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The Pain After Shingles: Post Herpetic Neuralgia

You may think Shingles are bad if you’ve seen the Terry Bradshaw ad, but I’m telling you, that ain’t nothing!

For the last two years I’ve had this intermittent, burning pain in the left side of my back.

I tried everything but nothing helped.

This year I had the typical prodrome in Jan/Feb and couldn’t figure out why I was having really bad and weird chest pain, then I developed abdominal pain and stayed home from work.

Then all of a sudden I started the “itch” and noticed the rash.

The diagnosis was no longer in doubt. I had Shingles.

I was too stupid to get the vaccine – after all “I’m not that old” (and yes I am – I’m 67).

It’s even more embarrassing to admit I’m a physician and I didn’t think to get the vaccine. What an idiot!

My primary care provider gave me antivirals right away and I thought I would just have to ride it out. The rash went away in about 10 days and I felt pretty good, then one night – BANG!

The Postherpetic Neuralgia began. It was just like a cow being branded – but every 15-30 seconds.

Pain after Shingles Post Herpetic Neuralgia NEW

I couldn’t sleep for 8 weeks. The Lyrica didn’t do squat except to make me goofy.

I have never taken pain medications except once after a surgery on my thumb and I think I took 3 total. I finally gave in and took some Tramadol so I could sleep.

It’s now 6 months later and I am still having the pain. I’m now on high dose Gabapentin and still climbing in the titration. It’s helped a lot and I’m not having to take the Tramadol every night any more and with my Tens unit and pressure on my back I can usually get through the work day without pain meds.

I am learning about neuroplasticity and trying to learn to rewire my brain and change up the pain pathways that have developed in my central nervous system. I’m hoping that will help.

I have learned so much about myself and am trying not to be so disappointed that there are many things (most things) I can’t do now.

I love running but that’s out. At least I can now walk a few miles without the “branding” hitting.

This is the most debilitating pain I’ve ever experienced and I really feel for people who are in chronic pain. I know that my coworkers cannot comprehend that when I wear clothes (obviously a requirement at work) the rubbing of the clothes makes the pain start “firing away”.

Get your Shingles vaccine!

And try to understand what those in chronic pain for so many years are really going through even if you can’t see anything.

You can find out more about Terrie and what it is like to live with this condition on Living with Post Herpetic Neuralgia and also visit her site Getting Unstuck, LLC.  

Terrie

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