Thursday, January 3, 2013

Getting Shingles…And My Mottos for 2013 what a crazy week and a half this has been for me!  On Christmas Eve (Monday) at 2 in the afternoon, I got a bizarre pain right underneath my eyeball.  I assumed it was a weird headache and took some Tylenol;  it did nothing but we were going out to our family’s annual party so I just sucked it up and figured a good night’s sleep would get rid of it. 

Well…the headache continued straight through Christmas Day and night and then on into the afternoon on Wednesday.  I tried everything – ice, as much Tylenol as I could take being pregnant, having my husband massage it, you name it.  I thought I was getting a weird pregnancy migraine.  Lights hurt my eye and it was so painful.  The pain also traveled – it would be by my temple, then around my eye socket, then by the bridge of nose, then by my forehead.  It was so weird. 

On Wednesday morning I also woke up with a weird rash on my forehead.  It would have looked like dry scaly red skin but I really never get dry skin on my face so I knew that wasn’t it.  I figured I’d either iced too much or had my husband rub it too hard and had given myself a “burn.” 

I finally got in to the OB and they were going to write me a prescription for migraines – but my OB was concerned about the rash.  They hooked me up to a NST and Livi was moving just fine and her heartbeat was perfectly healthy.  He sent me straight to the ER and told me to prepare for an MRI.  At this point I’d had pain for about 50 hours and it was only increasing.  I had to wear glasses because I seriously couldn’t handle having to squint at the lights. I was just praying it was a weird migraine that somehow came up to my skin’s surface and there wasn’t something wrong with my brain. I get really claustrophobic so I was really worried about the MRI and that my doctor was concerned. 

Once there we waited about an hour and a half in the ER waiting room.  I kept telling Chris I didn’t know how I was going to make it because the pain was just escalating.  It was brutal.  Finally they took my back with a wonderful nurse and they put my in my own little room where they could close the door and turn the lights off!  I immediately was started on an IV drip of Benadryl for the rash, Reglan for the headaches, and for some reason oxygen in my nose (still not sure why that was? Pregnancy precaution?).  I started to get reallllly sleepy from the meds and then the doctor came in. 

This was, bar none, the BEST doctor I have ever had IN MY LIFE.  He was phenomenal.  I later learned from the nurse that he is the Medical Director of the ER and everyone loves him because he is so good at teaching and very gentle and calm.  He ROCKED.  He took one look at my forehead and immediately put two and two together for the shingles diagnosis.  I gotta tell you, I did NOT see that coming!  I had mostly heard of elderly people getting it and it was not on my radar at all. 

He told me that unfortunately chickenpox (which I had as a 9 year old) lies dormant in people’s bodies and can reemerge as shingles during times of extreme stress or reduced immunity (aka pregnancy).  I started to cry because I started to panic thinking about Livi coming and Luke at home getting chickenpox from me and what was going to happen to us and on and on and on.  He was so calming and reassured me that it was GOOD to know what I had – it wasn’t some bizarre brain problem.  It wasn’t fun, but it was a solvable problem and had specific medicines to help it, all of which, praise God, were okay for me to take at 35 weeks pregnant.  He actually told me it was the “best time” to get shingles – in 1st trimester the medicines could possibly cause birth defects, and you don’t want to be on the meds when you’re trying to deliver.  He really helped me feel a lot better about the whole thing.  Plus Luke and Chris were most likely totally safe since Luke has had his first dose of the chickenpox vaccine and Chris had it as a little boy. 

He came back about 20 minutes later with a special UV test for my eye to make sure the shingles hadn’t gotten into my cornea – which, thank God, it hadn’t.  I have a serious eye phobia and that possibly may have put me over the edge.  They started me on the 3 medications in the ER and then I was discharged. 

So that was Wednesday night, and here we are Thursday a week later.  Friday and Saturday were probably my worst days.  On Friday the rash had spread (which is normal) and it actually swelled my right eye almost completely shut due to the shingles on my eyelid.  It hurt to move my eye socket AT ALL – yawning, eating, talking, you name it.  That was a REALLY bad day.  As each day has gone on, I’ve made progress little by little.  I ran out of pain meds but thankfully I haven’t had to even supplement with Tylenol – it’s been very tolerable the last few days. 


pregnancy 010


The pain of shingles is so weird – it literally travels along one nerve path so it’s isolated in one spot of the body, and mine just happened to travel down my scalp and forehead to my eyelid.  It has felt like anything from a throbbing pain to a dull ache to tingling to literally feeling like raindrops are falling on my skin.  Now that I am in the healing phase, it is itching like crazy as the sores start to crust (sorry, gross, I know – thank God they never oozed, though!). 

