Sunday, November 11, 2018

Adventures with Shingles

As is often the case, we managed to slip a week of something intense into the schedule, with almost no visible disruption.  My sister stepped right up to the plate and covered for me on the magazine while also running her soap business and some other less pleasant responsibilities.  I know that I am extremely lucky to be able to just relax.  That is rare.  I want to share how many different modalities were used together.  In my mind, there is a place for all manner of healing, and they can help each other work better. 
One day a couple of weeks ago, I was working on the index for 2018 magazines (still need to work on that!), and felt as if I'd pulled a muscle around the right, rear rib cage.  Probably slouching in the desk chair.  It didn't go away, and by the third night it hurt so badly that I couldn't sleep.  Middle of the night Google had me on the phone first thing the next morning, sure that we were dealing with a ruptured gallbladder.  That may sound alarmist, but I've (just barely) survived a ruptured organ in the past, and the pain was similar.

The skin was becoming very tender along that side, but it was probably from my touching it, right? 

We get to the doctor, who does NOT mock me (much) for Googling in the middle of the night.  She asks how long I've had this rash.  WHAT??? 3 tiny little pinheads.  Not even blistered yet.
Once again, I am very fortunate.  It is very early in the course of this outbreak, meaning that anti-viral medication will help shorten the duration and severity.  I shudder to think how bad it could have been.  She sends me on my way with a prescription for Valtrex and for 5% lidocaine patches with instructions to use tylenol as needed.  The   patches are denied by my insurance, so the pharmacist suggests Aspercreme 4% patches.  Later insurance allowed the 5%, and that 1% made a huge difference.  Still, the Aspercreme patches were better than nothing.

When I got home, I posted on social media about it.  My friends didn't let me down.  I'd already planned to get Ravensara essential oil blended in Calophyllum from Nature's Gift, and Marge mentioned that it could be overnighted.  I foolishly passed on that, and wound up waiting a few days.
In the meantime I put some lemon balm hydrosol in a spray bottle, and mixed St John's wort and Lemon Balm tincture in a dropper bottle.  They were all very helpful.  Sometimes just spraying the lemon balm hydrosol stopped the pain briefly.  Maryanne bottled up some SJW infused oil for me.

Several people mentioned Vitamin B-12 and L-Lysine.  These both make perfect sense.  A couple people recommended an antihistamine for sleep.  Ah sleep, you elusive tease!

Sleep was the hardest thing.  I tried breathing exercises as well as Reiki, with moderate success, but it didn't allow sleep.  My rash was around my waist on one side, spine to navel.  It was impossible to get comfortable.  The same was true during the day, but night time brought a sense of eternal dread.  The doctor prescribed Gabapentin at a low dose.  It made me sleep, but first I had to spend a couple of hours retching. 
NOTE:  The first night, I'd also tried everything at once.  Everything.  At once.  That meant that I didn't know what caused the retching.  The next night I found out it was indeed the gabapentin, so no more of that.  She then prescribed a low dose of elavil.  That worked perfectly.  Don't try everything at one time.

Slowly but surely, the rash receded.  It never got oozy or scabby.  I believe that probably has a lot to do with the anti-viral medication, but the topicals were probably very valuable too.  10 days in, I'm only using a patch and an elavil at night, and that's probably only because of a fear of pain, more than the reality. 

I hope this helps someone.  As miserable as you might think this ailment is, it's much worse.  I hesitated to write this up because I know many purists who shun OTC and pharmaceuticals.  That's fine.  Generally speaking, I always reach for herbal and energetic medicines first, but there are times when we need to combine everything in the arsenol. 


Betsy said...

Truly sorry to read about your bout with shingles, Tina. Thank you for writing about your experience. From what others have said, shingles can be just awful.
So... (I'm wondering a few things, because my doctor has asked if I want a shingles vaccine and I haven't agreed to one yet. I have never had a flu shot, but because of foraging and gardening I did pay for another tetanus booster.) My questions... Did you have a vaccine? Would you recommend one? Can you get a vaccine after a bout of shingles? What are your thoughts about the shingles vaccine?

Tina Sams said...

When I was picking up the last (thankfully!) pain medication, I joked with the pharmacist that I would happily stand there and talk people into the vaccine. At the time, there was no vaccine - it was all gone!

I need to do a little research, but this vaccine just doesn't make any sense to me. What is the difference between a vaccine and having had it already? Or having chicken pox earlier? If they can give a vaccine against shingles, why can't they do the same for genital herpes? The chicken pox vaccine is really too "young" to say, yet I've heard that it only lasts a couple decades, and then those who had the vaccine as children are in more danger than they were when they were small.

This isn't a great answer, is it?

As an aside, I was at the doctor's for a routine check up the other week. I was telling the doctor how grateful I was that it was found and treated so early. She told me that although it isn't something she generally sees all that often, I was the third case she'd seen in less than a week.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin