Sunday, June 24, 2012

Shingles - A tale of burning blisters

I’ve had “Shingles” now for over a week. For those who don’t know, Shingles is a disease of the nerve endings just below the skin. It starts off with pain radiating around a spot or section and then, if not treated, erupts into multiple small blisters.  If you have had chicken pox you’re at risk. There is no known cause for an outbreak although stress is suspected. Type A personalities, of which I am a AAA, beware.

This is my second attack. The first happened in spring of 2000 while I was in Las Vegas on a business trip. I woke up around 6AM with pain centered around my left shoulder and arm radiating into my chest. Good morning 911! After about 6 hours or so of being poked, pulled, strapped, tested and blood work the Doc stepped into what passed as a “room” and announced, “Good news you haven’t had a heart attack.” As I relaxed he followed, “You have Herpes Zoster.”

Say what??????? Herpes???? He must have seen the look on my face. “Herpes Zoster is not genital herpes. It is a chronic inflammation of the nerve endings……”

“Damn,” I said. “You folks need some new names.”

“It’s also called Shingles,” he said.

Valtrix was relatively new back then, they started me on it and I never suffered many blisters. What the drug does is suppress the symptoms but not the pain. Advil worked in 2000 but Advil is not good for us with high blood pressure so this time around I was given some ‘tabs. Hello happy days…

This time it showed up on a Saturday morning. Only it was around my right shoulder and arm which I  had exercised heavily the day before on my Poulan  chainsaw. (Hint: If you know nothing about small engines then buy a Poulan. The educational opportunities are almost unlimited.) So I iced the arm and tried some Tylenol. Felt better but Sunday morning I was still hurting and when I looked I could see the red spots .

So on to Urgent Care where they dispensed some Valtrix and the “tabs” for pain and an appointment to see my PCP on Wednesday. She noted that the  Valtrix had stopped the threat and  started me on Predisone steroid. By Thursday morning the relief was fantastic and by now it is almost gone. She also gave me a script for a vaccination to prevent the disease. Said get it filled in about three weeks. It’s around 90% effective for 100% suppression and 100% effective in reducing the seriousness. 

I’m gonna give it a shot, no pun intended. 

Wanna hear some irony? Maybe a reason our healthcare system is so screwed up???

The shot is around $200. 

Medicare doesn't cover it.

But it does cover Shingles.... I figure this time around the bill is passing $500 with another visit to the PCP to go... and if I had wound up in the hospital with damage to some control nerves... who knows??? Can you say $250,000 or so???

I've got the $200. A lot of old people don't.

But the government has trillions. To waste.

"Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them." - Karl Popper

 “It’s the presumption that Obama knows how all these industries ought to be operating better than people who have spent their lives in those industries, and a general cockiness going back to before he was president, and the fact that he has no experience whatever in managing anything. Only someone who has never had the responsibility for managing anything could believe he could manage just about everything.” - Thomas Sowell in Reason Magazine