Tag Archives: shingles

Red heads have more fun

I finally dyed my hair last night.

I don’t have the time or money to do it the right way – sitting for two hours in a vinyl chair reading a weekly magazine featuring a bunch of 20-somethings I’ve never head of since I don’t watch reality tv. Someday I dream of being flush, with time on my hands and I will have a standing appointment every five weeks with Jennifer at Suburbia Salon. I will be one happy woman.

Instead, I stock up red hair dye when it’s on sale and buy even more when I have a coupon. Every month or so, my grey roots start rearing their ugly heads on my hopefully-not-so-ugly head.  After putting the kids to bed, I throw on my old dye-covered tank top and boxer shorts, put on the cheapest plastic gloves ever made and start soaking those roots.

The problem is, I’ve now had shingles for seven weeks, and my scalp is still burning. I assume that hair dye is a big no-no since the last thing you should throw on a burning scalp is ammonia.

Since last week when I was finally well enough to get out, I’ve been hiding three months of grey roots under a Santa hat, but now that Christmas is over, it’s kind of like floating that heart-shaped mylar Valentine’s Day balloon well after the Easter bunny has delivered his goodies. It just looks sad and desperate.

So I was extremely excited to find among my hair dye stash a product I bought a couple years ago by mistake – Clairol Natural Instincts in #22 cinnaberry with antioxidants and vitamins C & E! (they have the exclamation point on the box… I‘m excited, but not excited enough to add extra punctuation).

Why haven’t I used it? Because when I bought it I didn’t realize that it was non-permanent color and washes out after 28 shampoos. Granted, I could be cheap and lacking in hygiene and let that baby last for a good seven months, but frankly if I didn’t mind if my hair got greasy and nasty on the 5th, 6th and 7th day, I probably wouldn’t be so anal about my grey roots.

I did the math. If I wash my hair every other day, then my cinnaberry hair would be gone in less than two months. And that means completely gone. By the end of the first month, those stubborn grey roots would be three inches long and stealthly peeking their way out of my head, slowly materializing every day of the second month like an overly long magic trick.

I had forgotten to exchange my Clairol Natural Instincts and eventually lost the receipt, so it sat at the back of my hair dye collection, waiting to get thrown out as soon I planned to de-clutter the bathroom.

Until last night. I pulled it out and found two wonderful words on the box: ammonia free! (exclamation point mine this time). I could apply the dye to my raw scalp and it wouldn’t hurt, and it would tide me over until I was well enough to get the real thing.

I can now go out in the real world and tie one on at a New Year’s Eve party, although I never know who or what I should be tying. I just know that red heads truly have more fun than three-inch grey heads.

I’m in the process of clearing away clutter and other needless stuff. I’m happy to have my red hair back, but unfortunately I’m re-thinking about throwing things out. You never know if I’m going to wish I kept that stained “Happy Millennium” t-shirt.

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Filed under Anxiety, Debt, Financial Insecurity, Humor, Illness, Recuperating

Shingle Bells

My shingles are actually healing now

It’s been two and a half weeks since my last new post and I’ve been busy sitting on my pity pot. It’s actually somewhat justified since I’ve been recuperating from shingles to my eye, face and head, and the pain has been excruciating. I felt a little better when I was released from the hospital and was well enough to blog about how I was hibernating, but a few days later the pain returned full force.

I started drafting a blog that was paragraph after paragraph of pain and sleep and missed events and how my world had gotten very small.

Boo Hoo. Poor me. Poor me. Pour me another painkiller.

I was too tired to look at Facebook, so I missed a message posted a couple of weeks ago by my friend Amy: “Tonight Gary asked me if you were going to write a song called Shingle Bells for your next blog.”

You can thank Amy & Gary for sparing you my dismal ramblings of recuperation. Instead, here’s a song to the tune of Jingle Bells:

          Shingle Bells

  • Shingle Bells! Shingle Bells!
  • Shingles! Go away!
  • It’s no fun, I have to hide
  • The blisters on my face
  • Shingle Bells! Shingle Bells!
  • Shingles make me pray
  • Take a gun and shoot my eye
  • To take the pain away
  • Gnashing like Van Gogh
  • With a full force of a plague
  • This time to heal is slow
  • I’m crying all the way
  • Yelling from the stings
  • Shaking from my plight
  • It’s no fun to writhe and fling
  • From shingles in my eye

(Repeat)

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Filed under Anxiety, Humor, Illness, Recuperating

Hibernating

I'm in here somewhere

I’m hibernating.

It’s not my natural state of being, so I am completely out of my comfort zone.

I’m typically the whirling dervish Mama Bear nabbing a teddy for Jakey Bear, collecting warm fur blankets for Mary Beary and gathering wheat and dairy-free nuts and berries for Emily Bear so the den will be sweeter smelling for all of us during our long winter’s nap.

But somewhere in the midst of my busy-ness I hear Papa Tom Bear pathetically pleading:

“Sweetie, just stop. You’re sick. Go to bed.”

My husband normally doesn’t have a pathetic bone in his body, and he don’t beg fo’ no one. But he’s worried about me.

