Monday, February 11, 2008

The One-Pox Tradition

After the fact we are always so much wiser. I have shingles again. Fewer than 1% of people get shingles a second time, according to the chemist who gave me the antivirals. I missed the signs along the way to a full blown shingles-arama in part because of what I today dubbed the one-pox tradition.

When I felt kinda flu-y last week, the scar on my chin that is the legacy of the first bout of shingles kinda itched and tingled. When my husband called the doctor today, they asked, "Have the spots come out?" In case my attempt at emphasizing the terminal 's' is not apparent on your browser, I will make it clear: most people with shingles or chicken pox get an abundance of spots. Last time I got one on my chinny-chin chin. A couple others joined the fray late in the game, but for all intents and purposes, I was a one-spot wonder.

Once again, I have just one spot. It appeared beneath the bridge of my new glasses, so I thought it was one of those awkward, uncomfortable spots as a result of still-oily skin and new glasses. I had not cottoned on to the one-pox tradition until the side of my face affected by shingles turned to cardboard, a classic indicator. Then I understood and had sufficient conviction to offer my own one spot as evidence sufficient to plead a case for shingles again when the receptionist asked over the phone, "Are you sure it's shingles?"

After 2 doses of the antiviral I remembered that my daughter had had exactly one pox when she encountered chicken pox in her play group many years ago. At the time the pediatrican wondered if that were sufficient exposure to count as chicken pox. Now I can see it as a family tradition. Does our immune system stymie the virus except in one spot--a kind of DMZ between virus and white blood cells? Do we do things with such efficiency that one spot can do the work of many? Are we just lucky enough that our immune system fights the virus to a standstill and then sends up a flare for reinforcements?

Hopefully at the end of this course of antivirals I will never have to wonder again, but each and every spot on my face from now on is going to be suspect.


At 10:30 PM, Blogger Hayden said...

ouch. so sorry you got 'em again. they are seriously not fun, as you well know. hope the anti-virals kick in and kick the shingles out of your system for good!

At 3:08 AM, Anonymous dawn said...

I came from a visit from Hayden's. Last night we thought my 13 year old had chicken pox. She had 3 dots on her face that looked like chicken pox, but not likely as itchy and an itchy belly with nothing to show. Today they seemed to have disappeared so we went about business as usual. Sorry you had to suffer with it a second time, but at least there wasn't too much scratching involved.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Thanks to both of you. Yep. Altho I am very grumpy about shingles again! I know that I am lucky. It could be worse.


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