Striped Pajamas again
For the last week or two I've been having strange pains and itches and rashes and numbness on and in my abdomen. Being hypochondriacal, I formed all sorts of anxious notions about what it might be, from hernia to allergy to cancer.
Finally** got in to see the doctor this morning. She listened to my description, took one look at the situation, and said "Shingles".
Great relief! It's annoying but it's nothing deadly, and it will go away.
Strange to think that a virus will sit there in the spinal cord for 53 years, twiddling its chromosomes, waiting for its moment to shine ... and then it strikes, turning a significant section of the body into chaos.
Thank God for answered prayers, and mainly thanks to Group Health
for quick and competent service.
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refers to my own anxious procrastination, not to the speed of the Group Health system. They have a Consulting Nurse service that members can call at any time to get an informed opinion, to avoid unnecessary ER visits, and to make appointments. I called the service last night (Thursday) when the numbness and discomfort seemed to be getting serious; they made an appointment for today (Friday). Can't beat that for speed.
I never experienced this kind of speed and expertise from private doctors. During the years when I was using private docs, I got nothing but condescension, impatience, inattention, wrong diagnoses and wrong prescriptions. Gave up on the whole profession for a long time, but Group Health has persuaded me to give them a second chance.
If the nation really
wanted to reform health care, they could simply replicate Group Health plus Wash State's 'Basic Health' subsidy system. Allegedly some of Obama's advisers were considering this, but the final result is exactly the opposite, worst of both worlds.
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Returning in late September to, ahem, cinch
up the story ... for searchers who might be looking for individual experiences with shingles. The episode began around mid-July when I was mowing the lawn over-enthusiastically. I bumped the mower handle into the ribs on my left side several times. That night the pain and itching started, on the left side of the ribcage and abdomen just at the lowest "true rib". Some of the pain was internal, as twinges or pangs. A couple days later the same area started to blister; the blisters seemed to follow the pattern of fingernail scrapes, so I guessed they must have been from scratching the itch. No, they were just part of the typical shingles pattern. On 7/30 when I saw the doctor as described above, the blisters had broken and scabbed, and the itching was transitioning toward numbness. The numbness continued to spread downward through the left side of the abdomen, pelvis and hip, including an odd sense that something inside was flopping around. In addition, the left side of the abdomen was bulging more than the right side, and returned to normal afterward. (Perhaps the virus was affecting the motor root of the spinal nerve, loosening some abdominal muscles.) Through August the internal sensations slowly went away, leaving only the external numbness; and by mid-Sept the numbness was entirely gone. So the whole episode lasted two months, approx 7/15 to 9/15.