Updated: Aug 30, 2019
Last month I had the awesome opportunity to fly back to Vegas to run the Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon in California with my friend Angela. I returned the following Wednesday and had complained that morning of a mild headache but it was persistent and seemed to radiate from behind my eye. I didn't think much of it and chalked it up to being dehydrated after the half marathon and all the running around I did to prepare for that trip.
A few days afterwards I still didn't feel well, tired and worn out. Again, chalked it up to the race. It was not until a small patch of redness appeared that I got worried. I went to work for the next two days and by the third day I could not stand the pain. The rash had begun that morning. I then did the unthinkable and googled my symptoms, and one thing stood out - shingles. The funny thing was that I didn't think to google that as a potential cause until I had seen the commercials for the vaccination against shingles a few days earlier. I immediately contacted my boss and told her that I had to close the store and go to urgent care. If it was shingles then I could be a risk to anyone that had not yet had chickenpox.
I went to the nearest urgent care and was immediately diagnosed with shingles. The doctor's concern made me nervous. She spotted two areas on my eyelid that had started to turn red. She then tested my eyes using a special dye and discovered three tiny dots on my cornea. I freaked out a bit, not going to lie. I was also told that I could not be in the vicinity of anyone that may be pregnant or the elderly as I could pose a serious health risk to them.
I had to take two medications - one orally and a special drop for my eye. The later had to be administered every two hours up to nine times a day while awake. I still hadn't tracked down an eye doctor to follow up with, at the urging of the urgent care doctor so I was very concerned when I started having pain in my eye and the light sensitivity I had developed worsened. Finally, after two days I was able to meet with one locally and he confirmed the spots and concurred with the treatment. My eye doctor told me only about 10-20% of the patients with singles on the face get it in their eye. Lucky me.
We set one more follow up for a week later.
I hated being home even though I could not function to work anyway. The pain was horrible. I posted on Facebook that it felt like I had hundred of those little evil gnomes from Cat's Eye poking my forehead, eye and scalp with their seemingly innocuous tiny knives. I had to put my sunglasses just to let the dog outside even if it was overcast. everything seemed to hurt.
Yes, it looked terrible. Here is what the worst of it looked like:
What you cannot see is my scalp. I had those red bumps all over the top and side of my scalp. My eye (on your right) had two small bumps on the eyelid itself.
Once they popped (similar to what happens in chickenpox) and scabbed over I had to force myself to not touch them. The eye doctor recommended using an antibacterial ointment to prevent scarring due to a secondary infection. Once the scabs fell off I would be okay to return to work as I would no longer be contagious. I went to my follow up eye doctor appointment and was thrilled to learn that I no longer had the dots on my cornea and would only need to use the drops every four hours for another week.
Now, I am back to my normal self. There is no scarring that is noticeable and I don't have much residual pain left either. Some people experience that for months, or even years later. I was extremely fortunate that other than some tiny scars on the side of my face I am no worse off than I was before it started.
My recommendation is that if you had chicken pox please consider asking your doctor about the shingles vaccination. I know the commercials says after 50 but don't wait for that. I am only 42. One of the causes of this can be extreme stress and/or a weakened immune system. Talk to your doctor. The cost of this shot, even earlier than recommended, is far less than the pain and discomfort one feels if affected.
One out of every three people that had chickenpox can become affected by shingles in their lifetime.
To Learn More About Shingles Watch this WebMd video - CLICK HERE
You may also visit this site for additional information on shingles: