Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chickenpox, Part Deux

Everyone remembers how when they were little their parents would try to get them infected with the chickenpox:
"Susie has the chickenpox. Better get the kids to her house, maybe her little sister is still contagious and will give it to them. You know it's better to have the chickenpox when you are little. You'll die if you get it as an adult!"

While there is some truth to that, I don't think adults can die from chickenpox. It's just more likely to be more severe and a lot more embarrassing and inconvenient!
If our parents knew then that getting chickenpox as a child meant that you would most likely get shingles as an adult, they would have kept us in isolation throughout elementary school.

All of this dialogue is preface to this: Remember how I have been saying my summer is kinda stressful? Well, guess what is one of the main triggers for shingles besides a weakened immune system? STRESS!!!
And so the other day when my left leg, only on the back side between my butt and my knee, felt like it was asleep from 5pm on Sunday afternoon until I went to sleep that night, I was a little worried. That's not normal, right? My first thought was a pinched nerve. If it's not gone in the morning I can just go to the chiropractor and get it straightened out. Then I thought, well, I am on birth control pills. What if it's a blood clot? I don't know what those are supposed to feel like, and all I know is that my leg doesn't feel right so it could be that. Then the imagination really got going and thoughts of MS, fibromyalgia, spinal surgery & walking canes started dancing in my head, and I finally calmed myself by deciding that if I woke up Monday morning and still felt the tingling, I would call the doctor.
And I did.
So, I did.
And when I got there and explained to her what was going on, she just looked at me for a minute like, "And......?"
My response was "Yep."
But I knew this wasn't right, and I wanted to know what was going on.
So, she did the exam. No rash. Good pulse in the groin, knee & foot. Leg muscles working fine (I could stand on my toes & my heels.) One more question, have you had chickenpox?
Why yes doctor, I have. A pretty nasty case too. Have the scars to prove it.
Aha! Well, she says, then this could be shingles. It's very early on, but a lot of people can feel the tingling-type of pain before a rash ever appears.
(Oh, crap. I remember when my grandparents had shingles, and they were doped up pretty good and still hurt like crazy! Plus the oozing rash, gross. And not to mention it's contagious and my kids haven't had the chickenpox vaccine yet!)
But, she tells me that the treatment is very simple, especially when you catch it early, and the side effects of the drug are next to nothing.
Awesome! give me the drugs!
Know what it is? Valtrex. Yep. the Herpes drug.
Oh, you didn't know that chickenpox is a form of herpes? Well, surprise!!! and shingles is just the re-emergence of the dormant chickenpox virus.
So, here I am with chickenpox, part deux. And taking the well advertised Valtrex three times a day. (yes, I have to carry it in my purse to work with me so I can take one at lunch) And off and on my left leg, only on the back of my thigh, will get tingly. But it hasn't become painful, and there is still no sign of a rash. So, I will stop feeling like a slut taking a drug for an STD, and just appreciate the fact that this will work and keep me from the torture of shingles.

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