Thursday, July 30, 2009

A pox on all you chickens!

One of two of you may have noticed I've been absent for the past few days from my usual haunts on the Internet. I've been other places...mostly on Google and WebMD.

I'm telling you this because someday the information might be of use to you.

Here's what I've learned since last Wednesday:

1. If you're Googling the word "shingles," it's probably too late;
2. If you're Googling the phrase "shingles face," it's probably too late and you have my heartfelt sympathy;
3. Those chicken pox you had as a kid may revisit you in the most ghastly way imaginable;
4. A full frontal assault on a virus can, in some cases, be effective.

Here's what happened.

I woke up last Wednesday with what could best be described as a bright red racing stripe down the right side of my face. I figured I'd slept on it funny, threw some makeup over it, and went to work. It was tender to the touch, but I didn't think much of it.

The next morning, the racing stripe was a glorious brilliant red and it really hurt when I touched it. I figured I'd better call Dr. Martin (the doctor whose scale throws me into a fit of depression every time I step onto it), but decided that a picture is worth a thousand words so I stopped by his office on my way to Yarnmarket.

The receptionist took one look at me, and decided that she'd be able to fit me in to see the doctor fairly quickly.

When Dr. Martin examined my racing stripe, he said the word I hadn't to that point considered: shingles.

Shingles?! Agghhh! I know shingles, and I know I don't want them. I know someone who had them over a year ago and who is still in constant pain. So, I was grateful when Dr. Martin decided we'd attack it with heavy doses of Valtrex and Prednisone...even though he wasn't entirely optimistic.

I rushed to the drug store, then went home to devour my pills and learn more about the illness. I visited every web site I could find -- even the loony ones. And I decided I'd do everything everyone has ever claimed would work against these dreaded, hideous shingles. Because if I didn't ward them off before they really blossomed, I'd be laid up for four to six weeks.

Once I'd prepared a list of concoctions that might work, I got into my car and raced to the local health food/nutriceutical store. There I stocked up on Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Zinc, L-Lysine, Rutin, Malic Acid and Colloidal Silver. The Rutin and Malic Acid weren't really related to shingles, but I tossed 'em in just for good measure.

I spent the next few days semi-conscious...and when I was conscious I had an ice pack on my face and I was devouring pills.

And do you know what? It worked! At first the rash started to spread. Then, surely enough, it got lighter and lighter and lighter until it went away. I cannot tell you how relieved I am to have fought off this clucking chicken pox virus. Dr. Martin is amazed, and my husband is relieved that I don't have to go into hiding for the remainder of the summer.

He's also very grateful that the Prednisone made me hyper-active for a few days, and I spent several hours sorting and filing all our electronics equipment. We now have boxes and boxes of stuff -- neatly stacked and labeled, "Television wires," "Stereo wires," "Ethernet wires," "Cables," "iPod Accessories," "Camera Accessories," etc.

It's kind of funny. I was wired, so I sorted wires! Gotta love that Prednisone.

I'm telling you all of this because I think everyone should know that a red spot that hurts (I can't even call a rash because it was just a discoloration), and is confined to one side of your body, should not be ignored. Shingles is a painful and long-lasting illness, and it seems to be cropping up quite a bit lately. I know four other people who've had it, and only one of them got to a doctor quickly enough to fend it off.

So please...if you've had chicken pox as a kid, and you develop a painful red spot, get thee immediately to a doctor! Do not even stop to Google "shingles."

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