Every so often I find myself repeating the part about How I Hate Getting Sick, mostly because I'm sick again. This latest one is especially bewildering.
It started slowly last week, as I felt myself getting achy and uncomfortable. I assumed it was the lack of a chiropractic adjustment or just the changing weather, just as I kept trying to explain away the sudden chills and tingling sensations as just a reaction to the cold snap across the northeast. It was weird, though, how I would go to adjust the thermostat, and find it already set a usually comfortable 72 degrees.
And then Thursday, around noontime, all hell broke loose.
As the pain across my chest became suddenly more pronounced, and the tingles more sharp, I rushed to the bathroom and discovered that I was breaking out in a rash, compete with welts and bumps. I was confused, wracking my brain to try and recall exposure to poison ivy or poison oak; I contemplated a poisonous spider bite. After cancelling my afternoon plans, I tried calling my doctor, but no appointment was available. I rushed to the emergency room instead.
The emergency room is an odd place to go to alone. There's no one to stand by and say vaguely comforting things, or idle away the near endless time spent waiting taking one's mind off of impending doom. I realized, as I nearly fell asleep waiting to see a doctor, that I was also exhausted.
The diagnosis, though, was pretty much immediate: I had come down with Shingles, the adult form of chicken pox. For some reason, I had always assumed shingles meant painful, exposed, raw skin rather than a sudden rash (my mother says "that's psoriasis"), so it hadn't even occurred to me. I can now report that the principle sensation, as with chicken pox, is a sudden nervous flux - all my nerve endings, rash or not, were sending off confused signals (hence the chills and tingles, and the soreness in odd places), and my perplexed brain was in overdrive tryng to process and sort them out.
Knowing, as they say, is half the battle; having shingles is difficult, but I feel better just having a diagnosis and a treatment. The round the clock antiviral pills are a bit of a chore, but they do seem to (gradually) be taking effect. And while I initially bowled myself over with pain medication, the discomfort seems to be decreasing, again slowly, and I'm trying to make do with a less extreme pain management approach.
When it comes to illness, I'm kind of old fashioned, in that I think sound mind eads to sound body; I don't think shingles just happens, and I suspect stress and moments of feeling down didn't help me to fight off whatever caused the outbreak to occur. It's hard, still, to give myself the room to just admit to my weakness, and let my body deal with fighting a virus without added stress. But I'm trying to let go of old notions that I'm just a weak person, who should've had more personal resilience to not get sick in the first place.
Mostly, of course, I just want this to be over, for life to resume its normal pace, to get on with the things I was planning to get on with before illness struck. That's not quite, I know, how this works. For the moment, I just have to deal with being ill, and hopefully, in a short, manageable period of time I will be well. But having to see this through... well, ain't that a kick in the head? Yes, it is. A painful one.