Monthly Archives: July 2014

Shingles

Let’s take a moment to discuss Shingles. First off, the name. Why is it called Shingles? I’m sure it has some Latin root that I could easily google but I prefer to think of it as originating because of the rash’s resemblance to what it would look like if you got a full rub down by roofing shingles over half of your body. How it feels might also be similar to being hit repeatedly in one spot with a bag of new roofing shingles before a piece is used sandpaper-like to rough up the skin in that same spot. Because the pain isn’t just surface. The virus lives in the nerve roots so you feel it deeply.

I’m sure everyone is concerned about the hip replacement. Well, the hip is FINE! Range of motion is improving. I have mostly graduated from the walker to a cane. Although I love the walker so much I still use it to make things easier. My PT comes to the house 3 days a week and I have started doing stairs. He thinks I’ll be comfortably walking unassisted next week.

But the Shingles. OMG, we have reached the “fucking kill myself” level. I realize that I got a significant portion of my bone structure hacked out and replaced with metal and plastic but really, that was NBD compared to the Shingles. My thoughts were echoed by my friend who has had several open heart surgeries and has had shingles. She gets it too. I am searching on Craigslist for some spiritual cleanser to come burn sage or a Shamen to help appease the spirits that apparently are here to spite me.

This week I met with the orthopedic surgeon and everything looks great. I’m healing well. I also saw the Infectious Disease doctor. This appointment was more complicated. I’m on high doses of Valtrex for the Shingles. Yes, that’s the drug that also treats genital herpes. Fact: Shingles’ medical term is herpes zoster so it is related somehow to herpes simplex. I’ve been taking 6 times higher dose for the shingles than is typically prescribed for herpes. I’ve taken this drug before at the prophylactic dose and it upsets my stomach. At this high dose I have nausea and lack of appetite. I’ve been having a difficult time getting enough calories and nutrients each day. This makes me feel even more tired.

I’ve been told that typical pain medications do not work on the nerve pain so I’m off all narcotics and I’m just taking meds that I’ve been prescribed for neuropathy. I also use lidocaine cream on the rash followed by capsaicin cream as recommended by the doc. The capsaicin cream is made from hot peppers so it burns your skin and nerve endings to relieve the pain. The lidocaine cream is because the capsaicin burns your skin. The object here is to avoid long term nerve damage that can occur if shingles in some older people if it’s not treated properly. My doc said that I’m essentially an old person so she’s not sure how my body will react.

So, here I sit with an ice pack on my back. I haven’t worn a bra in 2 weeks. Not that I need a bra for anything other than a formality but I just can’t have anything other than a soft loose tshirt against my skin. We did make it out to see fireworks last night. I have gotten used to the looks I get for walking around with my granny walker. Jeffery likes to point out all the people over age 80 who have the same walker as me. I say good for them for doing what they need to do to stay active. The elderly are now my peeps.

Pelotonia sunglasses from the James.

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