Girls Write Out
Monday, December 10, 2007

Shingles. No, not the home construction type of thing. This is the illness that comes from the hibernating chicken pox virus. I'd heard about it--but it happens to OLDER people. If anything has brought home to me that I'm no longer a spring chicken, it's being laid low with shingles. And hey, I'm on an anti-aging protocol so what's up with that??? Shingles is a painful rash, not diarrhea like my sweet new daughter Donna thought. LOL I think she might be remembering the old adage of you-know-what on a shingle. LOL She had no idea what I was going through until about Thursday or Friday.

But I'm going to give you the scoop on it so you're more prepared than me. Folks tell me it's from stress, but I'm not under stress. I love my life--I love writing and having deadlines. So I've rejected that explanation. What I've read also says it can be from a trauma or surgery and I had a bad fall at Kara's house where I drove my head into her door like a battering ram. I'm thinking it shook loose those viruses and they did their dirty deed. But whatever causes it, look for these signs FIRST before the rash comes:

A very bad pain that doesn't go away and comes for no reason. In my case, I'd had severe shoulder pain. I hadn't done anything and it came after a book signing with my friends Cara Putman and of course, Denise Hunter. No strain there to cause my shoulder to freeze up. The pain can mimic a heart attack or a gallbladder attack. So suspect shingles if something like that happens for no reason.

Two days later the pain moved lower and a half dollar size rash popped out. I thought then it might be shingles but decided to go to the doctor the next day. Um, I didn't make it. The pain was so severe I got Dave up about midnight on Monday night and he hauled me off to the hospital. The nurse took one look and said, "Oh honey, you've got shingles," in this sympathetic voice. I thought, okay I have shingles. I've got a high pain threshold. I go straight to pain pills and don't take shots or morphine after major surgery. Before my hormone migraine therapy I'd dealt with daily migraines for years. I could handle it. Wrong. You've never felt such pain as this. It's NERVE pain that shoots through the muscle and makes it ball up and is UNRELENTING. I didn't sleep from Saturday night until Friday night. I'm all broke out from my spine around my side to the ribcage on the left, just to give you the full picture. LOL Aren't you glad?

So if you get this disease, here's what you do:
Get it diagnosed EARLY and get on an antiviral within 72 hours of the rash coming. I'm on Famvir.
Normal pain pills do nothing other than knock it back a TAD. I had to take two to even be able to lay down but still couldn't sleep. Get on Lyrica, a pain pill that targets nerve pain. But be aware it takes about 3 days to kick in.
Ibuprofen worked on knocking the pain back some better than the Lortab they gave me at the hospital. Take 4.
Use ice on the pain. Mine hurts on the front and the back so I stay encased in ice.
Take the following supplements:1000 mg lysine 3x a day, 20,000 IU of vitamin A, 5000 mg of vitamin C taken throughout the day, 50 mg zinc, 200 mg DHEA.800 IU vitamin E, B complex, 1 packet daily Proboost Thymic Protein A
Use a TENS unit when the pain is severe. It was all that saved me before Lyrica started working. My sister in law Teresa came through for me and loaned me hers when I was about to go insane from the pain.
Lidoderm patches help some.
Take cimetidine (Tagamet) 200 mg 3 x a day and 600 mg at bedtime. I know it sounds weird but look here:

My rash is clearing up without turning to big blisters and breaking open. I think it's the Tagamet.

Additional helps.
Get hovering parents who run to help out in any way they can.
Lean on a strong husband who tries to take any burden from you.
A wonderful agent who calls to see if she can order in groceries. A great thought if I lived in a city. Wouldn't that have been nice? :-) But it was the thought that made my day.
A great publishing house who is quick to ask what they can to do help.

And prayer. Lots of prayer. The girls came through for me and they saturated me with prayer. They called when I was crying and depressed from the suffering, just to encourage me that the end of this would all come.

The bad thing is that I have no idea how many weeks this might last. Even when the pain is under control, it feels like my ribcage is encased in a tight girdle.

And the worst of it? I CAN'T WRITE!! Even with the pain halfway controlled, the drugs make me loopy. I stagger when I walk and I stare at the screen dully when I try to write. It's driving me crazy! . My husband suggested I dye my hair blond. LOL

So that's been my week. Pray you never get this, friends! it wouldn't hurt to start taking lysine when you turn 50, just to make sure you don't get this. And don't go falling into any doors. LOL
Colleen Coble  
posted at 4:16 AM  
  Comments (31)
Delicious Delicious
At 5:10 PM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Oh my! Your poor thing *passes Colleen some chocolate* My sister had this a few years ago when she was about 32 so i don't think it's an "old person" thing. ;)

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Yum! Chocolate! It makes everything better, doesn't it?

You want to hear something sad though--Di sent me a web link that said to avoid chocolate and nuts! What's up with that???

