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Shingles on the Rise? How I Cured My Surprise Attack

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Writer. Social commentary. Wellness. Psychology. Positive disruption ~ to break apart expectation and bring forward new insight.

My family spotted shingles on my back while we were at beach.

My family spotted shingles on my back while we were at beach.

My Family Discovered My Shingles (And Why You Should Care)

This summer my husband, daughter, and I were swimming in the Gulf of Mexico at Indian Rocks Beach when my daughter said, "Mom, what is that red rash on your back?"

I reached my fingers around and felt a sore, bumpy patch, approximately two inches square, on the left part of the middle of my back.

“Oh my God. I hope it's not shingles,” I said. My husband looked worried; then he pretended to back up a few waves. (I can’t blame the man. Shingles can be contagious. More on that later.)

“It probably isn’t shingles,” I said. “Celeste told me it’s awful, really, really painful. This doesn’t feel too bad. It’s probably just some contact rash from sunscreen or lotion,” I said.

Dr. Oz video on detecting shingles

We laughed it off, and my husband and daughter went about making fun of me in our family’s no-mercy way of bashing the (not really) suffering.

I’m not sure why I sensed I had shingles. Perhaps it was some kind of instinct, that little nudge that tells you something before you know you know it. Lately, my exercise endurance was off, like I needed an extra kick to keep going.

I also had a nagging "muscle" ache in my upper-left shoulder region and left rib area (the pathway the virus traveled on me). Also, a close family member told me last year all about her horrible case of shingles.

"It felt like the worst sunburn ever,” Celeste had told me, “crossed with a thousand bee stings and then someone taking a rake across my skin. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t turn over. If I had to live with that pain long-term, I'd have killed myself."

Celeste isn't one to milk attention for physical ailments. She's a healthy, vibrant, chronically positive person who usually downplays illness. But more than a year has passed since her case of shingles, and she still feels twinges of nerve pain—not excruciating, just bothersome reminders of a hellacious few months.

How shingles develops

Shingles showing up in younger people