Day 1: Woke up with a headache. A bad headache. I tried to ignore it. It persisted anyway.
Day 2: Still had the headache, but now it was accompanied by somebody stabbing my right eye with an ice pick. I was crabby to my daughter, Emma, and my girlfriend, Saxon. They thought it was part of my menopause. They didn’t say that, but I could tell it was what they were thinking.
Day 3: The ice pick thing was still happening and now somebody was also stabbing me in my right ear with another ice pick. I cried three times because of the pain. My scalp began to hurt. I told Saxon that my hair hurt. She thought I was whacko. After Emma came home from school, I had her sit on the counter and check my scalp. She found a line of red bumps. I was worried I got bit by a spider and its venom was coursing through my brain and was going to drive me slowly insane, then kill me. I made Emma promise not to tell Saxon about the scalp bumps because Saxon is deathly afraid of spiders. She swore that she would only tell Saxon if I started foaming at the mouth or acting stranger than usual.
Day 4: Emma went over to a friend’s house. Most of the day I sat in the dark and cried from the pain. The bumps on my head were bigger and my hair really did hurt.
Day 5: Sunday. Saxon’s day off work. I got up first. Made coffee. My headache woke up. Hurt like a sumbitch. Looked in the mirror. There was a rash on the right side of my forehead. My right eye was completely red and swollen. Saxon woke up and I told her I had spider bites on my head and was going to die. She was mad at me for not telling her days ago. Her worry overrode her mad and she got Emma ready and the three of us went to Urgent Care. I could hardly stand or walk. The waiting room was full of coughing, sweating people who had the flu. I made Saxon and Emma leave so they wouldn’t catch the flu. I told Saxon I’d text her to come get when I finally got to see the doctor.
An hour later, I saw the doctor. She was busy busy busy. I told her I had bites on my scalp. She took one look at me and said, “Honey, those aren’t bug bites. You have shingles.” I said, “Isn’t that an old person disease?” She looked at the birthdate on my chart and said, “You’re in the correct age range.” Shit.
The doctor wrote me a prescription for an anti-viral pill and a shitload of Lortab.
When Saxon picked me up, I told her I had scabies. We went and got the prescription at Walgreen’s. Their pharmacy waiting room was much like the Urgent Care waiting room.
The Lortab didn’t do shit for the pain. I took them two at a time. They didn’t even begin to touch the pain in my eye and ear and jaw. However, they did make me pass out. That was a relief.
Day 6: Saxon is back at work and Emma is back at school. I can’t get out of bed. I stink. I hurt. My face is swollen up like the Elephant Man. My right eye is swollen shut. I’m sick to my stomach. I’m afraid I’m going to die all alone. I kept taking the Lortab two at a time. I slept 22 out of 24 hours. I vaguely remembered Emma coming home from school and crawling in bed with me. (she walked to and from school – one mile each way.) Saxon worked 12 hours and came home. I vaguely remembered her feeling my forehead and talking about a fever. She had to help me go to the bathroom – I was too dizzy and weak to walk the twenty feet to the toilet all on my own.
Day 7: I hadn’t eaten anything but one slice of bread in two days. I was sick to my stomach. I managed to shower, then collapsed in bed. My face looked even worse. I couldn’t open my eye. I called my mom. My dad showed up and helped me into the truck and he took me back to Urgent Care. My mom showed up after about half an hour. She went into the examining room with me – I couldn’t walk by myself. I vomited into the trash can while waiting for the doctor. It was a different doctor this time, a man. He told me I was vomiting because you can’t take that many Lortab all at once. He writes a script for more Lortab which I promised to only take one at a time. I went home and passed out. Slept for hours on end. My fever was raging. Saxon told me that night, “Being a single parent is hard. I don’t know how all those women do it.” I told her she was lucky Emma was eleven and she missed out on all the butt-wiping years.
Day 8: Fever was still high, but at least I wasn’t sick to my stomach anymore. I slept constantly. I woke up around noon to see my mother standing over me. She had brought me food. Mashed potatoes and gravy. And Pedialyte. I ate a bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy and cried. I needed my Mama bad. Slept almost all the rest of the day. Only woke up to gulp down one more Lortab.
Day 9: I sat up in bed. My right eye was open. Horribly swollen, but open. I showered and put on fresh pajamas. I slept twelve hours out of twenty-four. I actually sat up and talked to Emma and Saxon that night for minutes at a time. Saxon was working ten to twelve hours a day, then coming home and making supper for Emma and helping her with homework and playing with her. She also did dishes and laundry and some house cleaning. (did I mention I have the best girlfriend in the whole wide world?)
Day 10: I got out of bed! Sure, I just sat on the couch all day, but I was up. I even shaved my legs that morning in the shower. I was on the road to recovery. I slept a lot. And drank a vanilla milk shake from Braums.
Day 11: Decided to forgo the Lortab. I was afraid of getting hooked on them. Switched to a pain reliever aspirin I had in the cabinet. Took them two at a time. Sat on the couch most of the day. Fell asleep, unable to keep my eyes open. Ate a little soup. Saxon said I was getting skinny. I hoped that was true. Swelling was down some.
Day 12: See day 11. They’re interchangeable. Swelling was down a little more. Ate the aspirin. Slept constantly. Couldn’t stay awake.
Day 13: Woke up feeling a little better. Made Emma breakfast. Saxon went to work. Actually drove Emma to school. Came home and collapsed in bed for two hours. Got up and took two more aspirin. Thirty minutes later, I fell back into bed. After a two hour nap, I went for more aspirin. Looked at the bottle and realized they were Tylenol PM. No wonder I kept falling asleep. Took two Bayer aspirin instead and managed to stay awake until bedtime. I even made Sloppy Joe’s for dinner. The pain was still intense. Still a little swollen, but now I look like somebody beat me up instead of the Elephant Man.
Day 14: Swelling is mostly gone. The rash is mostly dried up. The pain is down to just a bad headache level. However, I haven’t been able to see out of my right eye for at least three days. There’s a cloudy film over everything. To drive or read or look at the computer, I have to shut my right eye. I read on the internet that shingles can scar the cornea and lots of people never regain full use of their eye. I panic and call my optometrist and friend, Dr. Kate Miller. She took me in right away. She examined my eye. It’s inflamed. The cornea is very very swollen. She thinks the shingles went internal into my eye. She gave me an anti-inflammatory eye drops and wrote me a prescription for an ointment to coat my eye with at night. (a tiny tube costs $150!)
That’s where I’m at now. Typing this with one eye closed and trying to ignore the headache. I’m praying that after a few days, my eye will be fine and I’ll totally regain my vision. In the meantime, I’m thankful and grateful for all I have: a daughter who gets up and walks to and from school without complaint. Who crawls into bed with me and holds my hand. Who lays her head on my chest so she can listen to my heartbeat. Not to mention she’s been able to wipe her own butt for many years now. I also have a girlfriend who is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. She loves me, adores me, takes care of me and my daughter, never complains, and not only does she bring home the bacon, but she fries it up in the pan. I have a mom and dad who love me beyond belief and know exactly when a girl needs some mashed potatoes and gravy.
And, like Saxon told me, if I do go blind and have to wear an eye patch, it’ll just add to my je ne sais quoi.
Oh, I did ask Saxon this morning if she’d still love me if I only had one eye. She said, “Of course I will. But maybe we can ask God if he takes one of your eyes if he can at least give you a third boob in exhange.” Sounds like a deal to me.