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An Update on My Health – Shingles Sucks

Hello everyone. I just wanted to provide an update to my health that has affected every aspect of my life including running my business. I’ve put the four Unique Effects I had planned on hold for now until I am well enough to work on them. The following is my story and ongoing health struggle.

On May 27, I developed what initially felt like a normal migraine. I took an Advil and didn’t think much else of it. I had to take the following day off work because the migraine wouldn’t go away no matter what pain killers I took. The next day, I saw a doctor who prescribed me some special migraine medication, which of course didn’t work. The day after (May 30 for those keeping track), I was admitted to the ER. I was diagnosed with status migraine and given a whole bucket load of drugs. Of course, nothing worked. They sent me home to wait it out.

That evening, the pain escalated so badly that I was rushed to the ER again. 10/10 pain. This time, the doctor gave me another cocktail of medication including hydromorphone, a scary narcotic many times stronger than morphine. It caused unsettling hallucinations whenever I closed my eyes, and the worst part? It didn’t help the pain at all. I had two rounds of blood work and a CT scan done, all of which came back clean. Again, the doctor sent me home to rest and wait the migraine out. All this while, it didn’t feel like a normal migraine. It was like pressure building up just under my skin.

A couple days later, the headache had finally started to subside after 8 days. My right eye had become swollen and I started to develop a strange bumpy rash on the bridge of my nose and under my eyebrow. After speaking with my good friend Kim, a nurse, I made my way to urgent care. The rash was now covering the entire top right quadrant of my face and head. I was finally diagnosed with the correct thing, shingles. I am 35 years old. We are made to believe shingles only affects old people, but the doctors and nurses didn’t seem phased. Apparently, you can have shingles at any age if you’ve had chickenpox. What did surprise them, though, is that I had no pain whatsoever. The headache was completely gone, and I felt fine apart from the swollen eye.

The shingles rash extended to the surface of my eye. There was a danger that I would lose some sight in my right eye. I started antivirals that night which I would continue to take for the next three weeks, and the doctor booked me into the eye clinic for the morning. My rash started to blister (gross, I know, sorry) by the time I went to the eye clinic. I was prescribed eye drops.

About a week later, the rash had almost cleared up, and I could see almost 100% from my right eye. Since then, I have experienced some complications from shingles. Firstly, although my eyesight is better, my eye is still swollen. I can’t keep it open for long, I have bad light sensitivity, and I have difficulty looking “up” (above the horizon). The pain also arrived after the rash had gone, although it’s pretty mild. I get nerve pain through my optic nerve every once in a while which is quite bad. The upper right side of my face is numb and itchy.

Although this whole thing totally sucks, I am left incredibly thankful that I did not and continue not to have a whole lot of pain from shingles. There are so many horror stories of shingles causing the worst pain imaginable to some people. A complication called postherpetic neuralgia is pretty common and can last years. I’m also thankful that my eyesight has fully returned. I am thankful for the incredibly caring and attentive doctors, nurses, and medical staff who helped me throughout this six-week-and-counting ordeal, especially Dr. Slemko from Airdrie Urgent Care and my friend RN Kim.

I hope my story can bring some attention to shingles. It can happen in your 20s, 30s, 40s, any age if you’ve had chickenpox. If you develop a random pain and spots/pimples appear, go see a doctor right away. The sooner you take antivirals, the better your outcome will be.