September 21, 2013

Diagnosis: Shingles

I've been here in the Philippines for almost a month.

I've had prickly heat (bungang araw) that a friend recognized the moment he saw it, and which I've forgotten all about. The pollution and strange weather have triggered my allergies, which in turn triggered my asthma. Days went by, I puttered around with a severely itchy throat. Another friend kept saying I'm overloading on hot tea, but it was the only thing that kept me from coughing all the time.

The most recent bout is with shingles. Early this week, not sure if it was Tuesday or Wednesday, my left forehead was just too itchy for words. I thought it was a mosquito bite. I put hydrocortisone and even Vicks on it, but it didn't help. Yesterday morning, I noticed a pin-sized round thing on my eyelid, which I thought was a stye. I applied warm compress for 10-15 minutes every couple of hours.

This morning, it was bigger but it definitely didn't look like a stye to me. What's worse, the itchiness on my left forehead was becoming creepy bumps. I panicked. What the hell was going on?

Luckily, my sister was able to book me an appointment with her dermatologist. I went to Trinoma's Asian Eye Institute out of desperation. Both doctors said it was zoster, specifically herpes zoster - not the same as genital herpes, they were quick to point out. Both said it's triggered by the stress. Have I not been sleeping well? Well, yeah. I've got nocturnal asthma - I'm awake coughing away at night, so sleep is just an impossible dream. I've been sleeping 4 hours max.

They prescribed Aciclovir, Vigamox, Dolo-Neurobion and Muporin. The eye doctor wanted to make sure that my left eye gets protected because shingles can have adverse effects on vision. Was I freaking at that point? No, all I wanted was to get my medicines and go home. I was supposed to be mildly contagious, but my parents acted so nonchalant about it. They even wanted to eat outside! I was just too tired that I asked to be brought home. I needed to rest.