Hang Out Your Shingles…

So, it turns out that I do not have pink-eye… Nor am I having a reaction to my blood pressure medication.

I have Shingles. I never knew you could have it in your face, but you can and I got it. I got it baaaaad.


I spent the morning and most of the afternoon at the hospital. I woke up this morning with my right eye very swollen and with what looked like blisters on my head and face. So, I headed down to the Queensway Carleton Hospital (my favourite hospital since they closed the Riverside Hospital). The triage nurse immediately said “It looks like you have shingles”, put on a mask, spit-guard, gloves and gown, processed me and sent me into the isolation waiting area. Nothing to read in there except today’s 24 newspaper and some copies of Watchtower in Arabic. Since I wasn’t allowed to touch anything I stole one of the Watchtowers to fan my face.

When I finally was called into the Cubicles and was seen by the doctor, he took one look at me and said “You have Shingles”. He ran some blood tests to make sure I don’t have any underlying problem (I don’t),  and scheduled me for a visit to the General Hospital Eye Clinic tomorrow to ensure that the virus hasn’t gotten into my eyeball which could cause complications with my vision. That would be treatable but the faster they know and can treat it,the less likely any damage would be done.

I have a cortisone medication to take daily for 14 days, I think it is (10 tablets once a day for a couple of days, 8 for a couple of days… and so on until I am finished the prescription. I also have Prednesone for the inflammation and a painkiller for the shooting pains and the burning pain.

My sinuses, glands and ears are all hurting, now, and, as you can see from the photos, I look pretty swollen and inflamed.

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a band of blisters that wraps from the middle of your back around one side of your chest to your breastbone.

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.

While it isn’t a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles, while early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications.


The signs and symptoms of shingles usually affect only a small section of one side of your body. These signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
  • A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
  • Itching

Some people also experience:

  • Fever and chills
  • General achiness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Pain is usually the first symptom of shingles. For some, it can be intense. Depending upon the location of the pain, it can sometimes be mistaken for a symptom of problems affecting the heart, lungs or kidneys. Some people experience shingles pain without ever developing the rash.

Most commonly, the shingles rash develops as a band of blisters that wraps around one side of your chest from your spine to your breastbone. Sometimes the shingles rash occurs around one eye or on one side of the neck or face.

Are you contagious?
A person with shingles can pass the varicella-zoster virus to anyone who hasn’t had chickenpox. This usually occurs through direct contact with the open sores of the shingles rash. Once infected, the person will develop chickenpox, however, not shingles.

Chickenpox can be dangerous for some groups of people. Until your shingles blisters scab over, you are contagious and should avoid physical contact with:

  • Anyone who has a weak immune system
  • Newborns
  • Pregnant women

Mayo Clinic


Please see the postings on my further Shingles adventures.

October 13, 2009

February 3, 2010

February 9, 2010

February 25, 2010

June 9, 2010

June 22, 2010





  1. Ellie said,

    March 26, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Aghhh I just got diagnosed with it finally.

    I have it around the eye and forehead.

    I suspected I had it a good 3 days ago, I went to the chemist and they agreed i should go to the Dr ASAP. So I did, and the Dr was like, “no that’s not shingles, it’s more likely to be hives, take antihistamines”.

    Grrrr. Even though I didn’t believe it because my eye felt very tender and painful before the lumps appeared, was getting flu like symptoms, which is the sign of shingles. I’ve had hives before and they usually die down after a day and the area is never tender …but this thing wasn’t budging off my forehead.

    But then I went to the chemist (spoke to a different chemist) again today, to say the antihistamines weren’t working and that could it in fact be shingles and she was like “yes, that shingles, I know because I have had it, and I don’t know why the doctor didn’t give you antiviral straight away, since you have had for 3 days already”.

    Anyway, went to another Dr and he confirmed it was shingles.

    I’m so annoyed, because I wasted $60 bucks on my first Dr visit, and then I had to make another $75 visit and now concerned that my eye could have potential damage. Sorry I am just venting…but I wish Dr would act like doctors and really listen to the symptoms, it’s not rocket science.

