What A Misleading Sign.

It  intimates that a person should  avoid the disease, like one should avoid climbing their roof because both might be risky.

Years ago (before children), Cowboy Fan and I dashed to Mexico for an adventure, visiting villages, hiking through the jungle, downing margaritas and dancing in the village plaza.

Two weeks later, a red band developed around half of my waist. Shingles.

Insert a “shrug” here.  I was young.  Strong.  Blissfully unaware of the disease.  How bad could it be?

I was unable to take the then-approved medicine. The doctors decided the safest plan of action was to let the herpes zoster run its course.  Those guys must have been comedians…or sadists.

I only remember 3 parts of the disease.  The rest has been blanked out while screaming into a pillow.

Stage 1:  SATAN’S ICEPICKS.  Health books calmly describe this phase with: A red rash may develop.  These non-alarmist don’t want to tell you that ice-picks are being heated in the furnaces of hell until white-hot, then thousands of them stabbed into the affected area.  Over and over.   And again.

These are the affected nerves endings firing away.  Why they don’t pop with a sensation like coolness, the touch of silk, or even a vanilla scent, I’m not sure.  Probably because they’re too busy writhing and screaming obscenities. (Good times.)

Stage 2:  COOL DESIGNS.  Blisters pattern the skin.  This is the foul curses and crazed fury, emitted by the nerves, bubbling to the surface.  Blisters on top of one another create designs that an alien life form or Hollywood make-up artist would covet. Of course, the icepick pain continues. (More good times)

Stage 3: SKIN CRAWL:  More damnable atrocities occur, but I only remember this last phase. A year later, when all was healed, a bit of stress  could jerk those damaged nerves into action.  This post therpetic neuralgia was like a slug reacting to salt, the nerve buds twitched and shivered.  I’d pat and examine my skin, sure there were worms wriggling  underneath. The last phase came and went for about three years. Just nature’s little reminder that the virus never truly clears the body.

I hate sticking vaccines in my body, but because I’ve been there and done that, odds  of reducing another outbreak by 50% sounds wonderful.  Better than a lottery ticket.  Too bad I have to wait until I’m 60.  Even with a $200 immunization price tag, I consider it well worth it.


But only 10% of the senior population has chosen vaccination, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Perhaps the pharmacies would consider letting me help them step up their lackluster advertising efforts?

About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in Life, Traveling, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Shingles….AAAAHH..OOOGA!! AAAHH..OOGA!!

  1. Beckie Delemos says:

    Shingles is commonly seen in elderly people, but on occasion it is detected among young people too. It comes from the same virus varicella-zoster, which gave us chicken-pox. If proper care is not taken you may loose your eyesight or even suffer from facial paralysis. Shingles are also known as herpes zoster which spreads through your skin in the form of a rash or blister similar to chicken-pox. It is associated with grueling pain, itchiness, burning sensation and sometimes even numbness.`


  2. Margie says:

    I had shingles a few years ago. Not fun. According to the FDA “An episode of shingles boosts immunity to the virus and may help protect your from getting shingles again. Although it is uncommon, some people may get shingles more than once. The effectiveness of Zostavax vaccine in preventing repeated episodes of shingles has not been demonstrated in clinical studies.” So I guess I’ll pass on getting the vaccine…


    • Barb says:

      It’s amazing to me how many people have had shingles. If you’ve had it once, you know how much fun it can be. And like a nasty hangover…you don’t want to do it again.


  3. Spectra says:

    Alice, it is the chicken pox virus that may later lead to shingles, as it lives in your system, silently, all the days of your life. As I understand it, the vaccine is, as Roxie says, (if you’ve had CP) the reason you get the vaccine. I’m going to be watching for when my insurance allows it, as I distinctively recall my bout with chicken pox by about age 4!

    Of course, your photo, Barb, is, once again, priceless 😉


    • Barb says:

      Spectra, you’ve absolutely nailed the shingle on the head with your spectral wisdom. The virus lurks (sometimes not so silently) in the nerves, waiting for a catastrophe and exposure to a poxed person in order to jump out.

      It’s amazing to me so many people have shingle stories…and the fun news is that without the vaccine, they can catch it again and create MORE stories. YeeHaw!!


  4. Soozie says:

    I got shingles about 10 years ago, but at the time I already had pleuresy, pneumonia (complete with broken ribs and cartilage that had separated from other ribs), and a brand new brain injury. I was so drugged up, I didn’t even notice the shingles. Thank god/dess for hard-core narcotics. I did, however, get a lovely parting gift from the shingles. Not as extreme as you describe, but much longer lasting. I now get itchy along the affected nerve path. Not a little bit itchy. The kind of itchy where you would gladly filet your skin to get rid of it. And this happens several times a week. After ten years, I’m still trying to train my back scratcher to get to the point and head for shingle-land immediately.


    • Barb says:

      Yeah, the area of my wiggly worms got smaller and smaller. It’s been 20 years and I rarely have a wriggle anymore. Sorry your backscratcher isn’t working. Perhaps you could train a cat to do the work?


  5. Aaaargh. Haven’t had it myself, but worked with a woman who got it. And she was in the hell you so beautifully describe for a looooong time (it even spread across her eyes). No-one is talking about a vacinne here, but if they were I would line up for it.


    • Barb says:

      I love to hear what’s going on down under. Thanks for clicking in. Well, lesson #1, is that folks get shingles there, but it must not be with as much frequency as here, or perhaps the drug companies don’t get as much profit from pushing the vaccine as in the U.S. Shingles is a nasty, nasty debilitating condition. Absolutely worth avoiding.


  6. momaescriva says:

    My daughter Sheri had the chicken pox (light case) when she was five, the other four had it in varying degrees at the same time. However, Sheri did get shingles a few days before her wedding which as you may know, was brought on by STRESS. I had a good dose of chicken pox and will probably not have the vaccination. I agree Barb, I hate to put vaccines in my body if at all possible.


  7. Roxie Matthews says:

    I went for the vaccination before you posted. Now, I am SOOO happy I did! Bless your dear heart. There’s another thing I can add to my list of things could be worse. “At least no one is shooting at me, I don’t have shingles, and I’m not pregnant.”

    And Alice, if you HAVE had chicken pox, you should get the vaccination. The virus is hiding in your nerve sheathes, playing poker with herpes simplex (cold sores) and biding its time. Ask your doctor what s/he suggests. I got a hard. hot, red lump about the size of walnut at the vaccination site. It lasted about a week and left a bruised-looking dark spot that has faded in subsequent weeks. And now I don’t need to worry about Satan’s ice picks and the skin crawl. Asit is, I have a twitch that feels like a moth tap-dancing on my eyeliner every so often. Worms under my skin? No Thank you!


    • Barb says:

      Good to know what the damages of the vaccination are, Roxie. Thanks for keeping us informed. Did it mess with the tattoo of the naked sailor you have on your arm?


  8. Alice Lynn says:

    What a perfectly fiendish post. I’d thought about getting a vaccination but there was this caveat; if you’ve had chicken pox, getting the vaccine is not recommended; if you haven’t, step right up and bare your arm; or is it the other way around? Because I’m officially an orphan and have no recollection of having chicken pox, I’m in that no-man’s land between damned if I do or damned if I don’t. By the way, who is your photographer!


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