How my shingles (and this blog) began...

It started innocently enough. Drinks and dinner with a few friends & co-workers. Relaxing, engaging conversation. The night was still pretty young. The pain struck seemingly out of nowhere, as if someone had suddenly impaled my lower right hip with a red hot iron. It took 10 days, 5 doctors (including 2 trips to the ER!) before I finally got my diagnosis.

I had shingles.

Unfortunately, treatment for shingles is only effective if diagnosed within 72 hours, in which case they can prescribe some pretty harmless antivirals. Since I was 10 days out, there was nothing doctor #5 could do - although I was (and still am) extremely grateful just to have a diagnosis.

From my experience comes this blog, in the hopes that someone may be spared the agony I went through. Before getting started, here are a few key points everyone should know:
  1. Shingles does not always start with a rash; pain is quite often the only symptom. In my case, ironically, along with the burning pain in my hip was a sensation of numbness across the entire area. No rash appeared for almost 2 weeks and even then it was teeny tiny, only about a 2" area affected.
  2. Shingles can strike anyone, regardless of age or overall health. Google shingles and you'll find plenty of folks from 18 to 80 who have been its victims. If you have ever had chicken pox, you are at risk.
  3. A simple blood test can diagnose shingles. If you have unexplained severe pain on one side of your body - regardless of where - insist on a blood test for shingles. Remember, you only have 72 hours to act; otherwise you're stuck letting the disease runs its course. And without treatment, you're at high risk of forever pain.
If you already have shingles, you have my deepest sympathy. I hope the tips and tricks in this blog will help you find relief from the pain and start the road to recovery.

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