To Be Honest, I Was Afraid........
To Be Honest, I Was Afraid....
Two months ago I suddenly had a pain in my left calf, as I am no spring chicken; I know from time to time, pains here and there will appear, so I just ignored it! Then I started to limp a little, Nathan a young lad who I work with, noticed and I just said, “It’s nothing, its cause I’m old,” I joked. Then about 5 days later I had strong pains in my left thigh bone, the pain was intense! I felt like I could do with a walking stick to support me or 2 walking sticks, then the pain went to my calf again! It was odd and didn’t make sense to me, I said to my Husband Paul and kids that the pain was SO bad even when the cats gently brushed past me I couldn’t bear the pain! Yet nothing could be seen on my leg not on any part of it. The pain even kept me awake at night and so I did the unthinkable I bought pain killers soluble aspirins, as I can’t swallow tablets. But instead of it keeping the pain away for 4 hours, within 2 hours I was in agony again!
I’d been given Baileys alcoholic drink for Christ mas it was still unopened as whenever I have it, and I only had a tiny amount in a glass which would have been about 4 to 6 mouthfuls, it was always enough to put me to sleep within 2 minutes of drinking it! I only used to drink it when I’d finished work late and when I knew I wouldn’t need to drive anywhere, then after 10 minutes I would wake up and carry on using my laptop! So this year I decided not to bother drinking it and it had stayed unopened, until now, I now wanted to drink HALF OF IT! It took all the strength I could muster to not do it! I was having too many tablets so I decided to go to the Doctor, I wanted to see my own doctor, who is a lovely level-headed man, he is not easily fazed, nor is he over the top! But it seemed he was only manning the On-Call Doctor phone lines! So very reluctantly I saw a young unknown woman Doctor. I told her about the various pains in my leg, there was nothing she or I could. She got me to do different exercise and also on the bed most of them didn’t cause me pain. I had no back pain, and at the time of the visit to her surgery only my calf was hurting. She was puzzled, and said, “You should come back if it got worse!” I did ask her if she thought I had a blood clot in my calf! She said, “No, if you had a blood clot, I would be able to see it and the calf would be swollen.” All I knew was that something was wrong, but what?
Then something different happened, my toes not the little one or the biggest one became numb! My foot was also swollen! What was wrong with me, I thought? I made an appointment to see the young female Doctor again. I showed her my swollen foot and indeed it was swollen and I told her my 3 toes was 85% numb I told her my toes also felt like they were burning up. I asked her if I could have a blood test to check for diabetes, I explained there is no one in my family with it but I thought it would speed things up, I went on to tell her that in general I felt unwell, I and that the blood test might show why. She agreed to it and I asked her if I could have tablets that I could put in water, she gave me 100! She could clearly see I was in a lot of pain especially in my calf. I didn’t tell her that when the pain was in my thigh I felt like I had bone cancer! It was awful!
I remember limping very slowly around the town, I felt venerable, an easy target, for handbag thieves, I was feeling sorry for myself and miserable, when I went around the corner and still limping very heavily, I say a young woman in a wheelchair with only 1 leg. Our eyes met and I wondered if she wished she could swop places with me. I knew I didn’t want to swop places with her....
It was about another 6 days when something different happened 3 tiny spots appeared on the top of my foot in the shape of a triangle and boy was it itchy! But I was sensible enough to know it was wrong to scratch it so I rubbed around it, but if I was to touch the spots it would have been the nicest itch in the world! So I just pressed around them and rubbed!
I made sure I washed my hands when I rubbed around my 3 little spots. The 3rd week, of pain and worry, I met at work an old worker she is 75 years old and fantastic, her name is Ruth, as I was leaving to go home, she asked me why I was limping I told her my foot is swollen and toes numb, that I was in a lot of pain and that now I had 3 little spots! Nathan was also there in the room and she said, “I know what those spots are, you have shingles!” I was stunned, totally! Nathan then looked on his phone for pictures of shingles and amongst the REALLY nasty pictures I saw my 3 little spots! I told Ruth that I would go again to the Doctors tomorrow! That evening at home I about shingles on the internet and the pictures were awful!!! I read what other people had written and how even the wind blowing onto them, caused them pain!!! I could relate to so many of the things they had experienced.
I still couldn’t see my level-headed Dr and I asked him, “Why can’t I see you?” He said, “You can in about 6 weeks.” I quickly told him what I was told, is maybe wrong with me, he recommend a male Doctor who’d been at the practice for about 12 years, so my Doctor booked an appointment to see him he had reassured me, “There is nothing he does not know.” The morning that I went to see him; I didn’t take any pain killers as I wanted him to see me without them! I said to him, “Before you do anything, an old lady, Ruth who I work with thinks I have shingles!” I showed him my very swollen foot, told him about the pains, and showed him the spots and let him know I had numb toes!!! He checked my back for pain there was none, he really dug his thumbs in deep into my back, and still it didn’t hurt. On the bed he got me to do a few exercises some caused me awful pain, some didn’t. Then after a very short time he said, “Your friend at work is right, you have shingles!” He said I would need a lot of tablets and wanted to give me tablets to swallow I told him I can’t swallow tablets!! He still wanted me to try to have them, I said, “It would have been a waste of the NHS tablets, and my time, for now at my age I knew that I can’t swallow tablets,” so he finally accepted it. He prescribed 140 tablets he said, I must take 4 five times a day!!!! And to do this for 7 days! He asked, “Does the pain kept you awake at night?” I told him, “Yes.” He prescribed a liquid medication, this was for half a teaspoon and he said, “You are to take this every night, it will make your tongue feel numb for a short time.” Finally he said “Does the spots itch a lot?” I said, “It itches but I choose not to scratch them,” so he didn’t give me anything for them. He’d also told me I’d have the pain from 3 months to a YEAR! I don’t like taking any medication! And now I had 3 different lots to take!
