I’ve mentioned on here before about the slightly upside down universe I inhabit alongside others dealing with cancer (and probably any other serious or chronic illness whereby things that would normally illicit sympathy or concern from others in any world tend to be met with a strange celebratory reaction in our land. That severe pain in your ribs that had you in agony when you breathe – hurrah, it’s just a rib fracture from when you slipped on the stairs and not your bone mets on the move new disease spreading to your lungs! Those blinding headaches and visual disturbances that have freaked you out? Let’s celebrate that it’s just a hideous migraine and not the buggers taking up residence in your brain!
I had my own version of that this week. I’d had a slightly uncomfortable shoulder for a couple of days – like I’d twinged a muscle or slept on it the wrong way. Couldn’t get comfortable at night but didn’t think much of it. On Tuesday I decided to have a bath to soak my achy muscle . Normally stick to showers as find it slightly scary trying to get out of baths nowadays what with creaky joints and post-chemo neuropathy in my feet but the idea of relaxing in a big bubble bath appealed. As i was rubbing my shoulder i felt something like a large mole on my back but it seemed bigger than anything I’d noticed before (keep an eye on moles now too and I have many!). I asked Spooky to check it when i got out (without any major mishaps thankfully!). He said I had two patches of a rash that looked like insect bites. In the BC days (before cancer) I probably would have just assumed it was a heat rash and left it for a few days to see if it disappeared of its own accord. But now your first thought for ANYTHING untoward is – CANCER!! The thought of skin mets and the implications of this in terms of the disease path, treatment and prognosis was just gutting. We were both processing what this might mean and I could tell Spooky had that same tight ball of stress forming in his stomach too, even though we were both trying to appear positive. I promised I would book an appointment at the doctors the next day and we tried to get to sleep, not before both independently doing a ‘bad thing’ and consulting Doctor Google and searching for images of skin mets. It’s never helpful but sometimes you just can’t stop yourself. I tried to sleep but kept switching on my phone under the covers and googling different search terms and looking at gruesome pictures, not really conducive for sweet dreams it has to be said. Luckily I had a sudden thought and googled shoulder pain and rash and to my delight the search results threw up several references to shingles. Shingles! That would be amazing I thought. it seemed to fit my symptoms and the thought of it possibly being this reassured me and i was able to fall asleep with a slight smile on my face.
I eventually got an emergency appointment at the end of the next day and the doctor confirmed it was shingles. It may well have erupted as my immune system is probably battered to hell at the moment. I waited until I got outside and phoned home “Good news – it’s shingles!!” “Hurrah!!!”. We went out for tea to celebrate….