bleh...shingles...not the roofing kind

honeyb2December 6, 2006

I've been feeling crappy for a few days, then hideous pain in my scalp, ear, eye, neck. Went to the doctor this morning and turns out it's shingles. I always heard this was a painful condition, but yikes! Maybe it's worse when it's in your head rather than your arm, leg whatever. And apparently I'm at risk of having it go into my eye and cause blindness. SO... I've been reading a lot about the newly approved shingles vaccine. Wish I had checked into it. I'm mostly writing this to encourage other forum members to talk about the vaccine with your doctors and consider it. According to the CDC, half of people who live to age 85 will get shingles, and it is estimated that more than a million new cases of shingles occur in the US each year. "Shingles and a complication called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), consisting of pain originating in damaged nerves that can persist for months or years, can diminish the quality of life and functional capacity of older adults, and markedly reduce their enjoyment of life." Yuck. I'm getting anti-viral treatment and we caught it fairly early, so hopefully I'm not going to be condemned to a life of misery - heck, I'm only 53! Well, off to take some narcotics. If I post anything weird in the next few days, please chalk it up to the drugs.

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That sucks. I'm younger than you and I had an outbreak on my torso a few years ago. Luckily, I knew that my mom and one of my bros had had shingles, so when the symptoms started I knew what it was and went to the doctor that day to get the meds. My primary care doc wasn't in that day, so I told the receptionist I didn't care what doc I saw, just get me in TODAY - I have shingles!

So I caught it before the blistering. Ugh. Still had to endure 2-3 weeks of the nerve pain. My mom was stupid. She didn't go to the doctor until too late, and had PHN for a long time.

If you had chicken pox as a kid, you'll most likely get shingles at some point.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 5:39PM
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Yikes! I had chicken pox. I'm going to ask about the vaccine. I go to Chinese Medicine so I doubt my Doc will know. He'll just give me some more herbs.
I think stress makes them worse so meditate.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 8:59PM
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Wow! DH had it like you're describing - in his facial nerve. He had excruciating headaches and half of his face became paralyzed. There was concern he had a brain tumor. I can remember going to see a neurologist and he called a neurosurgeon into the exam room with us. It was pretty scarey. They were looking him over and found the little blisters had become visible on his ear and right away they knew it was shingles - neurosurgeon left the room pronto. DH received some kind of antiviral medication and was significantly improved within 24 hours. He had no hearing or vision loss but he did have permanent equilibrium damage but has pretty much adjusted to that. Weird stuff....

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 9:20PM
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I had it last Easter-- I'm 46. Pain around my waist for 3 or 4 days, then blisters on my thigh. It freaked me out! I went in immediately, shingles was confirmed and anti-viral dispensed. That stuff worked like a dream; I was better within a few days and felt guilty that friends were feeling so sorry for me. I'm glad you were in time to get the a.v. med and wish you a speedy recovery.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 9:31PM
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I am 68 and had shingles back in probably 1995 or on my back, had meds, etc. and it got better not too long after. Now jump to early 2005 and it is back with a vengence (no blister,etc this time) and the pain is nearly unbearable. I have been going to pain management, have had 2 epiderals (no help at all) take pain pills/RX and have taken another nerve ending med. which didn't do much except maybe 20%. I just started Lyrica two weeks ago and it has helped some but I 'll tell you when about 4 hrs. is up I know it's time to take that and the pain meds. It is a deep, deep nerve pain that burns, ripples, tingles and just plain hurts up and down the right side of my back - spine to side and shoulder blade to under waist. I use roll-on and spray types of anelgesic (ben gay type), doesn't do much either. Really I wouldn't wish it on a sole. The doctor said I could have it the rest of my life or it could go away as quickly as it isn't that a bummer? (I'll say it does make me crabby just because of the pain and I don't much want to go a lot of places) To anyone that gets them, my sympathies to you.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 12:06AM
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got you all beat!

My son had shingles--at age 10! Docs said they are seeing shingles in younger and younger patients.

Best part (NOT) was that he gave chicken pox to my dd who had not been vaccinated yet! He had a very small blister patch on his stomach and really no other symptoms

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 7:30AM
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Yikes, Sue, that's awful - I'm so sorry for your relapse. And namabafo - your poor son! It's horrible to think about a child having to endure this. My SIL says she got it concurrently with mononucleosis at age 16 - that must have been quite a trial. Oh, well. I'm trying to be philosophical about this. I really believe that experiencing pain allows us to build compassion for others and have a greater appreciation for the good parts of life. (I'm one of those nutcases who wouldn't have missed natural childbirth for the world.) Of course, give me a few more weeks of this and I might not be so sanguine.

