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Shingle all the way (UPDATE)
My Experience of Shingles
Member Name: george_lazenby
My Experience of Shingles
Date: 11/07/01, updated on 28/07/01 (14568 review reads)
Advantages: Absolutely none
Disadvantages: Nasty blisters, debilitated body
OK, It's all over. I had what was described to me as a less serious dose of it, and I am back at work and in decent fettle after A MONTH.
Since almost passing out with exhaustion at work, I am now back on the sick. What my employers don't know, but will soon find out, is that my doctor has signed me off for another two weeks - I am not going to be off that long, simply because I will lose the will to live stuck at home for much longer.
Trust me, you don't want this disease.
Now, where were we....?
Having shingles is a quite spectacular way of getting rid of people. You say ‘oh, I’ve got shingles’ and suddenly nobody wants to have anything to do with you. That awkward phonecall to work to explain just how ill you are is made suddenly easy by simply peppering your sentences with the magic words – ‘shingles’, ‘lesions’ and the clincher ‘infectious’.
Part One – The disease
The truth is, there is no truth. For anyone who puts a lot of faith into their doctors, Shingles ought to shake out the illusions. There is only a certain amount of consensus about how the disease works, whether or not you can catch shingles, what you can pass on, how long the disease. lasts and what the symptoms are. Every former sufferer I have spoken to originally had their shingles misdiagnosed as something else.
If we take the most popular line among doctors, then Shingles is one of the surreptitious virus kings. You catch chicken pox, and after you’ve finally kicked the plague, lying quietly in some of your nerve endings is the shingles virus, and it waits until you are weak. Laid low with another illness, run-down, or – as many of my colleagues have pregnantly observed - stressed out, and suddenly, Mr Shingles says, like Darth Vader at the end of Star Wars, ‘I have you now!’.
’s when your immune system is at its lowest that Shingles takes hold, so that you can’t defeat it, and it can then spread chicken pox to your loved ones and work colleagues (who, of course, can look forward to a dose of Shingles long after they’ve got over the pox). So, clever little virus.
Part Two – The Suffering Victim
I was initially diagnosed with something else, because what the doctor is looking for is a series of sores and blisters somewhere on your body (very possibly your face, although I’ve heard of backs and arms being the site). The virus apparently resides in one area of your nerves (left side of the head in my case) and waits. I had a headache for five days, was disagnosed with a head cold, but suddenly, a rash of red lumps appeared along the side of my head. On the day I vomitted copiously, something inside them seemed to rupture, and they went purple, and then happily calmed down to deep crimson.
The second doctor visit was a quick one – the symptoms (headache on one side of the head, painful lesions, lethargy) were rapidly added up to SHINGLES!!! I was immediately signed off work for seven days in case I infected anyone else, and told to relax, to rest completely, to do nothing. To take up a theme I have been exploring in othe opinions, it is incredibly easy to do nothing if you have something like 150 DVDs, and you haven’t watched around 50% of them. The Alien Box Set dealt with one entire day, for one thing.
I was prescribed anti-viral tablets, which apparently some doctors don’t bother with, as they think that you ultimately deal with the virus on your own. Do not allow this to happen. My whole head was still painful, and I had (have) nasty stinging patches across my scalp, but after only a couple of hours and one tablet, the colour had started to drain from them, and they became less painful.
Most days, I woke with a dreadful headache, and found it di
fficult to do anything much of the day. This does take a while to get better, and apparently, my three weeks of tooling around the house is something of a minor case. Once the anti-virals had done their work, I was put on anti-inflammatory tablets, which were to act on the neuralgia left behind, the soreness, the pain around my head. They dissolve in water and taste like plastic raspberries.
The return to work seemed like a good idea, but a day spent actually doing anything left me completely wasted, and wishing I hadn’t bothered. The problem is, after a good solid rest, you still won’t be 100%, and an optimistic friend has already told me that shingles can be like glandular fever, so I can look forward to the possibility of some flare-ups. However, I am slowly climbing up the hill. I will be lethargic and depressed for weeks, and my head and face where the virus lived (and may still live), will be tingling for months, apparently.
So, a happy note to end on then.
Part Three – The sententious advice
1) If you have a cold, sinusitits, flu, watch for blotches on your skin, blisters, spots that appear in a cluster, on one area of your skin. You cannot avoid getting shingles, but you can draw this to the attention of a doctor who will take it seriously and should give you something which will ease the pain of the blisters. It will also avoid you giving chicken pox to anyone else.
2) If you have shingles, take time off and get over it.
3) Be prepared for maturity in your recovery – when you go back to work, it will be hard and you will be exhausted. But you have to do this, because just as you need to spend time off, sooner or later, you have to complete your recovery in the real world.
And stay healthy, kids.