Tuesday, January 12, 2010

For your own good.

From Crazy as a Loom

I have debated about whether or not to talk about what is going on in my life right now. It seemed unnecessary to go into it, and I thought it would be over and done with, and I could just forget about it. Not so.
Yesterday made that abundantly clear.

Two days after Christmas, I had this incredible ear ache. It was so bad, that the next morning I called the doctor and asked if they could fit me in.
They did, and told me it was probably the beginning of an ear infection. I started an antibiotic, but a couple of days later, I was worse. And on top of it, I had blisters on the back of my head, under my hair.
So I went back to the doctor, and they confirmed what I already suspected, I have shingles.

Shingles (also termed herpes zoster) is a disease caused by reactivation of the herpes zoster virus (varicella-zoster virus, or VZV) that results in a painful localized skin rash, usually with blisters (fluid filled sacks) on top of the reddish skin. This same virus causes the childhood illness chickenpox. The chickenpox virus (varicella) remains in a dormant state in the body in the root of nerves that control sensation. In about one out of five people, the virus "wakes up," often many years after the chickenpox infection. The virus then travels along a sensory nerve into the skin and causes shingles. The majority of patients who get shingles are over the age of 60; it infrequently occurs in younger people. Investigators estimate that about 1 million cases of shingles occur per year in the U.S.

I have shingles that affect the facial nerve, and they went into my ear. I was told that I 'might' have some facial paralysis.
Can you see it now....every morning, me making faces in the bathroom mirror, just to see if everything is working as I am accustomed to???

So, I was started on several meds: Famcyclovir, Prednisone, Hydrocodone, and Neurontin.
OK. Helluva way to go, Hilary.
But I dispensed with my usual lousy attitude regarding the ingestion of medication, and I committed myself to being a good girl. Something I am notoriously bad at.
The only patients worse than nurses, are doctors.
The first several days were a blur. The hydrocodone pretty much knocked me for a loop, and I took naps every day. Eventually, I changed to Motrin for the pain, and that seemed to do it. I actually felt pretty good.
With a few modifications, I continued on with my daily routine.
My husband did suggest to me that I might slow down a bit, and take it easy.
But oh, no.............not me. That wasn't on my agenda.
After 10 days, the Famcyclovir, an antiviral, was done. So in my infinite wisdom, I decided I was all better now, and I weaned myself off the Neurontin (for nerve pain), as well.
A couple of nights ago, the eye on that same side, felt like it had a wood splinter in it. Not good.
Yesterday it got worse and worse, so this morning, I called the doctor.
After a morning spent at the doctor's office, and then the opthamalogist's, I was put back on the Famcyclovir, and the Neurontin.
Back to square one, you might say.
Let me add that the pain of shingles is somewhere between the flame of a blow torch, and the whack of a steel pipe. The right side of my neck, the back of my head, my ear, my eye, my temple; well, just let's say they are the source of misery that is ongoing.
But the real point here is:
There is a vaccine, called Zostavax, and if you are over 60, you can prevent all of this from happening to you.
Now I know a lot of you are WAY younger than this. But some of you aren't. And some of you are creeping up on that magical number.
So here it is, free, my advice. GET IT! Go see your doctor, and ask about it. Be proactive. Such a simple thing........I wish I had done it.
Instead, I have probably several weeks ahead of me, hopefully getting better all the time.

And just for the record, I am not one bit shy about stating my age to be 62. It is a wonderful age, and it sure as hell beats the alternative.

From Crazy as a Loom


LA said...

I hate to hear about your case of the Shingles. Slow down and take care of yourself!!! That little virus can be very nasty!

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

So sorry to hear this Hilary.

I know how painful shingles is. I had it on my cheek. People need to know that the rash is just a signal about what is going on inside with the nerves. and the nerve involvement is why the pain is so excrutiating. I had it when I was 44 and going through a very stressful period in my life.

Your husband's advice about managing your level of activity and stress might be worth listening to ....

So sorry....do take care!

Anonymous said...

First of all, you look fabulous and no where near your stated age! Secondly, I am so sorry for your pain...I hope you feel better soon. Please take it easy and take care of yourself!
Jaimie in IL

weaverpat said...

Oh Hilary! It's hideous, isn't it? I had it several years ago, thought it was a spider bite at first. Mine started at my left eyebrow, went up over my forehead and affected the vision in my left eye. It took months to heal and I still get twinges of pain.
Thank you so much for spreading the word that there is a preventive medication! Hopefully others can be spared the misery.

Karen said...

Hope you are feeling better,soon. Get all the rest you can, so you heal faster! Thank you for letting us know about the vaccination, also.

Country Girl said...

And here I thought you were getting better. Oy. Thanks for the advice, too. Honestly.
And I had NO IDEA you were 62. You do NOT look 62.

Sugar Creek Beads said...

Oh my, shingles are a nightmare I have lived through twice. Both times on my back and chest and I learned that stress is so bad for making it worst, that and not continuing the meds long enough. Just starting to feel better is too soon to stop the meds. That little nightmare of a disease is just waiting to act up again if you stop too soon. Hang in there, with time the pain will go away. Feel better soon. Jeanne

Anonymous said...

