OW! and a WINNAH!



So…here’s the thing: you know those vaccine commercials with the middle-aged White guys with the horrible shingles on their faces & backs?  Well, I see those all the time!  But since I am not a middle-aged White guy I saw those ads – but I didn’t SEE them.  Then..about 10 days ago I said to El O ‘hey, there is something on my back’ – and he said no.  then, next day,  he said ‘looks like you have a mosquito bite’.  Next day: “huh.  you have these little bumps …”…oh, crap.  (but I’m not a middle-aged White guy!!!)

Turns out shingles is an equal-opportunity aggravator!  And OMG.  The pain.  THE PAIN!  THE PAIN!  and! because it’s a virus, it also gives you flulike symptoms.  Yet.  And yet.  You still have to go to work because Shingles.  Nobody cares.  You ain’t sick!  Get in here and get to work!  Folks who have had shingles are the only ones who Feel Yer Paiiin!  and oh, what pain.  Yet it’s this weird painnotpain.  Unlike the real flu (or bubonic plague – yesit’sabacteriajustgowithitokay?), you can drive, you can do some nonessential work (no filling prescriptions or keying in nuclear codes)…. but you are always going ‘sssst!’ or ‘ow!ow!’ … anyway, I could go on about how much it hurts but I’d be here all day and guess what?  IT WOULD STILL HURT.

But – the funniestnotfunniestFunniest part of this whole thing was the exchange between me & the doctor.  So.  here I am, hurting like a rhino – and the doctor is looking at my back and we’re talking about THE PAIN.  And it goes like this:

Me: so Doctor J, this thing really hurts.  Is there a topical or something you can give me for the pain.

Her:  I can give you something for the itch.

Me: No.  It doesn’t itch.  At all.  What is does is HURT. 

Her:  well, I will give you a Rx for the itch.

At which point I look at her, thinking ‘what the hell are you hearing?  Am I speaking in Urdu?  Are you hearing in Jupiterian?’  Or..maybe her medical database starts and stops at ‘itch’ and ‘hurt’ isn’t even on the chart?.  I figure it’s 50/50 and it’s hurting more and more, I’m getting crabbier and crabbier  and….there’s a window..and she’s little…and I can feel my teeth elongating…

me. with shingles

me. with shingles (ok.  me. every day) but worse with shingles

So I hightail it out of there, happy to not be in the back of a squad car,  clutching a Rx for antivirals…and I get on Teh Goog.  There’s a great site for treating shingles with Essential Oils  .  Before I go any further, let me be clear:  I do not have any license or degree in EO application and Perfume Posse in no way vets or supports this line of treatment – this is MY JAM ONLY.  Ymmv.  Having said all that, let me tell you how it went down – I have most of those EOs on hand so I figured, what the hell.  And, within an hour of application I noticed a marked diminution in pain levels.  Again (because this skitters close to the edge of homeopathy) this is MY Jam.  But the whole point of even telling you this is – omg.   I really didn’t hurt as much and OMG! I smellz SO GOOD!  I have always loved the smell of EOs and these particular  blends have that vaguely healthy, spalike aura.  My shingles are on the left side, started at the tip of the shoulder blade and continued through to the underarm (omg the PAIN of the underarm!), over the course of 2-3 days.  Intriguingly, they are nearly healed and are clearing up in the exact same order in which they appeared (which means I wish it’d started in the underarm because PAIN)!  Friends have reported having shingles for over a month!  My course seems to be nearly over – at 13 days!

Here’s the funny thing about Vanity and Pain – even through the pain I didn’t want to look creepy & crepey and I wanted to smell ‘normal’ so I still wore perfume – yeth!  I know, here I am breathing like I’m in labor, wondering what perfume goes with Tea Tree and Spearmint Essential Oils.  Answer:  Carnal Flower.  And, weirdly enough, Bel Respiro!  And makeup.  Yes.  I wore makeup.  Ever. Stankin’. Day.  I am such a weirdo.  I could probably be in a coma and still want to do mah hurr.

and btw – that commercial with the guy with the shingles all over his face?  Who the hell goes to work like that?  See, that’s why I didn’t take the vaccine ad seriously – it just looks too ridiculous.  I’d be under the bed!  Mostly I just want to sleep through this.

