Hanging the Shingles Out

At least I don’t look like this. Yet.

Last Saturday night I developed an earache, only “earache” sounds too childlike and innocent for what was going on. It felt like someone was pounding a knitting needle into my ear canal over and over. The stabbing pain woke me up out of a dead sleep any time I dozed off.

I managed to get the pain somewhat under control with Tylenol, which shocked me. Because I’m on blood thinners, I’m limited to Tylenol for my painkilling needs (Advil and aspirin don’t play nicely with blood thinners), and Tylenol is generally about as useful as jellybeans for pain relief. And the jellybeans taste better.

When I was getting lunch on Sunday, I felt a sharp pain like a bug bite on my upper right eyelid. I didn’t see any red mark, but I could feel the sting. The next morning, my eyelid was red and puffy when I looked in the mirror. And I was still having dreadful head pain on and off, though I didn’t realize these things were related at the time. That afternoon, I had several raised bumpy marks on the right side of my forehead over my eyebrow. Boy, that’s weird, I thought. How the heck did I not notice a bug biting me that many times?

The next morning, my right eyelid was extremely puffed out and I had a distinct rash forming there. The marks on my forehead were getting redder and more defined too. I must have had an allergic reaction to something, I figured. Maybe I touched something caustic and then swept my hand over my forehead; the marks did follow the general pattern my hand takes when I sweep hair out of my face.

Things looked even nastier on Wednesday morning and I decided it was time to see the doctor. Before the appointment, I started Googling weird face rashes. That led me to some pictures of people who had shingles on their faces. And when I saw them, I thought “Oh shit.”

When I went to the doctor, he took one look at my face and said “Yep, that’s shingles.” He put me on Valtrex right away, as antivirals are only useful to stop shingles in the first three days after the rash appears and I was already on day two. Fortunately, those big blue horse pills seem to be doing the trick; no new rashes, and the ones I have seem to be drying up already.

I’m hoping I won’t be a poxy mess for too long, but even more so, I’m ready for the pain to depart. The head pain that comes along with these is just unreal; I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Amazingly enough, Tylenol still works to tamp the pain down for a few hours, but you can’t overdo Tylenol or else your liver will explode. Sigh.

I’m only babbling on about all this just to pat myself on the back because I still met my writing commitments for the week. I posted my 16th 50-word horror story on Monday as usual. The Weekly Knob’s writing prompt was “twist tie” and while I developed an idea and an outline on Tuesday, I felt so rotten for most of the week that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to write a whole story. But the Tylenol gave me a few pain-free time blocks every day and I decided I’d feel worse if I didn’t at least try to submit something, so I finally got the thing written. I don’t know if it’s my best effort, but I’m giving myself a break.

Hell; because I couldn’t find any stock photo images suitable for the story (twist ties not being an especially popular stock photography subject, it seems), I even had to create my own. So it was an extra-creative week.

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