Tuesday, March 19, 2013

More about my shingles than you probably care to know

Shingles should stay on roofs on rooves on the tops of houses where they belong, and not take up residence on the left side of my incredibly fit my truly amazing my aging and rapidly deteriorating torso.

This is a progress report.

I still have ’em or it or however one refers to shingles.

We are now in Week Four. Today is Day 23.

At the beginning, there were just some red marks and very little discomfort. People told me stories of themselves or their relatives and how excruciating their pain had been.

That was the word they used.


I smiled and said, “Well, maybe I have a very mild case, or maybe we started the treatment in time, but I have very little pain.”

Boy, was I wrong. I spoke too soon.

The red marks got redder and more fiery and spread until they made a solid band about three inches wide that wrapped around me from my navel to my spine, and as the band grew, so did the pain. I presume I am now in the latter stages, as the fiery red has faded into purplish and the individual pustules or whatever they are have begun to dry and form crusts. The pain, however, continues to worsen. It seems to have worked its way inward.

I have good days and bad days. Most of the nights are bad.

I don’t want to be a wuss or a big crybaby, but let me tell you something: This is not fun.

Nurse Ellie is urging me to take more acetaminaphen (Tylenol) than I want to, and more of the Neurontin (generic equivalent: gabapentin) than the doctor originally prescribed, which was one pill in the morning, one in the afternoon, and two at bedtime. To be fair, they’re the lowest dosage made (100 mg) and the doc said I could take more if I needed them. I have started taking two every time. It actually comes in various sizes up to 800 mg. Also, our pastor, who used to be a pharmacist, said that if I took that much Tylenol for a year it might damage my liver, but a month of it would not.

I just don’t like to take pills, but Nurse Ellie says, “Then you must not be hurting that bad.” So I take the pills.

Still, sometimes the pain is like fire, whooshing in when I least expect it. Other times it’s a steady ache I’m always conscious of. Sometimes it tingles. Sometimes it itches. So far I have managed not to do any scratching. It’s just odd to me that as the disease winds down, the pain has not decreased.

I’ll tell you what it is.

It’s excruciating.

Sorry, atheist readers (I know who you are), but I must now preach a little Christian sermon, mostly to myself:

I know enough Latin to know that ex and crucis mean “out of the cross.” In other words, it’s a bit like being crucified.

I haven’t had nails driven into my flesh yet.

Jesus suffered far worse on the cross than I am suffering at the moment with my light affliction* and He will help me get through this.

End of sermon.

Nurse Ellie also says, “Old age ain't for sissies or wimps,” and she’s right.

I will try to write no more about shingles,

But I’m not promising anything.


* “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (II Corinthians 4:16-19, KJV)


  1. I wouldn't take too much Tylenol for any amount of time, but I would definitely increase the Neurontin, which you have your doctor's blessing to do. I would also ask him or her for some Ambien (short-acting) or, better yet, Dalmane or Restoril (both of which are long-acting). These are all sleeping pills and will go a long way toward helping you get your rest. There are also narcotics, but the same doctor who might balk at a request for narcotics might not blink an eye at a request for sleeping pills, and they really do help.

  2. They're right about taking too much acetominophen. Ask your doc to prescribe something stronger for your pain. And don't be a wus - take the pain med regularly until the pain eases up.

    p.s. I am SO sorry you're hurting so much. Pain just ain't any fun!!

  3. Oh OUCH! Mucho sympathy and compassion RWP. That sounds dreadful. I was lucky enough to have chicken pox as a child and so hopefully will never have to experience the excruciating awfulness... (a BAND of pustuals?? REALLY? dang!).

  4. Thank you, Snow. I knew I could count on you to give me a list of alternate medications.

    Thank you, Mary Z., for the warning about the acetaminophen and for your sympathetic words. You're right - pain just ain't any fun at all!

    Thank you, Jewels, for the mucho sympathy and compassion. It doesn't just sound dreadful; it IS dreadful. Your other sentence makes sense only if you meant to say you were lucky enough NOT to have chicken pox as a child. It is people who HAVE had chicken pox who DO get shingles later in life, not the ones who DON'T. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I will hope and pray that you never get it/them.

  5. And maybe a dose of Romans 8 ~ "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us."

    Hope it helps to share your burden with us. Prayers for strength and healing now goin' up!

  6. Thank you, LightExpectations, for that wonderful dose of Romans 8. It does help me to share the burden, and by helping to bear it you are fulfilling the law of Christ to love your neighbor as yourself. I am so very grateful for your prayers.

  7. My human friend,

    Yes, it's me, friend of Jethro. Howdy Jethro! :)

    My human has told me of this condition you suffer with. He has a friend who thankfully, only had it for a few days and then the flare up went away.

    My human and I wish the pain to ease. Sending you pawsitive wishes and doggy kisses, to Jethro.

    Penny xx

  8. Hi, Bob, it is your old classmate, Louise. Regarding shingles....my husband had an acute case of it on the right side of his face. It actually began in his right eye and he was diagnosed early. Even so, he almost lost his vision in that eye. He had to use drops that were quite painful for the better part of four years. So, I am very sympathetic with your issue. Hope you are all better real soon.

  9. klahanie, please thank Penny for her kind note. Jethro sends his regards.

    Louise! How nice to hear from you! I am slowly getting better, with the operative word being "slowly" as the dad-blamed shingles are now in their fifth week.