After two ER visits, a 9-day stay in the hospital and a diagnosis of shingles to my eye and left side of my head, I am finally home with strict orders to rest.

The sad thing is, rest is the only thing that makes me feel better. The pain in my head ranges between 1 and 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, it looks like I’m wearing a Star Trek Klingon mask over half my head, and the IV on my left hand gave me phlebitis, a blood clot that made my hand and arm bruised, swollen and unable to move without a boatload of pain.

phlebitis

My husband tells me that the phlebitis is God doing for me what I can’t do for myself. It forces me to stay away from work, typing, and chores. It also teaches me humility as I ask for help with simple tasks like tying my pants, fastening buttons, and opening lids. My mother-in-law drove me home from the hospital and took care of me my first day home. In the middle of my first hot bath in forever, I had to call her in to ask if she would shave my right armpit. I’m not sure if I was more grateful or embarrassed.

I am tired all the time. I stumble out of bed around 9:00, eat a couple of bites of something and park myself on the sofa. By noon I’m back to bed. I get up again around dinner time, then return to bed a few hours later.

I don’t always sleep. At 3:00 in the morning they call that insomnia, but at 3:00 in the afternoon it’s called… I don’t know what. During the wee hours I grab my iPad, which doesn’t seem to know if it should be horizontal or vertical while I’m lying down, so the screen often resembles a prop plane in a tailspin. I post my progress on Facebook and I’m amazed at the outpouring of well wishes. My friend Gabe responded that Facebook saved him while he was recuperating from back surgery. I read about everyone’s Thanksgiving dinner, their Black Friday shopping experiences and how they’re now setting up their Christmas trees. I press the “Like” button often. It’s comforting to virtually experience their lives, even if it is only in a sentence or a photo.

The afternoons I lie in bed in and out of sleep and listen to the sounds of my family going on with their lives without me: Emily chatting and giggling on the phone with her friend; Mary singing Adele’s Rolling in the Deep at the top of her lungs; Jake dragging his 3×3 foot plastic waffles across the living room floor, building an elaborate house; Tom yelling at the dogs for snagging his lunch. Even though I’m not participating, I love being home to experience it, even if it is just audibly.

The phone rings a lot, mostly with people offering to help. We’ve received two roasted chickens, baguettes, a variety of salads, tuna salad, two turkey roll ups, a dozen deviled eggs and a pumpkin pie. I tell people we’re fine with meals, but when my friend Sam offered to bring baked ziti for dinner tomorrow night, I caved. I love a good ziti. We’re still accepting rides to and from school, and it’ll probably take me all spring to make up the car pool commitment.

My friend Lisa offered to spend a couple of hours cleaning my house. It is a testament to a very good friendship for her to not only sincerely make such and offer, but for me to actually take her up on it.

Mary gave me a hug the day I came home from the hospital. “You’re so skinny, Mommy!” she remarked. I’m embarrassed to say that I was thrilled by that comment. I lost 10 lbs., and I still don’t have much of an appetite. But I would definitely trade the reduction of two dress sizes to get my old life back.

About a week ago, I started to become a little more lucid and asked my husband to bring my laptop to the hospital. I spent about two days drafting my blog Shingles! – More Painful Than Childbirth and somehow thought that it would magically transpose itself from my brainwaves to the Internet. I didn’t really factor in the effort of actually typing the thing – especially with one hand.

I typed a little. Slept a little. Typed some more. Slept longer. I finally finished it and was just checking the typos when my body shut down.

I remember my husband telling me a story of how he was watching a women’s triathlon with his ex wife, and there were two contestants running neck and neck more than a mile ahead of any other runner, when only a matter of yards away from the finish line, both their bodies shut down. My husband imitates something that looks like a headless chicken flailing, rolling, and flapping its limbs helplessly as the other participants ran past them to win.

This is how I felt on the last few typos:

Small i. Need capital I. Where’s shift? Hold shift. Keep holding. Where’s I? Hold shift. Tap I. Almost. Almost… got it.

I uploaded the blog around midnight, then slept through the night and most of the next day. The day after that I was released from the hospital, and I slept most of that day as well.

So now I sit here, my first time typing longer than a few answered emails. I’ll upload it, have a few bites of dinner, then go back to bed.

This post is longer than I would have liked, but I just don’t have the energy to go back and edit it.

It might be a while before I post another blog.

I’ll be busy hibernating.

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Filed under Anxiety, Friends, Humor, Husband, Illness, Parenting, Recuperating

Shingles! – More Painful Than Childbirth

My boss is kind enough to be one of my regular blog readers, so he took pity on me two weeks ago when I posted 10 Luxuries I Can Now Afford Since Once Upon a Time Got Picked Up for a Full Season and threw me another bone: four days of extra work on the TNT series Perception, starring Eric McCormick from Will & Grace, premiering summer 2012, but dubbing this week.

