Itching for a cure

Sooooo … I was getting settled into my motel room a couple of weeks ago, and noticed an itching burn on my torso, right side, at the bottom of my rib cage. I pulled up my shirt, took a look, and saw a slash of red rash, lookin’ and feelin’ kinda ornery. “Hmmmmm,” I mused, “what kinda funk we got here? Did I brush up against a strange bush or something?” But no. It was cold that day. Four layers of clothes. This weirdness didn’t come from outside, but from inside.

And then, the word shingles popped into my head.

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHRRRRRPPP PPFFFFF!!!!! (That was meant to be a written portrayal of my instant horror!)

As soon as I thought it, I knew it. My diagnosis was dead on. Mothableepin’ sumbitchin’ shingles. Off to Wikipedia to see the photos and oh yeah, bingo, right off, first pic, yessir, that’s it right there. Super. Swell. And dandy.

So now it’s been a two-week “party” with these little buggers. That red rash soon morphed into telltale herpetic blisters, which makes sense, since shingles are a member in good standing of the herpes family. Indeed, you can think of shingles as a chicken pox flashback, since that’s exactly what they are. They weren’t too awful painful (I got lucky, since some cases reportedly hurt a bunch), but they were sensitive in a gnugly kinda way. Let’s just say, I knew they were there. At all times. They seem to be healing all right. I’ve been pounding them with Neosporin and fresh aloe juice direct from aloe leaves, and that’s doing the job.

Some basic intel on herpes zoster: The only people who get them are people who’ve had chicken pox, which is most everybody born before 1990 (the c. pox vaccine appeared in ’95). If you get shingles, chances are good you’ll only get them once, which is nice. The best thing to do if you feel them coming on is blast ’em with a dose of one of our beloved herpes bombers (acyclovir, valtrex, or famciclovir). Those all work and will help keep your outbreak mild. Mild is good. People who have bad outbreaks get very grumpy, because they feel bad. Real bad. The opinion of 100 percent of zoster victims—shingles suck. Exceedingly so.

There is a vaccine. If you’re over 50, you can get it. The catch—it ain’t cheap. Between 150 and 200 smackers for one shot that, at best, will prevent an outbreak or, at worst, will make it mellow. It’s theorized that the price of the shot is why most Americans won’t get it. Pretty good theory.

All I wanna say about that is, if you get nailed with a dose of this wretchedness, you would cough up two Benjamins real quick-like to make it hit the road and hit the road fast.