Sunday, November 25, 2012

Painful Lesson

Last weekend I was really looking forward to getting back in the gym and starting my Maintain, Don't Gain challenge.  In preparation for cleaning up my lifestyle, I also spent several hours doing some heavy cleaning around the house.  Along with the regular duties of shopping, cooking, and tending to my kids' every whim, I ended up spending about 13 hours on my feet with very few breaks.  At that point, I had the energy and figured I wasn't going to let it go to waste.  Plus, cleaning is an acceptable excuse to procrastinate on doing statistics homework.  By the time I went to bed last Sunday evening, my back and hip was bothering me so much that I started scolding myself for my lack of discipline where my health is concerned, but knowing I was going to get things turned around helped me sleep soundly.  I naturally assumed the pain in my lower back and hip would hang around for a day or two and then everything would just go back to normal.
Monday morning I got up and hit the gym.  Oh, it took me longer than it should have to get out of bed at 4:30 am, but I did it, and once I hit the treadmill and had my songs pumping in my ears, I felt so good.  My joints were all so irritated, my knees, hips, even my ankles seemed to be protesting.  I told myself it was just my lack of rest lately, and the weather creeping ever slowly toward winter.  As Monday progressed, my back pain got nearly intolerable, and I tried several different stretches throughout the day to try to help it.  Beside the sore muscle feel, and the stiffness, I started to get a shooting pain up my spine, starting from way down in the tailbone.  I figured I either had a pinched nerve or an issue with my disc.  Then my hip got really swollen.  Later that night, a small rash appeared on my right thigh, just above the knee, and my skin on the entire leg became very sensitive to touch, even to my clothes or wind brushing against the skin felt like someone was shocking me or shooting needles into my skin, and there was an underlying bruised feeling.  I assumed it was from all the dust from cleaning, but noted that it was on the same side of my body as my now severely swollen hip.  By Tuesday, shooting back pains got a little heightened, but the hip was back to normal.  I was starting to get migraine headaches, the kind you get when you are coming down with the flu and you feel so much pressure that your eyes hurt to move.  The back pain was tremendous.  I still hit the treadmill that morning, but my body was protesting it by amping up the joint pain.  I was taking a continuous flow of Tylenol and ibuprofen just to make it through work.  I knew by Tuesday night, that there was no way I could go to the gym on Wednesday.  Then the massive outbreak began, a full-blown rash on my leg, blistering, itching and burning, complete with shooting nerve pain.  I went to the Urgent Care on Thursday and was diagnosed with Shingles.  I was prescribed a corticosteriod and an antiviral and sent about my way.  I spent Thanksgiving Thursday on the couch, my back pain nearly bringing me to tears.  Whenever I moved my leg, it felt as if the skin were made of paper, and that it was about to rip wide open.  The itching at night is one I can only compare to having hives, incessant, deeply distracting itching that makes you want to tear your skin off.  I tried every household thing I could think of for itch, and there was hardly anything that could touch it.  There has been very little sleep for me.  Finally, last night I took an antihistamine last night and slathered my leg with baking soda and I got some broken but good sleep.  My back pain, is completely gone.  The steroids are giving me back some energy, and making me realize just how low my energy has been for the last few weeks.
Shingles are brought on by periods of extreme stress and/or some sort of trauma.  Either or both could have been the cause, my stress has been severely cranked up lately with my car repair issues and my son's behavior issues at school, and the trauma of spending more time on my feet and making my hip swell could have also been the culprit.  But I am slowly feeling better.
I believe that there is something positive to be learned from every situation, and their are several positives I take away from this, are the fact that these could have been anywhere on my body, mouth, eyes, back, scalp, face...the leg is probably the most sufferable place to get this virus.  Also, it has made me very aware that I do not EVER want to have back issues, and I will concentrate more on training my core to help protect my back, something I haven't given much thought to in the past.  Another thing I learned from this, is that I keep talking about finding better ways to relieve my stress, but I never actually carry through with the research.  Now I can't keep ignoring it, I need to have a better handle on my stress levels.  And maybe the most important lesson I've learned from this, is you need to sit down sometimes, or life will have a way of MAKING you sit down.
There!  My sob story is all done.  I really want to get  back to the gym this week, but I'm thinking that will be a bad idea, as the only way for the rash to clear is to let the blisters open and dry out, which means I have to keep the leg cool and dry.  I may need to take a little time off, but I am keeping my diet clean, and supplementing with L-Lysine (an amino acid) and apple cider vinegar to help balance out my natural acidity and heal from the inside.  Right now, the best way I can care for myself is to take things a little easier, but keep my mind on the future.  I plan on wiping out this nasty little virus and getting back to business shortly.    I can't stress out about time lost, I can only focus on how great I will feel once I am back to normal.
Right now, I am grateful to have my energy and focus back.  The rest will come in due time.
We had our first snow overnight, and woke to an inch on the ground.  My kids were so adorable as they marveled at the wonder of the stuff as though they'd never seen it before.  I think part of my stress-reduction plan will be trying to see things as innocently as my kids.
Hope those of you who celebrate, had a great Thanksgiving, and I hope all of you are well!

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