Saturday, February 26, 2011
School, Stress, and Shingles
It's been a while.
Well, only 5 days since my last post, but it feels like forever. I had to take a big step back from blogging this week (and probably will continue until I'm done with school) because I got overwhelmed. I looked at my homework list, realized I almost missed completely an assignment, and realized I was in over my head. It didn't take long for me to figure out what had to go first: blogging. And by stepping back, I was able to regroup, make out long to-do lists, and get stuff done. This semester isn't too heavy on homework and projects and tests, but it's all those little things that I'm trying to do now so I'm not overwhelmed with everything in April. But it's better now. I know I have to keep school and work and exercise and downtime at the forefront of my mind and leave blogging to when I can get around to it.
I don't think I can stress enough how much I am loving my classes this semester. My creative writing and literature classes are everything I have ever hoped for. I am totally in love with all the work I'm doing for those classes, especially those long reading assignments. My past five semesters as a journalism grad have been filled with interviews, research, and paper writing - nothing that excited me or fueled my passions. I am now realizing I want nothing to do with the journalism world. It's not where my passions - or my talents - lie. Some days, I flirt with the idea of getting my teacher certification and teaching middle school. Some days, I think about missionary work or getting involved in a ministry. Other days, I just want to keep inside my bubble and do something that comes easy for me. But the best part about this time in my life is that my future is so wide-open. It's a little scary but mostly thrilling to realize how much life I have yet to experience and how many milestones I have yet to achieve. And I can't wait to take this little blog along for the ride.
But enough about school, let's talk about shingles!
Shingles? Yes, shingles. (AKA, adult chicken pox.) Guess who was diagnosed with shingles last night? Yours truly. Quite a fun way to spend a Friday night, if you ask me!
It all started on Wednesday when I started feeling pain on the left side of my body, close to my hip. It felt like I had bruised my side or pulled a muscle and noticed two red marks that looked like insect bites around the area where it was hurting. For the most part, I shrugged it off, thinking it wasn't something major. I would ice it tonight and try to stretch out my hip flexors. No big deal.
Oh, but Thursday, I realized something was up. Still experiencing pain and little red marks began forming on my skin all around my side. They began to make a trail towards my belly button and down my upper thigh. At this point, I started to worry. I was in pain but nothing excruciating. The marks didn't itch or hurt, but they were there. I asked about it on Twitter, where Stephanie mentioned shingles. I didn't want to believe that, so I shrugged it off again. (Plus, hi, I have no insurance. I don't make visits to the doctor unless it is absolutely necessary. At this point, I didn't think it was.) At first, my mom and I thought it was a bad reaction to an insect bite. I am slightly allergic to insect bites where some can make me swell up and develop lots of redness around the bite. But I've never had a reaction like this...and I've never been in pain. (Just itchy/uncomfortable pain.) Then, after my mom looked at them again, she thought they looked like hives. Hives? Oh, I can do hives! Hives is nothing! Yay, hives! I figured the stress I was putting on myself to complete this half-marathon was the reason behind my hives. I kept pouring Benedryl lotion on the marks and taking baths to hopefully heal it.
Then, on Friday, after still experiencing a lot of pain in my side (and now my back), we went to see my grandma. She has a nursing background, took one look at them and said, "Oh, that's shingles!" No. No, no, no, no, no. I cannot have shingles! Shingles is something old people get. I'm 23 and fairly healthy (ish). Heck, I'm training for a half-marathon. People training for half-marathons don't get shingles! She advised me to get to a doctor ASAP, so my mom and I found an urgent care clinic a few blocks away. It took me about an hour to see a doctor, where I worried it was some strange disease that would give me 3 days to live. (My mind, you guys. MY MIND!) Less than 10 minutes after seeing the doctor, he diagnosed me with shingles. I have adult chicken pox. Awesome. (Oh, and did you know anyone who has had chicken pox still technically has it? It just lies dormant in your body. For some people, it stays dormant. For others, it rears up it's ugly head in the form of shingles. Interesting!) Basically, there's no real reason why a person gets shingles, but it has been linked to low immune system. I know I have a low immune system thanks to those lovely kiddos who like to sneeze and cough all over me. I get sick every 2-3 months. (Meanwhile, I can't remember the last time my mom had a cold! Not in the past 10 years, at least!) It's also linked to stress which causes a low immune system.
Basically, they put me on an antibiotic and told me to take Advil for any pain. (Although, I haven't yet filled the antibiotic because it rang up at $282! There is another kind that rings up for just $30 so I'm waiting on the phone call to see if the doctor will approve that one.) The pain isn't too bad. I can do all of my normal activities, although I'm laying off exercise until this clears up. At it's worse, the pain is at a 3 or 4. But, most of the time, it doesn't hurt at all. It's just ugly to look at.
And that's about it. There's nothing much I can do about it, although I'm taking about two oatmeal baths a day. (LOVE!) I'm just trying to relax and let it run its course. It's been a stressful few days, but I'm glad I have an answer and a solution. (Plus, I think this gets me out of housework for at least the next week, right?)