Okay – I promised myself I wouldn’t bang on about the whole shingles thing – and here I am, banging on.  But omg.  It’s like getting poiked by ice picks – not STABBED, in the ‘omg. yew KILLED me!‘ kind of way – more ‘pink!pink!pink!’ – and speaking of pinks!  I haz a winner for the DSH giveaway – oh, you lucky thing, BASTET!  gmail me (evilauntieanitaAT) and remind me you’re DSH and I’ll get the intel over to Dawn.  She has a marvelous gift awaiting you!

  • Ann says:

    Oh, no, sweetie! Am just seeing this post and I feel so bad for you. But it sounds like you’re on the downhill slide of it now, thank heavens! BTW,what is going on with this stuff? You are now the 4th or 5th person that I know whose gotten it (and at least 3 of them are under 60). Sheesh — what is it, an epidemic or something? I got chickenpox as an adult so not sure what that means for me. And the insurance companies won’t pay for it unless you’re at least 60, (and it isn’t cheap!) So what’s a person to do? I”m tempted to suck it up and pay for it myself but … Anyhoo, hang in there!

  • Mals86 says:

    Oh man. Shingles. BIL had a nasty 6-weeks-in-bed case at the age of 27, and The CEO had them in his early 40s… this little rash popped up on his ribs and he was b*tching about my utter failure, in my capacity of Family Nurse, to produce some sort of medicine that helped. And then two days later, same rash pops up on his back, I’m looking at it, I touch it, and he yelps, “I felt that on my ribs!” And I’m going, “Well, obviously that’s a nerve thing – OHHHH. I bet you have shingles.” Sure enough. Antiviral prescription, 3 weeks of very cranky man before they went away.

    I’m expecting them to show up on me at some point. I had a really super wicked case of chicken pox – I mean, I had sores on my scalp and the inside of my mouth and inside my ears, AND the first day I broke out was the first day of a week’s worth of 100F weather. It was the 70s, so no air conditioning, and I was mizzerble. Shingles are a-comin’ my way, I’m sure, I just don’t know when. And I’m not quite 50, so my doctor said it probably wasn’t worth getting the vaccine, but I dunno.

    “…I can feel my teeth lengthening…” I love you so much. 🙂

  • rosarita313 says:

    Gah, Ms A, I am so sorry you are dealing with shingles! My dad, 92, had the vaccine years ago but he got them a month ago along with a couple other random skin conditions and ughh he’s been miserable. I’m glad the EOs worked for you, hugs

    • Musette says:

      crap! That sucks! A, try a few of those EOs in a bit of carrier oil (be sure to use gloves so you don’t contract – it can be transmitted topically). You don’t have to go whole-hog with all those – I just had them on hand. But a good lavender and a tea tree and spearmint will set you back $20, total – and help your dad get some relief. I also found (via a shingley friend) that PreparationH helps with the pain. Considering what it was created to do, that makes perfect sense.


  • Dina C. says:

    I’m late reading your post, but I wanted to say that I’m so so sorry you’ve been suffering with shingles! I had them when I was 40 (a long time ago!), and both of my kids caught the chicken pox from me in spite of having the chicken pox vaccine, because you know, it’s all the herpes zoster virus that causes them. Isn’t that crazy!?!

    For me the pain was wicked. My sores were on one side of my ribs. The pain had a zingy, electrical quality to it like I was being electrocuted, and I could feel the pain radiating from deep inside from my spine all along my nerves right out to the surface of my skin. *shudder*

    That is totally fascinating about the essential oils helping you. I’m so glad you got some help, even if you had to find it yourself! Everyone that I’ve known that’s gotten shingles got them due to stress. The virus usually lies dormant in our spines until a stress flare up is bad enough to activate the shingles thing. Ugh. Wishing you peaceful, healthy days ahead!

    • Musette says:

      Dina – yep! Thank you for voicing what I was struggling to describe – the ‘zingy, electrical quality’. And the ‘deep inside’ pain radiation. Before my friend J told me about accompanying muscle ache I was afraid I was having a heart attack!

      And I agree about the stress – I am taking a lot of new steps to dilute stress. Lots of deep breathing and backing off Social Media (not YOU guys, though). It seems to be helping a lot!

