As I write this, knives poke me in the side and one twists in my back with sadistic intent. Not just ordinary knives, but daggers actually. I feel them slashing my insides. EEEEEEEEEEEE!! Excuse that outburst but the… EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE…pain causes me to screech unexpectedly.
You might be wondering how I can even write this blog with the stabbing pain piercing my body. Well, it isn’t easy. All I can say is, writing takes my mind off my painful circumstance. A coma would also do that, but writing seems preferable.
All of us have painful circumstances sometime in our lives, and some of us more than others. Some have chronic pain, and keep on living their life without complaint. What brave people.
Often, pain happens when we least expect it. Like the ant that crawled on my hand the other day and bit me with the viciousness of a Rottweiler. It hurt, but then the pain and the ant (with a little help) conveniently faded away.
But the unexpected pain I’m experiencing now registers 22 on a scale of 1 to 10. It has been with me for almost a week and what’s even worse, suffering came along with it. Don’t think I’m avoiding the suffering by writing this post. I’m only slightly distracted.
My pain began with sore back muscles. I guess I shouldn’t have been showing off my powerful strength of hoisting 5-pound barbells at the gym, I thought.
The next day, my sore muscles hurt with a tingling sensation and I noticed a red rash. As soon as I saw the rash, I knew I had shingles.
Shingles occurs when the virus that causes chickenpox starts up again in your body. After you get better from chickenpox, the virus “sleeps” in your nerve roots. In some people, it stays dormant forever. In others, the virus “wakes up” when disease, stress, or aging weakens the immune system.
In high school, I suffered a shingles outbreak. My doctor back then prescribed morphine (such a nice doctor in El Cajon, CA). The morphine gave me a warm, relaxed feeling. Not a whole lot of pain with that case of shingles. The suffering came from my P.E. teacher who resented the “doctor note” that I be excused from P.E. for 2 weeks. “You can fold towels,” she said to me, as she felt I had to be doing something that involved exercise. I didn’t mind. I took morphine. Give me all the towels you’ve got. I shall dance and fling the towels with joy. I recall feeling no pain while folding. The pain came when Ms. P.E. teacher lowered my grade due to non-participation.
Times have changed since my high school days. Dr. Speedy (not his real name) didn’t want to prescribe painkillers. He feared I might end up like music icon Prince and would be sued.
The rash expanded to red blotches the size of grapefruits and the penetrating knife-pain worked its torture. I developed headaches, tiredness, and aching muscles. I told Dr. Speedy’s friendly receptionist I had shingles and wanted to make an appointment. I added, “I’d like a prescription so I can sleep at night. The pain keeps me awake.”
At the doctor’s office, Dr. Speedy said, “I sent a prescription for Acyclovir (anti-viral medication) to your pharmacy. That should take care of the shingles. Come back for a follow-up next Monday, and if the pain persists, we can talk painkillers.” His visit lasted two-seconds, and he roller skated out the door. Time is money for doctors. The faster doctors get in and out, the better. Yachts aren’t cheap. Especially in Arizona.
Before skating off to his next victim in the adjoining room, my doctor felt I needed a good eye-opening lecture and said, “Shingles are caused by stress.”
Back at home, I took the Acyclovir. The pain grew worse and many daggers, plus a large Bowie knife, pierced me like a voodoo doll.
I downed an Advil and laid very still on the couch. If I didn’t move, I could feel almost no pain. I contemplated suffering. Whoever said suffering is optional must have never had shingles. But suffering, even with all its miserable aspects, has its upside.
For one, suffering makes me appreciate the days I felt good, not to mention a desire to be more appreciative whenever I feel good again. Why do I sometimes let this appreciation lapse?
The headaches feel like someone clanging cymbals in my brain, while nausea and other symptoms-better left unsaid-have joined in. I called Dr. Speedy’s receptionist to report the latest of events. I missed his return call but he left me a voice message. “Don’t take the Acyclovir. Have a good one.” I had hoped he would have some alternative thought on how to cope with shingles. Instead, he wished me a “good one.” A good–what? A good time smashing walls with one of Jerry’s hammers? Because that’s what you feel like doing when you’re in pain and daggers are poking your insides. What happened to a doctor’s understanding concern for a patient’s misery?
I woke up in the middle of the night because I knew the nausea had immediate plans. I curled up on the floor next the toilet with a towel for a pillow. When nothing happened I stumbled back to bed and tripped over the blanket that had fallen on the floor in my haste to get to the bathroom. I tumbled backward and my derriere landed on the hard tile floor. My shoulder hit the bed post. Ahh yes, I needed more pain and this did the trick. Add bruises to my red blotches.
As I was saying, pain and suffering have a way of turning your focus to what’s important in life. Friends, family, faith. And a wake-up call to do more fun things instead of trying to cross off all the tasks on the to-do list. Maybe these shingles are a way my body is telling me to enjoy life more, and to have a good one like my doctor suggested.
A friend sent me a text. “Look out on your bench, Bronwyn.”
Outside, I found a gorgeous autumn flower arrangement of sunflowers and maple leaves adorning the bench on my front porch. “Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future,” the attached card stated.
For a friend to go out of her way, to get flowers and a card and leave them on the bench beside my front door, just to help brighten my day—and for another friend who drove across town just to give me something she hoped would help–and for Jerry to tell me that he’s available if I need anything–and for all of the people who asked if I needed anything and sent me well-wishes and prayers–THAT is something that makes the daggers in the side much less painful.
I would have never asked for shingles. Who would? But the pain has given me a new outlook to appreciate even more the wonderful friends and family and you, my readers–all who are important in my life. And as my very wise son wrote in his e-mail to me:
That all said, I say: have a good one. And I mean smashing walls with a hammer, of course.