I had shingles.
That means nothing to anyone except those who have had it, I suspect.
It started Monday afternoon. I had a small headache which grew and grew into an unbearable migraine by 3:00pm. At the same time, my usual problems with my back were in full flare, with my lower back in such agony I could not find a position to sit, stand or lie down in. That night, I found the first blister of a rash on my right side.
Still, hoping it wasn't the worst, I went to work on Tuesday. I tried so hard to keep it together, but I was in so much pain, and no painkiller I took could touch it. After Googling the symptoms, I realised that I probably had shingles. I thought that it was, like chicken pox, just something you had to put up with until it passed.
Turns out, shingles can do lasting damage to your nerves, which it attacks, and, with the urging of the people I know (including my mum, who is a nurse), I called my doctor's office, and they saw me immediately after work. Yep. I had shingles. I was prescribed an anti-viral, and told to spent as much time as possible in bed. They even gave me a doctor's note. On the bus ride home, I very nearly screamed for the pain. Every bump or rattle of the bus sent shooting pains straight up my spine, with loci of sharp pain at my lower back, between my shoulder blades and up into my head. It was awful. I was shaking when I arrived home, and in too much pain to even cry.
The next three days are a haze of sleeplessness and pain. I couldn't feel the rash pain for the nerve pain in my head and back. I couldn't eat, choking down one meal a day, as I force-fed myself. There was a lot of rocking, pacing, and muttering to myself.
Nothing helped. The pain meds and sleep aid helped me sleep in half hour bursts, over a three hour period. Pain would wake me every half hour, and at the end of the three hours after I took the medication, I was shit out of luck for about two hours, at which point I could dose myself again.
Sounds horribly dramatic recounting it now. I promise, it really was this awful.
When Friday morning rolled around, I was certain I wouldn't be able to go to Toronto for Word on the Street to rep. my publisher.
Then things took a dramatic swing. The nerve pain began to fade, and by Friday afternoon, I was much more myself. I could eat without having to force myself, though I still couldn't eat much, and I could look out the window without wanting to stab my eyes out (apparently, photo-sensitivity is a symptom). So I made a snap decision to honour my commitment to Renaissance, and head to Toronto Saturday evening.
I had planned to stay with my brother and his flatmate to save money (I would never be able to go if I had to pay for a hotel), but neither he nor his flatmate have ever had chicken pox. I really didn't want to make either ill, and so resigned myself to not being able to go after all... until my brother very kindly offered to make up for not being able to accommodate me with paying for a hotel.
That's another saga. With so much going on in Toronto, including the Invictus Games, it was impossible to find a room at a reasonable price. Until I found a room-stay for less than two hundred for the entire stay (two nights), which was about an hour walk from the Harbourfront Centre. Since I regularly walk an hour to work every morning, I figured that was a pretty reasonable distance.
So, I got to go to Toronto and Word on the Street after all. More on that tomorrow.
By yesterday, the nerve pain had pretty much vanished. It's a little of a double-edged sword, as now I can feel the pain of the rash. Still, I would take that pain over the nerve pain any day.
Interesting (for me), and possibly TMI, the parts of the rash that are on my back are less rash and more short bars of blisters. It looks like the blisters you get from a severe burn; as if someone took a hot poker and branded me in two spots. The rest of it looks much more like a rash. Also interesting (for me), the blisters on my back are pain-free. Not so much on the side and front.
So... yeah... That's why I've been absent. Sorry!
I want to thank my friends who offered their support and their time. And most of all, dropped by with care baskets; food and other things to help with the pain. I honestly have the best people on my side, and I'm so, so, so fortunate for having you in my life. You genuinely made me feel loved when I was really struggling. It means the world to me. Thanks so much.
Now, I'm off to try and get back to my schedule. I'm still fatigued, but I'm definitely getting better now.