originally, i was planning to write about the Shingles recovery on its anniversary. but, a few weeks ago, i got an email from Jasmine, asking about my Shingles that happened back in July/August 2012 and the recovery. her mother-in-law contracted Shingles and was browsing the internet on how to cope with it. i wrote a long reply email, but it turns out that her email address was mistyped and the email bounced. so i decided to post the story here instead. i hope it’s useful…
it took me 3 weeks of total rest. no contact with almost anyone, no going outside, and all i did was eat and sleep, just like i wrote on the entries (one and two). the first week was the swelling, the next two weeks was the peeling. after those three weeks, i was allowed to be outside, because i don’t spread chicken pox anymore…
i actually took picture of my face everyday to document the progress. but it would be too much and boring to see 34 pictures of me swelling and scarred 🙂 but after the first week, the swelling goes down and the face slooooooowly getting better looking (not the pain though. the second and third week is probably the most painful period).
i didn’t go to any specialists, including skin specialist. but my doctor gave me a hydroquinone cream (4%) that i have to put on after the scabs peeled away twice a day. i was not allowed to be under direct sunlight for months (i think 5 months). after 5 months, i was back under the sun (did a few running races), but i wear sunscreen on my face all the time and under a 100% UV umbrella (bought it in Japan) as much as possible. and i use cosmetic whitening masks once in a while after i pass the 6-month mark.
the scars are still there now, but much more faint. and i don’t look monster-ish anymore. i just looked like that i had a few big zits a few days ago.
so, that’s the outer parts.
the nerve part takes much longer to heal. it’s called PHN: postherpetic neuralgia. the strange sensation on skin lasted consistently for about 3 months. at the beginning it was pain (burning, cutting, etc). slowly, the pain dissapear, but the sensation of the skin being pulled stayed. sometimes it feels like a icy water running down the face, sometimes it felt warm. sometimes, it’s itchy, but since the top layer of the skin couldn’t really feel anything, it’s useless to scratch.
after about 3 months, i realized that all the infected skin areas are still numb. i can’t feel any touch on those scabs. i went back to the doctor, and he said it may either heal in 6 months, or i probably lose it forever because the nerve endings are too damaged to heal.
well, i still can’t feel anything on most of my right face, and it’s been 8 months. so, i probably have lost it forever. but it’s no big deal. after going through that much pain, not feeling anything feels like a blessing, haha. the pulling sensation still show up once in a while, mostly on the chin area, which had the most damage on the outer part. it doesn’t bother me that much, though.
another thing is: after 3 months, i realized that my right ear lost some of its hearing. i didn’t realize it until i was switching phones from right to left, and the phone was much louder than i thought. but i guess, if i didn’t realize it for 3 months, it was also not a big deal 🙂
i didn’t go to ear specialist, because i thought it’s too late anyways. the doctor have said that if the shingles reached eyes or ears, the damage most likely irreparable.
i hope this helps a little bit for those who got Shingles. to tell you the truth, it ended up this bad because i didn’t realize i contracted Shingles until it was too late. if i got to the doctor and was given the Anti-Viral within 72 hours of the first sign (swelling old zit and burning sensation on the right side of the face), it shouldn’t spread this wide and the pain would be much tolerable. i probably would still be able to keep my hearing intact.
so, anyone who has had Chicken Pox may get Shingles. that, you can’t really do anything about it. but you can avoid the permanent damage and experience lesser pain if the Shingles was detected earlier. so get to the doctor if you start having burning pain on only one side of your body…
The Complete Shingles Saga: