"Dad, I don't want to get chicken pops"
- My youngest daughter Rebecca, somewhere in the 90's
I was 19 or 20 years old when I got the "chicken pops". It was, I think, around January of 1983. To this very day, I can recall the intense fever I had, something along the lines of 103 degrees, for two or three days. There was also the incredible headache that brought, along with blisters in many creative places, including the soles of my feet. It was not a good time.
Fast forward to 53 years old and I've been diagnosed with Shingles. You can read more about this affliction HERE. I won't bore anyone, least of all myself, with the details, but I'll note this: I woke up with an intense desire to itch in an unlikely place, and that turned into a feeling that literally makes me want to claw away layers of skin. Enter the red rash, a burning sensation, deep muscle discomfort and the beginnings (as of Friday night) of a blister or two. I'm sure this will get worse before it gets better. Yes, I bought calamine lotion, which does seem to help. I hope.
For me, this is kind of end product.
The American Academy of Dermatology (and others) note that being under great stress can precipitate an outbreak of Shingles. That's certainly been the case for me over these past few months. My story (make that stories) is noted in blog postings here since October of 2016, so there's no need for a rehash. What I will add is that I've periodically had to deal with what I consider to be bouts of depression over these past few months, something I've never admitted to before, but which can easily be alluded to between the lines of many postings. While I've certainly met my obligations...be they to my family, my (new) co-workers, and to myself (in finishing my Master's degree course work)...it's sometimes been at something of a steep price. I think Shingles is part of paying that price. This also isn't the first time in my life that a physical failing has followed periods of intense stress.
I wish I had some kind of grand philosophical statement to make that would put my life of late into a kind of proper context, but I don't. Maybe it's the intense itching at the moment. What I do know is that I am hopeful for a kind of separate peace now. None of us truly know what life has in store, but looking forward, I'm hoping for a break from death, from self-doubt, from mental ruminations, and from the physical unhealthiness that comes from mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion.
Maybe this is the period at the end of one sentence, with a new one soon to be written. It's just that this particular period is red and intensely itchy at the moment.