October 16, 2021

Don't Do What I Did

This past January my doctor offered me the shingles vaccine at my annual check-up. Already concerned about soon being able to get the Covid-19 vaccine, I told her that I wanted to read up on it.

Part of my thinking was that I rarely get sick, even with a cold.

This was a huge error. 

22 days ago today, I came down with shingles. It started with a stabbing pain in my shoulder blade in the middle of the night. I couldn't imagine what this pain was, as I hadn't done anything strenuous the day before. The next night the pain was so severe that I had to take some leftover Vicodin that I luckily had from 2012 when my daughter had nose surgery. The pain continued to grow. On day 4, I went to the chiropractor but also noticed a small rash under my armpit that I thought was poison ivy. 

By day 5, the rash had grown under my armpit, to what you see in the photo above. It wrapped around to my backbone, as well as around front, to my breast bone, like a wide, very angry stripe.

Shingles, as you likely know, is the chickenpox virus, that lies dormant in the spinal column after you have it, for years.

Until it doesn't.

It also usually only shows up on one side of the body, as it did with me (thankfully).

Anyway, on day 6, I went to the doctor who confirmed shingles. She put me on the anti-viral Valacyclovir and gave me Tramadol for the pain. 

On day 7, I was sick as a dog. I had felt exhausted and flu-ish for days but suddenly couldn't keep anything down, including the meds. I didn't know if this was a reaction to the pain or the meds. The excruciating pain had transferred down into my hips and legs where your nerve endings trail. 

The doctor said I was breaking through the pain med and gave me 2 stronger ones, Gabapentin and a stronger Vicodin.

The meds (including Ibuprofen) were key in the following 2 weeks for managing the pain but I had to take them very religiously or I was in trouble. 

On day 12, I got advice from a naturopathic doctor to get a Vitamin B12 shot, which I think (?) gave me some relief from the pain, but my regular doctor would only give me one shot, as my B12 level was in the normal range.

So tonight, I write urging anyone who hasn't had the shingles vaccine to get it, as I have never been as sick as this in my whole life. 5 people I know have gotten the vaccine in the last few weeks and haven't had any side effects from it.

Tonight, I celebrate as I write this, as it's been 15 hours since I have taken any pain meds, for the first time in 22 days.

Believe me, you don't want to get shingles.

It turned me into a pain coping cuckoo, who I haven't been able to recognize, for weeks.

11/2/21  Good update: I have been having acupuncture I am doing so much better. No ibuprofen for a week :-)