By B. Lynn Goodwin.
For a week, I had aches and pains in my left thigh, glute, and rib cage. When my body started itching and burning, I scratched until I had red marks across my skin. I ached, and my thigh and midriff burned. When the pain flared, I screamed, a blurt of a sound that I produced without warning. Eventually I called Kaiser’s advice nurse.
I told her I was taking my fibromyalgia meds as prescribed, and she referred me to a doctor who suggested increasing those meds. I did so, and in less than 24 hours, a dark angry rash spread down my glute and across my thigh. Hours later it was bigger and splotchier. I saw pimply bumps in the midst of every red spot. I feared I had developed an allergy to painkillers and muscle relaxants. You need those if you have fibromyalgia.
The phone-appointment doctor also scheduled a face-to-face appointment with my GP, and as soon as she looked at my rash, she knew I’d contracted shingles, a virus that lives in your body from the time you first get chicken pox. As you get older and your immune system weakens, you are more likely to get shingles.
The doctor sent me home with an anti-viral medication and a very strong painkiller called Percocet, and four days later, I’m starting to get better, but I’m a long way from being healthy.
So where is the inspiration in the pain of shingles?
- I’m surviving it. That beats succumbing to it.
- The meds are helping. I am not allergic to them.
- But, most importantly, my body has forced me to slow down.
In between TV reruns of Judging Amy and Dr. Phil, when I’ve kept myself off the road and barely been able to walk across the room, I’ve given some thought to the roles of writing, rest, and relationships in my life.
- My writing is sometimes good, but I sometimes overbook myself. I need to prioritize. What do I MOST want to write about?
- Rest is essential. When I don’t get enough rest, I wear down like an Energizer Bunny on tranquilizers. When I get enough rest, I’m reinvigorated and want to write.
- Relationships matter. I’m lucky to have a husband who cares. Since he rarely experiences pain, it’s hard for him to imagine mine. If I remain aware of that, I stay grateful for his help, instead of being sad because he doesn’t fully get it.
I’ve watched enough Dr. Phil since the shingles took hold that I feel confident saying he would be proud of my conclusions.
The recovery time for shingles is slower than I anticipated, even though I saw my mother go through it. Back in the day, I thought she was stretching her pain out longer than needed. My husband probably thinks the same thing of me now, but I know better. I’d like to tell her I understand, but I’m not always sure she can hear every message, since she’s on the other side.
Treasure what’s right about your health. Correct or cope with what is wrong. Allow yourself time to think, breathe, and reflect when you’re ill. You’ll be surprised by what you learn.
What have you discovered after an illness?