coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Monday, June 27, 2016

Shingles

I have shingles, and I'm not talking about the siding on my house. 

According to the Mayo Clinic:
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you've had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.

I have a mild case because when I turned 60 my good doctor gave me the shingles vaccine.  That is the magic age healthy people are supposed to get the vaccine.  Getting older seems to be an invitation for the varicella-zoster virus to return.  I wish my body would start consulting with my mind about issuing these age-related invitations. 

My doctor said the vaccine only reduces your chance of getting an outbreak by 50%.  Don't be discouraged though, for those of us who are vaccinated an outbreak isn't nearly as painful or intense as it would be otherwise. I have heard horror stories of how painful a full blown attack of shingles can be, so I am thanking my lucky stars that I got the vaccine.

It usually presents as a small strip of blistered rash on one side of your body.  I know, ick. It often appears on your torso, sometimes on your face. I have it on my right forehead and the top of my scalp. The shingles itch and ache with some nerve pain in my neck just below my ear. FYI it is very bad news if shingles form inside the eye. If you get shingles on your face an eye doctor will examine the eye and apply eye drops that ward off the worst of it. And by the worst of it I mean loss of vision. Scary, especially since my right eye has been swelling up overnight since the outbreak. I wake up each morning looking like a boxer who took it on the eye instead of the chin.

I went to my regular doctor (GP) and then an eye doctor. Helpful tip: if you really need to see a doctor tell the receptionist you think you might have shingles. Both places got me in immediately. The GP said that the shingles medication is only effective if you start taking it within 72 hours of the outbreak. I got in just in the nick of time and I am happily and earnestly taking my medicine 3 times a day for 7 days.

The eye doctor examined my eye and said no shingles in there!  I am so relieved.

He also said because I have shingles now, I only have about a 2.5% chance I will get it again.  I do so like those odds.
An old tree with an extremely odd trunk.  Nature will do what she will.








22 comments:

  1. Having had a bad reaction to a flu vaccination, I've been advised not to take the shingles vaccination. My grandmother had shingles. My friend had shingles. Sometimes I think I'll just get the shot and hope for the best. But, I'm such a coward.

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    1. I know someone who had a really bad reaction to the shingles vaccine, but he has kidney issues and a compromised immune system. They probably should not have given him the vaccination. It was pretty awful.

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    2. Always SO hard to know what the right thing to do is.

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  2. Yikes! Warning to the wise - thank you.
    So sorry to hear this though. Hang in there!

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    1. It really isn't all that bad. Surprisingly mild compared to the stories I've heard. I am supposed to try and stay out in the sun until the shingles go away, so no biking or walking. I can feel the weight pile on.

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  3. Ouch!!! Hope it subsides soon. Glad you got your vaccine. I got my vaccine too, but I keep thinking it's just a matter of time before it's my turn. Aargh! Carol

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    1. Good to hear you got the vaccine, too. You might be one of the lucky ones who doesn't get it at all.

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  4. Poor you, I hope it's not too painful. Speedy recovery and do rest a lot more than you think is necessary.

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    1. Thanks. It is truly a mild case and more interesting than anything else. I am glad I was able to get the vaccine.

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  5. Hugs hugs hugs! Both my husbands caught shingles. It was pre-vaccine days, of course. I am counting the days until my insurance will pay for the vaccine. Hope you are well shortly.

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    1. I'm better every day. Soon I will once again be riding my bike all over the place.

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  6. All for the greater good, eh? You seem to be handling it equanimity. Good on you. My husband had 'em maybe a decade ago, and he was hurting.

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    1. I count myself lucky it is so mild. I have heard stories...

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  7. Oh dear! How long does it take to run its course? I also got the vaccine so now I'll just cross my fingers and hope for the best. Sending healing thoughts your way.

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    1. 2-4 weeks. Friday will be two weeks for me. I don't think they will be gone by then. We'll see. Thanks for the healing thoughts.

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  8. Oh gosh, hope you feel better soon! My mom had shingles over her eye and I have a friend - in her 50s - who has had it twice. I keep intending to try to get it "early" because I am very vulnerable to herpes and all things "skicky" (on the skin and "icky" eg impetigo, eczema, staph, etc.). I'm always scared I'm going to get MRSA and usually wear a hoodie when I'm in ER with my parents, carefully keep my purse on my lap, etc. I wonder if stuff that helps mitigate herpes symptoms, relieve pain, shorten duration, etc. would help mitigate shingles symptoms since they are both types of herpes. I just did a little Internet research and it looks like yes, that is so. For example, honey. I don't mean to stop whatever doc gives you!! I was just wondering if there were home remedies you could do additionally that would relieve some of the discomfort. Anyway, yes, there is a list of that stuff online. For my herpes - which I get around my mouth (not just on my lips!) and IN and ON my nose! (I'm telling ya'... skicky!!!) I use... gosh forget name but it's over the counter now and expensive. Plus I will also use home remedies. Last thought.. wow... herpes virus sure is powerful... humans still can't really lick it. My daughter had the chickenpox vaccine and STILL GOT CHICKENPOX! as some kids will. Can't remember the stats on that but just as with shingles, that is so. And as with shingles virus, her case of chickenpox was not as bad as had she not had the virus. All in all.... I wish you relief soon! And check out honey and other home remedies for some additional relief!

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    1. Thanks Tree. I appreciate your thoughts.

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  9. I had shingles when I was 40 and had no idea what I had. It was very painful but I had four kids and no time to see a doctor. I finally went to one after a few weeks because it became dibilitatin and I needed help. When I went for my yearly check-up at around the age of 60, my doctor told me to get the shingle shot because there was a chance I could get it again. I thought it was one and done, but apparently it is possible to get it again. No way would I ever want to go through that again.

    I am glad to read that you got the vaccine in time to lower the effects. I hope you recover quickly and feel better soon.

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    1. Isn't it amazing what mothers will endure?

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  10. Hi! Visiting from the later post, so I know you're on the mend. Yay. Still, I'm sorry for your experience.

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  11. Replies
    1. Yeah, it was so strange. It wasn't a specific kind of tree that grows like that, it just grew differently for some reason. It was special!!

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So, whadayathink?