This is How it Feels to Have Shingles with an Autoimmune Disease
When you hear about someone having shingles, you probably picture a rash kind of like having chickenpox. But I can tell you from personal experience that shingles is more than an irritating rash. In fact, some people don't even get the rash.
What is Shingles?
According to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans will experience shingles at least once in their lifetime. If you have ever had chickenpox then you could get shingles. The symptoms of shingles generally include an itchy rash that is usually only on one side of your body.
Once a person has chickenpox, the virus stays in their body. The virus can reactivate later in life and cause shingles. Most people who develop shingles only have it one time during their life. However, you can have shingles more than once.
Shingles Without Rash
I am one of the rare people who experience symptoms of shingles without always getting a terrible rash. My latest outbreak was triggered by my body's response to a trauma bruise after falling last week. I have Lupus and Long-COVID, so my immune system goes crazy at the drop of a hat.
In the days following my fall, I started to feel nauseous, tired, and just plain sick. By Friday afternoon, I had the beginning of a shingles outbreak behind my ear and on my neck. I immediately started the antiviral medication from my doctor.
The little rash I had is almost gone, but I still feel like I have shingles basically from my left ear down the left side of my body.
What Shingles Feels Like
When I attempt to explain what having shingles or even a Lupus flair feels like, I kind of feel like a crazy person. My symptoms can be different by the hour. Imagine that you are starting to get the flu or you are just getting over it. That nauseous feeling and exhaustion you have is one way to describe how I feel. Light is a big aggravator for me as well. I've recently started using blue light glasses to help a little bit at work.
If you have ever used Tens machine, imagine that feeling, but you don't have control over it. It feels like the Tens is set on low most of the time, and then it starts to tighten and feel tingly. It is mostly uncomfortable and sometimes painful.
Seriously, if you know someone who is dealing with any kind of autoimmune disease, you might think they are totally ok but that might not be the case. People like us can usually go, go, go, and then simply collapse at home.
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