Shingles!

jenniferpa

Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
39,448
Would you believe it: my mother has shingles! Talk about things coming back to bite you in the future: she had chicken pox in 1927! Actually this is her second bout - she first had them when she was in her 50's. This time they're on her face, but the doctor is hopeful that they have been caught early enough for anti-virals to work.

My poor mummy.

Jennifer
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
70,390
Kent
Jennifer, my mother had shingles too, when she was in the NH.

I wonder if there might have been a young grandchild taking the chicken pox virus into the home.

When my mother had it she was hospitalized, the hospital asked if she had pain, and she said no, even though she had. She just hadn`t been able to communicate how she felt.

When she was discharged back to the NH, they gave her pain killers without asking, and I could tell by her face how much relief she was given.

I don`t want to be a scaremonger, but I would just check with the home what they do for pain relief.

I`m so sorry, I do hope she will be all right.

LOVExx
 

Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
5,379
NW England
Sorry to hear your news Jennifer. Have to confess I had spent most of my younger life believing 'shingles' to be something rather cosmetic until my mother developed them a few years ago and it was pointed out the immense pain they can cause .....:eek:

Not of much consolation, I'm sorry - but absolutely with Sylvia's advice....

Best to both of you ...

Love, Karen, x
 

Skye

Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
17,000
SW Scotland
Jennifer, much sympathy for you -- and your mum!

Let's hope the GP is right, and they have caught it before it can cause her too much pain.

Love,
 

jenniferpa

Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
39,448
Hi Sylvia

Yes I did ask about the pain, and they said she seemed to be in a bit more pain than usual. Fortunately/unfortunately she's already on Tramadol for her arthritis.

Actually it's fortunate in a way that's she's in the NH: if this had happened before the strokes she almost certainly would not have called the doctor, or not until it was too late for the anti-virals to possibly affect it. Also, although the nursing home mentioned the sort of thing you did (i.e. the chicken pox virus being carried in by a visitor or worker) my understanding is that shingles, although caused by that virus, is not triggered by exposure to it. In other words you have to have chicken pox at some point in the dim and distant past and then some other event (often another virus, or simply being weak) will cause that dormant virus, which is hiding out in your body somewhere, to travel up a nerve fibre and start the shingles episode.

I suppose what concerns me most about this is the possibility that this means her immune system is compromised. I mean it's not unreasonable that a 90 year old should have a compromised immune system, but once that starts to happen, one can't help wondering if this is the beginning of the end, if you see what I mean. Well that, and the possibility of post herpetic neuralgia which gets more likely the older you are. My poor mother can't take any MORE pain.

Jennifer
 

Amy

Registered User
Jan 4, 2006
3,453
(I know when my dad had shingles, it was the friction of the clothing that caused a lot of the discomfort - hopefully with it being on your mothers face, it may be less uncomfortable - we can but hope.
LoveHelen
 

jenniferpa

Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
39,448
Thanks everyone: it's simply watch and wait now. Funnily enough, Helen, that was my thought as well. On the other hand, though, there's possibility of transfer to the eyes if she scratches the blisters (well there would be anyway, but it's a bit closer when they're on the face). It's just hard to believe (well I do believe it, but you know what I mean) that something that happened to you 80 years ago can impact your health now. Soemthing like 90% of the adult population has been exposed to the chicken pox virus, so it's all something we should think about. Personally I've had it twice: once very mildly as a child and once 2 days after giving birth to my second child (thank first child for that). I was checked for antibodies before the birth because of first child's infection and I had them, but obviously not enough.

Jennifer
 

Margarita

Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
10,824
london
Sorry to read that your mother has shingles.

I also thought that if someone had chicken pot it was dangers being around pregnant woman not sure why ?

So was surprise to read
I've had it twice: once very mildly as a child and once 2 days after giving birth to my second child (thank first child for that)
But then you had it after giving birth

she scratches the blisters
Do they not put cotton dressing around it to stop her doing that as shingles travel in lines I thought , or would the dressing irritate the shingles ?
 

jenniferpa

Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
39,448
Yes it can be dangerous for the baby if they contract it in uetero: I think it can cause respiratory problems. That's why my OB/GYN sent me to be tested when first child (aka DD) came down with it, and as I said, I was told I had antibodies and "probably" wouldn't catch it, but I did. We had to take my then 3 day old son to the local Children's hospital so he could be given gamma globulin to stave off an attack, which works for a short while. He finally got them (C. pox) when he started pre-school. To be honest, after the last 3 months of the pregnancy when I had severe depression but couldn't be medicated, chicken pox didn't slow me down at all!
 