      40 ‘a long time ago’. Feel ya. LOL! that is actually kind of funny, innit? But it’s okay. Beats the alternative!


  • HeidiC says:

    Ugh! Shingles are so horrible! My mom and aunt get them, so I’ll probably get them — I’d better look into that vaccine. And I love the idea of Carnal Flower as a perfume pairing with shingles — or at least part of the treatment! I wonder how Portrait of a Lady would be? Hope they’re gone soon, and you’re back to full strength.

    • Musette says:

      Vaccine, baby! My bfffe? Everyone in her family gets them – and she is prone to cold sores IN HER MOUTH AND NOSE! AND EYE! Yet she is still hemming about that damn vaccine. Imo boost a syringe and pop her myself! lol!


  • tiffanie says:

    Musette, thanks for sharing your story. So sorry about your pain and so glad for you that the EOs helped. Try everything reasonable and keep doing what works. I have used EOs for many ailments and am pleased with the results.

    I had chicken pox in my late 20s. One doctor told me it increased my risk of shingles later in life. Another doctor told me adult chicken pox meant I wouldn’t get shingles ever. Huh? No kidding, I will get the vaccine. I think it’s a crap shoot no matter what.

    I’m a big believer that stress can be a partly to blame. Let’s take good care of ourselves. Kudos to you for taking the highroad with the hair, makeup, and perfume. You look and smell fabulous.

    • Musette says:

      Wow! See? It’s enough to give you hives, innit? Get the vaccine. I agree with the crapshoot but 1 in 6 v. 1-3 is decent-enough odds.

      And yes, stress. Yikes. I’m walking away from all stress these days. The crap that gets on my nerves is just ridiculous anyway – no need to give it free board.


  • Nemo says:

    That sounds so painful! I’m really glad you were able to figure out something to help with the pain 🙁 I hate when doctors seem to just talk past things you say. I don’t know if it partly has to do with the fact that they are always hearing about people being in varying degrees of pain/discomfort (not that that is any excuse) 🙁

    • Musette says:

      I always go into a doctor consult with a salty air because it’s been forever since I had a doctor actually pay attention to what I was saying – and I rarely go to doctors because of that, as well. I think it’s a combination of sooo many things affecting their ability to really ‘hear’ their patients. If it ain’t broken or exploding, I’m probably not going to go. I only went vis a vis this because I know it can hurt like a BEAST so I figured the antivirals might help – prolly did, along with the EOs. I also went for a tetanus booster after I stepped on a nail in the garden (last year). I figure I’ve done my Doc Time for awhile. Hope so, anyway.


  • March says:

    This is TERRIBLE. Still waiting to find out whether those of us (like my kids) can get shingles from the vaccine. Hugs to you!

    • Musette says:

      yeah, like when I had to get a cholera vaccine and ended up with a sh!TTy little case of cholera. That sucked. Howevah! When I found out there was an outbreak in Mombasa I was glad as pie to have gotten a bit ickle.


  • Barbara B says:

    My sympathies on your shingles. You can’t seem to catch a break, can you? Parents both had shingles. My mom’s flared back up a year later. She is a very stoic person and if she complained about the pain I know it’s bad!
    Am 56 – my primary care physician wants me to wait til I’m 60 to get the vaccine. My huband said just go to the drugstore. I’m in the medical field and exposed to people with shingles all the time, so your post made me think abot getting the vaccine again.

    • Musette says:

      your husband is right – just go to the drugstore! Unless your doc knows some real reason why you shouldn’t? If not, get thee to teh Walgreens!

      And you know….I was feeling all sorry for myself – then I read IslandJavaGuy’s comment above. I’mo get off my pitypot now….(well, maybe not allll the way off, but at least one cheek off 😉


  • maggiecat says:

    Oooh, sympathy ows here. And total understanding about the hair/makeup/perfume thing. I can be sick as a dog, debating whether to go to the ER or the doctor, and still primping and spritzing. (I have a painful chronic illness, so I’m used to making an effort to look normal,but still…) And I can’t get the vaccine right now because I’m on immuno-suppresants, but as soon as I’m off for a bit I’m getting it! Glad you;re feeling better!

