Friday, December 4, 2009

Postherpetic Neuralgia

So just because I can't break my arm or get stitches like any other normal person... this week I got diagnosed with shingles on my arm. Yes, shingles. Now before you all start wondering if I've touched you, talked to you, coughed within 30 feet of you within the last week... calm yourselves. Although shingles is the varicella (chicken pox) virus in your body acting up when your immune system is low or you're under stress... it is only contagious with direct affected skin to skin contact and only when the vesicles burst (yummy, huh?). I've had it covered, hence no one has ever touched it and being a compulsive hand washer... all is well.

Luckily, it's been more of an annoyance than painful. Looking shingles up online is enough to scare you silly. (Mike and I have concluded they only post the most severe and disgusting of cases). I also learned as an audiology student in my medical aspects course that shingles (which I learned as Herpes Zoster) is the cause of Ramsay-Hunt syndrome-- which can cause hearing loss, dizziness and Bell's palsy. Talk about a career killer... (ha ha). Of course, mine isn't anywhere near that and not affecting the nerves near my head/face. Interesting nonetheless tho, huh?

Anyway, I know there are some serious cases where people have it all over their body, get really sick and are dealing with a lot of pain. Don't let your imagination go wild. I'm really not a diseased, pustulated woman whose been writhing in pain... no need to shun me. I've actually been very blessed. No spreading, no real pain, no being sick. Yay!

The only problem now is that as the shingles have cleared, I've started having weird pain in my arm. Looking into this more, I've found out this may be called "postherpetic neuralgia". Since shingles attacks the spinal nerves, specifically the dermatomes (C8 in my case), even after the shingles are gone the nerve is affected. It can't send the signals correctly after being attacked and sometimes it sends mixed messages that register as pain. This can last for months in some cases years after the shingles leave.

Well, anyway, I found it all to be quite fascinating. Of course, that might be because I've been reading a medical dictionary lately for fun and watching Dr. Quinn episodes. Anyway, that's the new medical case study happening with me. Never a dull moment in the Mansfield home. I knew you'd all enjoy that anatomy lesson. Class dismissed! =)