Shingles – Not Just for Roofing

ShinglesThe last couple of weeks have been especially stressful. We have tried to urge our last possible home exchange links to make a final commitment before forcing us to move into the dreaded “rental” sector. Finally, our third contact in Mexico City came on board.

With a sudden spurt in B & B bookings, there were more distractions in our long journey planning, but the income was well received. I am a list maker with lists on the computer, my phone, and on paper all capturing thoughts, needs, to do items as well as “don’t forget to pack” scenarios.

Apparently, I have a stress outlet somewhere, though not obvious. I don’t kick the dog for relief; we don’t have one, but even if we did… I don’t kick Ron, though admittedly, I do lose it at times when I am feeling overwhelmed and he is being his good-natured farm boy self.

Well, it seems this docile nature can turn against you. This last Monday morning without any precursor warnings, he woke with a nasty looking rash on his leg. He went to our district doctor who diagnosed it as shingles and suggested Ron see the dermatologist. The dermatologist in question does not speak English, only has office hours on Monday and Thursdays, and refused phone translations. Ron called around, but no one was available on short notice.

Thursday seemed like a lifetime away when we were set to leave on Saturday. We called all the private clinics. For most, Thursday is the sacred day for dermatologists as they honor this day by working. One wonders where they hangout the rest of the week. Finally, we hit on a clinic with a doctor who was willing to see Ron on short notice.

According to the Mayo Clinic, these signs and symptoms of shingles may include:
•    Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
•    Sensitivity to touch
•    A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
•    Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
•    Itching
Some people also experience:
•    Fever
•    Headache
•    Sensitivity to light
•    Fatigue

Since Ron had none of these, I was rooting for contact dermatitis. I was willing to go as far as an allergic reaction, but I held fast on subscribing to shingles.
I lost the bet. It is shingles.

For the uninformed, shingles is the same virus as chickenpox called varicella-zoster. This nasty little thing lives our bodies after we have suffered with the agony of chickenpox just waiting for an opportune time to attack again. There are vaccines to prevent shingles, but depending on the study you read, it ranges from 50-75% effective.

Ron is taking pills five times a day and has some topical cream. Unless the blisters break, he is not contagious and then only if one were to dive into his pants to get to his lower thigh. I think the world is safe.

The good news is we have travel insurance. The bad news is this is now a pre-existing condition. And the adventure begins…

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.