a warning to seniors and anyone else who had chicken pox as a child

Day 10, NaWriMoPo November challenge.

I wish I could remember who the blogger was a few years ago who wrote about a friend having been diagnosed with shingles who was then in the throes of not just an active attack but an acute attack, because I would write to tell them Thanks! for the warning. As a result of reading that blog, I was quite ready and willing to have the shot my doctor recommended only a few weeks afterward as a precautionary measure.

Please don’t mistake these for hives. Hives are caused by an allergic reaction. Herpes zoster, which we commonly refer to as shingles, is a painful, blistering skin rash due to acute infection with the varicella-zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox. Apparently it feels as if you’re burning underneath the skin and narcotics are needed to deal with the pain. Plus there’s no way to predict how long they’re going to hang around to annoy you.

The person mentioned in the blog I read and mentioned above had still not recovered even after a year. So I urge anyone who had chicken pox as a child to read and take heed, as the 1virus stays in your body and may not reappear for years, but when it or if it does this is how it presents itself:

Our friend Robert sent us these pictures in an email recently to show us why we haven’t been seeing him at the gym latetly. The good news is that, unlike chicken pox, it isn’t passed on from one to another through exposure, but the bad news is that it tends to reappear  as we age as I noted above.

He didn’t send the pictures to gross us out, but just wanted to urge us to get a vaccination against it as soon as possible because he’s been suffering from it terribly this summer.

You can see it seems to have no boundaries, as it’s crept up into the hair line and inside the ears.

2 rwp I had the vaccine several years ago, and hubby had it a year later although he fussed a little at my insistence because of the cost. In our case, the full cost was nearly, but not quite $200 each. The insurance we had at the time didn’t cover it, but the doctor assured us every one of us should have it. Now that I see what Robert’s going through, I’m so happy we did.

Some insurance seems to cover the cost or at least a substantial part of it, as I’ve learned from other friends. In our case nearly $400 (or about $180 per) seemed like a lot for something that MIGHT not happen, but if you get shingles . . . heck! Just see here what our friend Robert says in his email when I mentioned cost:  Alice, since getting the shingles and knowing what the hell that they are, I would gladly pay $20,000 for a shot.  I’m still not over them even though they have scabbed over and there is little visual evidence that they are still there.  I’m still having great pain and taking the narcotics to make the pain diminish.   I worry on how that is going to leave me.  Three straight weeks of narcotics!

There, you have it! Even though I’m lucky to have had the vaccine, and my case of chicken pox was very light when I did have them, I appreciate Robert agreeing to let me pass along the message to you along with these vivid pictures. As he would say, “don’t ever get the shingles if you can help it!”

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10 thoughts on “a warning to seniors and anyone else who had chicken pox as a child

  1. After I watched my brother suffer I was delighted to get the shot as soon as it was offered to me. Medicare covered the cost.

  2. Ouch, eeek! Can he still get a shot to avoid further re-occurrence or is it to late once it presents itself?

  3. It’s even worse if it gets into your eyes and can cause serious damage to your eyesight. I have an elderly friend who spent almost a year battling it in her eyes.

    If you haven’t been vacinnated, there are medications that help if you discover the shingles early enough. They can help minimize the symptoms. Many people just disregard the early stages.

    I think that shingles are contagious (in the open sore stage) to anyone that has not had chickenpox.

  4. I think it’s clear enough people who commented have had enough experience to reinforce the warning for anyone reading this who poo poo warnings about risk. Thanks so much for commenting, everyone. You “younguns” reading here keep that in mind also.

  5. I have had shingles. Twice. The first time was as a child, no it was not chickenpox, as I did have that too a few years earlier. I was about 7 years old when the first bout of shingles hit in. I remember having to go and have something painted on the sore area every morning.

    It recurred forty years later, when I was nursing my husband. I do know of somebody who has suffered for years without remission. If there is a shot available, do have it.

    • Omigosh, Grannymar! What a dreadful time for you to suffer such an attack. No doubt the stress contributed to it. Maybe you can answer then the question someone posed, is there anything you can do it about now? Did you have the shot yourself? Or do you live everyday knowing there could be a recurrence?

      • Alice, I do think the stress involved in nursing my husband 24/7 did indeed contribute to the return of the shingles. Fortunately it was a milder episode, but in an area I was unable to touch – on my back the spot where you cannot scratch with either hand. Go try putting a hand over one shoulder and the other round your back and try touching the fingers. Impossible right?

        I did not realise there was a vaccine available until now. I must make enquiries. It can wait a week or three since I had the annual flu jab last week and the swine flu jab today. The body needs a rest. All free gratis, thanks to the NHS.

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