Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Shingles: You Hear About It All the Time

IF YOU HAVE A QUEASY STOMACH YOU MAY NOT WANT TO READ THIS.

My husband's parents had a visit from relatives who live in another state. They had not seen each other for awhile and decided to continue catching up on news, health news over dinner. What a lovely conversation 'shingles' is ... over dinner... My father-in-law had a case which covered his left arm and part of his side. I don't know how many people have had someone they know get shingles but it is NOT something you get over fast nor is it something easily dealt with. My mom had it and lived in her nightgown, not leaving her house, for about 6 weeks. My father-in-law had it when he went to the hospital and then to rehab; it even affect his left arm where he could not raise it up. It took him about 2 months and had to continue with physical therapy.
(picture from Bing). The Mayo Clinic says: Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who's had chickenpox may develop shingles. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus can enter your nervous system and lie dormant for years. Eventually, it may reactivate and travel along nerve pathways to your skin — producing shingles. Symptoms can start early before you even see it: pain, burning, numbness or tingling; a red rash that begins a few days after the pain; fluid filled blisters that ooze then crust over; itching; some people get fever and chills, general achiness, headache and fatigue.
The one good thing that my father-in-law had was that he was already in the hospital when the rash manifested itself and was able to get the medicine intravenously right away. I took my mother to her doctor a couple of days after -- we were thinking it had to do with a new soap!! The doctor gave her medicine but it took a lot longer to have an effect on it. All in all -- it is very painful. Like I was told, even wearing clothes can hurt, putting a sheet over you can hurt.
Caring.com gives possible reasons why the chicken pox virus can rear its ugly head again: an aging immune system (most common in those over 50 -- YEA ME!!), stress ( OK - #2 for me), medications that weaken immunity like chemo or meds given after transplants, infections that weaken immunity - like HIV.
Although you cannot catch shingles like you can chicken pox, it is best if you are wary, to stay away or use gloves while the patient has blisters that have not healed.
The Mayo Clinic also lists possible complications. Postherpetic neuralgia. For some people, shingles pain continues long after the blisters have cleared. This condition is known as postherpetic neuralgia, and it occurs when damaged nerve fibers send confused and exaggerated messages of pain from your skin to your brain.
Vision loss. Shingles in or around an eye (ophthalmic shingles) can cause painful eye infections that may result in vision loss.
Neurological problems. Depending on which nerves are affected, shingles can cause an inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), facial paralysis, or hearing or balance problems.
Skin infections. If shingles blisters aren't properly treated, bacterial skin infections may develop.

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Grandma’s Pearls of Wisdom:
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I’ve traveled paths you’ve yet to walk
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Walk softly when you’re angry
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Express what you are feeling
Your beliefs you should uphold
Don’t shy away from what is right
Be courageous and be bold
Keep hope right in your pocket
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Love deeply and love truly
Give freely from your heart
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