One of us has been sick with shingles. ON HER FACE. AND IN HER NOSE.
Shingle bells, shingle bells, shingles ALL the way…
We”ll spare you the finer details—unless you have a of couple hours, a strong stomach, and want to chat—but the experience has left us with a list of three Lessons Learned that we’d like to share.
1. Don’t get shingles on your face.
It hurts like stink all the way to the back of your eyeballs. In fact, for a day or two at the beginning, we thought the swelling and pain was due to a recent root canal gone seriously bad. As it turned out, that probably would have been better.
Once awakened, the dormant chickenpox virus that lingers in all previous inflictees morphs into a bad-tempered, sun-seeking viper with blood red eyes, an evil temper, and epic halitosis. It snakes through the nerves, needle-like tongue flicking hungrily as it searches for a path out, undulating until it finds a way up through the skin surface where it can finally ooze its way into the warmth of day, emerging as taut, shiny little blisters. The nerves along the path become inflamed and incredibly sensitive, making this flicking business extremely uncomfortable. On top of all that, you have a virus in the classic sense of “You are now officially going to feel like ten pounds of nasty in a five-pound bag for a solid week or so.”
Regardless of a reasonable explanation for why it’s called “shingles,” it should, at minimum, be called “stingles,” and even that’s too cutesy. There must be government funding available for a campaign to change the name to “bubonic blisters,” right?
We hope this short description has adequately motivated you for #2 Lesson below.
2. Do get a shingles vaccine.
Once again, there’s proof that we’re early adopters in this household, as shingles usually strikes people aged 60 or older. (Apparently, exceptions can be made to this rule.) Fortunately, the risk of reactivating the virus can be reduced by a shot of Zostavax.
Note to y’all in the relevant age category, or have friends or relatives who qualify: GET. THE. VACCINE.
Since a decent case of shingles helps develop an immunity to it, Kathy probably won’t get the vaccine now. It’s an ironic upside to an otherwise lackluster experience, unless you also count losing eight pounds in eight days an “upside.” Yes, the eight pounds was sort of a perk, but not one that comes anywhere close to compensating for the cost of entry.
3. Shingles is unleashed by stress. Therefore, we have come to a firm resolve that we must do more.
While the online experts aren’t willing to bet their snazzy white lab coats on it, the consensus seems to be that a compromised immune system and/or stress are the culprits that open the door to the sleeping viper. And as life-style wake-up calls go, the medic seems to think it’s been a pretty gentle knock at the door.
One option is to just hit the snooze button and wait for loved ones to wear red in her memory. An alternate path, and one we have decided is the better way to go, is to resolve to do more.
More yogurt and fresh fish.
More stretching and gratitude and sunshine.
More playing music and singing.
More driving in the right-hand lane, and more silent blessing of the aggressive pre-shingles candidates in the far left lane who seem intent on turning each other into organ donors.
More yoga (Okay… some yoga. Baby steps.)
And more baby steps in this general direction.
Sometimes, more actually is more.