Friday, August 27, 2010

Third time's a Charm

Like every good child born over 20 years ago, I had chicken pox. I don't remember it at all though. I don't know if I caught it from a sibling or a neighbour, or if I spread it. I don't even know how old I was and if I was troublesome to my parents. Maybe that's what my problem is. Maybe if it were more memorable, I wouldn't have gone out and caught the infectious virus a second time.

They say you can't do that, but I showed them all! Except that I don't recall that event either! Was it soon after the first bout? Was it more difficult on me or my mom? How does it happen twice? The only evidence I have to such an ailment are the pock marks that appear so white along my legs when I am cold or when my legs are tired. (usually when standing too long)

If getting chicken pox a second time is almost unheard of, why are so many adults getting it? Of course, they give it a different name, as to not alarm you, but it happens. I can attest to it! For I befell the chicken pox a Third time. Except they call is the herpes zooster virus. (not to be confused with oral herpes or the STD) It's painful. I don't recommend being as advantageous as myself and activating it.

Just what is the herpes zooster virus? I'm glad you asked---otherwise my attempts at mystery are just annoying!--It is SHINGLES! Yes, shingles. Apparently it's not just for the elderly! What a surprise it was for me when the doctor at the clinic told me. Shingles? Are you serious?

It started out as these itchy sore bumps on the underside of my forearm that I thought were bug bites. Actually, my first thought was spider bites in the night, but there were 7 of them and not placed close enough for fangs. So I thought bugs. But what kind and why so many and how in the world did they bite me there? I noticed them on a Saturday morning; they were red and itchy. That night, I had a shooting pain in my arm that woke me up. On Sunday, it hurt to move my arm! I'm not ashamed to admit that I was starting to feel paranoid. The spots were red and pain was starting to spread into my armpit and into my muscle. I kept thinking these bug bites were infected and I was terribly sick. I'd lament to my Hunny, "Will you still love me with one arm?"
My Hunny just laughed. "You're not going to lose am arm!"
I pouted. "You don't know that. Besides, you didn't answer my question."
It took him a good fifteen minutes, be he finally said that he'd still love me with one arm. I'm not too sure I believe him, frankly. It took him too long. So tragic.

So, the doctor at the clinic says it's Shingles. That's Chicken Pox for those who've already had chicken pox! What fun. Except it wasn't. The good thing is that it wasn't too itchy and that it is only on a small area (as opposed to a full body break out with the actual chicken pox) Of course, I had to read up on it and I learned quite a bit. Did you know that they don't have an actual cause for them? Doctors just know that the virus lays dormant in your neck at the base of your spine, and something triggers it's reactivation. Stress, of course, is the number 1 cause, but sometimes I wonder if they say that because they don't really have a good answer or reason. My doctor asked if I had a sunburn recently and since I had, he said that could've caused it too, which was very interesting. I couldn't find that written anywhere, but my Mom, a retired nurse, said she remembered something about that too. Very curious. The other thing is that it isn't contagious. Well, sortof. It is to those who haven't had chicken pox before or haven't had the vaccine, which includes my Hunny. So he was a *bit* paranoid! It took him a day or two to finally believe me that if I was going to pass it to him, he would've already had it since contagons usually get passed within the first three days.

(My Hunny may be in the small percentage who never get chicken pox. There are some who have a natural immunity to it. The only way to find out is to do a blood test though, and that hasn't been the top of our priority list, so this will remain a mystery. He could get the vaccine as well, if he was concerned, but obviously it doesn't keep him awake at night either as he hasn't opted to do that, even though we've been told that having chicken pox as an adult is worse than having it as a child. We did decide to get the vaccine for our children, although I do wonder why. Maybe they have an immunity as well. I guess I don't know enough about chicken pox, but isn't the virus just a nuisance? I'm not too sure why we have to erradicate it. I suppose it is nicer to not have to get it, but does it really matter if you did? It was such a 'childhood rite of passage' growing up that I find it strange to think that our children and children's children won't have to go through it. But then I tell myself that I'm being silly. Do we really want our children to go through illnesses if they don't have to? I suppose if they don't have chicken pox, they won't have shingles later either. That's a good thing!)

day 3:

The main thing I read about Shingles is how painful it is, which had me concerned. Some people go on morphine? Really? Yikes! How bad was this going to be for me? In the beginning it wasn't too bad, just sore and achey, but not what I'd call morphine-needed pain. That is, until day Three. I was taking Extra-Strength Tylenol but it wasn't helping and it just felt worse as the day went on. By the time Hunny came home, I was in tears. So after dinner, he took a trip to the store for something stronger. I'm on no-name acetaminaphin with codeine. It helps, but I need to keep up with it. I was also on two different medications: an antibiotic and an antiviral. (the antibiotic smelled so nasty. I made Hunny smell it and he gagged a few times. *snicker*)

day 8:

This is a bad picture of the pox, but you can kind of see how they have crusted over now. They were more itchy then, but the pain was gone as soon as that happened, so I was happy. Things were starting to look up for me. Except when the top came off, then the pain returned! Boo! But I was so happy to say that things were all cleared up by day 10! I had friends who were praying for me and it obviously worked!

A month later, there are still slight scarring after, and I get achiness in the area every now and then, but am happy to be able to put this behind me. Or can I? I didn't learn if shingles can be caught over and over yet. (I heard that there is a vaccine available though, so that's a thought.) *grumble*


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