A Lesson On Shingles (So Far)

I got home late from my parents’ house on Monday night and when I went to lie down in bed, I rested my hand on my abdomen.

“OW!” I thought.  “What the heck is that?  Am I bruised?  Oh.  It’s just some really painful pimples or something.  Right there?  Why?”

I woke up the next morning and they were still there.  I looked in the mirror after my shower.  The right side of my abdomen, side, and back had some clusters of what I thought at first was painful acne.  I dismissed the idea that it was shingles due to the fact that I couldn’t handle another medical bill on top of everything I’m already dealing with.  That’s another story, but it involves a nightmarish insurance situation, thanks to the lady who rear ended me in October.  Premera ended up denying my labor and delivery bill because I had an open liability claim, so of course chances were high they would deny shingles bills!

“I’ll see if it’s better tomorrow.” I thought.

“If it’s shingles, I’ll just have to ride it out anyway.”  I justified.

“Some of these are red and blistered!  The doctor will think I’ve been picking at them, like I have no self-control!  That will be embarrassing.”  Yes, I’m sure I will be one of those people who dies of something unnecessarily because of all the things I could possibly be embarrassed about.

“I can’t put on a bra!  I don’t want to go to the doctor braless!”

“Oh.  What if it’s not shingles at all?  What if it’s MRSA?  I could be slowly dying right this very moment.”  I continued Googling the worst possible skin diseases.  “I don’t want to die because I wasn’t willing to go out braless in public, but I’m definitely not going to church like this.”

I started talking to some friends.  “Did your shingles feel like painful acne?”  They urged me to go in because apparently there are anti-virals that can prevent it from getting as bad, but it’s best to do it within a few days.  Just as I was about to make the call, the power went out.  My phone runs on electricity.  It was a sign.  Don’t call the doctor.  No, I probably should have just driven over to the office and made an appointment so I could take full advantage of the anti-viral benefits.  I learned that they could still save me from months or maybe even years of nerve pain even if it was possibly too late to stop it from progressing.

I finally called the next day.

My doctor who previously referred to labor as “uncomfortable” – he assured me that everything would be just fine if I didn’t nurse my baby for a week as I took the anti-virals.  “Just pump and dump.” he said.  “You can give her formula.”

My eyes started to fill with tears.

My daughter will not take a nap without nursing.  She won’t go to bed for the night without nursing.  She won’t stay asleep for the night without nursing.  It’s not that I’m a wussy mother, but this girl has iron will.  I’ve had four other children and I was able to get all of them to nap and sleep in their cribs.  My last baby slept through the night at 3 months old, so this child has been a complete surprise in regards to sleeping and her need to be with me ALL THE TIME.  I don’t know if she’s going through a long teething stage or what, but this doctor had no idea what he was asking.  My daughter can’t stand her dad from about 6pm on.  If I sneak away to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, she immediately wakes up and cries.  Then when my husband tries to calm her, she completely flips out.

I have painful shingles and the doctor thought I was going to be just fine as I wrestled a screaming baby who will not take a bottle and has never had formula?!

I found myself wishing I hadn’t come in.  I was going to have to tough it out.  How could I take the anti-viral if it meant both of us suffering for a week?  My husband wasn’t even going to be in town!  I went home feeling defeated, convinced that I was going to suffer from years of nerve pain because I couldn’t traumatize my daughter and everyone in the house.  It suddenly occurred to me to call the pharmacist.  “Is there an anti-viral I can take while I’m nursing?”  “Yes, you can take Valtrex.”

Wow.  Thanks Dr. D.  Oh yes, he had also suggested that I not nurse on my right side to protect my daughter from getting chicken pox.  Again, not happening.  She will thrash around all night until she gets both sides.  Besides, she had already been exposed and I figured millions of babies have survived chicken pox just fine.  If she got chicken pox, I decided it would be so cool and retro of her.  OK, honestly I cringed at the thought, but at least I would be able to comfort her and nurse her all I wanted.  It’s not small pox.  It’s chicken pox!

The downside of Valtrex is that I have to take it five times a day.

Also, I’m changing doctors.  I’m going to find a woman who understands that things like labor are a little more painful than “uncomfortable” and other things.

“Doctor, I’m feeling uncomfortable.  I was stabbed.”

“I got hit in the crotch with a baseball.  SO UNCOMFORTABLE.”

“These kidney stones are uncomfortable!”

Do those statements sound stupid?  Yes they do.

So this is what I’ve learned so far during my six days with shingles.

1.  If your doctor has the nurse bandage up your sores, that will involve sticking tape to you, after which more sores might appear UNDERNEATH THE TAPE.  You will have to rip that tape off and face the excruciating pain combined with unbearable itching, but you won’t scratch it because it hurts so bad.

2.  If you open a hot oven, the heat will make your shingles hurt even more.  DUH!

3.  Being in denial does not help shingles.

If you get a rash on one side, just go to the doctor. Don’t be stupid like me.  Be the braless hippie you were meant to be.  Especially if you’re a guy.

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