Shingles is a painful infection of an area of nerves on one side of the body. It can be on either side, but not both.
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus which causes chicken pox. After you’ve had chicken pox the virus remains in your body, but dormant, until stress, an injury, a weakened immune system, or a combination of things that may simply appear to be old age “wakes” it.
Shingles is not contagious, though contact between someone with shingles and someone who has not had chicken pox may result in the person who has not had chicken pox getting chicken pox.
Painful is the operative word in relation to shingles. Shingles is very painful. Up until I had shingles, peripheral neuropathy was the most painful nerve problem I’d had, especially so when I also had tetanus. If you’re wondering, Yes, shingles was worse than Sciatica.
Once I learned that tetanus is a central nervous system disease I began using a prescription I’d been given by a holistic doctor for a B12 shot a day. The prescription enabled me to get 12 bottles of injectable cobalamin and needles. I hadn’t filled the prescription earlier because I’d never heard of that much injectable B12 being used, and I was skeptical.
I don’t know how vitamin B12 shots affected the tetanus because I have nothing to compare them to, but I know beyond any doubt that daily vitamin B12 shots totally got rid of my peripheral neuropathy.
Based on that experience, when I began to have a burning on my left thigh that was very like peripheral neuropathy, I used two 5 mg. methylcobalamin lozenges, every four hours. I had switched to methylcobalamin lozenges some years earlier because they are as effective as cobalamin shots, without the discomfort of the needles.
What happened next made it clear that the problem wasn’t peripheral neuropathy. Whatever it was came with a lot of fever blisters.
2/20/2013 ~ Shingles! Darn it!
On the other hand, I’m glad it’s not something horrible and fatal.
It’s pretty painful, and not just where the fever blisters are. There are sort of bands of pain, as if the elastic on my knickers is cutting into me. But, it’s not.
At first I thought the fever blisters were from getting too hot at night,now that it’s warmer and I’m still using several candles a night. So, I soaked a cotton ball in alcohol and pressed that against them.
Next day, lots more patches of blisters had appeared, making me worry about what was going on with my health. The pain made me google “shingles.” I learned it’s a variation on cold sores… “herpes.” So, knowing that I’d used vitamin C to get rid of cold sores I began using 2 grams of vitamin C with a half a mug of coffee ever half hour. After two hours, I switched from coffee to water. By evening it was beginning to itch as if it were healing. But, significant pain continued. Two days later, MUCH better. (Like flu, shingles is caused by a virus.)
2/24/13 ~ This picture was taken rather early. The limited light has made the skin in the image darker than in the image above which had been taken later in the day.
Nevertheless, this image shows is that the blisters in the clusters in the earlier image became larger, more bloated, and a much darker color with an intensified reddening of the skin around them. The bloating was actually reduced prior to this picture being taken by using an Epsom
salt compress. That is, the tops of the blisters are somewhat flattened.
Ten Days Later – 3/6/13 ~ If the shingles aren’t entirely gone, at least they are clearly fading away: drying out and fading into nearly imperceptible dots.
There was one day of horrendous itching, but still, preferable to the pain.
One aspect of the pain was in my abdomen, in muscles or nerves I didn’t know about until I had tetanus, at which time the lightest touch to that area caused muscle contractions to begin in my back. I would immediately cease all movement and try to relax since when the contractions got into full swing they were screaming-painful.
Of the people I know who’ve had shingles, not everyone experienced abdominal pain.
Because of the dissimilarity of the pain among people I talked to, I have to wonder if shingles tends to be worse in nerves that were previously extremely stressed or damaged.
The pain in my abdomen was less susceptible to reduction via vitamin C and in fact responded primarily to Ibuprofen. For the first few days I took 2 600mg Ibuprofen at approximately 7 hour intervals. About an hour after taking the Ibuprofen the abdominal pain began to disappear and did not return for about 6 and a half hours. I tried to extend the time between the Ibuprofen I took, but at the same time I soon realized that if I let the pain get really bad, it took much longer for the Ibuprofen to reduce the pain. Having discovered that, I set a schedule for taking Ibuprofen and stuck with it for several days until it was clear I could go more hours between doses.
Additionally, when the weather became warmer I sat outside in the sun, letting the sun shine on the shingles, which I felt helped to dry them out. Overall, it seemed that the sun helped with the pain and itching, as well.
3/13/13 – I’m still using Epsom salts soaks for my feet every few days. After each soak I feel much better, so my impression is that the Epsom salt draws out the infection that caused the fever blisters and whatever residual infection there is from having had the shingles outbreak.
Final Words on my Shingles Experience – My feeling is that I got shingles because of extreme stress and some very sharp pain every time I took a step or sat down from a standing position. If I had massaged the painful muscles in my left thigh that had knotted and were causing me the intense pain when I moved, I think I might have avoided getting shingles.
Equally, if I were better at facing challenges without letting them make me feel stressed, I think I would also have avoided getting shingles.
I’m not sure what it is in my body (our bodies) that allows stress to manifest as infection, but I would guess it has to do with basic metabolism and the basic body pH we maintain.
My guess is founded on the fact that vitamin C so clearly reduced the discomfort I experienced. That being the case, I should probably say that I believe stress affects my body (our bodies) because it lowers body pH, making us susceptible to illness.
As an aside, while I took pictures of the shingles on my thigh, I also had them on my back… only there was no way to take pictures of those. All of the fever blisters were on my left side, which is apparently peculiar to shingles: that is, they appear on only one side of the body.
If you get or have shingles, I hope you have vitamin C to hand as well as Epsom salts. Those two things, in combination with Ibuprofen to lessen the pain, will greatly reduce the severity of your suffering from shingles.
I hope sharing my experience is helpful.
Sometime later ~ After a doctor in England read my description of shingles and my use of vitamin B12 he tweeted to me that many doctors in England had regularly recommended vitamin B12 “jabs” to people with shingles. He said that the recommendation has fallen into disuse, but in his experience vitamin B12 is as effective now, as it was then.
Still later ~ I failed to take more pictures but I should have because the marks showing where the fever blisters had been took many many months to fade. The length of time I could still see where the fever blisters had been gave me the impression that the pain had been so intensely bad because shingles is a very deep problem.