  • Tara C says:

    Sorry about the shingles but glad you found something to ease your pain. I much prefer to use natural remedies as I tend to have oddball unpleasant reactions to a lot of pharmaceuticals. My mother is unable to tell me whether I ever had chicken pox, wonder if there is a titer test for that?

    • Musette says:

      Probably. At this point in time I think there is a titer test for pretty much everything – but seriously, if you are concerned, ask your doc if you can get the vaccine just on a ‘what if’? I don’t think it will do a bad thing to you (at least I hope not). And it may just give you better odds against shingles.


  • Tatiana says:

    The whole “it really hurts, I can give you something for the itch, but it really hurts, I can relieve the itch” exchange is why I hate most doctors. It’s like they’re not even listening.
    Sorry you came down with shingles. My husband’s aunt had a case and she said the pain lingered even after her lesions went away. I hope that is not like that for you.
    Hope you are feeling 100% better soon.

    • Musette says:

      the funniest thing, Tatiana – when I told her it hurt, I could see her eyes sort of glaze and I wondered if she was even processing what I was saying! It was as if she was rifling through her database and found nothing for ‘hurt’ so just went back to default ‘itch’! It was really strange.


      ps. several people have talked about lingering pain and numbness, long after the lesions disappear! Hope that is not de rigueur.

      • Queen Cupcake says:

        Some years ago, I was seen about a perpetually itchy spot on my back, by the head of Neurology at the Lahey Clinic. He told me that “itch” and “pain” are registered by the same type of nerve endings. The only difference between the two sensations, clinically, is the degree of intensity to which those nerves respond. In other words, Itch and Pain are both part of a spectrum–an itch is just a low-level pain.

        • Musette says:

          lol! I will buy into that notion, E, but I gotta say – if that is the case, then the doctor should SAY that, don’t you think? ’cause you know that there are about 3 laypeople in the world who know that (now four, thanks to you! <3 – this wasn’t a neurological parsing – this was her simply not being able to process what I was saying (which I also know you ‘got’ but I’m still kinda salty about the whole thing, so any excuse to rant! 😉


  • PJ says:

    Although I am sincerely sorry you got the shingles, that may have been the funniest damn blog I’ve ever read. It was hilarious! I had shingles about 3 years ago (and don’t care to have a repeat performance) so I understood every one of your poinks. Haha. Glad it’s over with.

    • Musette says:

      ‘almost’ almost over with – these little effers are taking their sweet time. But it hurts way less! and I’m so sorry you had to go through it, too! Glad I made you laugh!


  • jenbat says:

    Oi. I dread getting shingles, but am happy to know about the essential oils thing, if it ever happens to me, I’ll try to remember that.

    • Musette says:

      consider the vaccine. Granted, it’s not a guarantee but it does reduce the odds. From your photo, though, looks like you have quite a while before you really have to worry about it! 😉


  • lizbee says:

    OH, no! I’m so sorry you’re having such a rough time. It sounds awful. I’m glad you’ve been able to find some relief with the essential oils. And…OMG you made me laugh, too. Carnal Flower is the perfect FU to your shingles. I hope you’re all better sooner than soon.

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    Congratulations to Bastet!

    A few years ago, I had what I thought was the beginnings of a toothache (tingly twanging in my tooth). My dentist couldn’t find anything wrong but it kept bothering me. He suggested I go to my doctor to get checked out. Yep, it was shingles at an early stage, and it involved a nerve in my face which ran very close to the optic nerve. That is dangerous for the eyesight, I am told. I was glad I followed my dentist’s advice; and was given a medication that stopped the virus from spreading. Yes, I was under stress and definitely middle-aged. Lucky I didn’t have the kind of pain that you suffered! Feel better soon, dear Musette! XO

  • pats133 says:

    Oh no – shingles is the worst – i do hope you the pain subsides soon.
    take care of yourself and try not to stress too much – that makes things worse.

  • So cool that essential oils worked! Have used them for my whole family for over 20 years- I’m a believer. Hilarious post, thank you for sharing your pain with us with such honesty and wit. Here’s hoping for a full recovery for you as soon as possible!

  • Ugh. Shingles are the WORST! Pharmaceutical-grade oatmeal for the tub helps alot. I got my vaccine two years ago, and got ONE shingle a year later, on my cornea. I’d already had them 5 years ago, but middle-age and stress are the triggers. So painful…. Robert H.

