Nothing Says Merry Christmas Like Shingles

Yeah. That’s right. Shingles. Well ain’t that a son of a bitch.

That’s pretty much been the phrase running through my mind since I left the doctor last Friday afternoon. “I’m about 50 percent sure what you’re describing is the start of Shingles,” she said. Um, excuse me, this is NOT what I wanted for Christmas! World peace really would have been alright this year.

Instead I get to have Shingles – a painful viral infection that comes about for those of us who’ve experienced the joy of Chickenpox. I suppose it could be worse. When I first felt pain on the left side of my rib cage I was sure I had bone cancer. I worry about everything. I know my body and when a pain arises, I worry.

Last week all I felt was unexplained pain. Friday, after the diagnosis, is when the other symptoms started coming out. I terrified myself by googling images of Shingles. (If you must satisfy some morbid curiosity, here is a link to photos of shingles.)

Apparently, when one contracts the Chickenpox, the virus never leaves the body. Instead, it lays dormant until the most inconvenient time possible. It begins as pain, burning or tingling on one side of the body – the most common area being the abdomen between the rib cage and the belly button and around the back to the spine. These symptoms are typically followed by an itchy rash that can become quite painful.

Within 72 hours of feeling pain, an anti-virus is typically prescribed that will help lessen the symptoms and the length of time the attack lasts. Thanks to a glitch on the part of Walgreen’s pharmacy in Des Plaines I was unable to get my medication until Sunday.

In the meantime the symptoms have come out full force. A red, angry rash of blisters have set up camp on my stomach and they’ve invited friends. The little bastards have moved around to the side as well. A few large blisters have formed on my back. I am scratching when I know I shouldn’t scratch. But I can’t help it! It feels good at least for the moment.

I thought at first the fertility medications might have had something to do with this outbreak but I can’t seem to find any indication of that. People are typically in their 60’s when they get shingles but it can occur in younger ages. (Affects about 10 to 20 percent of younger people from what I’ve read on the internet.) The word that keeps popping up is “stress.”

Hmmmm. Interesting.

Stress can lead to a weakened immune system which can lead to all sorts of things like, say, shingles. And all I wanted to do in December was take a break from thinking about all the infertility stuff. I guess my body has had enough too.

Come January all of this stress stuff is going to end. I’m going to get happy. No matter what it takes – or what the outcome of 2012 – I will get happy!

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