Shingles Awareness Day

This Valentine’s Day, a lot might ask, “Are you single?” or “Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?” However, for me, you might ask me, “Do you have shingles?” Anyway, single is a status but the word shingle, with a “shhhh” pronunciation or with an H is actually a viral infection. Yes, you heard it right, I got a viral infection this Valentine’s Day. I’m single and I have shingles.

Never have I heard about shingles before until I got one at present. Shingles or Herpes Zoster is a viral infection from the Varicelli Zoster Virus (VZV) or the virus responsible for chicken pox. Now, don’t think of Herpes Zoster as the virus similar to the STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) because the virus responsible for the latter is the Herpes Simplex. They just have the same name but they are not actually similar. So how in the world did I catch this awful virus?

I was actually very confident that I have a strong immune system because I just rarely catch coughs and colds. I live a healthy and active lifestyle. I never skip breakfast, I ensure to eat healthful foods, I drink at least 4 liters of water every day, and I strive to exercise on a daily basis. Yet, when the viral infection caught me, I began to question my system. How on the world did my powerful white blood cells gave up on me?

Last Tuesday night, the left side of my torso got itchy. It was just a small red usual insect bite patch. I thought that it was just a mosquito bite because these blood-sucking creatures really love to be with me. So, I just didn’t mind it. Wednesday came and the red patches grew towards my back almost near the spinal column. Again, I just didn’t mind it hoping that it was just an insect bite and it would eventually fade away. Then, last Thursday, I then began to notice some blisters or watery filled lymph on the red patches. I already then began to get anxious. By Friday, I then told my parents about the red patches with blisters. I already started to have my research on the internet because maybe, I just had an allergy on the skin or dermatitis as a result from the food I ate or from an OTC medicine I drank. Last Saturday, I noticed that the blisters began to get painful, so I drank Iterax or Hydroxizine believing that it is just an allergy. Then, by Sunday, my body was tired as it is one of the effects of drinking Hydroxizine. I was drowsy and sleepy. During that night, the pain was already intolerable and I was already very worried. So, I went to a dermatologist yesterday.

Dr. Monica Sabal, a beautiful dermatologist, then had her findings that I had herpes zoster or shingles. I was frightened by hearing the word herpes. Yet, she explained that it’s not the STD herpes because it’s actually different. Herpes zoster is actually a virus responsible for chicken pox. She further expounded that one could not have shingles unless that person did not experience having chicken pox before. I had chicken pox during my grade school years which was already a decade ago. If one already experienced chicken pox, the Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) would just lie dormant on the nervous system and would sleep forever.

Click this link if you want to know more about The Shingles Lifecycle

However, like a dormant volcano, there is a tendency that this chicken pox virus would awaken unexpectedly and erode the weak immune system of a person. By then, the individual could develop shingles. Furthermore, I could infect a person who has not experienced having chicken pox before. If ever I will infect that individual (hopefully not), he or she will develop chicken pox. On the other hand, if that person already experienced chicken pox, I could pass the shingles to him or her. According to statistics, 1 out of 5 individuals are at risk of having shingles after they had chicken pox. One could be infected by chicken pox or shingles if ever they would touch the fluid by the time the blisters are already on its healing stage. However, I cannot infect anyone through my saliva or through sneezing. Direct contact on the rash must occur. Gratefully, my rash is covered.

WHAT DID I LEARN?

Even though I complained on the excruciating pain this infection brought me since it affects mostly the nerves, my doctor told me that I am still grateful that it occurred on my stomach which is hidden and not on my face nor on my arms, neck, or legs. Never would I imagine that it would ruin my beautiful face. Haha.

Likewise, I am still blessed that I was able to consult this infection to a physician before it went late because I could develop complicated nerve pains in my lifetime or worse, develop meningitis or brain cancer which is life-threatening. I am currently taking expensive antivirals, pain relievers, and Vitamin B-Complex. I was disheartened because my emergency savings were reduced as a result of this infection. Yet, gladly, I did not depend on my parents. So, lesson learned? Always save for the rainy days and prepare for the unexpected because you will never know when crisis would arise.

This is a time for everyone to be aware of shingles because there is a common misconception that once you have experienced chicken pox, you cannot be infected anymore which is not true. Because of this, in our complex environment today where everything evolves, let us strive to strengthen our immune system and to take care of our bodies because we only have one in our lifetime. It’s the only place we live in. I may have grumbled and whined because my wealth was reduced as a result of my medicines. Yet, my mother reminded me that the monetary wealth could just be recovered anytime but our health is truly our real wealth.

Cover image from Bonobology.com

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