Monday, April 29, 2013

My date with varicella zoster

I started last Friday morning out with a visit to my doctor. After self-diagnosing on WebMD all week and contemplating whether to start Zane Grey, I was hoping to finally get some answers and hopefully make my decision to race an easy one.

It was an uneventful appointment as we went through the motions - vitals, questions, where does it hurt? How long has it hurt? Turn your head and cough.

"Hmmmm", said the doctor. "I don't feel anything like a hernia."

"Perhaps it's a femoral hernia", I said with the confidence of my honorary online WebMD doctorate.

"Possibly. I'm going to send you for an ultra sound just to rule it out", said the doctor.

"In the meantime, I'm going to write you a script for some anti-viral medication called acyclovir. I think you might have shingles."

For some reason, I've always associated shingles with the elderly and leprosy. I'm almost embarrassed to tell people that I have shingles. Turns out, it's a lot more common in folks my age than I believed - people just don't bring it up in casual conversation because (1) you get a rash and (2) the rash can occur in unmentionable places.

Varcella zoster is the virus that causes chicken pox. If you've ever had the chicken pox, you still have the varcella zoster virus in your body. It lays dormant in your nerve roots until stress, age, injury or disease somehow wake it up...

Characteristically, it begins as tingling, itching or pain that can be localized anywhere on the body but typically is near the chest/waist/groin area. A rash may or may not appear in this area but the unique thing about shingles is that it typically only occurs on one half of the body. Mine for example, started in my right groin and extended up my hip and around my waist to the top of my right butt-cheek. And then it stops right at my spine.

It basically hurts to walk, lay down, cross my legs, stand up, sit down, climb stairs or sneeze. Heat and ice are the only thing that temporarily help reduce the pain. I have a few small bumps from the rash - starting the medication early seems to have limited the effects of the virus...but it still hurts like hell.

As you may have guessed, the ultrasound came back negative for a hernia.

I did take some time on Friday to sulk and feel sorry for myself since I had to formally pull out of the race. While it wasn't an easy decision, I know it was the right decision. I have way too much respect for that distance and trail to attempt it while injured.

I made the decision to head up Friday afternoon and help out where I could supporting friends, taking pictures and crewing when possible. I had a good time and was able to refocus my energy on enjoying the view from the other side of the trail for a change.

Zane Grey will be there next year. And so will I.

1 comment:

  1. "Honorary online WebMD doctorate". Ha ha! I love it! I do the same thing, and I've rarely been right.

    Keep up the fight, dude. I've had what you're going through and I can relate to the pain and frustration it can cause. Take some time to relax and recover. The important thing is to get healthy.

    And it was great seeing you up there Saturday. Again, I would have preferred to see you there with the clown wig, but I'll take what I can get. Deron and I have a score to settle with that course and we've both added it to our race schedule for 2014. So, get ready for some stellar training sessions in the high country this summer and fall. I think I hear Flagstaff calling. ;)