    • Musette says:

      (channeling Tony Curtis here) ON YOUR CORNEA????? omg. And yes, I agree with both middle-age and stress; right before this thing happened I was tossed into the Stress Pile! And I’m old. Bad combo!

      Hope your eye is okay!


  • Nelle says:

    So sorry you have Shingles, but so glad that you are healing and found a way to decrease the paiin. It’s crazy to me that you can take off work for the flu, but not Shingles it’s still a sickness and a painful one at that! And I never got the guy in the Shingles commercial at work with the Shingles rash on his face, in real life the boss would have tooken one look at the guys face and sent him home!

    • Musette says:

      That’s my thinking, Nelle. I would be all ‘get the hell OUT of here and don’t come back until that thing is GAWN!’. In my case, I own my own business so taking off is doable but I don’t recommend it – the stress isn’t worth it. Luckily I can take breaks and as long as our customers aren’t biting at the email I can take it easy.

      Except for the ‘face’ thing I think shingles hasn’t yet hit mainstream, so a lot of people can’t relate. With flu, you KNOW. But….I look perfectly normal right now, even though I feel like falling down and shrieking. 😉


  • Lisa C. says:

    I’m so sorry to read of your ordeal but also glad that you posted your experience with EO. I know nothing about this stuff but I belong a local herb society and members there have related amazing experiences in using non-Western modalities, including the right herb, for a ton of health crises. So I always hope that, should something awful befall…and, if you’re listening God, I’d far prefer that it not, just sayin’!…I plan to throw everything that I can at it. For what it’s worth, the only health issue that I ever had was a very bad case of mycoplasmic pneumonia, coupled with whooping cough, after spending time in a Lake Michigan town, when sailing, that apparently was in the throes of a mini-epidemic. After six weeks of fever (yep, six weeks and two visits to the E.R.) and ineffective antibiotics, I finally went to a Chinese physician whom friends like and trust more than any doctor they’ve ever known. He did a few acupuncture points and, within a half hour, the fever disappeared and never returned. Then he gave me some kind of herbal tea to address the nausea that the meds had caused and, within two hours of taking that stuff, the nausea disappeared and never returned. The point is that Western medicine’s protocols are valuable but medical science knows so little still about the healing process still that it’s always worth trying other, safe, stuff. Sending best possible wishes!

    • Musette says:

      wow! that is AMAZING results! My own opinion (ONLY MY OWN (can you tell I’m paranoid? lol!) is that Western Medicine is hobbled by its own preconceived notions. Doesn’t mean I don’t (and won’t) hop to the ER in a heartbeat, should I be having a heart attack, something broken or an inflamed appendix. But, like you, I’ve found other modalities to be more effective than taking a pill – my migraines were tamed and mostly extinguished by acupuncture and whatever godawful herbal tincture I had to drink (I’m thinking the headaches were all ‘omg. I GIVE UP! ANYTHING to get rid of the taste of those herbs! “). After years on Fiorinal, to no real effect, my 3 acupuncture sessions kicked those migraines to the curb!

      Glad you kicked that pneu to the curb as well!


  • Claudia S says:

    Did you get the Zostavax prior? I did, last year but was told it’s only a 50% chance of prevention. Yikes. Glad you’re feeling better

    • Musette says:

      I did not because I never gave it a moment’s thought – and yes, it’s 1in6 v. 1-3. Not great odds but better than a poke in the back with a sharp shingle, I guess 😉 A friend who got the vaccine believes she is now immune. I haven’t the heart to tell her the stats.


      ps. I will get the Zostavax once this clears up. El O, too!

  • Maya says:

    You have my sincerest sympathy. Can shingles somehow become a mini countrywide epidemic? 😉 In the last couple of months two of my friends got shingles and they both really really suffered! We’re in New England.

    • Musette says:

      I think it’s more a case of Boomers (most of us had chickenpox as kids) turning 50+ and the dormant virus losing its mind and emerging. Others not 50+ can contract it (a friend’s 3yr old got it) but I think we will be seeing a huge uptick in cases, as our population ages.


  • GrandmaGaga says:

    Glad to hear you are doing better…I have yet to get my shingles vaccine but I’ve written it at the top of my ‘to discuss with Doctor’ list!