The things we’ve learned about shingles recently have nothing to do with the finishing touches on your house, or improving the looks of an existing structure. They also don’t have the life span of the average asphalt shingle, thank goodness. While both can be a challenge to grapple with, one is a much more personal test of endurance, patience and tolerance. Replacing shingles on a roof is hard work and takes time, planning and patience. Waiting for an outbreak of shingles to leave your body is truly a test of endurance, because, after all, there is nothing you can do about it. You can’t wish them away, or take a pill and have them disappear. The duration is different for different people, as is the severity or intensity of the symptoms. This much we have learned.
I have the shingles. It started off with an eye that was scratchy and uncomfortable. Then I got a tender place on top of my head for no apparent reason and no visual indications. The next day my eye began to hurt so I went to the optometrist (who we have been seeing for years. He is very knowledgeable and we trust his judgement.) and got some drops for the inflammation. We then went to our internist for basic checkups, and he looked at the tender place and the eye. This appointment had been scheduled several weeks before. The next day my eye still hurt and the whole side of my head was becoming tender or sensitive. Fern asked the nurse at school what she thought, and absent any other symptoms, she said it may be shingles. We called our doctor with the new symptoms and he called in a viral antibiotic made for shingles.
Shingles are new in our household. My symptoms were not the classic, large patches of red skin with little bumps that blister and burst. We don’t know if catching it early and starting the antibiotics prevented this, or if I would ever have had this, but I don’t. The right upper half of my head is extremely tender, and I have a half a dozen little red spots, one directly under my eye and two on my forehead, which we’ve been treating with Caladryl. All of this is liveable. Well, I guess it’s actually all liveable. But, on occasion, I will have a shooting pain behind my ear, or right above my eye socket, this is to go along with the moderate headache that I have constantly. I also have had a low grade fever most of the time. One minute I can be burning up, and the next minute, I’m freezing.
Other symptoms include sporadic nausea. We don’t know whether this comes from the shingles or the medication to treat the shingles. My appetite is off. Sometimes I’m starving, which is normal for me. But there are also periods where I have no appetite. My sleep has been disrupted, and for the last ten days I have woke up every morning with the pain behind my ear pounding and a severe headache, but only on the half of my head that’s tender. But there are times when I feel just fine, but we can’t find a pattern to this, and it doesn’t last long, at the most a couple of hours a day.
I believe at times I’m delusional, because once, when I was looking in the mirror at the red spots, I actually thought I was charming and handsome. Good to see I haven’t lost my sense of humor. We’ve been told by multiple folks that have had shingles, that these symptoms will pass, from start to finish in about two weeks. Others say, these symptoms can linger for months. We’re shooting for two weeks. So, if you’re wondering why you haven’t heard a post from me in a while, it’s because I feel terrible. And even ice cream does not cure this. More humor.
Things we have learned. Shingles are related to and in the same family as chicken pox. Shingles for the most part, are not contagious, unless you have an open sore, similar to chicken pox. There is a vaccine for it, like chicken pox. But, like chicken pox, you have to get the vaccine before you get the shingles. Some sources say you can’t get shingles more than once, like chicken pox, but in rare cases, it can happen, like chicken pox. Does shingles kill? Not normally, but it can.
So, now here’s the question. About ten days ago, I got in my car, drove to the optometrist, then drove to my internist, and drove home. The next day, we talked to the school nurse, called the doctor, he called in a prescription, we picked it up, came home and started treatment, while also using over the counter skin products. Now. The question is: Would any of this have been possible during a grid down situation? Or any type of collapse, whatever the reason being? Would I have been able to diagnose this myself? Maybe in the advanced stages. So, what would I have done? Sometimes we need to ponder these thoughts.
Outside of the rare, rare occasion, we always have electricity, and our cell phones always work. The pharmacy always has medication and on that rare occasion they’re out of something, it will be there in a short period of time. What about the gasoline we need to drive there? What about the relative security of free travel? What about the liberty and freedom to choose what doctors I go to? These are all things that I and most folks take for granted. They will just always be there, because they always have been. Always have been. Always have been in my life time.
But my grandmother lived on the same planet I live on, and they weren’t always there during her lifetime. But then she was born in a covered wagon. Folks, my grandmother lived during the same time frame that
many of our grandmother’s lived. When she was born, there was no electricity. There was no telephone, school nurse, and the conveniences that we always accept as always being there. My grandmother is not some mythological creature from the dark ages, this is my daddy’s mother. Folks, there may come a day soon when we can’t say, it’s always been there. We have very short memories. It hasn’t always been there. And tomorrow, next week, next month, it may not be there again. So my question was, what would I do without all the above mentioned? I would have to make due, just like my grandmother did. She lived to be a fruitful old woman.
We’ll talk more later. Frank