Western toad painting by Carl Dennis Buell

Birding and other pleasures and aggravations, in Berkeley and beyond, by Ron Sullivan.

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May 22, 2008

Well, This Is Novel

I’ve been feeling like vintage crap for more than a week, but put it down to the weather and whatever. I thought I got bitten by something while sitting on somebody’s garden steps in San Francisco on Friday, and just shrugged and slathered cortisone cream on the 2-to-3-inch-square rash on my left lower back. It didn’t go away, but I figured it needed more Tincture of Time, one of my favorite cure-alls. Then I noticed a few more spots a few inches higher, and then some more a few inches left of my navel, and that the skin around those was slightly numb. The rash went from being itchy to being way painful. Everything hurt. All I wanted to do was sleep.

Last night, the penny dropped. I called my doc this morning and she squeezed me into the schedule and said I was right: I have shingles.

What the fuck? What the fuckin’ fuck? Shingles??

Well, at least all those annoyances were from one thing and I’m not actually turning to sludge. Yet. I got a ‘scrip for Valcyclovir and hope I caught the clue early enough. Knowledge is a funny thing, though. Somehow when I had a name for it I expected it all to hurt less (No.) and simultaneously I went for the Vicodin and did, in fact, feel better after taking some. Oh yeah, it’s real pain and therefore should respond to a real painkiller. I have to space doses of that out some, because I still have to drive now and then. And, you know, sit up in a chair and try not to drool in polite company.

By way of consolation: Someone in the Lapsed Catholics Flickr group has scanned and posted some of those awful illustrations from the Baltimore Catechism and they’re a special sort of hilarious. Like snorting nitrous oxide with a liberal splash of mustard gas.


1 | By: Patrick on May 23, 2008 at 05:00 AM

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Awww crap Ron, that sucks big time. You know, I
had this sense of anxiety / dread yesterday, more than usual anyway. Maybe I was “feeling your pain”! I’ll send some healing vibes your way, no substitute for Vicodin however. On the religion subject, I stumbled across this ” The Holy Guide to Coital Positions” on Andrew Sullivan’s blog yesterday: http://www.thesmartset.com/article/article05190801.aspx
Funny stuff. You will be on our thoughts this weekend, feel better! Your Brudder.

2 | By: kathy a. on May 23, 2008 at 06:23 AM

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hope you are feeling better soon.  my brother-in-law had shingles a few months ago, and i hear it is VERY painful!  trip-to-the-ER-on-vacation painful.

3 | By: Pica on May 23, 2008 at 06:59 AM

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Ack! My mother has shingles, recovering very slowly. She has been miserable, and is someone who ordinarily bears pain heroically, martyr-fashion. Not this time.

Be good to yourself and don’t stint on the painkillers heroically or anything.


4 | By: Ron Sullivan on May 23, 2008 at 07:56 AM

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Kathy: yeah, it hurts some. Hooray for drugs.

Pat, that’s hilarious! I’m sending the URL to the recovering Catholics list. Do go check out the Baltimore Catechism scans and bookmark the Flickr group. I’m planning to add some more to it, like that incriminating shot of me and the Giant Hat Nuns at St. Catherine’s.

I’ve been having flashes on Mom all week. Also getting socked by the obvious stuff; not sure why now. Maybe it’s the recent sunny Florida-style weather.

Y’all have a good weekend, and hoist one for me! Hugs (CAREFUL hugs!) all ‘round.

5 | By: narya on May 23, 2008 at 08:27 AM

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Shingles blows.  Or blow.  Not sure if it takes the singular or plural.  (I saw a sign this morning for a chiropractor, I think, who claims to fix “sciatica’s”.  Sciatica’s what?)

I digress.  (How unusual!)

Yeah, my dad got shingles when he had his quadruple bypass; evidently not uncommon for that to happen.  I thought shingles was stress-related, possibly, as well?  Also:  bags of frozen peas will help with the pain, according to another report.  Don’t forget the prune juice!

6 | By: Sally Mack on May 23, 2008 at 09:16 AM

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Oh, yuck, shingles!  And ouch!  Raw nerve endings on the surface of the skin. . .

7 | By: VS on May 23, 2008 at 11:33 AM

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Sorry to hear you’re having to deal with that!  If you had chicken pox as a kid, maybe the shingles is causing the family flashbacks…

8 | By: Ron Sullivan on May 23, 2008 at 12:05 PM

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Huh. Good point, V.

I’m talking Joe into getting the shingles vaccine. He’s had chickenpox TWICE.

9 | By: VS on May 24, 2008 at 07:17 AM

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Twice?  Huh… I’m pretty sure he’s not close kin of mine…  My mother and sister have both had chicken pox twice.  I’ve only had it once, but not having kids, I’ve been lucky so far.

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