Friday, December 20, 2013


I could begin with saying, 'Meet Mrs. Misery Guts!'

Instead I'm really trying to be humorous. Ha! Me funny!

Five nights to Christmas Day and I am totally disorganised. I have cards that have not been written in, let alone addressed and posted. I have gifts but no idea what is for whom. I want to do some foody gifts but no idea what I planned to do with ingredients waiting in the pantry. I have visits to friends and my sister planned but don't want to get in the car. I have a mental plan but no get up and go. Plus the first thing on my list is not yet possible and I seem unable to move on to the second thing.

On the positive side ...

Our little Christmas tree brightens the day and looks terrific at night with it's pretty lights.

The ointment I got from the chemist is working almost like magic. I have no idea whether or not the tentative diagnosis of shingles by daughter, who is an experienced RN and has also had shingles, the Pharmacist whose advice we sought, and me, when I matched symptoms with my own experience and Dr. Google, is correct but it will do for now.

Symptoms:- I feel lousy with a touch of nausea and 'do not want to do anything'. I had itchy arms. Worse than itchy. It was like a gazillion mosquitoes biting in the same place but in several sites at the same time. I scratched and a red rash developed and I thought I was going to scrape off all my skin. This was localised to inside my elbows and north and south on my inner arms, both arms. Direct sun and any warmth made it unbearable. Sitting in the car driving into town for 30 minutes almost had me ready for a strait-jacket. It has been worse at night so poor sleep. I've been taking extra vitamin B stress complex, magnesium capsules and panadol which all seem to help somewhat. Other parts of my body reacted in sympathy and I sometimes felt itchy all over.

There was very little to see except for where I had scratched and broken the skin. There were a few signs of a red rash, especially if I got exposed to direct intense sunlight, as in the car. How do you describe something that's driving you nuts when there's nothing to see? I was glad that little trip into town on Wednesday brought out the redness.

Past experience:- Around 1999 or 2000 I had similar symptoms but my if memory serves it was my outer arms that were most affected and it crept onto my shoulders, particularly somewhere around my shoulder blades. See .... not typical of shingles! I spent many sleepless nights distracting myself by watching or listening to Catch The Fire church meetings on-line. The stress factor was directly related to a decision John made to continue working after he reached retirement age. He decided we needed the money more than we needed to adjust our lifestyle. At the time he was working at Reporoa Dairy Factory and I was helping manage our daughter's back-packer hostel at Tairua. About 3.5 hours drive time and John's work hours separated us. There were a few times when we did not see each other for 3 weeks at a time due to his shifts. The extra income was useful but we would have done OK without it. My skin problem continued for months gradually subsiding once the weather cooled. The worst times were when it felt as though I was being attacked by a 'gazillion mosquitoes' biting in the same spot. Since that time there has always been a tendency for my arms to get itchy in hot or humid weather and particularly when exposed to summer sun. I did see a doctor and don't remember him being much help other than continue whatever I was already doing, mostly bathing with baking soda and smothering myself in chamomile lotion. He may have prescribed a steroid or put me on prednisone.

Roll on 4 or 5 years. In December 2004 we sold the hostel and rushed to buy the house we now live in. Initially the house was for investment purposes only and we had a good tenant. Our daughter had plans to travel. John and I took a percentage of the profit from selling the backpacker hostel and booked a cruise with the Catch The Fire church group. We had a trip to Christchurch to spend Christmas with our S. I. family. We returned to Mum's, the beach house we now need to sell, and I hosted some friends who were speaking at a monthly meeting I organised. We had gorgeous weather and I spent a lot of time in the sun. I caught enough sun to get mildly burnt on my arms and back. A week or so later I peeled and we set off on our amazing trip to USA. It was so exciting. I had no expectation of overseas travel and that made this trip all the more special. We had a few days in San Francisco followed by a cruise out of Miami around the Caribbean. Since we never expected to travel overseas again we decided to rent a car in Miami and take our time, seven weeks in fact, to meander back to Los Angeles, before our flight home.

I was really uncomfortable on our 12-13 hour flight to San Francisco. My arms were terribly itchy. This increased over the ensuing days until I finally gave up trying to tough it out and went to the ship's doctor. By this time I was spending half the night under a cold shower trying to get some relief.  The South African doctor took one look and said I had some kind of infection due to getting sunburnt. He mentioned something that sounded like folliculitis and gave me medication to swallow and something to use topically. The symptoms abated and became bearable but lasted at least another month. The thing I remember most is the 'gazillion mosquitoes' biting in one place but several sites at the same time.

This time:- I finally got into the garden a few weeks ago and begin to undo the damage done during a very dry spring, while we were away for 5 weeks. The dry was followed by some good healthy rain. Choice plants had died or shrivelled and weeds had grown with vigour. I was careful about the length of time I spent outside but I did work in direct sunlight. My arms began to itch and I tried hard not to scratch. I was woken in the night by the 'gazillion mosquitoes' stabbing at me. We had bought some Noni lotion earlier this year when in Hawaii and that proved to give some relief until this week when the 'gazillion mosquitoes' began to win.

I guess I should have gone to the doctor but I am somewhat doctor phobic and if I can find a solution for myself that's better. *smiles to self*

At the chemist shop we decided that Zostrix, a topical analgesic cream would be the best thing to try. It is 0.075% capsaicin which is derived from chilli peppers. There are warnings about tingling or burning on the skin after application. This was true but so much more bearable than the 'gazillion mosquitoes'. I have only used this cream for three days and already the 'gazillion mosquitoes' seem to have fled. But I still feel lousy. It's a bit like the pre-onset of a cold sore so I'm not out of the woods yet.

I see that Zostrix HP Cream is recommended for medically diagnosed painful diabetic neuropathy or post-herpetic neuralgia, (pain following shingles). I'm not caring too much about the whys and wherefores. It's working and that's all I need to know right now.

But I agree I need to see a doctor and deal with the herpes thing for good if that's possible. Since it's a chronic problem and we are short on time and cash and I am very short on energy I'm leaving this until sometime after New Year.

It's time to bring out the happy and soothing music. I must look for all my Christmassy CDs and set the atmosphere.


  1. Forget the cards, it's almost too late anyway. Just relax and stop trying to please others... just look after you. I hope you feel better soon and I'd go to the doctor. I'm not doctor phobic - I do think they know a thing or two :)

  2. Slow and steady wins the race. So you can finish all your work before Christmas. Take care of your health. Merry Christmas!!