Sunday, June 6, 2010

Call the roofer...

Warning:  This is a really boring subject.
Please feel free to skip this post.

That thing that I thought was a mosquito bite on my eyelid coupled with a rosacea flare-up?  That was no mosquito.  That was a chicken.  The chicken pox virus I had as an infant four-and-a-half decades ago decided to show itself again, renaming itself "shingles."  (Stupid name.  Try googling it and you get roofing supplies.)

I can tell you emphatically that I don't like shingles.  The chicken-pox-like blisters don't just itch, they BURN and HURT, and the whole reactivation of the virus has taken me down a path of physical discomfort that I really could have done without navigating.  The literature uses such terms as excruciating and agony.  Pleasant, n'est-ce pas?  (In all fairness, it would seem that I'm having a mild time of it; my gall bladder attack and both labors hurt worse.)

What bothers me the most, though, is not the physical but the psychological.  It's UGLY.  I didn't get it in the most common location -- in a band around the stomach and back, easily disguised by clothing.  I got it smack on my face:  on one eye, one-half of my forehead, and one section of my scalp.  One nerve:  one painful, swollen, itchy, scabby, blotchy, prominent bit of yecch.

Since it's contagious only by direct contact, and since I couldn't cover it up, I've kept myself housebound for most of the past week.  (It's not that I go anywhere interesting anyway; the point is that I felt like I couldn't.  Or shouldn't, as I'm contagious to pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.  I don't know why; shingles isn't respiratory.)  I had to cancel a lunch date with a pregnant friend, my last regular Girl Scout meeting, and a haircut.  And while I know that shingles isn't an STD, I'm not sure that it's socially acceptable to discuss it.

Because it involves my eye, I have to see an ophthalmologist every month for a couple three visits.  The virus could enter my optic nerve and do some serious, permanent damage.  That's a $30 copay well spent each time, I think.

According to the literature, there's more to look forward to:  The pain could last months.  And in a couple of decades more, I could be one of the 4-10% of the people who get it again.  But there is good news:  "When shingles does recur, the rash usually does not appear in the same location as the first outbreak.*"  I could get it on the other eye!

*Note: The fact that it's a pharmaceutical website makes it immediately suspect, but the most useful, informative website I found (and with a handy URL) was  Others more immediately recognizable as reputable were useful but more limited.


Lori said...

Just hating, hating, hating this for you....and I won't tell you that my sister has had shingles 3 times.

Oh..I just did. If it makes you feel better, you are right--she had had the breakout rash in different places each time, and it was her lupus that made her more prone to them.

I do hate this for you, though....praying it hurts less and shows less and you feel better soon!

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman said...

Shingles!! Ah. It is painful even to type. Yikes. I am so sorry you are in pain and hope it clears soon. Feel better, J