Nell

Registered User
Aug 9, 2005
1,170
68
Australia
Dear Jennifer,
Nothing to add except to say how sorry I am for your poor Mum . . . and by extension, for you.

I feel such intense RAGE that our poor dear sufferers of all types of dementia also have to endure additional suffering. :mad:

Sending your Mum my most heartfelt "get well" wishes.
 

Rhoda

Registered User
Mar 15, 2007
17
West London
Sorry to hear about your Mum. People laugh and joke about shingles: they haven't had it! I had it in my fifties and it was not only very painful but SOOOO itchy. None of the various creams and lotions seemed to help. Painkillers did help of course, but the best thing I found was an icepack - sheer joy. (one of those packs you put in the freezer and then into a picnic box). My doctor was very helpful in stressing what a depressive effect the illness has, depression which I wouln't have known the cause of if he had not told me. I hope your mother's mood has not been too badly affected - can she understand the cause and effect?
My rash was in the traditional belt region so I could not bear to put on a bra, which meant I could not go to work (being on the plump side), though at least your mother doesn't have that problem.
Best wishes for your mother's recovery.
 

Taffy

Registered User
Apr 15, 2007
1,314
People laugh and joke about shingles: they haven't had it!
So very true, I had shingles on my shoulder blade about eight years ago never have I experienced anything so painful and yet so itchy, you desperately wanted to scratch but the pain was too great. I was told that in my case it was brought on by stress I also had chicken pox as a kid.

Hi Jennifer, sorry to hear that your poor mum has to go through this ordeal, thinking of you both. Taffy.
 

jenniferpa

Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
39,448
Well as of this morning there's no real change. The shingles are on her forehead and the outer quadrant of her eye, so her eye is very inflamed. She has complained occasionally that the eye is sore, but no itching and not much pain. She's having the anti-virals 5 times a day, but they can take a few days to affect the lesions. She's eating OK (well as OK as she ever does). I would be more concerned about the eye, but unfortunately her vision was so badly affected by her strokes that she can barely see anyway.

Jennifer
 

jenniferpa

Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
39,448
Still no change: in fact the lesions have got worse, although they haven't spread. She's now asking "now why have I got this" which is a very good question to which there is no good answer. She'll see the doctor either tomorrow or Turesday, depending on if it gets worse over the next 24 hours. The eye is now very sore: the nurse is going to see if the GP will prescribe something topical. The problem with that is as it's so close to the eye, it's going to be difficult to avoid the eye.

Jennifer
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
70,390
Kent
That`s a big worry jennifer, if she has so little vision in the eye to start with , it would be awful if it was affected.

I hope the doctor will be able to prevent any further damage.

Love xx
 

jenniferpa

Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
39,448
Does anyone have any ideas...

how to stop my mother scratching? She has been scratching until the lesions bleed: then of course she scratches to remove the scabs (as far as she's aware there something stuck to her face that shouldn't be there). So far they've tried mittens (she removed them) and clipping her nails really short (no affect). Does anyone have any idea, no matter how wacky! She has a referral to the dematolgist (goodness knows when that will happen) and a cold flannel on it seems to help, but the latter has to be replaced every 1/2 hour or so which makes it rather difficult.

Jennifer
 

sue k

Registered User
Jun 26, 2007
140
warrington cheshire
Hi

I had shingles last year i was 42 and told by the dr it was more than likely caused by stress, i had chickenpox as a child and after that the virus lies dormant in the body.

I had the blisters up my neck and behind my ear they were sore, hot and excrucialtingly painful, ice pack helped and the antibiotics i was given.

hope your mum isnt suffering too much xx
 

alex

Registered User
Apr 10, 2006
1,665
Hi Jennifer

I knew someone in a similar situation and they bandaged their mums hands, making sure the thumbs were turned in and the thumb and fingers bandaged together (so she couldn't get them off) and then secured with sticky tape around the wrist area....(looked a little like boxing gloves but without the thumb)...............it still allowed her to rub the affected area, but that was better than scratching.

Hope you find a solution to the problem.

Love Alex x