Gibby, Gina and sjerin - thank you for your good wishes and for the success stories that encourage me that a good outcome is possible.

Donna - I'll try meditating, but not sure I'm in the right frame of mind considering I'm either writhing in pain or high on narcotics. Have you seen the Ellen DeGeneris American Express ad where she's trying to meditate but keeps thinking about whether she was overcharged for a pair of socks? It's hilarious - anyone who's done meditation knows what that's like.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 10:39AM
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The virus lives in your spine, and when it "awakens" it comes around your torso like a girdle - the latin name for it means girdle something-or-other. Those of you who get it on your face - the virus lives in the top part of the spine.

The symptoms in my case started with itching - many folks just think they've got bug bites or allergies. My itching was soon accompanied by the weird nerve feelings. That's when I knew it was shingles. I had no marks or blisters.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 11:59AM
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Wow, i wish those of you who have this thing as speedy a recovery as possible. There was recently an outbreak of chicken pox on my block, among middle-schoolers, and they'd all had the vaccine, so most had only mild cases. Anyway, our pediatrician now recommends a booster chicken pox vaccine at age 5 or above, for those who had the vaccine early, at age one (or whenever it was recommended). I asked about the shingles vaccine, and they told me they only recommended it for those over age 60, but based on this thread, i would think it's a good idea to get it younger than that. Going to ask my doc...

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 6:12PM
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honeyb2, You don't have to meditate. Can you get in a bubble bath? If not just lay down and light some candles with nice music and take long deep slow breaths.
We're all thinking about you,

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 8:55AM
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honeyb2, I'm so sorry! I hope you heal ASAP.

My little brother was diagnosed with this a few years back. It is located on his face. It was right after the Muppets creator passed on, and the initial thought from the attending ER docs was flesh eating bacteria! I grabbed him and drove straight in town to Boston, and thank goodness that there the docs recognized it as shingles. Very scary experience.

Wishes for healing coming your way,


    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 9:22AM
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Yikes again - flesh eating bacteria? Yup, I think the best thing about shingles is that good feeling you get when you find out it's "just shingles" and not something fatal. You're a good sister, Nat. Anyway, thanks for the good wishes all. I'm feeling a bit better, rotating my meds to stay ahead of the pain while trying to avoid aggravating my blood pressure problems (from the ibuprofen), damaging my liver (from the tylenol), and becoming over-narcotized (from the oxycodone) and I think the anti-viral is starting to do it's thing. And DH is home from his business trip so I have company. And I'm distracting myself by hanging around the forum and responding to waaaay too many posts on the Discussions side. Advising people about faucets and refrigerator panels has a strangely soothing affect on me, LOL. Maybe a bubble bath and candles this evening. Thanks again... you have been a balm to my sufferin' soul. : - )

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 1:37PM
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Oh gosh, I had no idea shingles was so horrid!! I had some vague idea of it being like a mild recurrence of chicken pox. Yowza!!! You poor thing!!! I'll stop whining about my kidney stone now :)

I am going to ask my doctor about the vaccine. I wonder why they don't recommend it until after age 60? Is it because it might trigger a mild case?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 5:10PM
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Hope you're feeling better, honeyb. My dad had a case several years ago. He went to the ER one weekend and they treated him for something else. A week goes by before he's diagnosed with shingles. The doctor went to get his camera. Said it was the worse case he had seen in his 45yrs! So far, they have not reoccured.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 6:57PM
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seeking - with a kidney stone, you're entitled to whine or scream or moan as needed,no apologies needed.

allison - that's encouraging that your dad recovered and has not had a recurrence. My DH is an MD and he had trouble figuring out what the heck was going on with me b/c it was headache/earache and no lesions. It can be hard to diagnose when the blisters haven't come out or are hidden on the scalp. Anyway, thanks for the good wishes everyone. I was really uncomfortable for one week, but now the antiviral and the medication for neuropathic pain (neurontin) are helping a lot and I didn't need to take anything else today. I feel like I'm drunk from the neurontin, but hey, I can handle that better than pain. It's actually sort of pleasant. So thanks for the good wishes and I hope anyone else who is under the weather around here starts to feel better too as the holidays approach and we need to muster all the stamina we can!


    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 8:42PM
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