At 5:33 PM, Blogger Tricia said...

I am so terrible sorry. I got Shingles in Sept and I am still having pain twinges now and then (NOTHING like that initial pain!) and I am 33!

I also waited for almost a week before I went into the dr because I never once thought Shingles. I was starting to wonder if a horse had gotten loose and trampled me in my sleep. It was that bad. I kept looking in the mirror for the bruise thinking I must have bumped into something but a bruise never showed up.

Finally a strange rash showed up. My friend saw it and suggested a trip to the dr was in order as she thought it might be shingles.

“Shingles, no way, only old people get that.” Famous last words.

My dr took one look at me and said,

“You have Shingles.”

“Aren’t you in a lot of pain? And why in the world did you not come in sooner, when we could have done something?”

These are NOT hopeful words coming from the dr.

All I can say is get in bed and give up. Don’t try to do anything until the pain is gone. It will go away sooner if you rest.

Sadly for me NONE of the meds worked. I tried the Lyrica but it was like eating candy…nothing. I finally gave up and just crawled in bed listening to the sound of all the spinning plates crashing to the ground and prayed for the Rapture!

But have hope! It did end, I survived and I am oh so very grateful for my good health! And a side benefit is that I think my husband and my children have a renewed respect for all mom does around the house!

You’ll definitely be in my prayers!

At 5:35 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Oh Tricia! What an experience. How long were you on Lyrica? It does NOTHING for about four days. It was day five for me before it started changing the pain I was in and six days before it totally controlled it for about 7 hours per does.

So maybe I'm not as old as I feel? LOL

At 6:17 PM, Blogger Katherine said...

My prayers are with you. I discovered Thursday that I had a kidney stone. I'm 21! And my finals start tomorrow! Friday was spent at the hospital getting a cat scan, and then drugged up. I've been drugged all weekend, trying to finish homework. This isn't nerve pain, but it sure isn't fun, either! So as I lay around in pain all weekend, I'll be thinking of you and hoping you're better soon.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Oh Katherine, I feel for you! My cousins get those and they are super painful! Praying for you!

I'm glad to hear getting shingles doesn't mean I'm old, girls!

At 6:25 PM, Blogger Ausjenny said...

Colleen, I do feel for you. one of the girls who grow up in our church then moved to the city to study fall in love and marry got shingles at about 20 so not its not just older people. I always thought if you had chicken pox you were immuned but then i am probably wrong. I had them at 2.
I pray the pain eases alot and you heal quickly. Im thinking summer would be a better time to have this cos in the heat being covered in ice would feel great. not that i want it. Take care.

At 6:27 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Hey Ausjenny! Thanks for the commiseration. Having chicken pox doesn't make you immune--it actually puts the virus into your body. After you have chicken pox, the virus never goes away, it just hibernates along your spine. A nice thought, huh? Like a little alien waiting to strike.

you can see I write suspense. LOL

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Ausjenny said...

oh no something esle to look forward to! mum has never had chicken pox or shingles. my illusion that if you haven't had chicken pox as a kid you get it later as shingles has been smashed!
Yes i see you write suspense. I haven't read them yet but more on my wish list. I have read some of your novalla and heartsong presents books. (more books to suggest our local bookstore get in) Our christian bookstore is run by volunteers of which i am one. I am working this afternoon. The manager isn't much of a fiction reader and I am forever suggesting books, We do get some of them in.

At 6:53 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Poor Jenny! Illusions smashed. If you've never had chicken pox and you're exposed, you just get chicken pox. Which isn't as bad as shingles so be glad. :-)

How fun you work in a bookstore!

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Ausjenny said...

This time of year its great cos its busy! I always take a book to read and often do alot of reading there. I normally do first and third wed afternoon but as Christmas is coming and they are short i am doing a couple of monday afternoons. We have some books that come with sales and i tend to buy them which is good for the shop but i have about 100 unread books. I Suggested a few books from the catlogue to order in 2 i really wanted but thought would sell well. They did i missed out. Also with it beening cooler today we may have more people in. No one like shopping when it reaches 100.

At 7:37 PM, Blogger Kay said...

My friend's son had the chicken pox shot, but got shingles when he was about 6.

My mom had it and it wasn't as bad as some people. It varies a lot from person to person, from what I've seen as a nurse. But when its bad, its agony, as you've discovered. I do hope you are completly well, very soon.

If I ever get them, I'm trying acupuncture. I've never done it, but I would for that, I've heard it actually will make it go away.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

I'd try acupuncture in a heartbeat if there was anyone here in my small town. Sigh.

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Ane Mulligan said...

It happens to young adults, too, Colleen! I got them when I was about 26. Of course I'm wierd, which you already know, and got them on the back of my legs instead of around the torso like most normal people. Sheesh! The skin on the back of your knees is so tender!