I mentioned to the Doctor where I worked, he said, “That’s fine, you don’t need to stop working, as long as no one touches the spots they won’t’ catch anything, keep away from babies and old people.” I’d already read on the internet that you didn’t need to stop working, but I just wanted to make sure. I’d mentioned to the Doctor that I had been to the other young Doctor and in her defence he said, “It is very difficult to diagnose, for where the pain is that is eventually where the rash appears but much later.” I was grateful that I didn’t have any rash on my thighs or my calf. The doctor had also said, “Usually people get Shingles when they are run down, but you don’t look run down”.
Over Christ mas and New Year for about 3 months we had no hot water or heating, so maybe that was what had caused it? I don’t know. Back at home I did notice, but no one else did, I had my first cold sore! It was on my lip, and as I wear lipstick every single day, it was small and thus unseen! So the Doctor was right, I was run down. I made sure Paul didn’t kiss me on the lips but I told him to kiss me on the cheek, but I didn’t tell him why. I also used 2 cups that I used for myself one for the pain killers and the other for the 4 blue tablets, to keep my family safe. This Doctor also told me, “With shingles you usually get bad back pain.”
It’s busy at work and it was difficult to put 4 tables in water, wait for it to dissolve and then drink it, and also to do the same with the pain killers, so I never did have the time to take the blue tablets five times a day!! I took them 3 times a day the most. The pain killers I could have easily taken 6 to 8 times a day for the pain was BAD!
The next time I was at work, some who knew like Ruth and Nathan, asked me if I should be at work? I said, “The Doctor says it OK and that on the internet it says the first 72 hours is the most crucial! But neither I nor the Doctor knew what I had.” I went on and said, “If you have had chicken pox, then you have singles is within you too! I did expect 1 or 2 to say; ‘wouldn’t you be better off at home?’ But no one did. But my reply would have been, the first 72 hours is the most crucial, and as they already know, I’d been unwell for 3 weeks until I found out I had it!
At first I refused to read the side effects. I just didn’t want to know, I really wanted to get better and I didn’t want what I read to stop me taking the 3 different tablets. But after about 5 days I decided to read the leaflets that came with each medication. One of them said, “Your can have hair loss,” the other one said, “After 3 days it is very additive, and to drink plenty of water” (I very rarely drink enough as it is, the extra liquids tablets in water was much more than I was used to having in a day) the liquid medication at night said, “You will have suicidal thoughts.” Scary stuff.
On the 11th day of taking the blue tablets that I should have had over 7 days I rang the Pharmacist and asked, “Should I stop taking them now, as it was the 11th day”? She said, “No, finish the course, it should take you 2 days.” Well it didn’t take me 2 days I still had tablets left after then, so I stopped taking them. Then one morning I woke up and my kidneys felt sore! I knew it was time to hold back on the pain killers!! For what damage can it be doing to my insides, surely it can’t be doing me any good.
I didn’t take the half a teaspoon at night, every night like the Doctor said, I’d in total taken it about 3 times and not close together then, 1 Saturday night I had taken it to go to bed and the next morning I woke at 8.20am!!!! That late time of the day is unheard of for me to be asleep yet, I felt like I could sleep for another 8 to 10 hours. I felt like I just couldn’t be bothered, I just didn’t care. Yet I needed to get myself ready to attend my Place of Worship, but I had no get-up-and- go. My arms felt heavy I felt lethargic, I knew it was the half a teaspoon of medication I had taken the night before, I also knew no amount of coffee was going to make a scrap of difference. So with grit determination, I ploughed on through and cooked Meghan’s breakfast and we made it in time. I didn’t throw it away but I decided I wasn’t going to take it again for a long time. My husband is on medication and I now knew how he felt when he said it was difficult for him to wake up in the mornings, for I thought he was been awkward or doing it on purpose, but now I understood and later on that day I told him of my awful experience and told him that I now knew how he felt. Until you have walked in someone else’ shoes you just can’t imagine....
I decided to do some trusted home help and most evenings, Paul would get a bowl of warm salted water and as I sat and watch TV I would soak my swollen foot. It was nice when the water was warm and when it went cold.
I’d text a friend of mine to tell her I’d got shingles and she replied that she had had it too, 7 years ago after she had been in a very bad car accident; Lois said it had been in her chest. Lois told me the pain was SO bad she thought she was having a heart attack and that her Auntie had had singles in her ear!! I just couldn’t imagine that sort of pain there! Lois had warned me, “You’ll feel VERY depressed!”
My Mum is a retired Nurse and when I told her I had shingles in my foot she said, “I didn’t know you could have it there,” I replied, “You can have it any part of your body.” But Mum was not alone, my 2 Brothers who are Nurses now said, the same as Mum as did the Matron who was over my Mum, she worships at the same place as myself, but the icing on the cake was when I went back to the first young female Doctor, she said, “I didn’t know you could have singles there” I informed her, “You can have it any part of your body, it is very hard to diagnose, we can all learn something new every day,” she smiled and wished me a “Speedy recovery.” I’d gone to see her for my blood test, but there had been a misunderstanding, I’d asked her if I should book my blood test at reception, when I had been with her the second time, she had told me she had booked it on her laptop, she then told me I didn’t need to fast so I went to see her for my blood test, but she said it was her fault, the blood test had not been booked, that I would have to see the Nurse for that, she explained she had wanted to see me (I was glad I hadn’t fasted) so at reception I booked the blood test with the Nurse.... I was confident it would show just the shingles, how wrong I was!!!!!