~ the pain called shingles pt. 1 ~
pardon for the lack of updates lately. we were actually went for a weekend getaway to Bandung 3 weeks ago, but i got sick while i was there, and the illness stays even until now. so, i haven’t had the opportunity to write the story out. and this entry is about the illness.
introducing Shingles, one of the most annoying and painful thing i’ve ever experienced.
at first, i thought i had a toothache. it happened on Thursday, the day before we left for Bandung. i noticed two different things: 1. my bottom right molar started to give sharp pain once in a while, and 2. on the cheek right outside of the molar, an old dormant zit started to swell and got red. i didn’t know that the two were actually connected.
i dismissed the toothache, thinking that i can hold it off and visit the doctor on Monday, the day i’m back from Bandung. so we all flew to Bandung on Friday… and even though i had a great time down there, i began to regret the decision on postponing the dentist visit. the molar was throbing by Saturday…and at the same time, there was a small blister which showed up on my lip, along with the zit becoming bigger and more sore. and strangely, the whole right side of my face started to feel like its burning and became very sensitive to touch. i thought it was because of the infected molar. i was worried a little, so i took a picture of my burning face along with the blisters that night.
by friday night, the pain was so intense that i could hardly sleep that night. there were sharp shooting pains on my face and the back of my neck that kept me up all night. i was exhausted the next morning, but fortunately, it was also the day we were supposed to fly home.
but i forgot one thing: my toothache hurt like hell in flights. so yes, the flight home was a painful flight, up there with the flight home from Phuket 5 years ago (that one was from my sinus going crazy). ari held my hand the whole time, and it helped me mentally.
by the time we got home, i looked like this:
the big zit has turned into a big blister with liquid inside it. there were many smaller blisters on my lips and chin. there was one blister near my right eye. and you can probably see the red swelling along my cheek starting from my chin all the way to my ear.
i still didn’t know what it was, so as soon as i got home, i went to my dentist, thinking that the pain was caused by the damn molar. and when i got to the dentist, she was horrified seeing me all puffed up and blistered.
then she said, “i think you have the Shingles. you need to go to the doctor first before i can do anything with your tooth.”
“what? Shingles? oh no!”
“yeah, and i’m not even sure if you’re actually having a molar infection. and since your nerve is going haywire, it is possible that it feels like you have a toothache, but actually not,” she said. “you should go see a doctor NOW.”
so, i left the dentist office and walked immediately to the clinic i frequented. there, the doctor gave me a pityfull look and said, “yes, this is definitely Shingles, dear.”
he gave me boxes of anti-viral and two nerve-relaxer, and told me that i had to take the anti-viral right now at the office, because i was diagnosed late and he’s afraid that the Shingles would spread to my eye and ear (which are very close from the picture above). he also told me, if the blisters reach the ear canal or the eye, i need to go and see specialist ASAP, because Shingles can cause permanent damages (read: DEAF and BLIND).
(another) oh no!
so, what is Shingles? according to the doctor and many articles i found on Google, Shingles, or also known as Herpes Zooster, is a disease caused by varicella zoster, the same virus that cause Chicken Pox. once you’ve contracted chicken pox, the virus doesn’t leave the body. instead it goes to sleep in the roots of nerves that control sensation. usually it just sleeps forever. but sometimes, the virus wakes up… and when it wakes up, it causes Shingles.
this means, if you had chicken pox sometime in the past, you are eligible to get Shingles… so be careful.
unlike chicken pox where you get blisters all over your body, Shingles only affect the band of nerve where it was sleeping. so, it usually appears as a band of blisters on one side of the body, following the path of nerve where the virus had stayed inactive.
in my case, i got it on the right side of my face, from my lower lip and chin, to my right ear and all the way to the back of my head. as you can see, the next day it got ever worse… my lips were swollen and the blisters looked nasty. and it got even worse, too.
since then, i had to stayed home, only going out to see the doctor daily in the morning. and for the once-a-day visit to the doctor, i had to wear a large brim hat, because he didn’t want my face exposed to sunlight. i was also on quarantine, because once the blisters burst open, i could spread Chicken Pox to those who have not contracted Chicken Pox. the good news is though, Shingles itself is not contageous. so, i could not spread Shingles to anyone, whether they had chicken pox or not in the past.
i wasn’t allowed to wear contact lenses, because the doctor didn’t want to risk the virus entering my eye via my fingers and causing Shingles in my eye. so everything was a blur for me for the next three weeks.
oh, and unlike chicken pox, Shingles hurt like hell… since it affects the nerve, the pain could be untolerable. so i was given a few pain killers and nerve stabilizers… so i was always dizzy and sleepy.
i was practically immobile and useless. and no one cooked and cleaned the house. no one did groceries. and no one to drop off and picked up aina for school and her ballet classes. oh no! it’s like our lives had to go on halt because i was sick.
so, thank god for ari’s mom, who jumped into the next available plane to Singapore right after ari told her about the situation. and she was just here for a holiday a week before we called. she arrived on Monday night and immediately resumed all the housework, while i was confined in bed, in serious pain and unable to see things clearly.
(to be continued…)