Friday, July 3, 2020

That One Time I Got A Really Bad Sunburn At Football Camp

Huh, guess it's been a while, hasn't it? Well...let's talk about something embarrassing from my teenage years!

So in middle school, I, like many before and after me, had some pretty bad acne. It was one of those cases where, no matter what I did, I couldn't get rid of it. I washed my face every day. I tried to get enough water. I used topical ointments. I even tried Proactiv. None of it was working. And because nothing was working, day in and day out I had to hear, from child and adult alike, about how I needed to wash my face every day, and how I needed to do this, that, or whatever. Things I was already doing. Not gonna lie, it's kind of annoying when you have a problem and everyone takes it upon themselves to give you advice, but it's all stuff you've already tried. I know now and I even knew then that other people meant well, but life is hard enough without the constant reminder of your imperfections that you're already keenly aware of. Add to that the usual insecurities that come from being a teenager, and you have the perfect concoction of, "I hated middle school and generally consider it to be the worst years of my life."

Thankfully, I was not alone. A relative of mine also had problems with acne, to the point he actually went to see a dermatologist to get a prescription to take care of the problem. This seemed to be my big break. Sure, the pills he was taking were huge, and sure, he said it made him super sensitive to sunlight, but like, I was already that pasty white kid that got sunburned super easily, how bad could it be?

This was suggested to me in 8th grade, and in short order near the end of the school year (of course), I went to see the dermatologist myself, and soon, horse pills in hand, I was ready to take on the world with the face of a normal teenager.

So that thing about getting sunburned easily? Yeah, this is where things are gonna get painful.

So I played football in middle school and high school up until my senior year of high school, and one thing that high school football players have the opportunity to take part in is a weeklong training camp put on by a university in the area, and my high school had a yearly spot at the Boise State University football camp in early June. The downside to this is the fact that the camp can be kind of expensive, and as an 8th grader going into 9th grade, I didn't feel particularly into the idea of giving up a week of my summer and spending money to go to the camp.

In truth, I didn't want to go because I didn't even want to play but, being tall, strong, and the younger brother of two star athletes, I never felt like I had the choice, a problem made worse when the varsity team's head coach approached me personally to fill a slot that was given up by another player. I guess the camp was nonrefundable, or he donated his spot, or something. I don't remember the specifics. Anyway, this opportunity was thrust upon me, and away I went, as the call to adventure knew where I lived.

Well...apparently the football stadium on the Boise State campus turns into a freakin' oven in the summer, because it was hot. Yes you've probably been in a hotter place if you've been to or lived in Arizona, that's great, I don't care. It was hot where I was. Made worse by the fact that I, in my endless wisdom, forgot to wear sunscreen on the first day of practice despite knowing that my acne medication made me super sensitive to sunlight. You can probably see where this is going so I'll spare you the details.

Hey kids, when there's an explicit warning on your prescriptions to do or not do something lest there be consequences, just do what it says. Sure, somehow there was no blistering from the sunburn, but I was in absolute mind-numbing agony for the entire week. I went through a lot of that aloe vera burn ointment stuff that I swear never works if you have a sunburn, I put my mattress in the dorms on the floor in front of the AC unit just to have some air blowing over me while I slept because it hurt so bad. I learned my lesson. Don't pick a fight with the sun. You will lose.

So for the rest of the time I was on that medication I was diligent about applying sunscreen or staying out of direct sunlight, and I like to think this experience has shaped me to this day, as I spend as little time as possible in the sun. Less than I should, admittedly, but it's hard going back when you've been burned so badly (pun intended).

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