Oh God, I Have a Virus

So, last Friday morning I woke up and had what I thought was a zit smack dab in the middle of my forehead. “How annoying!” I thought to myself but then thought nothing of it going through my day. It wasn’t until around 6:00 that night when I was washing my hands in the bathroom that I looked up in the mirror and saw something scary. The tiny red bump had turned into a dime sized rash with tiny bumps inside. I wish I would have gotten some pictures of it but in the moment it was too freaky.

It was a Friday so my husband told me for peace of mind that I should go to Urgent Care before the weekend when I would have to go to the Emergency Room. I left, both of us expecting them to say it was a spider bite or something. The Urgent Care was fairly empty and I was called in after being there for 20 minutes. When the Doctor came in she looked at my rash and simultaneously said “You have shingles sweetie.” My mind was a blur, I almost immediately burst into tears because all I knew about shingles was that it was contagious. All I could think about was causing pain and sickness to my baby. She could tell that I was nervous and told me, “this is nothing to worry about we are catching it early and it should not spread.” She proceeded to explain to me that I could not transmit shingles to Edie, just chicken pox, and even that is very rare as long as she didn’t directly touch the rash.

For those of you that don’t know shingles is a mutated form of the chicken pox virus. It attacks the nerves and can be horribly painful internally as well as itchy from the rash. When you contract chicken pox it is in your body for life, typically you become immune to the virus after you have had it once. I contracted chicken pox twice in my childhood so the Doctor explained that this left me more vulnerable to get shingles. She also said that stress from having a new baby paired with a compromised immune system from a recent cold I had was what made me exhibit symptoms of the mutated chicken pox virus. She prescribed me anti-viral medicine, told me to keep it covered, and to stay away from pregnant women and infants (as a precaution). Of course, Edie was a worry for me at only 4 months but she assured that as long as I kept it covered she should be fine but told me to call my pediatrician to let her know. She also checked the anti-virals to make sure they were fine for breast feeding (they totally were) and that made me feel so much better since I had to take 500 mg 5 times A DAY!

When I left the Doctor I felt a little better but was still really upset, I felt like my body had failed me and was so confused because normally only older people get shingles. Also, I was worried that if my baby got chicken pox so early it would be more dangerous. Of course, I spent the rest of the night doing exactly what everyone does, Googling. Now, Googling an illness usually makes you feel much MUCH worse about your situation. Normally, you Google anything and it means you will die. In my case the Googling actually made me feel so much better. Many young people get shingles in stressful moments of their lives and many young babies get chicken pox. Many moms even reported that it was easier when the babies had chicken pox at younger ages cause they couldn’t scratch, which calmed me down so much. Also, chicken pox is actually more dangerous for older people to get than for babies. I called my pediatrician Monday and they said the same thing; keep it covered, wash your hands, look for pox signs. After 7 days the rash was completely gone and didn’t spread at all, it actually began shrinking 2 days after starting the medicine. I am so incredibly lucky that we thought the rash looked kind of weird and were playing it safe because shingles can be terrible. I talked to my aunt who had it about 13 years ago and she had horrible back pain for months after it was gone. So, as you can see this situation could have been much worse if I had waited to go to the Doctor. We are still in the waiting period for Edie to show signs of chicken pox but by this Friday we should be in the clear. So far she seems 100% healthy and isn’t showing any illness signs so our fingers are crossed.

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