Monday, May 09, 2005

We all need sunlight for vitamin D

This was supposed to be a quick post but my concentration is poor so its turned into a long post. Brain starting to get foggy. Hard to think succinctly and to the point. Eyes are burning, gums throbbing. Feel like I have been awake for days on end without rest. It's difficult to believe there is another person on the planet who feels the way I do at the moment. Who would ever believe that intense fatique can make you feel like on deaths door without the energy to even make a phone call and talk.

Lately, I have even been having trouble laying propped up on the couch. Do not have enough energy to do that. Muscles burning. Neck burning. Shoulders and back burning. Feel need to be flat. But I refuse to give in until I can't bear it any longer. I've not experienced this before. I've always been able to manage propped up against four big pillows.

Still not been past my front gate since March 2003. Cannot recall sitting out in the sun over the past year. Felt too ill. Imagine you are suffering the peak of flu where sights, scents and sounds make you feel worse, muscles ache, throat hurts and sunlight burns so brightly the light and heat and even wind exacerbate the symptoms. That is how I feel on most "good" days.

I've heard we all need a certain amount of sunlight to process vitamins within our bodies. Most people get enough just through their daily comings and goings to and fro outside. Starting June, I have a plan for aiming to sit outside, no matter what, every day, weather permitting, but am not sure how long is needed in order to reap the benefit. Somewhere, it was written 15 minutes a day. I am on the brink of ordering two lightweight lounger deck chairs via mail order - one for the front and one for the back courtyard, so depending on how I feel (there's more walking and effort involved getting to the front balcony) I can wrap up warm and lay outside for a short while, even on cool weather days, to get some fresh air. I do open the window in front of me every morning and get a blast of air for fifteen minutes, even in winter time. Some days, the sun is strong enough to reach in through the window onto my face here on the couch.

The loungers are lighweight enough that if a storm blows, I can bring them in. The fabric is special. It is roped to the non-rust frame (important here by the sea as the salt air rusts things quickly) and because it is a fine mesh, rain will drain through and it can easily be hosed down if it gets dusty. No need for carrying hefty lounge cushions to and fro when weather gets bad. They fold away easily, don't pinch fingers, are slim and compact, and have a holder for a sunshade parasol that comes in navy blue to match the chair. Of course the perfect lounger comes at a price. They are £125 each. But, buy cheap and you buy twice. And the less expensive ones are bulkier and heavier to handle and need cushions. Someone gave me a lounger a few years ago - you can't lay reclined, it's too upright, cushion is heavy and bulky. You can't leave it outside overnight incase it gets damp, so it has ended up wasting space in the attic.

The new lounger, if my health improves, will easily pack away in a car, so if I visit friends or go outings there will be some sort of instant lounger/chair for me to pace myself on without having to take up someone else's couch or be anti social and lay on the floor :-)

Yes, I do have my dreams that one day I will go out. The loungers are good looking, nice seasidey pale blue fabric with built in head rest and real wood arm rests. They change into three positions - almost flat out, half flat and almost upright turning into a chair. Because they do so many jobs, I think they are worth the money.

Besides, when anyone visits, it means they (or we) can lay or sit outside with parasols to shade eyes from sunglight (and passers by below). The few times I have been on the balcony, holidaymakers pass by, look up wistfully and make some friendly comment about my life of leisure and great vista ("Some have it nice eh? Can we come up and join you?.... etc.)

Wearing sunglasses makes you look less ill. The eyes are a dead give away. So the next thing on my list of things to do is to get a good pair of sunglasses where the light does not shine in through the sides. I saw a great pair of wrap arounds, that did not really look like wrap arounds, in a Ralph Lauren catalogue. Tried to order them from the London shop over the phone, even called New York, but they were out of stock.

How to buy sunglasses without trying them on. Maybe I can send the catalogue to my optician. He goes on buying trips all the time to get a wide variety of frames from Paris, Milan etc., and might be able to find something similar. The beauty of that particular pair, I could tell, was they were a universal one size fits all, didn't matter if they were too big or small - they'd suit anyone. No need to try them on first. If the lenses are not too large, they could be fitted with prescription lenses so I can see what's going on out at sea more clearly. Plus, I could wear them here indoors during the summer when the sun shines so brightly in here I have to squint to see my laptop screen.

It's four o'clock now, I shall post this and phone the mail order company to order the loungers so at least I have accomplished something towards my plan for recovery.

Today, I found a report on the amount of sunlight we need. Here is an excerpt:

For individuals with skin phototype II (which includes fairer-skinned individuals that tend to burn easily from unprotected sun exposure), five minutes of noontime summer sun exposure two-to-three times per week is more than adequate to satisfy the body's requirement for vitamin D. The study suggests that this level of sun exposure was easily achieved through incidental exposure.

SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology
Web Site:

UPDATE: I have ordered the two loungers using the money my mother sent me for my birthday which does not make me feel guilty for splurging. She will be pleased that the money has been put to good use. I've also ordered two cheery looking Italian travel rugs that are lightweight and machine washable. Pale blue and dark lilac checks, with dark blue lines - look real cheery and seasidey and go well with the sky blue loungers. On hot summer evenings, I can sit out on the balcony when the air gets too close in here. My cat Ophelia won't recognise what's going on when she sees me out in her territory during the day and at night. She'll love it.


Anonymous Hazel said...

Now all you need is wireless internet access and then you can surf the web and post while out on your sun loungers! I considered getting one of those too, but I have a terrible time getting myself out of one. But we did just buy a garden table so that I can sit outside during the day and get some sun. I'm really not used to being out these days and I think it will help to get used to it before we go to Italy this summer.

May 09, 2005  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Hey Hazy, great to hear from you, thanks. I forget anyone visits here. I go through phases posting here. I keep some reports aside, meaning to post them here. It seems I visit here when I am feeling too lonesome with this illness. Gives me something to refer to, makes me feel I can file this illness away - put it in a cupboard and close the door again, til next time. I can imagine how you are looking forward to Italy but can't possibly guess how you will fare. The best thing you can do (my opinion for what its worth) to avoid getting too ill to enjoy things while you are over there is to use a wheelchair wherever you can as soon as you arrive at the airport. Imagine you have two broken legs and use a wheelchair wherever you can to get yourself from A-B using the least amount of energy so the energy you are left with you can use to enjoy the holiday. Maybe you could have some dry runs at a supermarket or something to get used to the idea. Just a thought. I do feel it is worth considering. Neil deserves his holiday to so really you have both of you to take into account. Who is looking after Topsy? Does she go out and about in the garden? Good luck with your test - I've had some of those in the past - all turned out non conclusive. Your blog is in my newsfeed so I always read your posts as and when they are published. Sorry I don't comment much, been visiting political blogs and leaving comments there which feels like having a conversation. Coronation St is now on. See you later. Bye for now. And thanks for saying hi.

May 09, 2005  

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