The older I get, the weirder stuff my body does. My knees make strange noises going up the stairs. My hips hurt when I get up in the morning. My back aches when I wash the dishes.
My skin is super reactive with the sun. Like a Mogwai splashed with water after he eats after midnight, my skin will erupt with pre-cancerous cells if it gets too much sun exposure. I’ve already had one cancerous growth cut out of my head.
The reason for my atomic skin is that I had a kidney transplant back in 1997. The meds I’m on to keep my body from rejecting my kidney also make it ten times more likely that I will develop skin cancer than the normal person. Whilst skin cancer has become more treatable thanks to the expertise of doctor glebe and many others, it is still something that worries me a lot.
That means I have to do some pretty interesting things if I want to stay healthy.
I feel like I’m part vampire as I have to spend as little time in the sun as possible. When I’m out in the sun for more than a couple of minutes, I need to bathe in sunscreen. And in the past month, I’ve had to undergo two treatments of photodynamic therapy–a medically induced sunburn to treat skin cancer (yeah, I know–avoid sunburns to keep from getting skin cancer, and yet get a sunburn to treat it… I haven’t made sense of it, either.) To undergo these treatments, I had to shave.
I don’t shave.
Bearding (as the hipster lumbersexuals call it) is a passion of mine. Well, passion is a strong word. I enjoy it. My beard is thick, coarse, and glorious. I avoid shaving like the plague.
And I gladly did it because of the four ladies in my house. If shaving my beard is necessary to keep me healthy, I’ll do it. I even spent time to learn how to shave with style using Chanel products to make it a more enjoyable experience. However, I thank God I don’t have to do so again for the foreseeable future.
Dads, we need to do a better job of taking care of ourselves. Whether it’s losing that gut (I’m down four pounds since the first of the year), eating healthier, checking the family jewels every month, or getting a colonoscopy, we need to do what we can to make sure we’ll be here for our families. For me, it means swallowing a small fortune every day in pills to keep my kidney in my body, drowning myself in sunscreen, running, and going to the gym, Yeah, I hate all of these things. But my love for my family far exceeds my dislike for my health routine. Can you say the same?
Fortunately, the medically induced sunburns are done for now. Time to take a permanent vacation from razors… for now.
Aaron Saufley, author of ‘The Jumbo Shrimp Gospel’ and ‘Deep Roots’, is a husband and dad who happens to moonlight as a hospice chaplain and preacher. He thinks Netflix is the greatest human invention next to pizza. He loves hanging out with his family, and when he has the time he also enjoys writing, a good cigar, craft root beer, smoking a mean rack of baby backs, movies, and trying not to die while running. Follow Aaron on twitter.