By Ms. Walla
In Health Challenges
Jul 7th, 2014

shingle girlA fellow walked into a doctor’s office, and when the receptionist asked him what he had he replied, “Shingles.”

She took down his name, address, insurance information, and told him to have a seat.  Ten minutes later a nurse came and asked him what he had.


She took him in the back and did a complete workup.  Twenty minutes later the doctor came in.  “What are you here for?”


“Where?” the doctor asked.

“In the truck.  Where do you want them?”

—Jim Kraus

When we hear the word “shingles” most of us think of a roofing material for our house.  Today I am writing about the “other definition”.  Shingles, also known as zona, is a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters in a limited area on one side of the body (left or right) often in a stripe. —Wikipedia.

rashwomanI woke up that morning with a slight pain in my neck but didn’t give it much thought as I often am tense knowing I am going to be driving a lot.  I drove a few hours that first day of my trip, found a hotel and turned in early that night.  I didn’t sleep well that night as the neck pain now included my head and I had received a bug bite, or so I thought, that kept me scratching most of the night.  The itch started on the left side of the back of my neck where I couldn’t see.  As I drove the next day with my neck/head pain, to my destination, I continued scratching and noticed that I now had a small rash on the top of my left arm.  By that evening the red rash on my arm had grown slightly and the place on my neck had, also.

The next morning, my very outspoken but loving younger sister, took a look at the growing rash and insisted I go to an Urgent Care, as she thought it was more than just some bug bites.  Sure enough, she was right…diagnosis: shingles!!  I couldn’t believe it as I had had them as a teenager on my torso and didn’t realize that they could return!  According to this doctor, yes they can return if you had chicken pox as a child.  This occurs as the virus remains in a dormant state and can resurface later in the form of shingles.

During the office visit I received a shot and was given a couple prescriptions to stop the spread of the virus (rash) and to help relieve the nerve pain I was experiencing in my neck and arm.  Sometimes the first symptom that appears is not the rash, but the nerve pain, but since a diagnosis has not been made, you might think it’s just a temporary ache (like I did).

The rash may itch for a couple days and it is during this time that the rash begins to “weep” and eventually scabs form.  The interesting thing about shingles is that the rash does not cross the mid-line; in other words, if it starts on the right side of the body, it stays on the right.  The rash may appear in a few separate areas (I had 3), or it might be confined to one.  The most common place for shingles to appear is the torso but in some cases it can also appear on the face.  If that occurs, there is a chance it can spread to the eyes and extra medical attention will be necessary

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Although the rash can be extremely painful, the nerve pain can be excruciating and can last long after the rash disappears.  Sometimes just the slight pressure/weight of clothing can cause extreme nerve discomfort, weakness and tenderness.  Some individuals who have had shingles say it’s the most painful thing they’ve ever experienced.

If you had chicken pox as a child you have a 1 in 3 chance of getting shingles as an adult.  A vaccine is now available for shingles and is available at most pharmacies; some insurance companies will cover the costly vaccine.

I was lucky as I got treatment immediately (thanks Patty) and the rash and other symptoms were limited.  Even so, because it’s a virus, it is contagious and I was banned from seeing my young granddaughters for over a week.  Infants and toddlers receive a series of immunizations which protect them from chicken pox, however, neither child had completed all the shots and were not completely protected from the virus.  Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed I could not see the little girls, but entirely  understood.  My suggestion to grandparents is get the vaccine so you don’t have to go through the pain and/or inconvenience that shingles can bring.

So if you ask me, a shot in the arm is better than a face full of scabs!

Until next time,


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