A few weeks ago I woke up with a strange itchy-tingly sensation on the left side of my forehead and down the left side of my face. I KNEW what it was – another attack of shingles was trying to start. So, called the doc, got the anti-viral and started it. I stayed on it for 3 weeks, then the benefits were exhausted. So how well did it work? I’m mostly lesion-free. But I’m having the dreaded shingles neuralgia. I didn’t have this before. My manifestations are sudden sharp, jabbing pain that courses from my forehead, across my left eyelid, down my left cheek and into the left side of my neck. As a nurse, I know this is the course of a particular nerve. Sometimes it’s hot and burning, sometimes it’s a rapid, deep ache, but always it’s like a bold of lightening. It’s intense, it’s horrible, and then it’s over. Now, after about 3 weeks of this, I’ve added headaches that are increasing in severity and length.
So what can be done? For me, little. I’m already maxxed out on Lyrica. In fact, I’m overdosed. Injections of the spinal cord are contraindicated for someone with shingles of the head and face. The nerves involved are too high. Direct injection into the nerves in my face might be possible, but how many of you want to be injected around your eye and down your cheek?
I might consider narcotics (Percocet, oxycodone, oxycontin) if these headaches get much worse, but I have a horror of them. They make me too groggy and fuzzy to function well. I’m not willing to risk falling. I’ll deal with the headaches with naps, cool cloths on my head, and the occasional Tylenol or Aspirin dose. The pain I’ll try to deal with by using Capsaicin cream. Maybe all that will work.
Certainly, I hope this attack of pain won’t last long!