Ooooohhh, this is what all the fuss about Shingles is about

I’ve had Shingles twice before and never knew what the big fuss was about it.  The first was a small patch that itched a lot but otherwise I seemed fine, and the second time was similar but with a little more fatigue/pain, although I am always tired and in pain so a little more of that isn’t a huge deal.  But I’ve come down with Shingles a third time and I am startging to understand the fuss.  I have a series of red patches along my right chest and back (including under the arm) that flat out hurt, like a burn, and I am really sore.  I am not sure if it is related (I am sure it is) but I am itching and tender at invisible places in m body: for example, my right tricep is tender (i.e. hurts to the touch) and itches but nothing is there.  I have a few places like that on m body (left ankle, right shoulder, etc.).  Some of those spots come and go, but others (like the ankle and tricep) are persistent…  I am certain that I still have a fairly mild case, but at least now understand/get why some people are truly miserable with Shingles…

I visited the doctor on Friday (they squeezed me in since I was still in the 72 hour critical window for treatment), and I am on antiviral medicine which doesn’t seem to be helping but then again who is to say if it is or not (i.e. maybe it would be worse without the medicine).  She also asked about my stress; honestly, I am in a very stressful part of my life (stress being relative). I have chronic health issues, am spending a lot of time in doctors offices while working full time with fatigue, we are having financial stress since Wife M is in school full-time and my earnings have been cut in half since my diagnosis in 2011, and my current employer is having serious financial difficulty which means I am likely back on the job trail again and explaining why I am on my fifth job in 5 years.  Sigh. 🙂  The best way to cure the stress will be to get a stable job and to stabilize our financial situation (which will be much better next year when wife M has graduated).  I am not bitter about anything – there is just a lot of stress I am trying to manage.  🙂

The last two times I had Shingles were in 1990 during college finals, and three years ago when I joined a high-stress company as a manager (I literally was thrown into the fire day 1 for a chaotic company).

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Ooooohhh, this is what all the fuss about Shingles is about

My experience with scary lung disease helps me empathize (on a minor level) with EB Sledge’s post war experience

In China Marine, EB Sledge has a few episodes where he realizes that people cannot understand what he has been through. For months on end, he slept in mud, watched his good friends killed on a daily basis and lived in a constant (i.e. hourly) threat of instant death where 90% of the people he went into battle with were killed, some in hand-to-hand combat with the Japanese.  (As much as any book I’ve ever read, With the Old Breed made me feel like I was there). Now, here he is at home, the parades are over and life has moved on, and nobody knows the grind it took on a daily basis to fight the war.  So in essence he is left alone to deal with his feelings…  

My experience was nothing like EB Sledge in its intensity (I don’t know how the marines stayed sane, and many snapped after multiple campaigns).  But I can empathize, since in that first year after getting my scary lung disease under control, I felt so alone.  Here I was, a survivor, but there were no walks or ribbons (many people march for friends in support of breast cancer), no one knew what disease I had or that I was continuing to fight it (and Ankylosing Spondylitis), and everyone was able to continue their lives while I was still trying to get my life back.  It was shocking. Lonely.  Devestating.  (And I experienced only a fraction of a percent of what EB and other combat veterans experienced!).  It wasn’t that people didn’t care, but they had their own lives to lead and how could they possibly know what I was feeling?  Which is why I burst into tears in the doctor’s office that day when he told me how boyant/chipper I seemed despite being through so much, and thank god I did since he sent me to therapy that got my life back on track.  My life will neer be the same, and in some ways it is better while in other ways it is much worse, but at least it is back on track again (and, overall, I am *much* more content and less anxious now than I was pre-illness).  

Anyway, on a minor level I can understand what EB felt when he returned home.  And I continue to look foward to reading about his journey in China Marine.  And I feel soooo much for that man, and the other people who have returned from battle (including our Afghanistan/Iraq veterans).

My experience with scary lung disease helps me empathize (on a minor level) with EB Sledge’s post war experience

So many times, an extra 10 minutes goes a long way towards helping another person – we are grateful to the person who did that yesterday.

Daughter L made a friend on one of our days ashore.  They spent the entire day talking, laughing and swapping stories.  But at the end of the day, they forgot to exchange contact information, so all she had was the person’s first name, age and country of origin.  But she wanted to reach that person again.  What to do?

