Nicholas L. M. Allen
Mar 22, 2023
No, not the shingles on your roof, but the debilitating illness that stems from a bout of chickenpox.
I first got shingles in the summer of 2020. It was a brutal experience, with the doctors only medicating for the pain. The kicker is, had I gone into the emergency room within the first 72 hours, I could have been saved those two weeks of agony by simply getting the vaccine.
It was kind of ironic that my first time isolating because of illness was from shingles during a global pandemic.
I don’t blame myself for not recognizing the signs sooner as I had no experience apart from the commercials on TV telling people over 50 to get vaccinated for Shingles. I had no idea it could happen to me at the age of 22, but working on service rigs was the catalyst it needed.
So, I wanted to use my experience with the virus to help others who may one day find themselves faced with the very same complications I did.
Firstly, you cannot contract shingles if you have never had chickenpox. It is the same virus, called varicella zoster, lying dormant in your brain stem until periods of increased stress and/or a weakened immune system.
Second, it will only appear on one side of your body as a rash. Note that this rash is responsible for spreading chickenpox and why I had to isolate myself. This rash can appear on the face and that is when serious complications can occur. Luckily I had it on my ribs, though it may have led to the late diagnosis as, at the time, we thought it was a chemical burn.
Now I have one of the common problems that can arise after a battle with the virus and its called postherpetic neuralgia.
The pain has lasted long after the rash and blisters of shingles went away. The risk of postherpetic neuralgia rises with age and mainly effects people over 60.
There’s no cure, but treatments can help ease the symptoms. For most people, postherpetic neuralgia gets better over time. I’m still hoping that happens.
It can be a struggle, especially with the sudden temperature changes affecting my hip and hand quite severely some days. Most of all, I look forward to the warm weather and being able to stay outside more.
I hope this was informative for some, and I really hope anyone unlucky enough to contract it like I did is able to spot the rash and recognize it before it is too late to treat.