Long sleeves in the summer

I was stacking firewood yesterday. It is an activity in which I have engaged in many different settings at many different stages of my life. My son and daughter-in-law burn wood as a supplemental fuel. They can heat their house with a propane furnace, but they like to burn wood to keep the fuel costs down. Last year they burned about four cords of wood and expect to burn a similar amount this year. Our son has put considerable effort into improving his wood shed to protect the wood from the rains which are common in this part of the country. At any rate a neighbor delivered a cord of wood to the driveway yesterday and it needed to be stacked in order to return the driveway to its typical use.

The neighbor who delivered the wood stopped by later in the afternoon and while we were having a conversation about the firewood and other topics, he commented on my long sleeved shirt. “I don’t know how you can stand to work in that shirt,” he said. I didn’t say much in response, but noted that he was wearing a sleeveless t-shirt that presumably he had been wearing earlier when splitting, loading and delivering firewood. I’ve done a lot of outdoors work over the years wearing t shirts, but these days I prefer long-sleeved shirts for most of my outdoor activities. I wear long sleeved shirts when paddling, walking and working.

The change for me came about in part because of the need to have some squamous cell skin cancer treated. After having an area on my arm excised, I decided to be more careful about sun exposure. While I realize that the presence of skin cancer is the result of years of exposure and I can’t erase prior years activities, I can be more careful about my choice of shirts and hats in the presence.

Actually, the shirts I wear are very comfortable and adjusting to them was not a problem for me. Sure I get hot working outdoors in the summer sun, but I was likely to get hot anyway. I keep up my fluid intake and don’t experience any undue discomfort from my activities or my choice of clothing.

Pale skin is not much of a burden from my point of view. I have had trouble with sunburn and the effects of the sun all of my life, but it is fairly easy to deal with the problem. I can feel sunburn setting in and I know how to step into the shade and avoid sunburn. There are a lot of different sunscreen products available that can help protect my skin as well, and I use sunscreen when I’m going to be out in the sun. That’s about it. In a country and a culture that gives so many advantages to those of us with light colored skin, I certainly have nothing of which to complain.

There have been a few articles that I have read about some potential risks associated with the over use of sunscreen, but there is nothing of which I am aware that makes me worry about using the products. I don’t use any where near as much as was used in the experiments, which so far have involved a very small number of people. And I am not at risk for not getting enough vitamin D. I go outside every day and even when the weather is bad I get plenty of sunshine. And the risks associated with absorption of the chemicals in sunscreen into the bloodstream are very low and not well documented.

Being careful about sun exposure seems like an easy task. It took a bit of practice to teach myself to wear a hat every day. Having a job that is often done indoors, I hadn’t put much attention into hats. However, when I got serious about protecting myself from the sun, I discovered that I own a lot of hats. I have always enjoyed wearing hats and a hat figures into the story of how I met my wife, so I’m well situated for that particular piece of clothing.

The risks associated with the type of skin cancer that I have experienced are low, though having experienced it does mean that I am more likely to develop additional areas and I get to visit the dermatologist more often than was the case before it was diagnosed. the diagnosis means that my insurance company has to pay out a bit of the premiums that it has collected over decades of excellent health.

I try to do my part and make clothing choices and use sunscreen and try to limit my overall exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. On the other hand, there is no chance that I will turn into a person who stays indoors all the time. I like being outdoors and the joys of the things I do outdoors outweigh the risks involved.

On the other hand, I didn’t bore the firewood guy with a long lecture on skin cancer and the reasons why I choose long sleeved shirts. I’ve never been very big on converting other people. I am content with my ideas and my way of life and don’t feel a need to change others. That applies to my religious convictions as well. I don’t mind sharing my religious beliefs. I am, after all, a minister who preaches every week. I prefer, however, to have my ideas take their place in a wide marketplace of ideas and I trust others to make their own decisions. I don’t feel a need to convert those who disagree or to change those who choose not to live by religious principles. In fact there are more than a few people who consider themselves to be Evangelical Christians whose behavior has been far less than Christian and who give religion a bad name. Rather than loudly declare my faith and seek to change others, I prefer to live my life in such a way that others lives are positively affected. It is a bit like long sleeves. I prefer to wear them. You’re free to make your own clothing choices.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!