Slooooow down my dear. Without your health you have nothing. Doctors go to med school for a reason so listen to what they ask of you.

What's the hurry? Sloooow down..

Take care,

Hilary said...

Like Kate, I was thinking.. hoping you were on the mend by now. I'm sorry you're still hurting, Hilary. Listen to you body.. especially since it's screaming right in your ear.

Love the little Junco.

Unspoken said...

I have heard that the shingles are horrid. so sorry for you!

Sharon said...

My friend's college student daughter was just diagnosed with it, so it's not exactly an over 60s thing. As a CFIDS person I'm not a candidate, maybe the only good thing about that. I-so-sorry.

Susan Harvey said...

You poor dear... I agree with everyone: slow down and take some time to heal. Everything will wait so there's no need to rush.

My hubby developed Bell's Palsy and had facial paralysis and extreme pain and neuralgia. They had him on a med cocktail for a long time. The facial exercises restored his facil muscles. A physiotherapist put him through his paces and worked him for a solid hour, three times a week.

10% of cases will have a relapse and he did but we quickly got to work and it didn't take as long to resolve. The side of his face ( and possibly yours?) may be very sensitive to the cold and you can have bouts of neuralgia so be careful to wrap up warm and avoid drafts.

Hope you are feeling better soon...

Charlotte said...

Oh you poor thing, it must be awful. I really hope you make a full recovery. I'm with Country Girl - you really don't look 62! Get well soon.

Valerie said...

Oh...I am so sorry you have to go through this!
Thank you for the reminder on the vaccine. The pneumonia vaccine is also one recommended at 60. I know way too many people in their 50's with pneumonia this year and pulled that one ahead of schedule this year for myself. Now the shingles vaccine is on my list of things to do.

Hope you're feeling better soon!

Need A Latte Mom said...

You symptoms sound very similiar to what my husband had (headaches, extreme pain and paralysis) He ended up with Bells Palsey, not sure of the spelling. GET ON THE STEROIDS NOW. It has been 6 months and he is almost completely recovered but it was a long process. The steroids were the key to avoiding permanant nerve damage/permenant paralysis.
The steroids help with the headaches also.
Keep us updated.
Relax and rest, give your body a chance to heal.

Unknown said...

I'll pass this on to my mom (If she hasn't already read this post). My grandmother came down with it at Thanksgiving a few years ago. It was awful. I had no idea there was a vaccine, so thanks for passing that tidbit along. I do hope you are feeling better sooner rather than later!

Be well.

Loree Jackson said...

They're not saying that if you have facial paralysis, that it will be permanent, are they? I hope not. I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma (benign tumor on the acoustic nerve) back in Sept. It is still small, so I am in watch and wait mode right now. One of the side effects of the cyberknife radiation can be facial numbness or paralysis. It's way more common with the surgery though, which there's no way I want to have the surgery! So I know it's frightening. Hope you feel better soon.

Kelly H-Y said...

Oh goodness! I am so sorry to hear that ... hope you are feeling back to yourself again very soon.


I'm sorry to hear your ill, take care of yourself. I know shingle are really awful my mom had them and it was a nightmare for her. Sending healing prayers your way!

Benita said...

I am so sorry you have shingles. A cousin of mine had them once (and he was in his 20's at the time!) and he was in a LOT of pain.

Take it easy and follow your husband's advice...but don't tell him you are doing it. :)

Michael said...

Sorry to hear about the Shingles! But you sound like one spitfire of a fighter so I'd imagine you'll be just fine. :)

SandyCarlson said...

That sounds very painful. I hope you are better soon, my friend.

Sharon said...

I just wanted to add that 62 is a wonderful age - it's mine! My doc's Rx for me - Listen to your body. Just sayin'

Jayme Goffin, The Coop Keeper said...

Ouch, I hear those are so painful. My girlfriend had them on her face an in her eye. I'm like you, if my life depended on medication, I'm be screwed. I hate swallowing pills. Hope it clears up soon for you, and you can manage the pain. And ya sure don't look 62.

Margreet said...

Hilary, sorry to hear about your shingles. I had it too some years ago at a stressful time, had it one side around my chest. Must be much worse having it on your face. Listen to your body and take things easy and do what you enjoy doing. Hope the pain will ease very soon.

ethelmaepotter! said...

Hello Hilary,
Just popped in to say thank you for visiting my blog, and I love yours so much, I've decided to follow!
Your photography is amazing, and your gray tabby with the white paws and belly looks just like my beloved Thelma Lou (yes, named after Barney's main squeeze!) Thelma Lou, alas, rests in Kitty Heaven now.
So sorry to hear shingles is causing you severe pain. My mother is just getting over shingles; she contracted it back in June, and she had a horrid time, allergic to two of the meds she was prescribed. I just last night saw on a pseudo-medical publication (I work at the post office, and saw this on the back cover) that the Shingles vaccine is recommended even for people who have already HAD Shingles! Have you any insight on that?
Love your blog; see you around in the blogosphere!

bspinner said...

Thanks for the information about Zostavax. Since I'm over 60 next time I'm at my doctors I'll have to ask him about it.

I'm so sorry to hear you're sick. I've heard shingles is one bad thing to have. Take it easy and listen to your doctors.

Be well,

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