The Shingles Chronicle

Sometimes, I just can't take how perverse the universe can become. At one point the stars would conspire to make all your plans sing in perfect unison, and on the other they contrive to bring about the holiest mess of your life. Our fate is always at the mercy of an invisible cosmic hand that constantly casts the dice of our destiny. And enough of this cheesy introduction.

Three weeks ago, I watched Captain America with Pops and Cedric. After the movie, we decided to eat at Krung Thai, my favorite hole-in-the-wall Thai resto in Marikina. We ordered a few items in the menu, but later did we discover that the servings are typical of a pig fest, quite a lot for the the three of us. After gorging ourselves full and silly, I felt like my tummy's gonna burst into smithereens. The feast, however, did not stop there --we decided to drink afterwards.

To make the long story short, we had one hell of a great time. But little did I know that it was the start of a hideous disease that plagues me until now.

I lasted the whole week feeling bloated and uncomfortable. I may not be in the tip-top shape, but I always took pride of my superb immune system, thus I would know right away if something's wrong with my body. I realized that the puffed up feeling and the occasional itch here and there have been a little bit concerning, but I ignored the subtle signs.

One Thursday afternoon, I woke up with a very itchy patch of berry-like rashes on my lower right torso. It was accompanied by a general sense of malaise--you know that uneasy feeling indicative of a upcoming illness? A few hours later, I was feverish and my skin was very sensitive to touch. I decided to have my condition checked, and voila, the doctor told me that it's herpes.

"HERPES what now?!" my mind was trying to absorb what the doctor just told me. Herpes?! Isn't that an STD? Oh my God, where did I fucking get it? All I could remember was I haven't been sexually promiscuous recently, or active at the very least.

The doctor seemed to comprehend my gestures. "I could understand how painful that could be, hijo. I once had a patient, a nun, who would even scream in pain during neuropathic attacks. And by the way, this condition is common in the elderly. Pangalawa ka pa lang na pasyente kong bata pa na meron nyan..."

I was not sure if the doctor was telling me that I should have gotten this too soon, or the nun had not been very keen with her vows of chastity. She also told me about how "neuropathically painful" it could be, when all I was feeling is a slight tingle in the flesh when I brush my fingers on the rashes. Anyway, she prescribed a number of medicines and handed me over a medical certificate indicating that I should take a sick leave of two to three weeks. "You need to rest at home and isolate yourself inside your room. You are highly contagious," she continued.

I immediately consulted the Internet when I got back home. I was relieved to learn that the "herpes zoster " I got is different from the more dreaded "herpes simplex," which is the STD. Suddenly, they all made sense: the nun, the elderly, the pain. The disease is more popularly called "shingles," a reoccurence of the chickenpox virus. Of course shingles sounded a lot better than herpes, so every time people asked about my disease, l confidently said that "I've got the shingles."
the lesions on one of the lesser disgusting stages

Nice. Two to three weeks could mean no salary next month, but hey, I could rest like a millionaire and even set off on a vacation. I eagerly texted my boss, telling her that I couldn't make it to work in the next three weeks, as I was "highly contagious." But vacation was the last thing on my mind when the real deal started to kick in.

The rash spread on my right torso in no time. A few days later, I could relate to the nun the doctor told me about-- the pain was very excruciating and awfully invalidating that I found it hard to even sit on the bed. I felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife on different parts of my torso, and the pain was not just "flesh pain," but more of "nerve pain." I would cry on every debilitating pang, thankfully an anti-neuropathic drug held the pain at bay every night when I was about to sleep. The rashes grew in number and size every day. I felt like dying.

A week later, my condition started to improve. The lesions started to weep disgusting serum, and a few days later they began to bleed and dry up. Currently, they are all itchy thanks to the scabs, but I'm happy that they're healing faster than I expected. The only problem is, the bloated feeling is back, and this time it's causing me a lot of pain. I wonder if it's just part of the repair process, but I have a strong feeling that the pain is associated with either my spleen, liver or pancreas. I'll try to have it checked by the doctor later.

Ok, I lied. That was the most disgusting stage of the lesions.