Thursday, July 17, 2014

Shingles - Roofing or Affliction?

When I was 15, right in the heart of my teen years in Lucan, I contracted chicken pox. I didn't have to sign on a dotted line for this commitment, no, but I did bring them home to my older brother. You can just imagine how thrilled he was. I was lucky with the number of spots, just my upper body mostly and my face and head. I'm sure my little brother got them too but it wasn't a nasty outbreak like some of my friends talked about.

The worst thing for me was what I would look like to the 'boys' and how can I cover them up to go to the teen dance at the arena. I remember that after a couple of weeks they had pretty much all disappeared except one.........smack dab in the middle of my forehead! Saturday rolled around, the night of the dance, a live band, Physique Delta, and I had earned enough money by working around the house to go. I wasn't going to let my last one pox ruin the night for me, so I did what any  little flirt would do. I picked it off. Mom warned me not to pick them, she said I would always have a scar there. Parents don't know everything though, right?
I made it to the dance and no one was the wiser.

The dance was great, I had the time of my life! Now, I'm approaching 60 and I realized that parents do know quite a bit about many many things. This knowledge isn't just from the fact that I am now a parent, but because there it is............if I look closely, the scar in the middle of my forehead. I must remember to tell my mother when next I see her......"you were right, Mom", give her a hug and be done with it. Sigh,  am I seriously still waiting for those words from my own two children? 
My girlfriend and I ready for another dance night. Man we was cool!

So, the dance is over, the teenage years are long gone. I've married, bore children as mentioned, I've divorced and put all that behind me. In 1996 I found myself engaged to Bill. I must admit that our relationship was challenging from day one, and through all of the exciting times we found ourselves wrestling with the whole step-children issues for years to come. Perseverance paid off, thank goodness, and we came out at the good end alive and happy. 

In 1999 we were invited to Englewood, Florida, where Bill's snowbird parents lived through the winter months. I had never flown anywhere before nor had I ever been south. Two birds with one stone coming right up! Our trip was planned for April for 10 days. Approximately 4 days before our flight, I developed what our doctor diagnosed as shingles. I will spare you the pictures, you can check what they look like on your own. A loony sized circle of itchiness and blisters appeared on my right thigh. I had never seen them before even though I know that my Dad was afflicted with them for many of the last years of his life. They never went away for him, he was uncomfortable so much of the time, yet I never looked at them. For me, my father in law suggested the hot Florida sun would help heal them which was a great excuse for me to soak it up.......not that I ever need a reason to sun-sit. 

Within 2 days of arriving in Florida, the itch was relieved and the pain was also gone. If it wasn't for the scar (chicken pox!!) I would never know I experienced it. I was informed that it was a one time thing for most people who had previously had chicken pox. We would be carrying the virus and find ourselves very susceptible to contracting shingles in our later years. My husband, Bill, can call me one in a million and say it with love (and once in a while in anger) but I truly am a rare one. Since 1999, that was not a first and last time for me, it was the first of many shingles outbreaks. I take a medication which, if caught early enough (by a slight tingling on the right side of my body) could lighten the effect of the breakout but I don't carry the pills with me so this isn't always an easy thing to forecast. 

In 2010, I heard of a vaccine called Zostavax,   that the elderly or anyone at risk of getting shingles can get to prevent it or 'stop' it from re-occurring for us odd balls. So I had the injection.  Ask your doctor about Zostavax if you are over 55, I'm not recommending the vaccine, just telling my side of the story.

. My drug plan covered the cost and I was tickled pink! Until 11 days later I yet again contracted shingles. My doctor was stunned and got out his research docs only to discover that I was something like 1 in 1100 people to have it reoccur like this. Oh well, I'll deal with it and continue with the meds until my retirement and then decide just how bad the outbreaks are without it before deciding what my next step is. I will admit that the vaccine seems to have restricted the size and the duration of the outbreak although not the number of re-occurrences so that says something!  

In closing (finally you say?) I still consider myself very very lucky. I know that instead of these many many outbreaks, sometimes one right on top of the other for a stretch of 3 weeks in a row, I could be suffering like my Dad did or many other elderly people who have a large portion of one side of their bodies affected. I am fortunate and wouldn't change it for the world. 

I even think I can go so far as to say that I would rather put up with this affliction than to find myself on the roof of my or any others house on a hot humid summer day laying the more common kind of shingles. If this is the only price I have to pay for being a happy teenager defying chicken pox rules in the late 60's, then so be it!
You were right, Mom.


  1. Shingles can be very painful I have been told, hopefully they will not attack me.
    Mom's usually are right, it just takes us decades to realize it.

    1. I hope you are one of the lucky ones too George, and Suzie and Bill and....................and since I am a Mom, yes, usually right when it come to the kids. :) ha ha.