Friday, August 16, 2013

Shingles: Not Just for Old Fogeys Anymore

If you don't know what this is, you probably aren't an old fogey.  If you don't know what an old fogey is, you may not be over 50!  The first time I heard the word shingles, I didn't really know what it was.  A coworker who was in her 50s told me she had been out sick with shingles and that it was very painful.  At the time, I was in my 30s so I figured that shingles was just one of those things that older people got sometimes. 
Years later, shingles became one of the viruses that older people were urged to protect themselves against by getting a shingles shot each year.  Much like flu shots, shingles shots were given at the doctor's office and at various pharmacies.  The ads all targeted those old fogeys, the people over 60.  Those same people who were almost eligible for Social Security, senior citizen discounts and retirement.  Not me, for sure.

Well, fast forward a few more years and guess who has shingles?  Yup, me.  I am not over 60 and don't think of myself as an old fogey but I was diagnosed this week with shingles.  The doctor who's treating me thinks my outbreak of shingles is probably related to a recent back injury I suffered on the job and the associated stress.  Who knew?!

Those little dots may not look like much, but they hurt a lot!  Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, according to WebMD.  That's the same virus that causes chicken pox.  Also known as herpes zoster, shingles is "most common in older adults and people who have weak immune systems because of stress, injury, certain medicines and other reasons," according to WebMD, my 24-hour online doctor.

Okay, I'm not an older adult, at least I don't think of myself as one.  But I guess my immune system was weakened with both the back injury and standing on the job despite the pain from the back injury.  I'm on the mend now, thanks to the wonders of modern medicine.

I'm taking five giant horse pills each day of an antiviral known as Acyclovir.  They have many unpleasant side effects including nausea and other stomach problems.  I'm also on heavy-duty pain pills known as Tramadol that make me woozy, dizzy and nauseous so I don't take many of them.  The two medications had very unpleasant side effects when taken at the same times the first couple of days.

I have to take the antiviral to make the shingles heal so I'm taking them on schedule.  I'm working in one or two pain pills each day, at staggered times so the side effects won't hit so hard.  Today, I'm drinking coffee again for the first time since I started taking the medication.  That's a good thing!

Here's the pluses and minuses of shingles from my perspective.  The only plus was two days off from work, but they were spent on bedrest, so that's not much of a plus.  Minuses are many including: being grounded from spending time with the kids and grandkids (my own choice, just in case), feeling weak and wimpy, not having any appetite (well, maybe that's a plus) and feeling like maybe I've turned the corner on the journey toward being old.

As I start day three of the course of medicines, I'm feeling a little better and I'm grateful for that.  Before you know it, I'm sure I'll be good as new.  Until then, I'll take what I can get when I can get it and do the best I can to face each day with a smile on my face, a prayer on my lips and a song in my heart.

Blogging Grandma Sandy signing off for now. 


  1. So sorry to read this, and I'm going to check on getting a shingles shot. Apparently if you hav ever had chicken pox, you are a likely candidate. And i know I've had chicken pox. yay.

    Blogless Peggy

  2. Kenny and I saw an ad the other night that said one in three people will be diagnosed with shingles in their lifetime. Better call the doctor now!