pain in the…face: part five

I am a happy, positive person for the most part. I don’t worry about things I can’t control. It would be nice not to have experienced the effects of two major illnesses, especially the herpes zoster. I live with many more after effects from that disease than I do Wegener’s granulomatosis, which, ironically, is the more serious (potentially fatal) disease of the two. But live with those after effects I do.

The charge doctor at the regional hospital where I had initial treatment for shingles told me, “You’ll wear a beard after this,” in reference to the scars. I mumbled some obscenity under my breath at his blunt comment, which he delivered with a smirk. He was right, though it isn’t to hide scars so much as to distract others so they don’t bring up the reality I live with 24/7, something I am aware of without outside reminders!

It is possible to forget about the pain and scars if I involve myself in my videos or blogs, or when I am with friends or family. I sleep well, even without pain medication, though there are rare times a few aspirin help. A little baby oil on the scar helps loosen it up a bit, too. That helps reduce the discomfort, that perpetual tightness on the right side of my face.

The scarring impairs tear formation in the right eye, so I occasionally have pain associated with dryness. When I cry, only the left eye overflows. If I cut onions, the right eye can’t wash away the sting by itself. I have to manually flush it until the pain goes away. An itch forms in the corner of that eye that can be so severe I go nuts trying to stop it! It’s hard to scratch an eyeball itch, though the old standby of splashing cold water on the eye works best to break the pain signal to my brain.

Do you remember that old joke about the missing dog with one eye, three legs, no tail, and goes by the name of Lucky? Some days I feel like Lucky, but the mood quickly shifts when I see my little guys, Andy and Dougy, or I find a comment on one of my videos or blogs. Faith and a good attitude are major helps, too!

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I didn’t wake up this morning with the idea that I’d write about this personal issue. The pain this morning was a bit more severe than usual, and I needed to work through it, however I could. I feel better now! My fingers are a little sore from typing is all.

Since I probably am an expert of some order on the topic, I can share my experience with you. Talk with your doctor about the shingles shot. I don’t think they recommend it yet for people under 60. There’s a one in three chance you will get it. The pain is excruciating. You don’t want to experience it, believe me! Most people don’t have permanent damage as severe as I have. If you have an outbreak on your face, there is high risk to life itself. If it follows your optic nerve back to your brain, you better have your affairs in order! Here’s one site you can learn more about shingles:

http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/index.html

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pain in the…face: part three

The rule of thumb is the faster you seek treatment for herpes zoster, the sooner the damaged nerves heal, and the sooner the pain subsides. I didn’t know what the mess on the right side of my face was, but thought it was a drug reaction to an antibiotic my dentist gave me after root canal surgery. This story has no happy moments! Sorry. Root canal. At least it’s something normal people have done, not one of these one in a million or 39 examples in 150 years of records (or whatever it was) deals!

The chain of events is a blur. All I know is I made an appointment to see my doctor, the veteran MD who’d never seen a worse case of herpes zoster in all his years practicing medicine. It was a week or more after onset before I saw my doctor, plenty of time for the disease process to really foul up my facial nerves! He sent me to a regional hospital immediately because the disease threatened both my hearing on the right side and my right eye.

Sorry for the aside. Back to where I scream and call on Satan or God to end my pain and gain a follower. You know, the goat sacrifice.

I took prescription painkillers (the narcotic painkiller oxycodone) for a short time after I was diagnosed. Strong stuff. The stuff druggies pay hundreds of dollars to procure for their habits. I belong to a different tribe: The sooner I can stop taking painkillers, the better. I just don’t like the idea of addiction, no matter how miserable I am.

Once I stopped the painkillers, I had mostly good times, with occasional sharp pains in the corner of my right eye that cut their way down to the bottom corner of my nose. It’s difficult to explain herpes zoster pain. A burning itch with knives stabbing a hundred times a second? Severe, at any rate, drop you to your knees strong. I couldn’t drive across town for fear a pain attack might happen. If it did, all I could do was stop the car, scream as loud as I could till the pain subsided, then struggle to get home.

If the pain happened at home, I either heated a wet towel to boiling hot and wrapped my head in it or splashed icy water on my face. I guess either way interrupted the pain signals transmitted from my face to my brain. These methods worked at any rate, though sometimes I had to try both to get relief.

By “occasional”, I mean at least once a day, sometimes as many as four pain attacks in the early days. I discovered if I touched a certain spot on my back or another on my head, I could trigger a pain attack. Gad! You know I fought touching those spots! I couldn’t believe they existed, so…! Instant icy water or steaming towel time, every time I yielded to the temptation!