    I had very tender left eye, very dry and itchy…I hope it’s ok? Do you reckon I should go to an optomologist, to check everything is ok?

    • Ellie said,

      March 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      Hmmm I just read your other entries on your eye…this is very interesting to me indeed.

      Four months back, I noticed an dramatic increase in floaters in my eye, and went to the optometrist because I was concerned…there was no damage at the time, but she did see the large amount of floaters too. At the time I mentioned that my immune system seemed to be down, and was getting a lot of flu like symptoms a few times a week, and then it would disspear, I also was having issues with my stomach, and she did say it could be something to do with that…as it turned out a few months ago I got really sick with my stomach and was nauseous everyday for 2 months, gastritis was diagnosed. I guess what has happened is my immune system is really shot now and maybe the shingles have been trying to come up for a little while.

      I think I better get my eye checked out too. Thanks for your blog post, it’s help put the pieces of the puzzle together a little better.

      • mudhooks said,

        March 27, 2011 at 3:35 am

        DO get it checked out! My ophthalmologist is really good and I now have a family doctor (before I was relying on a multi-doctor clinic as it is really difficult to find a family doctor) and I am very pro-active in getting to see someone if I KNOW there is something wrong.

        As I now have a “history” with the Eye Institute, I can call and get an immediate appointment if I have a recurrence of any one of the problems that I have had on an ongoing basis. I urge people to go to the emergency room if they feel a problem isn’t being addressed by their family doctor and they feel that it is serious.

    • mudhooks said,

      March 27, 2011 at 3:42 am

      I am appalled at the number of people who tell me that their doctor didn’t properly diagnose the problem. It is difficult for the person who has never had Shingles before to know what the problem is and to know how serious it can be. Unfortunately, too few doctors seem to know just how serious it can be to let the patient fester. You have a 72 hour window for the anti-viral to work and when the issue affects the eyes, it is vital that an eye specialist deal with it as soon as possible.

      I would HIGHLY recommend going to an eye specialist. Perhaps going to the hospital will get you a referral ASAP.

  2. eleanor said,

    March 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Thank you for the information you have all provided. This virus was have been created by the evil one for sure. Woke up 7 weeks ago, blisters just under eyebrow. Next day, top left quadrant of head and eye looked scary. They put me in the hospital for a week and by IV gave me acyclovir.

    Rash all gone, but my eye waters all the time, can barely keep it open,bloodshot and eye doctor cannot give me a timeframe for the eye to clear.

    Anybody experience this sort of thing?

    • mudhooks said,

      March 13, 2011 at 12:33 am

      Mine was recurring over the next 2 years. Keep on it, follow the mediation routine, keep on your medical professionals….

      The virus is tenacious and if you are proclaimed “clear” and have any symptoms again, get to the eye specialist immediately. Symptoms? Itching, “scratchy” feeling on the eye, watering, light sensitivity, amongst other things. Basically, if you wonder if this is a symptom don’t second-guess yourself.

  3. Vanessa said,

    December 14, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Hi there,

    I’ve just been diagnosed with shingles as I have the same as you do but it’s on my cheek area – just under my right eye. Even my throat feels affected. I’m concerned that my doctor didn’t give me much advice on what to do and how to take care of it, I’ve had it now for three days and each morning I look exactly like your pictures but throughout the course of the day the swelling goes down a tad but appears to flare during the night. My doctor didn’t refer me to an eye specialist at all, so after reading your post it’s influenced me to go get a second opinion as I do have pain in my right eye. As odd as this may sound, I feel like my eye ball is throbing!
    Anyway, thanks so much for sharing your experience, appreciated. Hope you are feeling much better now.

    • mudhooks said,

      December 14, 2010 at 11:27 am

      Go to the hospital ASAP. If you’ve had it for three days, you are getting close to the end of your chance to get the antiviral. you need the antiviral and you need to get them to look at your eye. You could have permanent damage to your eye if the virus gets into your eye (and it sounds as though it is) and it remains untreated.

  4. chattypatty said,

    September 26, 2010 at 2:54 am

    I had shingles in my eye dec 2009, i am still dealing with damage caused by this —-tornado— it has affected my cornea, keeps coming back in flare-ups i need constant meds, and attention, i am still in shock at the devestating after affects.

    I would tell everyone to get a shingles shot, dont even hesitate.

    It has also affected my hearing i know have hearing aids.

    No-one can say how long this will last the drs dont give very good answers to any of my questions, i am attending doheny eye clinic in l.a. top class eye instituute and still i am not happy with my treatments or care.

  5. Lou Fairclough said,

    May 14, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Hi, I just fell across this blog because I was researching eye shingles, and yours is very similar to what I have now. Unfortunately though my eye is so swelled it keeps clamping shut and although I have been to the doctors for antiviral meds and cream, he did not send me to an eye specialist. I’m guessing this is because I live in the UK and our health service is different. However, he does want to see me again in a week to check on my progress. How long, if you remember, did it take for the swelling to go from around the eye, and how long for a full recovery? I’m worried because I have exams for university soon 😦 thanks.

    • mudhooks said,

      May 15, 2010 at 2:16 am

      It took a couple of weeks for the swelling/welts to go down. It took months for the various shooting pains, lingering pain, and other skin, muscle and skeletal symptoms to disappear. I was very lucky, however, that my symptoms were relatively “mild” as bad as they were. Some people have pain that continues for months or years.

      While most people have the rash contained in one area and on one side of their body, you can have rashes in several areas, so there is no hard and fast “only in one area” rule.

      You shouldn’t have to worry about spreading it to anyone as Shingles-itself isn’t “contagious” although you can give someone who hasn’t had it Chicken Pox (or when a woman is pregnant having the foetus being damaged). Only close contact, according to what I have been told will do that. Staying at home is recommended but if you have exams…

      I HIGHLY RECOMMEND your asking to see an eye specialist. The symptoms of the Shingles getting into the eye are easily missed and it requires an eye doctor looking into your eye to see if there is any penetration of the eyeball.

      Aside from the initial “scratchy” feeling on my eyeball initially and the “fuzziness” of my vision during the initial stages of the Shingles, I didn’t have any indication that there was penetration into the eyeball. And since the clinic never bothered to call me back for the second appointment and I wasn’t noticing anything, I was oblivious to the fact that it had spread there until the New Year. By then, there was some damage (repairing itself slowly) and I required weekly visits to the Eye Institute. Even then, I was giving the wrong medication at one point.

      I need to go again because I have been noticing some blurriness, again.

      Blurriness or vision, sensitivity to light, scratchy feeling on the eyeball, pain… any of these should alter you to the possibility that the Shingles have spread but as I say, you may have few actual symptoms of it having done so. If your doctor hasn’t suggested it, be proactive and ask him/her to do so or even go to someplace that tests your eyes and request an eye exam. The risk of permanent damage to your eyes is great!

      • Lou Fairclough said,

        May 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm

        Thank you for your advice, it’s hard to get to hear about individual cases of this nasty virus because I’ve never known anyone have it on their eye before. My mum said she had shingles on her chest when she was 17 but it’s was pretty harmless…I wish I was the same!

        At the moment my eye looks fine. My top lid is very puffy but the eye itself is clear, not bloodshot, not blurry, just a bit watery…however I will ask my doctor to refer me to an eye specialist just in case because my eyes are very important to me – I’m training to be an archaeologist!

        I’ve had the virus for approximately 6 days now and my rash is already beginning to scab over which is good news because my boyfriend has never had chicken pox and I’ve not really been able to see him :-(, hopefully in the next couple of days he can come and visit. I find that the cream I was prescribed has helped with the itching immensely, I have barely had the urge to itch, unlike when I had chicken pox as a kid! The pills seem to be keeping the virus at bay as well, I’ve certainly gotten no worse over the last 3 days I’ve been taking them.

        I have an exam this Friday which I fear I may have to miss and claim special circumstances for, but I should be ok with the others providing my eye opens up more and I can read better.

        Thanks again for your help, if I have any new andinteresting developments I’ll let you know, as I can tell you’re as interested as I am in this weird virus!


        • mudhooks said,

          May 15, 2010 at 9:58 pm

          Most younger people have had the Chicken Pox vaccination and most older people have had Chicken Pox. If they have had either, they should be fine, though I DO know people who had mild cases and have had second cases of CP.

          I would highly recommend getting the vaccination for Shingles. You can get them again and again. My grandmother had them a number of times and it was terribly painful for her. As I say, I was terribly lucky that 1) they weren’t worse and 2) I got the anti-viral in time. Especially as I was misdiagnosed at the medical clinic I went to and it wasn’t until I went to the hospital with a full-blown case of them that I knew (luckily still in time for the anti-viral).

          You know, I wanted to be an archaeologist but back in grade school but was told that I could never be one because I “wasn’t bright enough”… and that you needed to know Latin. I gave up on the idea and it took me YEARS to realize that not only was I “bright enough” but you don’t necessarily need to know Latin.

          Still, it remains an interest and I read and study what I can about all sorts of cultures. Still, it would have been a pursuit I would have enjoyed. I know far too many children who are told the “just aren’t smart enough” by teachers who don’t know what they are talking about.

          Good luck with everything and DO keep me posted!

          PS. What was the cream you were prescribed? I just got a product off the Cosmetics shelf which was for people who have had burns or chemical peels. It worked but it wasn’t medicinal and didn’t stop any itching.

  6. Kim Bonet said,

    March 23, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Hi, I look quite similar today to the photo you posted! My dr said he wasn’t sure it was shingles as I have face/eye/forehead rash but also have a few on my neck (same side as well as midline) one on my chest and one on my thigh (same side). I was off colour for a few days before the first couple started and I thought it was bed bugs or bites, as I was staying in a hotel in NZ. It was 5 star so I was a little doubtful, but still worried. My eye and eyelid are the worst areas which are so itchy and painful. I have one large area of several blisters that became one in my hairline which still really hurts! I have eye ointment and antibiotics but no improvement yet, I do hope it clears up soon. I am also worried that it is not shingles (since I have the solo blister on my thigh) and maybe missing treating whatever it is1

    • mudhooks said,

      March 23, 2010 at 7:39 pm

      I would get it checked out at the hospital right away. If it is Shingles, you may have passed the deadline to get the medication for it. Even so, if it gets in your eye (as I recently discovered it did with mine) you can be in for a REAL problem with your eyesight. https://mudpuddle.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/my-eye/

      MAKE SURE YOUR Dr. sends you to an eye specialist. That is VITAL!

  7. February 6, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I read your more recent post about your vision problems. 😦 I had shingles a few years ago, in my 30s. It was quite odd; apparently it’s rare to have it recur in the 30s. I felt no symptoms, just had a small rash and stinging. I managed to pass it on to all my kids, though…

    • mudhooks said,

      February 7, 2010 at 1:40 am

      I always thought that you only got it around your torso. I never knew you could get it anywhere else. And for me, the first signs were that I had an earache that sort of meandered to my sinus and then my upper lip swelled up. Then my head felt like someone had belted me with a baseball bat. After that, my eyes swelled up and I had a little bit of what I thought were tiny pimples at the same time as but the next day, my face looked like you see in the photo.

      Again, I was very lucky not to have the amount of or duration of pain.

      The pain in my head and a “crawly” feeling in my eyebrow were the ones that hung on for a month or more.

  8. nursemyra said,

    October 7, 2009 at 12:40 am

    Poor you, I had shingles when I was a child. Some of my (much older than you) patients have had them too and the after pain has been quite severe. Apparently the older you are the worse it can be. I hope you feel better soon

  9. azahar said,

    October 3, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Aaack, that looks so painful! Got your email and glad to hear the meds are working. Nog got shingles a few years ago, but on his torso. He wasn’t on social security at the time and the meds were going to cost a fortune, but Dr A scored him a deal. Anyhow, hope you are feeling better soon.

    *gentle snibble*

    • mudhooks said,

      October 3, 2009 at 1:27 pm

      Thank you… The feeling when the cold sweat starts up and I have to just lie down and not move is so awful… The snibbles are most welcome.

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