varicella zoster virus

electron micrograph of a varicella virus ~ Public Health Image Library, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

When our daughter Larisa was seven weeks old her two older brothers, ages 3 and 5, came down with chicken pox. This was before a vaccine for the disease was available. Not to worry, said their pediatrician. Because I was breast-feeding her my own immunity would protect her. But, a couple of days later, a few poxes appeared on her tiny little body.

The pediatrician examined her and scratched his head. He had never seen a case like this before. He said he couldn’t know for sure if this mild case of chicken pox would offer her immunity in the future. Years later, when Larisa was pregnant with Katherine, she was tested and did have chicken pox antibodies, removing any lingering uncertainty about her immunity.

But the story wasn’t over! Yesterday we got a phone call from Larisa who had just been to the doctor and had been diagnosed with shingles! Of all things! As far as I knew most people who get shingles are over 60 but she’s still in her 30s. And almost 8 months pregnant. But the doctor assures her that shingles poses no danger to the baby, even though chicken pox and shingles are caused by the same virus. (Chicken pox would have been dangerous.) Which tells me that they must have seen cases like hers before.

I haven’t posted in a while because first, I was very cranky about the relentless heat and humidity waves, and then, we were very busy with preparing for and traveling to Kentucky for our niece’s wedding and the family reunion immediately following. And now we’re getting ready to go down to North Carolina to help out. But I do have much to write about and hope to do so soon.

The good news is that autumn weather has finally arrived here and my mood is much improved!!! 🙂

shingles

It started as a toothache. Several days later canker sores started popping up in his mouth. Then a strange sensation in the skin on his left cheek. And finally a lesion. But even then the doctors weren’t sure. Saturday (November 7) they put him on an antibiotic for cellulitis. But more lesions broke out over the weekend, spreading to the upper lip, all across his cheeks, up to his eye, over to his ear, along part of his nose. The pain was excruciating. On Monday the doctors diagnosed shingles and put him on an antiviral and a narcotic pain reliever.

It kept getting worse. We were worried about his eye so the doctor sent us to an eye doctor on Tuesday. The eye was okay. Pretty sure Wednesday was the worst day, at least to look at him. Then Wednesday afternoon the virus attack seemed to turn a corner – it stopped getting worse. The antiviral and antibiotic seemed to be gaining the upper hand. He suggested I put his picture on my blog. Seriously? Yes. But I cannot bring myself to do it.

11.10.15 ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina
11.10.15 ~ Katie likes to peek behind the shower curtain every morning. Her pediatrician says it’s all right for her to come visit Grandpa for Thanksgiving, as long as she doesn’t touch the lesions.

How about a picture of Katie instead?

(I had no problem grossing out our kids, though, sending them daily mug shots of their long-suffering father…)

Since Wednesday the swelling has been going down very slowly. Yesterday he stopped taking the narcotic and seems to be managing the lingering pain with ibuprofen and aspirin. But he still has horrible crusted lesions all over one side of his face, and pronounced fatigue. We’re wondering what kind of scarring he might be left with.

I hope this will be it for Tim this year. He’s had more than his share of trouble. Four bouts of diverticulitis, physical therapy for muscle pain in his legs, cataract surgery in both eyes. I don’t know how we ever managed to squeeze in a trip to Europe and a trip to Cape Cod between all that!