I could really use the cash and immediately started canceling some commitments, rearranging others and basically increasing my mega dose of caffeine. I had already written and was ready to post my next blog My Ex Husband is Getting Married Today for Friday 11-11-11. I threw on my cape, readied myself for a good night’s sleep sometime the next week, and started forging ahead. I’ve pulled this kind of task off many times before. But I was suddenly lambasted by a foe I had never before encountered.

Shingles.

I’ve had my share of pain in my life. I’ve broken my leg, cracked my coccyx, champed out stitches and suffered three experiences of childbirth ranging from all natural, to give me the epidural now!, to what the hell do you mean it’s too late for the f#%*ing epidural?

But nothing so far has prepared me for the sheer agony of shingles.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this ailment (myself included), it’s a painful rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox and is usually initiated by stress or a weakened immune system – which I guess is proof that I was unable to retain my Super-working-volunteer-mom status solely on a diet of Zipfizz and zero carb Monster energy drinks.

The Shingles started in my eye, and after being diagnosed with a migraine, a lacerated cornea and an ulcerated eyeball, the unbearable pain swirled through my eye and entire left side of my head, screaming for doctors to just murder me, because even though they wanted me to rate my pain level between 0 and 10, it had already zoomed past 12 on the agony Richter scale.

This cacophony of torment kept me incapacitated and hospitalized for a week and a half. I floated in and out of pain, sleep, and delusional pain meds for nearly a week, with an oozing eye covered in blisters and too swollen to see through. I resembled Sylvester Stallone in the first Rocky film when he begs his trainer to “Cut me, Mick!”

Still in a lot of pain, but definitely on the mend, it looks like I’ll be released from the hospital sometime tomorrow. I’ve got some vein bruising from my IV, so I can’t use my left hand. But my husband brought my laptop and reading glasses to the hospital today, so as I groggily hunt and peck the keyboard with one hand, I have composed:

10 Things I Learned From Having Shingles:
1. I am capable of lying in my own urine all night without realizing it. That’s how out-of-it I can be.

2. I can go 10 days without a bowel movement. My record was broken today after just five minutes experiencing my first-ever enema.

3. Hospital food isn’t that bad, particularly when you have no appetite. However, I realize that I actually like Jell-O.

4. I am eternally grateful for having good medical insurance. I don’t know yet what my out-of-pocket bills will ultimately be, but without insurance, that fear of living in an IKEA box could be a reality.

5. Without paying for Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig (both wonderful weight loss systems from what I hear) I managed to lose 8 lbs. in a week. This shingles weight loss method however is not recommended.

6. My lily-white mind-altering-chemical-free head makes me a very bad candidate for pain meds. I’ve never been into recreational drugs and haven’t had any alcohol in over 16 years (I seem to have more than made up for it with my insane caffeine intake), so Demerol, Dilaudid and Vicodin all gave me the dry heaves, and narcotics that helped the pain gave me weird and vividly real nightmares where cats and rats were chasing me, or that I was the star of my own Fellini film.

7. Commercials ultimately pay my salary, but I am oh so grateful to Dish TV for not forcing me to watch them. Because St. Joseph’s Hospital doesn’t have the luxury of Dish or TiVo, I was bombarded by not only the worst choices of daytime programming, but I was also forced to sit through the identical dozen or so lame commercials every 15 minutes. On the plus side, I was usually too incoherent to pay much attention.

8. I am officially burnt out on Law & Order SVU. I used to be a fan, but after finally getting some of my mind back, I was treated to an entire Sunday with SVU marathons on two different channels so I could switch back and forth whenever there was a commercial. I happened to catch a long stream of episodes where chest-beating outsiders came in for pissing contests with the regulars. And frankly, you can only see so many rapes in one day before you start feeling like Malcolm McDowell being sickened by ultra-violence in A Clockwork Orange. I finally turned it off for good with a bad case of the heebie jeebies and the uneasy feeling that no woman is ever completely safe.

9. No, the clock hasn’t stopped. It just feels that way because pain time moves so much slower than real time.

10. No one is indispensable – even me. I enjoy being a very VERY busy mom, and have a certain amount of narcissist pride that I can pull off anything if I set my mind to it. After my shingles experience, I know I can’t always do that. I missed my kids’ nighttime prayers and school activities, yet another one of my son Jake’s basketball practices, my daughter Mary Belle’s 11th birthday, and whatever teen angst my daughter Emily was going through this week. I dropped volunteer commitments that I take very seriously and social engagements with friends who may never be reunited again. I bailed on my husband, just as he was turning in the comps for his Ph.D., which was incredibly bad timing. My ego might tell me that I’m the best dang dialogue editor in the whole freakin’ universe, but when it came time for me to abruptly bail on not one but two shows, my boss found a couple of equally talented freakin’ great dialogue editors to step in at a moment’s notice to make sure they didn’t miss their dub date.

Yes, I can disappear for a week and a half (and I may still be out of commission for a few weeks) but the world keeps spinning on its axis. Others pitch in and save the day.

It will take me a long time to thank them all.

But I’m going to try.

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Filed under Anxiety, Career, Debt, Financial Insecurity, Friends, Humor, Husband, Multitasking, Parenting, Surgery, Teenagers, Volunteering