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Shingles and me

I’ve always thought shingles was illness for elderlies. I never thought I’d get it before in my 50s.

I think the first sign of fatigue came on Monday 16th September.
On that Monday, for no good reason, I started to feel itchiness around my stomach. I wasn’t sure if it was due to dryness on my skin or some other conditions.

On Tuesday, 18th September, I spoke to my brother over the phone, and I kept complaining to him how tired I was. I could barely open my eyes when I was talking to him.

On Wednesday, 19th September, I received a very annoying reply from an acquaintance. This instance probably fuelled my stress level. A tiny red rash appeared near my navel, but I didn’t take much notice of it. The itchiness around the stomach was not getting better, so I started putting some moisturizers.

In hindsight, the itchiness was a sign from my body to tell me to rest. I was very tired the whole week, but I dared not to take time off work as there were many things to prepare before my business trip. I was due to be in Stockholm from 23rd until 27th September.

On Monday, 23rd September, as soon as I arrived at the hotel in Stockholm, I noticed red rashes on my left stomach. At this point, I was still optimistic that it might go away by itself.

 

Shingles Rash
Shingles rash on stomach

On Wednesday, 25th September, a new red rash appeared on my lower left-back. It was more swollen than the rashes on my stomach. I started to worry and wonder what was going on. I began searching on google to see what this rash could be. The image that looked closest to my outbreaks was rashes from shingles. I wasn’t 100% convinced yet, but as I experienced more itchiness and tingly sensation, I was more sure that I had shingles. On a safe side, I booked a GP appointment for Tuesday, 1st October, just in case.

 

Shingles rash on back
Shingles rash on back

On Friday, 27th September, the red rashes were swollen even more, and I started to feel pain as well as itchiness. The pain was too much to bear until the GP appointment on Tuesday, so I decided to go to a walk-in clinic the next day.

On Saturday, 28th September, I arrived at the urgent care center in Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital at 8 am. The queue wasn’t long (there were six people in front of me), but I was not seen by a doctor until 9:15am. After a couple of minutes, he diagnosed me as shingles and prescribed me with antiviral tablets – Aciclovir. The tablets will not kill the virus, but they will help stop spreading. I was told to complete the whole tablets – 5 tablets per day for seven days.

My rashes got worse on Sunday and Monday, but they started to get better from Thursday onwards. The pain from the rashes was still there, but less than before. What I found harder was dealing with the side effects of taking the tablets. The tablets often made me feel very tired and sometimes headachy.

Overall, it took me resting ten days before I was ready to go back to work. I only feel little pain when I get irritated. I think the key to beat this illness is seeing a doctor ASAP and get the antiviral tablets to prevent the rashes spreading and REST! Resting is an essential factor.

When my dad had shingles, he didn’t go to the doctor until late-stage, and he suffered from the pain a lot. My dad prefers to heal illness himself, and I remember him putting some tomatoes and cucumbers on the rashes, but they didn’t help in any way.

From this experience, I learned you need to listen to your body. Your mind and body are connected, and you need to take care of both. Good health is not something you can buy.  One habit that I started was drinking fresh juice extracted from a slow juicer.  Fresh juice tastes delicious and nutritious.  The combination below is: 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1 apple, 1 chunk of ginger.  The last ingredients are lemon juice and manuka honey.  I mix these to the freshly extracted juice before drinking.

Vegetable juice
Slow juicer

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