Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Yes, Shingles

with 4 comments

For all the personal detail I freely display in my posts on a regular basis, I found myself holding back recently from blathering on about the daily progress of my shingles outbreak. I think part of it was a hope of saving you from frequently repeated lamentations over the pain and suffering I was enduring, but another part of it was my plan to give this affliction as little attention as possible. My intent was to get over this quickly and with a minimum of symptoms.

It all started on the Monday after I had trimmed dead wood from our apple tree and a nearby maple tree, using a pruning saw on an extended pole. It seemed entirely logical that I would feel sore muscles in the area of my torso after the workout I had done the day before. Upon a feeling of even more stiffness the next day, I became more assured my discomfort was a function of delayed onset muscle soreness from the weekend’s exercise.

By Wednesday I was growing normalized to the soreness and stopped thinking about it. After my shower in the evening, I noticed a red spot on my abdomen, but it didn’t mean much to me at the time. However, it seemed odd when the redness was still there the next morning. Without previously having had the slightest inkling that I might be getting sick, when I saw the spot still present in the morning, I reacted by lifting my arm and turning in the mirror.

How did I suddenly know?

DSCN4519eThere were enough splotches in a line around to my back that I instantly thought, “Shingles.” When I got to work I did a little research and checked in with my clinic back in Wisconsin. They directed me to immediately visit an urgent care site near my workplace. The doctor there did little more than listen to my description and look at my torso before confirming my self-diagnosis.

She prescribed an anti-viral to be taken 3-times a day for a week, to minimize and hopefully shorten the duration of my symptoms. She asked what I knew about shingles and began to describe the varying levels of hell that can occur.

I interrupted her to say that I did read that some people may not have severe symptoms. When she nodded in acknowledgement, I proclaimed that I would be one of those people, so she didn’t need to bother describing the worst it could get.

For the most part, I would say I achieved my goal of not having the rash erupt in multiple waves of increasing severity. It got worse for about 3 days and then began to slowly recede. There is still some residual visual evidence left, but my skin is mostly healed. The deep (what felt like muscle) pain was a chronic annoyance for about 2-and-a-half weeks, but seems to be fading now.

I’m so close to being done with it that I want to claim victory. There is just one small problem. Even though I succeeded in willing myself to the easy end of the shingles spectrum, it appears that I am getting a good dose of a common complication: post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).

The most common complication of shingles is a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). People with PHN have severe pain in the areas where they had the shingles rash, even after the rash clears up.

The pain from PHN may be severe and debilitating, but it usually resolves in a few weeks or months in most patients. Some people can have pain from PHN for many years.             ——–

I wouldn’t exactly call what I am feeling as pain. It is more a hyper-sensitivity. At times, it feels like a sunburn on my skin. Other times it feels “crawly” like having a fever. I get frequent shivers, and the act of shivering is uncomfortable. I want to avoid it, but I can’t.

So it’s that kind of pain. Not so much a “hurt,” as a very uncomfortable nuisance.

Yes, that’s my version of shingles.












4 Responses

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  1. Sorry to hear about your shingles attack. I hope your residual symptoms will be mild. We miss you guys again!

    Barb wilkus

    April 1, 2016 at 7:36 am

    • Doing better in small ways every day, I think. What an odd affliction. We miss you, too! We’ll have to dream up a next opportunity to hang out.


      April 1, 2016 at 7:54 am

  2. Hi John. Reading this episode, I thought to myself: it is all a part of being in touch with Nature. Think how it would be in a neat self-contained apartment without this contact: your energy would be turned against you. Your power and ingenuity, as well.

    For better or for worse, you are out there living life. Such things will pass, but leave you with a sense of experience and knowing life. Somehow, paradoxically, it makes us wholesome: capable of working with Nature in all her guises. Indeed, we can smile the Mona Lisa smile back at her! And feel good and that all is well and working out just the way it must:-)

    Ian Rowcliffe

    March 30, 2016 at 7:09 am

    • Yes. It is the art of not fighting against all that Nature brings our way, but accepting it and responding in a way that leads to growth and learning.
      I’m learning about the complexities of mind/body conversation, with my body sending signals to my mind from a nerve that is stressed. I’m working to mentally convince the nerve it can relax and heal, hoping it will soon return to its calm and healthy condition.
      Mona Lisa’s smile seems fitting for me at this time.


      March 30, 2016 at 9:24 am

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