methods.   Seems they knew what they were doing after all………..Salud!

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Matt
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 22:18:12

    maybe this is what happened to me last November. I woke up one morning with red welt rashes in several spots on my stomach and chest. To this day a couple of them still have left darker areas on my skin. I never went to the doctor but should have. I’m 50 and this has never happened before.

    Reply

    • mexcelia
      Mar 28, 2012 @ 13:13:31

      Oh, I hope not, Matt, this is a painful little bugger. But, it did come about in stages, I didn’t just wake up with it. But, who knows? I keep playing doctor and it keeps failing, smiles……..thanks for reading

      Reply

  2. mary kay
    Mar 28, 2012 @ 00:08:48

    So sorry to hear about your lesson Mex.It seems the older we get new things that never bothered us before jump out and try to throw us off. I am glad you are on the mend.
    A month or so ago I had surgery for basal cell carcenoma on my face. As we will be there to live in a few weeks I have prepared myself by finding products that can help me in the sun and now choose to wear hats. Lessons learned but will not stop us from enjoying our island will it? I’ll keep in touch about that bike! beachgirl

    Reply

    • mexcelia
      Mar 28, 2012 @ 13:15:42

      We do seem to need a doctor’s license the older we get, yes? Hope that surgery was completely successful……….. I will keep an eye out for the other woman in the big hat on the beach, smiles

      Reply

  3. Gail
    Mar 31, 2012 @ 17:30:14

    sorry this happened to you. I am fair skinned and got a bad burn on my chest this past February while staying at the Coral Princess. I put sunscreen on but forgot to put some on my neck and chest. I was chatting with a nice lady at the pier for about ten minutes and I could feel the sun burning my skin.

    Palancar is our favorite beach club. It’s a bit of a drive but it’s nice and quiet. Take care now!

    Reply

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