One Patient's Positive Perspectives

How much sun is too much for lupus?

How much sun is too much for a lupus patient?  I have heard that 15 minutes per day is pretty much the maximum daily sun any wise lupus patient should absorb.  However, what about little snippets of sunshine, spread out throughout a single day?  Do they count?  I recently learned the hard way how important it is to do the math and add up the day’s total sun exposure.

About 10 days ago, we conducted interviews for a vacant position in the local government law office where I am the legal administrator.  Our legal department has two divisions, one in the main building and a second in the court building.  It was my (self-assigned) role on interview day to walk the final eight candidates to the second office, while conducting a guided tour of the campus.

Dressed, but no hat!

When I dressed that morning, I knew I would be walking outside more than normal, so I wore slacks and a long-sleeved shirt.  However, that was not enough planning.  I didn’t give the sun much more thought, preoccupied with the details of the day’s schedule and coordinating two panels and various tours of our offices.  I failed to consider my need for a hat, and to prepare for repeated applications of sun screen.

This was a major misstep toward failing the upcoming solar math quiz I would face on interview day.

Between both offices is a beautiful desert-landscaped campus.  I picked up each guest at our main office.  After exiting down several stairs outside the building, we crossed the campus on lovely tree-lined walkways, and passed a through a delightful botanical garden.   Crossing this plaza usually takes about 5 minutes,  However, strolling and chatting with a guest took a few minutes longer.  Sometimes, lingering for a moment in the shade,  intent on discussion of a specific thought or topic before continuing on our way.

Walking between the buildings

This was a perfect setting for conducting a casual walking interview.  Our conversations covered interesting high points in the history of the organization and our office, and discussed the workflow and computer issues related to our completely paperless prosecution practice.   By the time the day was over I had thoroughly enjoyed my conversations with 8 uniquely different and highly qualified attorneys.  At the end of the day, I was well-prepared to discuss each candidate with the managing attorneys.

But, I had abysmally failed my solar math quiz!

By the end of the day I had accumulated a total of 2 full hours in the sun.  It didn’t seem like that much, until I did the math.

Each interview caused me to get approximately 15 minutes of sun, half on the way to the court, and half returning to our main office.  After eight interviews, I had accumulated at least 120 minutes in the sun.  I was on my feet all day, as well, and gave my tired aching bones a much longer-than-normal workout.

At the end of the day, I was beginning to realize my folly.  I was thoroughly exhausted, and my feet hurt.  By the next morning, I had no question that I had failed to calculate the potential impact of my misguided actions.

Failing my solar math test!

Morning greeted me with a full-blown flare of my lupus.  My joints were painful and swollen, my arthritis flared, and the long bones inside my arms and legs ached deeply.  New mouth and nose ulcers had erupted overnight, and my pervasive malaise and profound brain fog were debilitating.  My over exertion and over exposure had triggered a whopping lupus flare and overwhelming fatigue.

I had no one to blame but myself, since I had set up the interview schedules and assignments.  My own poor preparation for the solar quiz, resulted in my grade of  “F” for failing, fatigue and flare!  What was I thinking?

In response to the self-induced lupus flare, in the days that followed I had to shorten my work hours.  Several of the following mornings I stayed home due to the flare and increased severity of my morning lupus symptoms.  The next time, I hope I remember my recent flare and folly, and remember to assign someone else to cover outside duty.


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