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.

20 thoughts on “My Mystery Illness

  1. I am glad you are getting better! Very well written! I had it in university! Not fun at any time of life! All the best, hugs!

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  2. Hi Christine! Sorry to hear you have had this “thing”! I had shingles in my late 20’s so age doesn’t have anything to do with it, just stress and reduced immune system. It is horrible and so many people seem to get it these days. Get well in your beautiful surroundings and clear away all those stressful things. God bless you and get well soon.

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  3. Shingles!! That’s an old person’s disease. And you are far from “old”. It is a horrible, horrible disease, and it seems like you got a fairly early diagosis, which is critical in effective treatment. I sure hope it clears up soon. take care. I had the shingles vaccine a year ago.

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  4. Dear Christine, so sorry to heat about your attack of shingles and glad to hear you are getting better! It is great that there is medication for it, and if your bout doesnt get better you can get a second shot! I still hope we can get together before you head back to NS, would love to bike with you on HH! Take care and get well soon, hugs, Pat

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  5. Christine,Get lots of rest,good food and reading material and lots of TLC.
    Wishing you a speedy recovery.

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  6. So sorry to hear you are still sick.. but the good news is that you finally have a diagnosis. On the bright side.. we have so much snow here you are lucky to be where you are right now

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  7. Humm, same thing happened to me about 5 years ago, when I was having stressful times of life, and my immune system was down. It had started by an ear ache, then the rash came out 2 days later! Like you said, the medication was necessary, no choice, and then we start feeling better and better every day! Made me realize that I had to slow down, that I was’nt a machine, and to take more time for myself, little ol me :)) Glad you are feeling better, enjoy many walks on your beloved beach!!!! Catch you later…

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  8. Sorry we never talked abut vaccines.. We’ve covered so many health related topics. Glad the worst is over. How much longer will you be in Hilton Head? Wishing you a good speedy end of recovery in the warmth of the beach.

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  9. Sorry to hear this Christine, get well quickly. I have been missing you.

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  10. Ooh Christine! Bad luck. I guess it could have happened at home too and that really would have been worse with all the storms we’ve had.At least you know what it is. Speedy recovery.

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