It has been one year now since the Shingles virus ravaged my body. It came quietly one day and slowly over about 48 hours it hit full force. Being ignorant about the virus, I assumed it was just a rash thing and let it go as at first I felt just fine overall. After a couple days it started to hurt. I was covered on most of the right side of my chest and back, under my armpit and in the middle of my breastbone. Anywhere a bra would cover I was covered. I started feeling bad all over, tired and quite uncomfortable. My sister convinced me to go to the doctor. This is an issue as she has the most awesome and wonderful GP- Dr Jane. But Dr. Jane and her staff have issues with me not having Health Insurance. (like I don't?) They have grilled me about it and I continue to try to relay to them that I CAN NOT AFFORD Health Insurance. Period. Anyway, I went (cash in hand) and Dr. Jane wouldn't see me but passed me on to her PA. Fine with me, I needed drugs and relief. When she looked at my chest and back, she immediately went to Dr. Jane. Coming back she explained that I was the worst case they had on record. She wrote me two scripts; One for pain Tramidol (sp?) and something else to hit the virus. A Herpes drug. The Herpes medication was $155. I didn't fill it.
I went back to work that day. Took the free drugs they gave me and then went home. Shortly after that I started to get really sick. I didn't make it to work for the next two days. I was vomiting and sick to my stomach. I felt like I'd been run over by a Mack Truck, every muscle was sore and the pain from the rash was, to say the least, unbearable. It took me a day to figure out that the pain meds were what was making me vomit. Tramidol is not a controlled substance drug, however it does have the same results as Morphine. Hits the same receptors. My body doesn't like drugs. I've had reactions in the past to medications including anything with Codine. So, I stopped the Tramidol and suffered through with just Tylenol.
It took a good month before the rash started to subside. As it healed it sent shooting pains to those areas affected. Sharp, stabbing pain. Like a knife quickly slipping in and out again. This went on for WEEKS. The virus attacks the nerve endings at the rash site and sends wonderful blasts of pain to those spots. It was difficult to work. I was uncomfortable all of the time and so sick of alternating between Asprin, Tylenol and Motrine.
Around August I still had signs of the rash but was for the most part no longer in any pain. Once in a great while I'd get a little "shooter" but nothing compared to what it had been. I spent a lot of time researching the Shingles Virus educating myself and one day heard a story on the NPR station I listen to on the way to work about it.
Shingles is on the rise. More people are getting it than before because more kids have been vaccinated against Chicken Pox since the 1960's. If you've had Chicken Pox you have the chance of getting Shingles. Shingles attatches itself in your body during the Chicken Pox and lays dormant for years. Now, since children are not exposing adults to the virus – however subltly – we are not getting a natural immunity to it. Hence we in our 40's, 50's and 60's are breaking with Shingles at a much higher rate than before the Chicken Pox vaccine.
I am glad I have at least four more years before I have to worry about this again. I'm glad those months of pain are over and I am very happy to report that I have no visible scars. And lastly, I am embarassed to say that I never thought it was a big thing. Now I know better, it is a big thing and if anyone ever tells you they have it please don't make light of it. It is very, very painful.