Thank you, sir. May I have another...

Shingle shot saga – Part 2

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

This shot is not going to be as bad as the first one, the kind nurse reassured me. “I didn’t have as many reactions to the second one,” she said.

That made me feel better, knowing that the nurse who administered my second of two shingles vaccines also had the shot. I just took some Tylenol every four to six hours, and I was fine,” she assured me.

That’s good, because the first shot knocked me off track a little for two days. I had a headache and fever, felt drained, my joints ached, and the place on my arm where I got the shot was sore.

But I sucked it up like a good trooper and hid my misery. I didn’t want anyone to think that I was a whiner.

I scheduled the shot for a Thursday, so that if there were any side effects, they would not be on my busiest days when work has to be done or else – there is no or else. It just has to be done.

I think ahead like that. My second and third children were born as scheduled to maximize vacation time afterwards. The Houston Chronicle at the time did not have a paternal leave policy. They gave the new moms three months of paid leave, but the fathers got nothing.

Luckily, I had an understanding editor who could juggle the calendar a little so that new dads like me could get acquainted with the kiddos and help out.

But I digress. After having this brief chat with the nurse, I was not worried at all about any side effects this second time around.

That changed quickly. It all hit me that night – fever, joint aches, headache, but harder than the first time. I felt freezing cold and reached for the Advil. Took two tablets in my shaking hands and swallowed them. Then hit the hot shower for about 30 minutes. What did I get myself into?

It was too late to turn back. I was at the mercy of the side effects. I sat down on the edge of the tub and let the hot water flow all over me. It felt good. This water bill will not be at an all-time low, but when the going gets tough, the hot water gets going.

The people who invented Advil, aspirin and other medicines of this type are heroes in my book. In about 20 minutes, fever down, aches not gone, but suppressed well enough.

I sure hope that this was all worth it. I couldn’t sleep, so I got on Facebook and announced my predicament.

“About a day is par,” one of my friends reassured me.

“Some shingles vaccines have caused shingles. I hope you don’t get shingles,” said another. I hope not. After all this, I want to be rid of the shingles threat forever. The nurse said the second shot would last a lifetime, however long that may be.

“Got some extra shingles in my garage I may get rid of ... hope it’s not too late,” wrote a third friend. Thanks, I needed that.

What it all boils down to is that I don’t want to get the shingles. Look it up on the Internet. It’s not a pretty sight. Don’t look right before a meal. If this vaccine prevents it, great. All of the discomfort for a brief period was worth it.

Shingles (also called herpes zoster) is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus stays inactive in the body for life and can reactivate years, or even decades later, causing shingles.

The CDC recommends that healthy adults ages 50 and older get the shingles vaccine. I got the more potent one, Shingrix. It is given in two doses, two to six months apart.

Ask your general practitioner about whether you need this vaccine, because the side effects are not pleasant, but are nothing like the real thing.

Anyone who has ever had chickenpox can develop shingles. Most adults in the United States had chickenpox when they were children, before the advent of the routine childhood vaccination that now protects against chickenpox.

I had it. I was miserable, but didn’t have to go to school for a while. That’s always a plus side to childhood illnesses, especially Monday morning headaches and Friday morning stomach aches. They generate four-day weekends – for a short time only.

(I look forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.}