I’ve been sick for almost a month. I’m lucky if I operate at an 80% capacity under normal circumstances, so you can imagine how far behind I’ve fallen in a month.
It started the day after Christmas. I woke up feeling icky. Nothing specific, save for a slightly sore throat, just a general icky feeling. I pushed it aside (mistake #1) because we had plans. For Christmas we gave Taryn and John tickets to STOMP, made dinner reservations for the four of us, and even hired a babysitter. I never hire babysitters. I have two 16-year-olds, usually I say, “you’re babysitting from X time to X time. You’re welcome for all the food, clothing, and shelter.” An hour into the show, I was done. I crashed hard that night.
The next morning I woke up with a slightly worse sore throat. I felt a little more icky, but didn’t have a fever. I went to my 9 AM appointment to have poison shot in my back to help diagnose what’s wrong with it. (Mistake #2) By 2 PM that day I had a fever of 102 and couldn’t swallow anything but water. I checked in with Dr. Hoosier - a pain specialist – and told his secretary about my fever and scratchy throat. She thought the fever was probably related to being sick, but that the shot weakened my immune system, information I should have paid attention to prior to getting it. (Mistake #3) She called back with a message that he had diagnosed me with strep throat. (I looked and did have large white pustules on my throat. Despite diagnosing me from a message, he wasn’t wrong.) He called in a Z-Pack. According to my regular Doctor this is not the appropriate course of treatment for strep. (Mistake #4) I spent two full days in bed and two more days waiting for the white pustules to go away. I’ve had strep before and it usually doesn’t take that long to clear up. I never called my regular Doctor about that. (Mistake #5)
Once my throat cleared up I tried to get on with my normal life. But I still felt a little bad. I was worn out and had a head cold. I also had a weird rash on my chest. I thought it was from the sunburn I got on our pre-Christmas trip to Hawaii. I’ve lived in this miserable frozen tundra for over three years, so I haven’t had a sunburn in a while. I ignored it. (Mistake #6)
The rash got worse and moved from my upper chest down to my abdomen. I thought I was allergic to my new shampoo, so I stopped using it. I took Benadryl. Nothing helped so I called my doctor. The morning of my appointment I googled “adult rashes” and got lots of hits about shingles. Ah, yes shingles. I’d had shingles once before and convinced myself they had struck again. I told the nurse, then the Doctor, “I have this rash, I think it might be shingles.” (Mistake #7) He agreed and put me on strong antiviral meds.
But as the week wore on, I started to think it wasn’t acting like shingles. It didn’t hurt, it itched. And it was spreading, rapidly. The photo I showed you guys was a few days after my Doctor appointment. Many readers wrote about their experiences with shingles and offered words of support. One even sent me a photo of his, I thought mine looked different but maybe I had a different strain. Another reader mentioned on Facebook that shingles don’t usually go that low. Still, I took my meds until they were gone before calling my Doctor again. (Mistake #8)
When I saw my Doctor last Friday, he immediately said, “Whoa, that’s not shingles.” The rash had spread all down my torso, down my legs, and was starting to show up on my arms. It was angry, red, and flakey. I was itchy all over. My Doctor was stumped. His student Doctor was also stumped. At one point all three of us were on our smartphones Googling possible rashes. None of us could find the answer, a true first world problem. He ordered blood work and called in a topical steroid to try. It might not work, since he wasn’t sure what was wrong but it was the only idea. He also called Dermatology upstairs. To my great surprise, the Air Force Dermatologist came down within minutes.
He took one look at me and said, “That’s Guttate Psoriasis. It’s a reaction to a strep throat infection.”
Frick on a stick.
If I hadn’t gotten that stupid shot, I probably wouldn’t have gotten strep. If I’d called my real doctor, I would have gotten the right antibiotics and not have had strep for so long. If I wouldn’t have had strep for so long I wouldn’t have gotten the rash. If I wouldn’t have web-diagnosed myself with shingles, my doctor wouldn’t have thought that’s what I had. If I’d have called him after a couple of days, I wouldn’t be covered in nasty psoriasis. Ugh. First lesson; if you’re sick, get your arse in bed and stay there until you feel better. Seriously.
The treatment for Guttate Psoriasis is light box therapy. Or sunshine.
So really, this is totally Alaska’s fault. Stupid Alaska.