Since this is my blog and I pay for it and everything, I feel entitled to have a bit of a moan about my illness.
It goes like this. When I was a kid, I was almost never ill. I mean, apart from the whooping cough that saw me miss a term of Junior school, I never seemed to catch anything. No measles, no mumps, no chicken pox.
Which makes it all the more puzzling that, following a virus I had in mid-December, I developed Shingles. Which of course, I didn’t know what it could be, because how could it be that? Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox, which lies dormant in your nervous system and can re-emerge in adulthood with a vengeance. But I never had chicken pox, so how could I have Shingles?
I am sitting here, weeks into this, experiencing painful stabbing sensations in my side because it lingers on (and on).
So I got a cold-like virus in mid December, which was bad enough that I had to take a couple of days off work with a sore throat and a dodgy inner ear etc. I went back to work after the weekend, but I still felt rough for the final week of term, coughing a lot, and with an achy feeling around my rib cage. I thought this pain was to do with coughing, you know, like I’d pulled a muscle or something. I did Covid tests, which were negative.
Driving to France on 21 December, I was really uncomfortable with the feeling of the car seat against my back. I had to sit forward, touching the seat back as little as possible for the whole 12-hour journey. Weird. When I arrived, I discovered the rash, which was was painful, not itchy, blistery, and in a weird pattern on one side of my body only. Only when a friend suggested that it might be Shingles did I google it. I won’t include the picture here, because it’s gross, but if you google image search “shingles rash” I looked more or less exactly like the second picture along.
The depressing news was that everything you read about Shingles says it will last 4-5 weeks. Welp. Here we are, a full month in, and I still have the (somewhat faded, less blistery) rash, still some discomfort, and still having very rough nights of restricted sleep because I have to lie in an unnatural position, because of the post herpetic neuralgia, which is a massive pain in the
In the first week, around Christmas (natch), I also had a low grade fever, horrible headache, and a pain all the way down my right hand side, from the tips of my hair follicles down to my toes. I kept thinking of Marvin the Paranoid Android and his “pain in the diodes all the way down my left side”. Neuralgic pain is no joke, and I’ve been eating pain killers for England. And France. Very inconvenient in France, because you can’t buy so much as a paracetamol without visiting a pharmacy. It made me laugh when we got back to the UK in January and I stopped at a petrol station and bought some ibuprofen. Lol, France.
The worst thing is, there seems to be no effective cream to soothe the rash. A kind of calamine cream provides (very) temporary relief. When it has been itchy, anti-itch cream works for about 20 minutes. Germolene with a local anaesthetic in it works for a bit. The only relief for the pain is to put pressure on it, which means lying on that side rather than the other in bed, and sometimes clutching yourself as if you’re having an angina attack or something.
I didn’t see a doctor, of course. Because (at first) I was in France, and then it’s just impossible to get an appointment around where we live.
It’s been bloody horrible and I hate it, and I strongly recommend you don’t get it.