(ALERT: GRAPHIC PICS OF SKIN REACTIONS – may be triggering to some)
Friday. This burning was real. The back waist-line of my pants felt sand paperish on my tender lower spine. As the day wore on the burning became more intense, the area an angry magenta by afternoon. I drove home and switched into a pair of my favorite soft pants.
Saturday. My Birthday, Happy Birthday to Me!!!! 50 years old today. Seriously felt like all 50 candles were being held to my lower back and right side ribs. My doctor agreed to see me. Her eyes were saucer-ish as she matter-of-factly blurted, “you have shingles my dear”. She gave me a Shingles remedy (homeopathic) and some topical salve and sent me on my way. Great, thanks for the Birthday present.
Sunday. All day long, the rash spread ridiculously…across my lower back on the right, circling across my ribs and continuing onto my mid stomach area and even heading toward my groin. I couldn’t find any clothes that would not touch this area. I emailed my doctor to let her know that I wasn’t sleeping as the pain to my hip and spine was keeping me up overnight. “Come in first thing Monday morning” was her reply.
Monday. So I managed to find some huge clothes that hung loosely on my body, and trudged into the office. When I pulled my shirt up and pants down, the look on my doctors face was disheartening. It was like pity/shock. My shingles had spread significantly and the lesions were now raised, fluid filled bubbles. She called her partners in to see me. I gave consent but did feel a little like a side-show. 😩 They had never seen such a bad case, ever. They suggested I get the Valtrex – prescription anti-viral most widely prescribed for Shingles. I made an appointment at my MD’s office.
Tuesday. Same clothes, oh why was I being tortured with these God forsaken bubbles and all this nerve pain shooting to my hip and spine? I was vibrating with the pain. Truth. I made it to the Dr.’s office. The look of compassion on these medical worker’s faces was enough to make me weep. They prescribed Neurontin and Hydrocodone – for pain at the nerve level and the hydrocodone so I wouldn’t stand in the fastlane on the highway.
Wednesday. Less pain. Was able to sleep some, yay me. The blisters were quite prominent but hell, hydrocodone put me in this -don’t care about nuthin- place. Covered in anti-itch cream, I was a sight. I honestly didn’t know how any elderly person lives through this bullshit. Still don’t. WTF Oatmeal baths 5 times a day to stop the itching. Caking oatmeal on the blisters and letting it dry in an attempt to 1) dry them out and 2) stop the insane itching.
Thursday. Oh hell, just when I thought I could handle things. Upon waking from my silly attempt at a night’s sleep, I stumbled into the bathroom -wishing to discover that this was all just a fucked up nightmare…no such luck. My arms, torso, tops of my legs – were covered in red dots, welts. WTF is THIS now???? 😳. A crawling sensation accompanied this stupid NEW rash. Although I was NO STRANGER to rashes (as a kid) this rash made me want to lie down on the tracks. I’m not sure which bullshit was worse…. this new rash or the Shingles lesions.
Friday. Unbearable, and worsening (my body was practically reddish-purple) I returned to my MD. I stopped outside of the office, in the parking lot to get a much needed handful of snow and stuff it down my back of my sweatshirt. MMMMMMMM ecstasy. The rash was an allergic reaction to one of the pain meds… and I’m not crazy enough to ever find out which one was the culprit, trust.
Wednesday. I returned to my naturopath to check in and get some MORE creams to combat the itch. I was at an all time low – the nerve pain keeping me awake at night, this stupid total body rash – insanely itchy, the oozing blisters. I felt like a monster. A revolving door of bathing, cream applying and crying. I remember getting up 7 times one night to spread Gold Bond cream and stand, naked in my room, waiting for it to dry so I could drop my zombie self back into sleep for 30 minutes until the itching woke me again.
As I waited at the receptionist’s window, I removed my heavy winter coat as I was beginning to perspire -which, under the circumstances, would just add another layer of horrible. I noticed an older woman in the waiting room looking at me, smiling pleasantly. In the moment, As I completely forgot that my magenta rash was probably visible on the back of my neck, hands and chest. I explained what was going on with my condition as receptionist had just gone through Shingles herself. I paid for my cream and was headed out the door.
The woman seated behind me, with the pleasant smile, approached me. She told me she had been listening to me and knew that I was struggling. She grabbed my hand – 565 red dots and all – and came in close to me. At this point I could not hold back my sobbing. She said, “Honey, may I pray over you?” and in my booger-y sobbing, “Yes, please” I manged to choke out. She prayed, “Father, we don’t know why this woman is suffering so much, we don’t know the purpose, but we know you are good and you have to means to give her comfort. Heal this woman. In Jesus’ name we pray.”
This, my friends, was a straight up Angel – this woman confirmed, for me that someone is always listening. I felt incredibly blessed that she took the chance on me, to express some love to a complete stranger. A stranger who felt at the end of a painful rope, with no end in sight. She was the tall glass of water oasis in a desert of dark days. Her touch, the mere fact that she was not afraid to touch me, was incredibly healing. The rash lasted for 3.5 weeks – worse than the Shingles….every time I had some self-pity or hopelessness, I would just close my eyes and imagine her still with me – laying hands on me.
My Angel, just an ordinary lady, someone we might not even notice was in the waiting room. This, I’m pretty sure, is why we’re here, for this type of impact. Follow your heart always and be someone’s Angel.