My Mystery Illness

We’re spending two months in Hilton Head, SC for what are probably the worst two months of winter in Nova Scotia. Yeah! We escape the snow for two whole months! We have a great condo on the beach and the area is just gorgeous. We wake up each morning to a beautiful sunrise over the ocean. Such a lovely place to slow down the pace and recoup from a busy fall.

When we arrived in Hilton Head on January 1st I had visions of walking on the beach, shopping, doing a lot of writing, reading the stack of books I had brought and even going for a weekend visit to an old friend in Atlanta GA. I had planned to lose ten lbs during the two months we were here.

I was going to bicycle all over Hilton Head Island.

I had plans to get my body healthy, detoxify, get my mind free of all the stresses of 2014, and to find some peace in my heart, mind and soul.

But then I got sick. I guess Hilton Head is as good a place as any to get sick!

It started with back pain that I thought came from slouching on the couch. So I bought a down filled pillow to lean back on. That didn’t help much, and nothing else I did brought relief. The back pain was followed by vise grip headaches and pain deep inside my chest, accompanied by a fever that left me horizontal. Then came the rash: large red welts on my back.

I thought I was dying.

We called our insurance provider back home and I was authorized to go to a doctor here. Now I would get a glimpse of the American medical system. Off we went to Doctor’s Care, a walk in clinic right here in Hilton Head. I was told I would be seeing Dr. Coswell, a young and vibrant Southern lady, complete with “the twang”.

As soon as I told her about the symptoms I was having, she asked to see my rash. Immediately she said, “Ma’am, you have shingles.”

What the hell? Me? Shingles?

She told me that it is the same virus as chicken pox that stays in the body and manifests itself as shingles at stressful times of life, or when the immune system is compromised, and especially in older people.

Well I am older, and I have had a lot of stress in the past year.

Actually, when Dr. Coswell told me I had shingles I could have kissed her. That was much preferable to what I thought I had, which was brain cancer, heart attack, acid reflux, you name it.

So for the past couple of weeks that have felt like forever, I have been managing my pain, taking antiviral medication and coping as best I can. Having a positive attitude has been paramount.

I’m over the worst of it now and have even had a couple of walks on my beloved beach.

And now I can add to my ‘compassion list’; those things I have experienced in life that will help me to understand others when they are going through them.