My view on Shingles

We’ve all seen the commercials.

If you’ve had chickenpox the shingles virus is already inside you.

Sounds creepy. That’s exactly what shingles is though. Creepy.

When I found out I have shingles, it made the last few weeks make sense. The week prior I went to the gym on Tuesday. I was overly worn out and not even wanting to go run. 2 miles in and I was burning up so I called it quits. Went and sat in the massage chair to relax a bit before heading home. I remember feeling a weird burning pain on my back. I would touch it but feel nothing. This went on the next few days and I just figured it was something they used to clean the massage chair. That weekend my back was hurting, I figured I had a trigger point in my back that I needed to massage out. Took some baths hoping that would help. Monday comes around and all day at work my back was itching/burning. I was going to ask someone in the bathroom to check my back and see if they saw anything but decided against it because I am not that comfortable with people. When I get home I use my phone to check my back and I look in the mirror. Didn’t see anything at all. I did notice a weird set of bumps on my side, camouflaged by my tattoo. I attributed it to a rash from my sports bra and didn’t think anything about it. The next day I wake up and my dog is covered in red bumps all over her belly. I gave her some different treat a few days prior and figured she was having a weird reaction, then I notice I have a new set of bumps under my left breast.

This is where I begin to lose my sanity.

After my dentist appointment on Tuesday I stop by the vet to show them the picture of Nalah. They tell me to bring her in the next day (Wednesday). I go home and wash everything the dog had contact with. Pillows, blankets, towels, bed sheets. Everything. Strip my bed and spray my mattress with flea spray and with spider spray. In my head, something was biting me and bit Nalah. Made the bed and got some sleep. Wednesday I leave work early to take the dog to the vet. They didn’t find any mites or bugs on Nalah at all. She was having a reaction to something and got sent home with antibiotics and shampoo. She started the medication Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, I am still cleaning up and getting rid of any bugs I think are in the apartment. Get to class and I am more tired than usual. When I got home and showered, I noticed more bites on me. This is when I decided to draw circles around my “bites” so I can easily distinguish new ones from old ones. Thursday I noticed new bites on my back. That night I decided to take benedryl before I go to sleep to help get rid of the “bites”. Friday at work my skin felt like something was crawling on it. The bites under my left breast were irritated by my bra so I put calamine lotion and gauze on it to protect it. The “bites” were starting to itch. I had no idea what was going on with me or what was in store for me.

Friday night after work I was exhausted. I began doing research for my paper I had due over the weekend. I shower and get ready for bed. Put calamine lotion on, take a benedryl then go to bed. Midnight, I woke up screaming in pain. In a benedryl-induced daze, all I remember is screaming and knowing I needed to get to the doctor but I couldn’t drive. I get on my phone and look at what time the doctor office opens in the morning. In my head, I had gotten bit by a brown recluse and this was it. If I survived until the doctor office opened I was going for sure. I was in and out for the rest of the night. Probably got 2 hours of sleep total. The pain was intense. Go to the doctor and sit in pain waiting. Finally get into the room and am told I have to put a gown on, “open to the front”. When the doctor walks in I had already been crying from being in pain that was unrelenting. She lifted up the gown and said, “Oh you poor thing, you have shingles…..not the worst case I have ever seen but it’s pretty bad.” Shingles? Like in the commercial with all the old people? How did this happen? The doctor tells me stress can cause the outbreak. Great. So I ask how long will this go on for and she tells me, the rash could last 2-3 weeks. The itching and pain could last up to a month, sometimes longer if there is nerve damage. That was not the answer I was hoping for. I had thought my “bug bites” were getting better. Turns out I was far from getting better.

—Fast Forward to Today—

I got 8 hours of sleep total for the weekend. Night time is the worst pain ever. Taking 2 Tylenol 3 gets me 3 hours of dead-like sleep. Then its tossing and turning the rest of the night. Day 3 of taking a million pills a day and I am over it. The pain isn’t getting any better, its actually getting worse during the day. The bumps are getting darker. I noticed a new small set of bumps. I AM SO TIRED. I cannot remember anything except for how tired I am. I need sleep but I know I will not get it. There is no getting comfortable.

Yesterday I told myself I needed to be positive through this. There is an end. But then seeing how I am still in the beginning stages really lets me down. Being in pain all day is wearing me down, on top of already being worn out. I can feel the depression trying to start in despite my knowing I need to fight that. I am running low on fight. I feel so alone and still have things I need to do. It’s my last week of classes, I have finals. I didn’t get anything but a paper wrote over the weekend, none of the housework got done. Work was more frustrating then usual today. I just want to relax as best I can. Just sit and not worry about homework, housework, work, or anything at all. Just sleep or zone out. I just want to be done with this. I will not let you break me though shingles. I am tough and I will win.

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