Well, I made it to church yesterday and other than the fact that apparently operating only one side of your face tires you out more quickly than using both sides, I had a very good day. I thought I'd reached the end of my growing list of symptoms and was basking in the light at the end of the tunnel. Until...as I was changing clothes I felt a small rough-ish patch on my shoulder. I asked Joel what it looked like and his reply was, "Poison ivy." I knew this was impossible because the last time I was exposed to poison ivy, I was 8 years old on a Girl Scout camping trip. Not the outdoorsy type, am I. But the over-65 population at church on Sunday evening knew immediately what it was...shingles!
Another call to the doctor this morning. The receptionist said my regular physician was booked, but she'd be happy to schedule me with someone else or I could wait until 4:00 tomorrow. I declined having to rehash my medical history with yet another stranger and asked to leave a voicemail. When Dr. M returned my call after lunch, the minute I mentioned a small patch that looks like poison ivy, she gasped, "Its shingles! I need to see you this afternoon."
And so the saga continues...
You know the saying about hindsight being 20/20? I believe it was coined for just such an occasion as this. As we laid it all out in the doctor's office this afternoon, it was like putting pieces of the puzzle together. All the way back to last Wednesday when my only real symptoms were a swollen lymph node and that when I drank carbonated beverages my ear drum burned. Hot liquids felt soothing, cold drinks were no problem, but DietCoke caused a tingling burning sensation deep inside my ear. We focused on the lymph node and didn't catch the warning signs of nerve impairment.
So Bell's Palsey does not cause shingles, it is a side effect of shingles. In my case, it just happened to identify itself more quickly than the real culprit. So while I thought the worst was over, I now have oozing, weeping and scabbing of the "poison ivy" patch to look forward to. Oh, and excruciating pain.
Well, the next few weeks might not be pleasant, but should be interesting. Let me just apologize ahead of time for anything I might say or do in the near future...we'll just chalk it up to all the steroids, anti-virals, antibiotics and pain killers that now live on my nightstand. K? Thx.