Saturday, June 16, 2007

Out of left field

I went to my doctor yesterday. I've been having some lower back pain, which I attributed to my muscles getting used to my new frame-size. Just in the last few days, though, I was noticing something else. Across my left shoulder I was experiencing a strange sensation ranging from tingling and numbness to a burning that was almost, but not quite, pain. It was odd enough that I wanted to get it looked at. I was thinking that there might be a pinched nerve somewhere, or that it might be a repetative strain injury of some kind.

Nope. I've got shingles. Luckily it's a mild case, and I caught it pretty early, so it should be pretty treatable. I'm on giant antiviral horsepills (Valtrex. I'm afraid somebody will see them and think I have herpes.) and it should go away once I finish with those.

If you don't know, shingles is a disease that is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox in children. The virus stays in the body for life, and will sometimes flare up in adulthood by attacking the nervous system. In my case, it's attacking one of the major nerves (called dermatomes) that leaves the spinal column and runs along the ribs out toward my left arm. There's a very good overview at Wikipedia. Many people experience quite intense pain with shingles. I seem to have gotten off lucky in that respect!

1 comment:

Melanie said...

You do have herpes! Shingles and chicken pox come from a strain of the herpes virus. But don't worry, I won't tell anyone. ;-)