Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Self diagnosis

One of the great (and awful) things about this world wide web is that there is so much information at your fingertips that when you're having some sort of symptom, you can forgo the doctor and simply self diagnose yourself. This was especially useful during my pregnancy. Every time I'd have some new pain or some new crazy unexpected thing happen to my body, I would google it and prest0... I'd be instantly reassured that everything that was happening to me was totally normal. This is likely the principal reason that my doctor didn't end up thinking of me as a total loon, because if not for the internet, I'd likely have been checking in with him with every new worry.

So it was that yesterday I finally made a self diagnosis for myself using this powerful tool and according to Dr. Titi, I'm sad to report that I have Herpes!!!! Now, before you all go wash your hands and navigate away from this page with a ten foot pole, let me elaborate a bit.

Herpes ain't just for genitals... Herpes is an unhappy little family of virus (Herpesviridae) that causes infections in people. In fact, there are eight members of this miserable family that infect humans causing unpleasantries ranging from cold sores to yes, genital herpes. And somewhere in that mix is the very unpopular cousin, the chicken pox! And in a sense, that's who's got me (according to my diagnosis).

See, when I was a kid and I got the chicken pox, I had my first case of herpes (varicella zoster virus) and that stupid virus never left my body. If you had chicken pox, then you also had herpes and you've still got that stinker hiding in your nervous system. Well, it so happens that later in life (but usually not until after 50 or 60), that miserable cousin can return to rear its ugly head in the form of Shingles! They are just like chicken pox, only generally confined to one area. And this is my diagnosis.

Why have I settled on Shingles? Well, for the past two and half years, I have had a rash pop up on one finger (unfortunately it is the index finger of my right hand). The first time I had it, my initial thought was poison ivy because it hurt and itched. But when it didn't spread and then the bumps grew and blistered and scabbed up, my hypochondriac mother suggested I get some antibiotics in case it was some terrible bacterial infection that would soon spread through my blood system and kill me. I did, but the drugs seemed to do nothing and after a couple of weeks it was gone anyway.

Over a year later, it happened again. Same finger. Same pain and itching. Same blistering and scabbing. This time my mom guessed it might be a fungal thing, so off to the drug store I went and bought some fungal cream (you know, the athlete's foot stuff). I slathered my rash in the cream, kept it covered and withing two weeks it was gone... did the cream help or was it just running its course? When I was pregnant with Radar, it came back twice. More cream, but really the stupid rash did it's own thing and in two weeks it was gone.

So this week when the stupid rash came back, I really hit the internet and everything I read pointed me to Shingles. It's not often that it shows up on a finger, but I did find some literature about finger and hand shingles. I also found a picture that looked an aweful lot like my finger!

And there it is... welcome to Dr. Titi's medical diagnosis center and say hello to my own self diagnosed case of finger shingle! It sucks big time... I have an "old people's" disease... I have Herpes!! It is super painful, there is no cure and it is still about a week and half away from it's exit. But if I'm right (and maybe I'm not), at least I feel like I understand what's going on. My finger is greasy looking because it spent the night slathered in cortizone cream (for the itch and swelling) and it's wrinkly looking for the same reason.

Incidentally, anyone who has had the chicken pox can not catch shingles from someone, but there have been rare cases where someone with shingles can give someone the chicken pox (if they've never had it before), so for Radar's sake, the hand is staying well covered until this little episode is over!

Lots of love,
Titi and Radar

PS - The friendship continues to bloom.

PSS - The answer to Sunday's puzzle is just around the bend... stay tuned!

PSSS - Although there is no cure, there are treatments to help with the pain and help get rid of shingles sooner, so I am going to a dermatologist this afternoon... if he/she concurs with my diagnosis, I will award myself an internet doctorate and open the blog up to more diagnosis.  You'll just have to send me pictures and symptoms and I will diagnosis your disease... and only charge a very modest fee!!!  ;)


Anonymous said...

What a great picture! I mean, the one of Radar with the Pug, not the disgusting one of your finger!! Hope you feel better soon.


The Science Pundit said...

I completely concur with Sara. That picture is precious!

Jenna said...

Thats a bummer! I get a very similar thing on my finger from time to time. When it first starts I start loading my body up with L-Lysine, it goes away ina bout 2 days. Good luck the index finger is a tough one!