Monday, November 28, 2011

The Hawaii Burn (or "Vacation Euphoria" Part 1)

Why is it so easy to believe we are invincible while we are on vacation? Perhaps this is a problem unique to me but it's one of the reasons Mr. R. goes into cold sweats when I plan a big trip. Another reason is his disdain for the "undressing drama" we must endure for airport security these days--but that's another story.

My first big foray into Vacation Euphoria was my first trip to Hawaii. I've wanted to go to Hawaii for as long as I can remember. I pictured myself riding the waves on a surfboard and swimming with dolphins--and nothing less would suffice. We hadn't been at our hotel for more than twelve hours before I had booked surfing lessons for Mr. R. and me and reserved my spot at Dolphin Quest on Oahu.

At the surf school, we watched the demonstration, chose our boards, and lathered up with sunscreen. Now, although I'm not what you would call "sporty", I've danced since I was four years old and I'm also a fair snowboarder. In my heightened sense of adventure, as the moment of riding those waves drew near, I decided I didn't need sunscreen on the backs of my legs. I thought, "I'm fairly coordinated. I can handle a snowboard and I have good balance, so I'll be standing on the board most of the time."

As a college graduate, you'd think I'd remember something about the reflection of UV rays on water, It also didn't occur to me for a minute that, if I rode the waves back to the shore, I'd have to paddle back out. On my stomach. With the backs of my pasty white legs to the sky.

I got out on those waves and I didn't do too bad. I got up, stayed up, and rode the waves back to shore over and over again. I loved every minute of it. Except for the minute I wiped out, rolled in the water as my instructor told me, and sliced the back of my knee on the vicious coral of Waikiki. Pain? Naaah. I'm on vacation. A little bleeding across the back of my leg? So what? I'm on VACATION!! Get back on that board and paddle out to sea for another wave!! WOOHOO!!

On the way back to the hotel, I remembered something I'd read about coral microbiology and I thought, "I should probably apply Neosporin and a Band-Aid to that wound on the back of my knee." And I did. And Mr. R. and I went to lunch. A big, long, expensive vacation lunch.

Around the time the entrees arrived at the table, I sensed a strange pulsing in my lower legs as though my veins wanted out of my body. "My legs feel hot," I told Mr. R. "I think I may have a sunburn." Then the snapping and popping started and I had to get out of my seat and walk around. "It feels like someone's snapping my skin with rubber bands!"
Oh, something was snapping alright. Little capillaries in my deep purple, sunburned legs. And that Band-Aid I'd applied? Melted. Melted by the heat of my sunburn and permanently adhered to my skin--that is, until I panicked that nothing I tried would get it off and I yanked it off, skin and all.

I'm on vacation. 

And don't think I didn't still go swim with those dolphins with a Band-Aid-sized chunk of skin missing off the back of my knee. I hardly even noticed the stinging. 

I had the best time in Hawaii. But I paid for it on the long flight home with my leg elevated and with an emergency visit to the dermatologist for an antibiotic shot. Now, whenever Mr. R. catches me about to plunge headfirst into an adventure without thinking it through, we look at each other and ask, "Is this another Band-Aid?"

1 comment:

  1. Ouch! I can so relate to this post. I remember sitting on one of the front rows of Les Mis and feeling the blisters on my sunburned shoulders start popping. My dress fused to the oozing pus and I felt real pain later when I had to peel the dress off my shoulders, but there was no way I was missing Les Mis.