19 04 2011

I had “shingles” almost 2 months ago. It’s sort of a recurrence of chicken pox, only this time, the blisters were concentrated on one area only and it was extremely painful.

My shingles grew along my right waist. I noticed that it felt bruised up a couple of days prior to the “outbreak”. I thought that I bumped my hip somewhere, although I didn’t really see anything wrong around that area. So naturally, I brushed the bruised feeling and sensitivity in that area aside. On the third day (Feb. 24, Thursday), though, I started seeing rash-like bands and the level of pain grew a notch higher. I bought an allergy ointment, but mind you, applying it to the area was crazy hard because it really hurt a lot. Plus, that night I saw a couple of blisters that started to form. I panicked a bit to tell you honestly. The morning of Feb.25, I noted that new blisters started to appear. The pain level was fairly the same, but it was getting more uncomfortable and… well, scary. On the third day, though, the pain grew from “fair” to “advanced”. And it was spreading way beyond the affected area. The slightest touch causes me to literally squirm in pain. I couldn’t even find a comfortable position, both sitting and lying down. That’s when I started browsing the net, trying to find out what I had. Being the “gifted googler” that I am, I found out what I had in no time.

Shingles, as I’ve (sort of) mentioned earlier, is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. Based on my research, this virus stays in your body and remains there, dormant and resting along your spine. If you’re one of the lucky ones, the virus stays dormant the rest of your life and doesn’t give you any trouble. But for those unfortunate people like me, it is awakened and causes you one of the worst feeling of pain that you’ll ever feel in your lifetime. No exaggeration there, believe me! The reason behind the pain is the fact that the virus is on your spine and attacking your nerves. And although shingles grow on one area of your body only (commonly on your back or on either side of your hip/waist area, sometimes on the face which makes the condition more critical), the pain will be widespread and severe. The gravity and duration of the symptoms may be controlled through a 7-day intake of anti-viral meds (and these aren’t cheap!!!). BUT, in order for the meds to work, they must be taken within 48 hours that the first signs of shingles appear. Otherwise, there isn’t much that you can do but to just deal with the excruciating pain and unsightly blisters until they dry up and heal on their own.

After learning the facts above, Feb. 27 I rushed myself to the ER. I would have opted to just stay in bed, if only I didn’t panic that day. I was having a hard time walking already, limping almost. When I showed my blisters to the attending ER nurse, she told me I had shingles (surprise surprise!).   I was immediately referred to a doctor. My temperature was checked, asked the standard “how do you feel” questions. The doctor checked my blisters and confirmed that it was shingles. Despite the fact that I’ve had it for 3 days already, she still prescribed anti-viral meds which I needed to take 2 tablets 3 times a day for 1 week. She also wrote prescriptions for the unbearable nerve pain, and generic pain reliever just in case the nerve pain reliever fails to give me comfort.

Well, that’s what I did for a whole week — overstuffed my system with drugs that helped heal my shingles, but most probably put my liver in a state of shock. *sigh*  I’m that type pa naman who tries to stay away from meds. I would much rather let my body heal naturally than drink pills or tablets. Thankfully, though, my shingles is gone and healed. What’s left is an ugly clump of dried blisters and scars, which will most probably take years before fading away.

Moral of the story? Keep away from stress. Shingles is a common disease, but only for the elderly whose immune system is all messed up. Stress triggered the “rude awakening” of my dormant chicken pox virus. And it may happen again, mind you. So, as hard as it may seem, do your very best to not sweat the small stuff. Don’t stress yourself out because it really is not worth it.




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