.. that’s what my consultant called it. Getting shingles seems to be part of the long-arsed merry-go-round that I’ve been on for the past two years. Just when things were going swimmingly, I’m struck down with something. What I thought was intercostal muscle strain from a particularly tough training session turned out to be a case of shingles.
So, what are shingles? Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox and it is an infection of the nerves. The infection causes a huge amount of pain and also pox like spots to come up around the affected area. Shingles is contagious, but only to people who haven’t had chicken pox so on diagnosis, I was once again imprisoned in my own home to recover from it and not to infect the vulnerable.
(CLICK HERE for more information on shingles and its causes)
The turning point was when I was on the train to work in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games. The pain on the right side of my back, side and chest got so unbearable that I had a breakdown on the phone to Ade. He convinced me to get off at the next station to seek medical help. I didn’t want any old doctor seeing me, I wanted to see my consultant as he knew about my condition and also because I have a distrust of doctors in general. So when I got to Warrington, I got off and caught the first train back to London. When I got there, I went straight to UCH where Ade met me to see my consultant. After an examination, he said I was in the early stages of shingles. As soon as he told me what was causing the pain, I immediately felt better and he did spend some time convincing me that the cancer hadn’t come back. I left the hospital with a bag of drugs:
Valacyclovir – a super strong anti-viral drug which helps fight off shingles.
Amitriptyline – this is an anti-depressant but prescribed to prevent nerve damage.
Co-codamol and Ibroprofen – strong painkillers.
Two days after seeing my consultant, I started developing pox like spots on my back and abdomen. Luckily the anti-vitals prevented a huge outbreak, I only had about 30 spots in total and most of which have now gone.
Nearly two weeks on, the bulk of the pain has gone and I’m just left with some residual nerve pain which I hope will disappear in time. I’m going back to work tomorrow and hopefully I can start my triathlon training in the next week too. I’ve been away from physical exercise for nearly three weeks and I’m starting to feel twitchy!
As the shingles came along at the most inconvenient time (not that there is a convenient time), I’ve had to withdraw from my first post-cancer triathlon, but I’ve already rebooked to compete in the Eton Dorney sprint on the 6th September. I made a commitment to my donors and pledgers that I will compete for Cancer Research and the Lymphoma Association, and I’m keeping that promise. So those of you who want to support me, you can still do it. Please CLICK HERE to do so 🙂
Aside from the shingles, my iron levels are still far too high, so I need to have a few more venesections – where I need half a litre of blood drained out of me every 3 weeks or so. This is what half a litre of blood looks like:
But apart from the health issues, I’ve had a good summer so far! Here’s a few photos of the summer for your viewing pleasure: