Sunday, March 29, 2009


(Illustration by Angela C. Werneke, from MEDICINE CARDS: THE DISCOVERY OF POWER THROUGH WAYS OF ANIMALS, by Jamie Sams & David Carson, a book I bought in spring of 1999 during a period of unrelenting emotional stress.)

In May of 1955, my sisters and I had chicken pox. Still have a small scar from that. My guess is that all the kids in our neighborhood and at school came down with it that spring. We called it "Chicken Pops."

Just as I was feeling unusually good and ready to draw again, I've come down with a second bout of shingles. The first was in spring of 2001 -- a time of continuing severe emotional stress for me. As you may already know, shingles is caused by the same virus as chicken pox. For many people the virus remains dormant for the rest of their lives. For others it becomes active in times when one's immune system is not working well or in times of emotional stress. Previous to recent years, I was plagued with frequent upper respiratory infections that would linger for weeks and weeks. I also suffered from environmental allergies -- a sign of immune system dysfunction. My immune system must be working relatively well now because I haven't had a cold for several years and have not suffered from allergies in the way I used to. Still experience emotional stress, though. Especially this past year.

The medical term for shingles is herpes zoster. Herpes means snake and zoster means girdle. In my first experience with herpes zoster, the "snake girdle" was at my waist on my right side and very painful. This time it is not as severe, with numerous small "snakes" attacking my right leg. I'm not one who is afraid of snakes, but I do have respect for them. I had a dream a few days ago that the pattern of the rash along the dermatomes was actually quite beautiful to see. A work of art. Something to look at with wonder and appreciation.

I'm wondering if there is something about feeling unusually good that is stressful for me. On the other hand, I'm approaching the first anniversary of R's death.

There's some blue sky, sunshine and bird song this morning. Yesterday I saw a pair of wood ducks out on Scudder Pond. Probably my favorite sign of spring.

As might be guessed, I'm not feeling well physically and will be taking time away from blogging for a few weeks. A good time for just plain book reading in bed. In a few weeks, it may be warm enough to have all the windows open and for some good long walks in the woods!


R.L. Bourges said...

oh, pooh! How unpleasant for you. Which side is affected, am? Does the medication control the itching? I certainly hope so for your sake.

(My daughter has the same deck of medicine cards. The drawings are quite beautiful. Better on cardboard than on your skin, for sure.)

Rest up well. Wishing you all the best.

Loren said...

Hoping you feel better soon.

Today's sunshine allowed me to get in my first long walk in several weeks.

Warmer weather is just a breeze away.

Anonymous said...

burrow and find the solace of the right words in the right books, rise again when it's warm. soon enough as Loren predicts. be well. kjm

robin andrea said...

I hope you mend well and quickly, am.

I just watched the video you had linked below. Wow. Quite an interesting and delightful take on creativity. Now I'm going to find her book and dive right in.

Take care.

Zhoen said...

Worked with an anesthesiologist who does research and pain clinic, a few years ago. Told me that the protocol for shingles is a short course of high dose cortico-steriods. Something to look into, although with other health issues, it may not be the best for you.

The Solitary Walker said...

Look after yourself and get well soon. Every goood wish. SW