Thank you to everyone who offered up birthday wishes. Mr. Fixit and the kids and my uncle made sure I had a wonderful birthday weekend. And oh yes, there was lots of Harry Potter, as well as good food, good wine, and time with family. It was very happy birthday indeed.
I don’t know if I ever explained what shingles is. Most people know that it’s painful but they don’t know much else about it. I certainly didn’t, before I came down with it. Now I know that it’s essentially a holdover from having chicken pox earlier in life. Almost exactly thirty-one years ago, my sister woke up on Christmas morning covered in spots. In the ultimate example of “Life is not fair”, my sister was cured of her case of chicken pox in time to go back to school after Christmas break, just about the time my brother and I came down with the disease. I missed two weeks of school and irritated my third-grade teacher by drawing in one of my school notebooks with permanent markers while I was bored at home.
Eventually the disease ran its course and I thought I was done dealing with chicken pox forever. But this disease is sneaky. For some reason when a person’s immune system defeats the chicken pox virus, the virus doesn’t go away. Instead, like a bad horror movie character, it goes underground, deep into the nervous system, and hides out until some disruption in the space-time fabric signals that it is time for a sequel – shingles. As is usually the case, the sequel is worse than the original.
My doctor had warned me that shingles was somewhat contagious. Mr. Fixit had chicken pox as a child, and I knew we had vaccinated Creative Cat and Queen Bee, but some niggling voice in the back of my head wondered if Tonka had been vaccinated. I vaguely remembered giving the poor child a whack of needles when we brought him home from China. Surely we would have given him the chicken pox vaccine at that time, right?
Um, no. Apparently not. Tonka now has chicken pox.
I spent this morning cancelling plans and rescheduling appointments that I had made, thinking this was the week I could finally resume my normal life after shingles. Silly me, I should have known that the chicken pox virus wouldn’t give up that easily.