My doc gave me B12 shots daily, along with the other meds.

But my symptoms were first anxiety, for which I had no reason. Everything was great. Then the rash came. At first I thought it was an allergic reaction, because I'd been stripping furniture. But my doctor recognized it and also asked about feelings of anxiety.

Since the disease attacks your nerve endings, you can feel like your connected to an electrical outlet, huh?

So you definitely have my sympathy!!!

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Kayla said...

My grandpa had such a bad case of shingles when he was in 5th grade that they thought he would either die or be bedridden for life. He had to quit school because he was so sick and didn't get out of bed for a couple of years. He never went back to school.

Ironically, he read the Bible with more understanding than anyone else I know and he taught me long division way before I would have learned it in school. And he was one of the best masonry workers our city has ever seen.

Anyway...I'm glad that yours will not be this bad!

At 8:44 PM, Blogger Julie Carobini said...

Oh, Colleen! How awful. So glad you got it diagnosed, and got some meds. Just hope they do the trick, and QUICK. I feel like I've been praying for so many ACFW-ers in the past few months, including myself (various health tests). Always glad to pray, but sad to see so much suffering.

You could always keep this post in your research file, because you never know, one of your characters could get afflicted one of these days. Am I right? :)

At 8:49 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Well I'm learning a lot more about shingles. And you're right, Kay, I feel for Job. I think I understand a bit more about him. Poor guy had no drugs though.

Thanks for praying Julie! I'm sure I'm going to inflict this on a character too. thanks for praying!

My aunt had the anxiety thing, Ane! So strange.

At 8:22 AM, Blogger Leanna said...

Colleen! So sorry you're suffering so. Soon you'll be able to make some characters suffer. Will be praying for you!

At 8:34 AM, Blogger Diann Hunt said...

I sure hope you feel better soon, C!! I hate it that you're suffering like this!!

Julie, I hope all is well for you! I'll be praying for you. Keep me posted, okay?

At 8:37 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

I'm so fuzzy on these meds, Julie's comments about various tests skated right over my head until Diann said something about it. Praying for you now, Julie! Hope all is well.

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Cara Putman said...

Oh, Colleen. Still praying. Let me know if you need anything else!

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Rhonda/WA state said...

Ouch! So sorry to hear this Colleen! My prayers are with you. This getting old thing kinda stinks. (Even though from what everyone says, it's ain't just for us "old" people.)

I'll have a "white chocolate mocha" from Starbucks today in your honor!

At 2:28 PM, Blogger Rachel Hauck said...

C, thanks for the update! Hope you're doing better today and keeping you in prayer.


At 4:33 PM, Blogger Anna Marie said...

Praying for you Colleen!

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Becki said...

Shingles...yikes. I'm so sorry for you.
And it's not just an "old person" thing (that should be cheery). I had a bout of shingles whe i was 22 or 23, I believe.
I went to the doctor within a day or two of the rash breaking out. And, if I recall, most of the pain and suffering was over within a week of being on meds.

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Jenny said...

Oh Colleen, I am so sorry! Am praying you're back to writing yourself very fast and get to enjoy lots of chocolate in the meantime. If stress has anything to do with it, the chocolate should take care of that.

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Thanks for the prayers, girls! It's a hard morning so far but there is a silver lining. I just saw the doctor who is sending me to another doctor for a nerve block! It will be blessed relief!

At 10:29 PM, Blogger Laura said...

I have been getting shingles since I was 35 (I'm 42 now). It is only a small patch on the back of my leg, but I would get the rash 3-6 times a year. It never lasted very long, but the last time was the worst.
My doctor offered to give me the vaccine for it, although I'm not over 60. After realizing how much the FAMVIR was going to cost me if I had to get it 4 times a year I opted for the vaccine. Praise God, I haven't had an outbreak in three and a half months!! They say the vaccine is only 50% effective, but that's better than not at all! I hate to think what it will be like as I get older. If I have to get a "booster" shot 20 years down the road it is well worth it. Keep hanging in there!

At 12:28 AM, Blogger Deena said...

Oh, Colleen, I've been so out of it I haven't been reading my usual poor thing!

Father, right where she is right now, bless my sister Colleen and hold her head up in Your mighty comforting hand. Ease her pain and flood her with Your joy.

Provide for her every need, even before she is aware of them, and anoint everything she does for You with power and the message of Your Son.

In Jesus' name, amen.

((((((gentle soft hugs)))))))

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Aw, Deena, thanks so much! Today I'm going in for a nerve block that I'm hopeful will stop the pain--unrelenting for 12 days now. Sigh.

Laura, you should be on lysine if you're prone to shingles and the vaccine is only 50% effective. See here:

At 12:49 PM, Blogger ed said...

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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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