For many years, I used a certain brand of soap until it suddenly disappeared from my favorite stores. It was not until very recently that my spouse found a new supply and brought me a replacement bar for my shower.
Shortly after use, I noted a rash and some itching on my face and figured I must be allergic to my once-favorite soap. A few days later, I awoke to a burning and tingling and a new sensitivity near my right eye. I had some pain and new blisters on my face and assumed my old faithful soap must have turned against me!
Once this rash became obvious and blisters appeared, people began to notice and comment. The scabbing and crusting around the right eye and brow and on the forehead gave me that monster look and brought stares from others. It became necessary at this point to consult the family physician, who told me I had shingles! What? “But, Doctor, I had the shots,” I explained. It did not matter. The chickenpox virus I had as a child somehow became reactivated in the nerve tissues in my face. The shot I had years ago could make for a milder case for me.
Now the itch and pain are disrupting my daily routine and my sleep. Some of my coworkers have asked me to stay home and take care of myself even though two doctors have said I am not contagious. Maybe it will take four weeks before things return to normal and I can again trust using my once-favorite soap.
Doctors say I cannot transmit shingles to someone else unless it is to a person who has never had chickenpox. Even then, contact would have to be directly with an active blister, and they usually crust over in several weeks. Pain could endure for several years.
Right now, I’ve noticed the swelling around my eye has brought on a headache. No doubt my weakened immune system has caused my problem. It looks harder to blame my favorite soap for a case of shingles.
I am now trying to avoid scratching and getting the blisters infected, and I am following my doctors’ advice.
At my age, I never expected the chickenpox virus I had as a child to reappear as a case of the shingles. However, I am fortunate to have a mild case. My doctors have prescribed several medicines and recommended lotions and creams to help me along.
I am hoping to return soon to my normal routine!
Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each weekend in this newspaper.