We called Guest Relations on the boat.  Could they help us?  No, they said.  But we could try the Excursions desk.  So I called the Excursions desk but we were put on hold.  I tend to hate the phone anyway (I’d rather do face-to-face or by email), so I walked down to the Excursion desk.  I told the story and asked if they could help us track down this person?  No, the person said, only if we had the first and last name.  Ugh.  Later, that night, I went back to Guest Relations, and tried a final time.  “We have the first name, age and the person’s nationality,” I said.  “Isn’t there any way to search the database that way?”  The young woman at the front desk thought for a moment.  Let me try a few things, she said.  And she took 5 minutes to search through her computer.  “I think I found it,” she said.  “There is only one 20 year old from that country on the ship.”  She explained she couldn’t give us the name or the cabin number, but that she could call on our behalf or deliver a message to the room.  So I sent our contact information to the room.

(Note: if this is a different format, it is not by choice 🙂 – I think I hit a random button that changed formatting for this paragraph).  A half hour later, there was a knock on the door, and it was the friend.  My daughter was happy, and it turns out the friend was happy – they were having the same dilemma and wanted to reach my daughter, and in fact had been searching the shiop for her.  Both were happy, life was good, and all because one of three people took an extra effort to help us.  She cared, she took 5 minutes to search, and she took 5 minutes to relay the message.  

10-minutes is nothing. It is the time it takes me to shave, brush my teeth, floss and rinse off in the morning.  But so many times it is difficult for most people to find an extra 10-minutes to go the extra mile for another person, especially when we are disgruntled with something else. But it is so important, not only for customer service and business, but primarily on a human being level – we all want to same like our needs matter.  

I am very grateful to that person who helped us, and I sent a note to her employer that I hope expresses my apprecation in some small way,.

So many times, an extra 10 minutes goes a long way towards helping another person – we are grateful to the person who did that yesterday.

A fish gave its life so our dogs could have a dog treat

Somewhere in the recent past a salmon was alive, breathing and swimming.  Then it was captured, ground up and ended up as a free dog treat sample at our local pet store.  I never really thought about how tragic that was until I took out the treat and could smell the salmon.  I am very glad that in the last 5 years I’ve been a pretty good vegeterian (it is rare when I eat meat), inspired by watching the pigs and chickens die in Food Inc.  Please note, I don’t feel holier than thou, I personally just made the choice that I don’t want to take an animal’s life for my own meal when there are fruits and vegetables and (organic and cage free) dairy.     

A fish gave its life so our dogs could have a dog treat

Happiness is putting a human face to a frustrating problem

Yesterday, the bus – which run every 15 minutes – was 45 minutes late. I was frustrated as heck. Then the bus arrived, and the driver was stressed. “The last bus didn’t show,” he said as I climbed on. Poor guy – I am sure he was taking abuse all along the route. Suddenly, instead of feeling frustrated I felt sorry for the driver, and hoped the missing bus (driver) was okay. I was able to relax and enjoy the sunny day on the bus ride home. Empathy has its perks 🙂

Happiness is putting a human face to a frustrating problem

My son tried — unsuccessfully — to give blood :)

Today my son R tried to donate blood.  No big deal — except he’s had a lifelong fear of needles.  The past few years he has tried to overcome it, so making the attempt was a big deal for him, except he was so light headed from nervousness when they went to prick him today that they turned away 🙂 I’m happy for him for trying.

The poor guy – when he was younger we’d get after him when he’d fight us over his flu shot.  Turns out that he has a legimiate fear of needles.  It is sooooo hard to be a kid – when you’re an adult, no one harrasses  you about getting your flu shot, except quite possibly a nagging spouse.  But when you’re a kid, everyone assumes it’s a matter of mind over matter and we harass the poor kid(s)…  

For me, it was polyester — I had the misfortune of growing up during a polyester era, and polyester irritates my skin.  Unfortunately, my parents assumed my discomfort was from a lack of effort, so I was forced to wear the shirts for a predetermined length of time (usually a few hours).  Ugh.  It was torture enough being seen in polyester, let alone also having a sensitivity to it 🙂  I hope there is a special place in Hades for the inventor of the polyester leisure suit.

My son tried — unsuccessfully — to give blood :)