Having it around my eye has definitely been a mixed blessing.  On the one hand, I never had to worry about clothing covering it on my worst and most painful days – couldn’t have imagined that at all.  On the other hand, not being able to use my eye for a number of days was really hard.  I also can’t “mask” my shingles – it’s hard to wash my hair since they’re on my scalp line, and putting on makeup is definitely out of the question so I’ve been staying home due to that and the fact that the medicines have made me super tired and out of it. 

I took my last dose of the anti-viral this morning and tomorrow I take my last steroid pill (to help with the swelling around my eye).  I feel so much better today – I am getting a little anxious to get my life back and look like myself again, though!  I’m also looking forward to getting better sleep as the meds mess with your sleep and give you super bizarre dreams, plus I had to wake up at 2:45 every morning to take them (add to that that I’m now 36 weeks pregnant and already have crazy hormone dreams plus I have to get up two times a night to go to the bathroom – yeah, I’ve been beyond exhausted!). 

Chris has been amazing through all of this, as he always is in times of crisis.  Up until yesterday I cried one time each day just to let out all the stress (although crying was really hard for a while so that sometimes hurt more!).  I was really looking forward to the holiday week to get a bunch of stuff checked off our list before Livi came and that just didn’t happen.  I had no choice but to just roll with it.  And now I have the fear that I’ll still look like a freak of nature when I have my baby girl, but we have 3 weeks before she comes so I’m hoping the scars heal quickly!  I am so thankful for him though and the calming influence he always is on me and how he always reminds me to focus on God and take it one hour at a time if necessary.  I love him!

I am looking forward to driving again (hopefully tomorrow!) and being able to hug and kiss Luke and Chris normally again (once the sores are completely scabbed over – I’m almost there!).  I know it sounds silly but I just want to do my hair and put makeup on again and feel like a girl and not a hot mess!  I’m really excited about it. 

This forced slow-down for 11 days (and counting!) has made me think a lot about my goals for 2013.  I do a lot better with one-or-two word phrases than I do with actual resolutions, so I came up with two phrases for 2013:


Survive and thrive


Embrace the unexpected


The first one is because I’ll have a newborn in just three short weeks and it’s my first time being a mom to 2 kids!  I have no idea what to expect but for the first several months I’m just giving myself grace to just get through the days.  Come springtime, I’ll hopefully have a good schedule in place and I can start working on more detailed family goals and schedules – but for the first few months I just need to make it through the days – and that’s okay! :)  There is time for everything to fall into place and that doesn’t need to be 2 weeks after delivery. 

The 2nd motto goes along with the first – a reminder to me to just roll with the punches.  There will be a lot of things that will probably be crazy about my new life as mom of two and I want to let peace guide my life – not stress or worry. 

I saw a great quote the other day on a blog that said “Just do today” and I LOVED it.  What a great mantra for moms, right?  Except I know that I’m nothing without God’s help so I wrote “Just do today with Jesus” on my kitchen chalkboard.  It’s like a breath of fresh air for me to see that phrase since the kitchen’s in the middle of our house and I’m in here all the time (even our computer’s in the kitchen so I’m literally here right now.)  lol

I know this was super long and more power to you if you stayed with it!  I wrote about it in my pregnancy journal but I also wanted to write my memories in one spot, too. 

Hopefully you’ve all had MUCH better weeks than I have! ;)


  1. Oh man, I've heard shingles are just awful, and I can't even imagine during pregnancy. That must have been scary. Glad you're recovering.

  2. awww, I knew it had been rough but had no idea just how bad. And i love your plan for the new year and when the baby comes. Take it one day at a time. =)

  3. Jessica! I am so relieved it was not something that could not be remedied! I can only imagine how you felt. I am so happy that you are on the mend. May you have a wonderful few weeks, preparing for your little one's arrival. I know you will do just fine with two kids. If I can do it with 4, ANYTHING is possible. LOL. Blessings to you and yours.

  4. Oh Jess, i just feel terrible that you had to go through all this! I so wish you were down here in PA so i could have helped you out. I am so thankful that you are feeling better each and every day!!! That is great news! and how exciting is it that you are so close to meeting Livi!!!! Ekkk i can't wait to see pictures of her!!! I love your mottos for this year!

  5. girl. this is terrible. terrible. i'm so so sorry. well, surely this year can only go up from here - it's bound to be better. hang in there mama. many blessings to you sweet thing!

  6. Love this post! Im so sorry that happened BUT great attitude for 2013!



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