Thursday, April 11, 2013

It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Person

My dad has shingles. He didn't get the vaccine because he's among the medical researchers who think the medical community is over-vaccinating the populace.  I assumed that if he had it to do over again, he would've gotten the vaccine (my mom did even before he came down with the dreaded herpes zoster) but he says since the shingles were caught early and the overall impact should be minimal, he'd rather deal with shingles than take his chances with the vaccine.

I was actually the one who first diagnosed my dad's case of shingles. We all first thought kidney stones were the culprit, but my dad came home from the hospital with a negative CT scan.  No one at the hospital thought of shingles. They all thought it was a muscle strain. I said it was shingles. My dad said it didn't seem likely that all the MDs missed the diagnosis and an 18-year-old nailed it, but he said he was going to pick up an prescription for acyclovir the next morning just to hedge his bets. When he woke up this morning, the very beginning of the characteristic rash was present. He broke land-speed records getting to the hospital pharmacy, as there is a narrow window of opportunity during which the anti-viral medication will accomplish anything. After than, one must let the shingles run their course.

Shingles are not contagious in the sense that one cannot contract shingles from another person. A person who has not had chicken pox or who has low immunity to the virus can catch chicken pox from direct contact with a herpes zoster (shingles) lesion. We're being cautious since I've not had chicken pox. My immunity to chicken pox from the vaccine is less than if I had actually had a full-blown case of the disease. My dad is not walking around shirtless, is not touching his midsection, and is using hand santitizer as though it was H2O from the fountain of youth. My risk of contracting chicken pox from my dad is low.

I'm pondering both getting the shingles vaccine and being re-vaccinated with the chicken pox vaccine. It's been many years since I had it, and the verdict isn't in as to just how long it is effective.

My father was opposed to my brother and me getting the chicken pox vaccine, but my mom overruled him. She had such a horrible case of chicken pox when she was in kindergarten that she said she wouldn't wish chicken pox on her worst enemy. She took us to the doctor who was at the time our pediatrician and demanded that we be vaccinated. The doctor had no problem giving us the shot.

My heading sounds sarcastic, but it really isn't. My dad is actually a hell of a nice guy. He doesn't deserve shingles. I hope his case is extremely mild.

1 comment:

  1. I had shingles once, when I was 26. I got them about a month after I had cellulitis on my face. I had no idea what was wrong with me and a co-worker at a restaurant told me what it was. Fortunately, I didn't get very sick. It was unpleasant, though. I had chicken pox when we lived in England and my underprotective mom let me run around the neighborhood, infecting other kids.