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Elderly Beware, It's Painful Indeed!

Marivic Malinao Photo By Marivic Malinao on April 25, 2010

About four months ago I was suffering from severe neuralgia, a complication brought about by shingles. It was such an agonizing pain that I suffered insomnia. The pain was very stressful and depressing, much more when I learned that the anguish may last for months or even years. I thought like ordinary chicken pox, shingles will disappear even without the help of medication. So I did not bother to see a doctor. Blisters are painless, you can live with it, however, the end result is unforeseeable. The complication did not graze my mind. Later, I realized ignorance of the disease is fatal, very disastrous.

It was too late then when I learned that to avoid complication, shingles must be medically cared for within seventy two hours. I was regretful that I did not see a doctor immediately. It was futile then to see a doctor at that juncture. What was needed was over; the only thing left is pain management, to be discussed with the doctor as to the appropriate pain reliever. It was really grueling to wait and predict whether the pain will stay forever or not. I never stopped asking myself, "Do I have to accept it as part of my whole being for as long as I live?"

I am in my late fifties. I never heard of shingles before, so I was really caught unaware about the disease. Thanks to the internet. A little research broadens my understanding of herpes zoster, the scientific name of shingles. It is not the same as genital herpes that is sexually transmitted. Nonetheless, it is contagious. It can be spread to children or adult who have not had chickenpox. But, instead of developing shingles, they will have chickenpox. Before I realize it, the critical seventy two hours had already elapsed and I was deeply disheartened to learn that I had the complication already. After a month, the blisters were gone, no scars were left, skin discoloration is apparent but the pain, the excruciating and debilitating pain lingered on and continuously injured me.

Herpes zoster is commonly known as shingles because of its small waterborne pebble-like blisters on the skin caused by herpes virus. My research apprised me that those who had chicken pox before are most probable victims of this disease. Shingles commonly occur in older people from ages 50 upward. It seldom befalls to younger people. The reason is obvious. Chicken pox virus never leaves our body after the blast. They remain dormant inside. Once activated, the awakened virus travels through the nerve into the surface of the skin. With this struggle to resurface, there is friction and blisters start to appear like air bubbles in a coat of paint. The blisters are not painful; it's the undersurface where the blisters appear that is unbearable. The only positive thing about herpes zoster, it attacks only a portion of the body, unlike chicken pox, it is all over.

In my case, only my left leg and a part of my left hip were grievously affected. It was ironic, there was numbness of my lower limb and yet the pain was unbearable. Only one side of my body was smitten. I did not mind the blisters; it is the agonizing sensation underneath that brought great discomfort and pain. I really couldn't withstand it. I suffered other illnesses before, but this one it was fatally unacceptable. More agonizing and disturbing is the knowledge that it may linger for months or even years. That time is indefinite and that what made me grieve more. I had an open-heart surgery before. It was painful too but I knew for sure that after the healing process, there shall be no pain anymore. The thought that there is an end to it is already consoling.

Not with herpes, I often asked myself, "how long shall I suffer, shall I accept it and live with it as it is?" I cannot forget the trauma until now that they're gone. The feeling of despair remains and cannot even be forgotten as long as I live. If only I could roll back the time, I would never ever hesitate to take the vaccine. This is one of the reasons why I fear the thought of getting older. Older people are prone to different kinds of pain. I hate pains. I have had enough of it, physically, mentally and emotionally. It is really hard to avoid the will of nature. Nurturing is a must, otherwise, you suffer. A simple neglect may cause mammoth regret.

During those agonizing moments in my life, my only consolation is my bed. Lying comfortably in bed with soft pillows underneath my afflicted leg somehow soothed the excruciating pain. Cool compress was a great help also. I tried expensive pain relievers but they only hurt my pockets, so I tried cheaper ones but the same, of less relief like expensive ones.

For psychological reason, I did not stop using a cheaper one, one with fast relief muscle relaxant. Muscle relaxant drugs somehow lessened my anxiety that helped me get some sleep even for an hour or two. Unexpectedly, my over dependence on the drug had made my skin extremely dry and rough. I was compelled to use expensive ultra healing extra dry skin moisturizing with vitamin 3, and it works for my skin. It penetrates through five layers of skin's surface to start healing at the source.

I really don't know whether it's the lotion or the fast relief muscle relaxant that heals me, but the tormenting pain is now over. Although from time to time I could still feel some pain on my knees and the surging sensation striking a nerve fiber in my leg, but the pain is now bearable. I could even forget I had pains. Soft pillows are still my comforts when it strikes from time to time.

Oftentimes, we do not give importance to little things in life. We cannot see their importance until we are faced with certain dilemma or suffering. Pillows for example, we only need them for sleeping and that's it. Its role stops from there when we woke up and left the bed. I came to realize that pillows are not meant to give comfort only while we sleep. For the whole period of my suffering from neuralgia, my soft pillows were my constant companions. Most of the time, they served as my beddings for my left leg, although the initial touch was quite disturbing. Afflicted parts are sensitive even to the touch of your clothing, even the gush of wind brought unexplainable and negative sensation. However, after a while the soft touch in my skin somehow relieves me for a moment of my suffering. A tiny but firm pillow also served a lot while I was recuperating from my open-heart surgery. The wound was painful but that little firm pillow when pressed to my chest gave me comfort and relief like a caring fellow. Ah, pillows, unobtrusive but dependable!

Four months of tormenting sleepless nights, loss of appetite, immobility and very stressful expectation in life, sometimes you will choose not to live any longer than to live with it longer. I am luckier; I suffered only for a few months, while others take years. So elderly beware. Impair not your immune system. If you could possibly have a vaccine against herpes zoster, have it right away. You may not know when shingles will knock into your doors. I tell you, it is harrowing. You can bear to remain single the rest of your life but you cannot bear to live with shingles for the remaining years of your life. However if the strike is inevitable prepare your comfortable bed, have soft pillows within your reach and pamper your shingles to relief with ice or cold compress. Prepare yourself to cool baths twice or thrice a day. At the onset of the disease, there is no pain only reddening of the skin, but when blisters appear see your doctor immediately. Beware of postherpetic neuralgia, it's painful indeed!

Marivic Malinao Photo offers a wide range of bedding, pillow cases, pillow, comforter, bedspread etc.

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