Monday, November 09, 2020

The shingles saga continues

That's my tuna casserole for supper. It has green peas in it, and I discovered Sophie likes them. When I was breaking up frozen clumps, several spun away and landed in her water dish. She meticulously fished each one out and ate it!

Saturday, when I realized what was wrong and my doctor/brother confirmed that I had shingles, I was kind of cavalier about it. Sure, I remembered when my mom had it, at just about the age I am now. She suffered in agony for days, tried everything—osteopathic treatments, acupuncture, pain killers. Nothing worked until she discovered a physician, a family friend now gone, who injected the nerves and blocked them. She was blessedly free of pain and so relieved she didn’t seem to mind that the virus had knocked out some of her teeth. I was praying that wouldn’t happen to me, but John, my brother, assured me that since I was relatively pain-free, I would have a mild case. After all, I had the initial shot to prevent shingles; I just haven’t had the new, two-shot treatment for prevention. My doctor now says it’s in my future. 

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, everything suddenly changed. I had fierce, excruciating pains in my teeth and ear. Every time a pain hit, I could imagine a minute army of men deciding where to strike next—which tooth? The ear? Just in front of the ear? I was brought to tears a couple of times—unusual for me. 

Sunday morning as soon as it was reasonable, I called my doctor’s office answering service. The PA on call could do nothing for me: she wasn’t allowed to prescribe over the phone and, no, the doctor would definitely not take call. I was left to ride out the pain until Monday morning. Jordan has more—what? Boldness? Chutzpah? Nerve?—than I, and she announced that the situation was unacceptable. She called a wide network of friends, looking for pain meds. More importantly she bullied the PA into texting the doctor. He called almost immediately. We had a virtual appointment, and he prescribed meds. Jordan picked them up; I took my first dose and slept all afternoon. 

Sleep is one of the signs of healing I’ve always thought. Hope so. Last night I lay down for a quick nap at 8:45 and woke up three hours later. That’s why Jordan could demand today, “What were you doing texting at one o’clock in the morning?” I was taking care of business I’d missed all day. Today I slept hard for three hours in the afternoon and I hadn’t even taken one of the meds with codeine in it. 

The kids are afraid of contagion. Christian has had shingles and never wants it again. Jordan didn’t believe me that I can’t “give it” to Christian, because he already has the virus in his body. It’s the one that causes chicken pox in childhood, and if you have that disease as a kid, the virus stays hidden in your body, only to pop out, often in times of extreme stress. I clearly remember having the pox as a child and having socks put on my hands so I wouldn’t scratch my face.  The one I worry about is Jordan, who is in the cottage frequently and who has never, as far as I can remember, had chicken pox. I would say none of my kids have had it, but Megan once was tested and found to have had it. It must have been a mild case because none of us remember it.

Since I’m pretty much ostracized out here, I’ve been eating things that I like. Had leftover cod and a baked potato last night; eggs scrambled with mayonnaise this morning, a delicious salad of avocado, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese dressed with straight lemon juice for lunch, and for dinner—a tuna casserole, made the way I used to make it for the kids. Jordan doesn’t remember that and doesn’t want tuna in anything but tuna salad. Christian won’t eat tuna at all, so you see I have to take these opportunities. Since I’m feeling so much better, we will have a family meal tomorrow. It will be good not to be Typhoid Mary.
I always end emails and sometimes this blog with a caution to stay safe. Tonight, it strikes me there is so much to stay safe from—covid, shingles, angry trump supporters, the world at large. Y’all stay safe and well, healthy and happy.


Bobbi A. Chukran, Author said...

I feel for you, Judy. I hope you can find medical people/medications/treatments that help. I suspected I've had a mild case of shingles for several years, but my NP said that the vaccine wasn't really available here in Las Cruces at the time (she was right) and just sort of blew it off.

When we went for our flu shots a couple of weeks ago, they offered the new (Shingrex) shot and I went for it (different sides). Within a few days my arm was swollen and very hot and red with a weird out-of-my-mind itchy rash. Turns out, I had a rare (?) allergic reaction to the shot and was warned NOT to get the second one.

Now I have ALL the horrible symptoms of shingles--mostly numbness and shooting nerve pain in my legs and calves. I'm not sleeping much at night so that makes it worse. So far, the only thing that's helped has been an ointment with arnica in it (Dr. Bronner's) and aspirin. Interesting about your nerve injections--will look into that.

I noticed there are already a lot of class action suits out because of the new vaccine. I'm watching those closely.

Take care, stay safe!

bobbi c.

judyalter said...

Bobbi, so sorry for your bad experience. I am taking Lyrica, a medication which tells the nerves to quiet down. I also have Tylenol III but after that first bad day I have not taken it. I had the first shingles shot several years ago--obviously it did not work, but my doctor tells me after this episode I should get the new two-shot one. So you reaction and comment about lawsuits gives me pause. I'll do some research. Thanks for pointing it out.

I hope the pains in your legs stop. Maybe you could ask your doctor about Lyrica.

With thanks,
Judy A.

Bobbi A. Chukran, Author said...

Thanks, Judy. Will ask her about Lyrica.

I read that the new shots only protect like 50% of people who get them. Hope you're one of the lucky ones.


bobbi c.

Polly Iyer said...

Oh, Judy, I'm so sorry. My mother had shingles. I wasn't around but I remember her just about crying from them. I did have the early shot and the two following ones. Hope you find relief. 2020 has not been a good year.

Charlotte said...

Judy, Sorry to hear you have shingles! Its an ugly painful thing to have. I had what was called a mild case, but that didn’t keep me from suffering. I had meds, but evidently not the same ones you have as I couldn’t sleep nor eat - just mostly paced the floor. My great-granddaughter was a baby and I was to told to stay away from her. Hard to do, but I more or less isolated myself.

Have a quick recovery and enjoy your tuna!


judyalter said...

Thanks, Charlotte. So far this is a mild case, and I am lucky. The meds have almost banished the pain. I am sleepy and have an unusually voracious appetite. Generally I feel fine. I try to distance myself from the family members who have not had the chicken pox.

PS The tuna was so good!

judyalter said...

Thanks, Polly. The meds are working and I a pain free. Some side effects like sleepiness, but all is well. I had an experience without meds early Sunday morning, and it did reduce me to tears. I honestly could see why people commit suicide, but all tat is behind me now. I had the single shot, and now my doctor tells me the two-stage shot is in my future as soon as this is over! Thanks for your concern.