Saturday, September 15, 2012

Shingles

and I'm not talking roof tiles.

That's a little bit of my excuse for being lean on blog posts lately.  About two weeks ago, Craig's front tooth starting throbbing on the weekend and he commented that he hoped he wouldn't be needing an appointment for a root canal. 

By the next Tuesday, he woke up with one side of his face swollen from the eye across the cheek down onto his lip.  He'd been stung by a wasp on the finger the day before, so I thought it was possibly some sort of reaction spreading and urged him to see our doctor ASAP.  He said no because his trip to the urgent care in Kansas for a hornet sting took the doctor 5 minutes to tell him to go buy Claritin.  So I ran by Walgreen's and bought him some more allergy pills.

The allergy medication didn't seem to touch it as the swelling and pain increased, so he ended up at the doctor's on Friday.  She looked at his swollen face and thought it was possibly an allergic reaction and prescribed prednisone and painkillers with a note to come back on Tuesday for another look. Over the weekend, the medication reduced the swelling slightly, but the rash and sores became more pronounced. Craig wondered aloud if it could be shingles.  I dismissed that because I thought shingles were mainly on the back and trunk.  I thought it might be a whopper herpes outbreak like the fever blisters I'm prone to.

The doctor took one look on Tuesday and called her partner into the exam room.  They both concurred shingles and started him on large doses of prednisone, anti-virals, and more painkillers.

So we're almost two weeks in and every evening when we watch the evening news and see THIS, Craig pronounces that he thinks he got the shingles from this damn woman!

What causes shingles (herpes zoster)?  It's the chicken pox virus, varicella-zoster, that basically sits dormant in certain nerve endings in the body until it's activated years later.  You're more prone to shingles if you're over 60 (ahem), or your immune system is compromised in some way.  But really, they don't know.  It can be fairly random.  My niece had it at the age of 18 and ended up hospitalized with encephalitis, so it's nothing to mess with.  One article I read said you're more prone if you had chicken pox before the age of one (I did).

So, we can't wait to get back to the beach, any beach, but we're marooned here for awhile until the siege ends.  The rash and swelling have improved, but the pain's still there.  I know I'll be getting the shingles vaccination at my next appointment, and the doctor recommends Craig take it after six months (he'll have immunity until then).  It reduces the possibility of subsequent attacks by 50%.

Let's hope the pain doesn't linger for months. 

For now, photos of the beach will have to do! 





11 comments:

Janet said...

Oh no, sorry to hear about Craig's outbreak Becky. Here's to a speedy recovery. I think I'm going to look into that shingles vaccine, I hear of more and more people coming down with the shingles, ouch!

drgeo said...

Of course Craig can't drink with his medication, nor operate heavy machinery, but couldn't you just mix a little tequila in with the water you use to wash his feet or add to the oil for his hourly massage? Are white nurses' caps all the rage these days?

Anonymous said...

Poor Craig - I hear shingles are very painful. I didn't know there was a vaccine. May look into it.

I can't imagine a baby getting chicken pox. I bet you were a very sick, very unhappy baby!

Jeanne

Ann said...

Sorry to hear about this-I have a friend that got it while on Isla a few years ago--that was a tough few months! Not supposed to drink or be in the sun--really put a crimp in her time there! Hope it clears up quickly!

krisla said...

Sorry to hear about the shingles, & hear it can be very painful. I think salt water & beach sand would be the perfect antidote! love your photos :-)

Life's a Beach! said...

Janet, I think a lot of doctors recommend it when you turn 60. drgeo, he'll probably be on the pain pills for quite awhile, so I'm the designated driver. Jeanne, it is painful, so best avoided! I think I caught the chicken pox as a baby because I had a brother who was 2 1/2 years older. Ann, I wouldn't want to have it in the tropics! It's hard to avoid the sun here, but it's even more intense on Isla. Kris, salt water cures everything (except shingles)! I'm hoping it's all cleared up before our next trip.

Kay said...

I remember we all had the chicken pox when we lived in Dodge City. It was miserable then and shingles make it more so all these years later. GET THE VACCINE!

Life's a Beach! said...

Kay, we'll definitely be lining up for it! Craig doesn't remember when he had chicken pox, so I'll relay the message to him!

Jane H. said...

I haven't been keeping up with blogs lately, so just read this. Poor Craig, from what I've heard shingles is very painful. Hope he gets well soon.

CJ in Tucson said...

Can I get the shingles vaccination while in Belize? We are near Placencia.

CJ in Tucson said...

Can I get the shingles vaccine in Belize? (Placencia area).