15 April 2011

A Random Memory

The other day I was driving home from running some errands and I saw a sign on the side of the road that read, "Shingles Shots Here." To the average errand runner that might not mean much but I found it odd. Also, for the last few months every time I shop at Vons I hear a commercial playing over the intercom warning senior citizens of Shingles.

All my life I have never heard one thing advertised about Shingles and now there are two places that are warning people of them and even inoculating against them. I had heard of Shingles before but always thought it was an old person's disease.

That is until I had them.

Have you ever had them? I hope not. They are so painful. Let me tell you about the time I had them.

When I was 21 I went to BYU-Hawaii. I got there in January 1999 and didn't know a soul. I went out there alone but hoping to learn, find some friends and get a job. The semester started the way it should and I commenced job hunting. I had no money as my student loans hadn't come in yet so I wanted to find a job as quick as possible. Every day I went into the Financial Aid Office to check the job boards. I applied at the PCC and other places on campus but no one would hire me. It was very frustrating. A couple weeks went by and I still had no money. I decided to take out a temporary loan from the school to at least cover my tuition and book costs.

As time went on I became more and more stressed about not being able to find a job. I had made a few friends with the girls in my dorm, but was feeling pretty lonely. I was on an island by myself, with no job and no money. I prayed every day to help me find an job and help my student loans to come through. Pretty soon my prayers were answered. One day I went to look for a job again. This time i talked to one of the girls at the front desk of the Financial Aid office instead of just checking the job board. She said that she was going to quit in a couple days and I could have her job. It wasn't listed yet but she let me apply and a few days later, I was gainfully employed!

I guess the stress of everything leading up to that point was too much for my body to handle though. A couple days later I started to feel this shooting pain in my back. It was like someone was stabbing me very rhythmically. I couldn't figure out what was causing the pain because there was nothing showing on the surface. I even asked my roommate to look at my back...nothing. A couple days later the bumps came. Then I knew something was wrong. It itched like crazy and the stabbing pain was unbearable. I went to the Health Center and the doctor confirmed it was Shingles. I guess since the disease had progressed so far the doctor said there really wasn't anything they could do. He gave me some medication, but with a comment that it really wouldn't help. I just had to let it run it's course.

The rash was so painful I would lay on my bed with an ice pack on my back just so I could numb the skin. There were a few nights when I slept without a shirt because anything touching my skin would hurt. It didn't help that the rash was right where my bra sat. I remember one time when a few of my friends and I were walking though the halls of campus and I cracked a joke. My friend slapped me on the back because it was so funny and the sheer pain of that impact brought me to my knees.  After two weeks the blisters and pain finally went away and I was able to go back to normal, thank heavens.

Even to this day whenever I feel random shooting pains anywhere in my body I fear that shingles has returned. It always makes me reassess my life and see if I'm getting too stressed about things.  So far I haven't gotten it again, thankfully. That is something I never want to experience again.


Staceygirl said...

I saw something about a shingles vaccine, also. Isn't it great when a doctor says, "Here you go, but it's not going to help." Great. Aren't shingles related to the chicken pox virus? Let me check webMD... I just read it is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus. In fact, a person with shingles can give another person chickenpox. Luckily we can vaccinate our children against this, but people our age have mostly had it already. My sister had shingles, and she looked pretty uncomfortable. Okay, let's all try to stay stress free. Hmm... that's gonna be hard. I think stress is a major health risk... we need to go back to Hawaii and lie on the beach!! Now, if only there was a way to turn off my ever-pacing brain for a while.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you had to go through that. I hate pain. Especially pain you can do nothing about.

Shellybythesea said...

I remember that was a tough time for you....and the shingles didn't help!