I got a lot of things out of my second marathon, including feelings of accomplishment, a sense of pride and several free Luna bars. But there’s one thing I got that I could’ve done without.
And not of the roofing materials variety.
Okay, bear with me because I’m about to sound like Terry Bradshaw here, but if you’ve had the chickenpox, then you can get shingles. In fact, you can get shingles as much as anybody in the NFL.
Also, you don’t have to be in your 70s to get it. I’m 38.
My second marathon back in September was tough. Probably the most difficult race I’ve done to date. By comparison, my first marathon seems like a piece of gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free cake. Basically, it was a salad.
The marathon’s main event was a mental and physical fight during the second half of the race. There was anger. There was crying. There was begging for bananas.
It also took me a lot longer to run it than I thought it would. I was run-walking for over five hours with my only energy sources being one Clif Bar, a few hunks of the aforementioned banana and my rekindled hatred for running.
Running’s not all bad. It can be good for the immune system…in “moderate” doses. But extended physical stress, such as what happens during a marathon (and marathon training), can suppress immune function.
Other things that occur around long-distance races can have a negative effect on the immune system, too, including poor sleep and nutrition, and psychological stress. Check, check and check.
My shingles symptoms showed up about three weeks after the marathon. For a few days, I thought I just kept getting a piece of hair stuck inside the back of my shirt. After a week, I knew it had to be something else as it was getting worse. Yes, it took me a week. It itched, tingled and sometimes felt like something was biting me.
During one sleepless night before I was diagnosed, I lay there feeling the creepy crawlies on my back. In my delirious state, my imagination overtook my common sense and I thought, Am I a meth addict? Has someone been slipping me meth somehow?
Clearly, I have an overactive imagination, and should’ve stopped procrastinating and gone to the doctor sooner before I convinced myself that I somehow had become a meth addict without knowing it.
As it turned out, I made a check-up doctor appointment in August, and I was finally there last week sitting on the crinkly paper in my open-back gown, ready to ask about this weird itchy spot when the nurse came in and told me my doctor had left to deliver a baby. Ugh. Babies: Ruining schedules since forever.
So, I miraculously got a dermatologist appointment quickly. And that’s who diagnosed me. But since it’d been a month since all this had started, she said the virus is probably gone. The itching, however, goes on.
The good news is I had a very mild case of shingles in that I only have 5 or so bumps on my back. (If you Google shingles, you’ll see some horror-film worthy stuff.)
Now, I know what you are thinking. Isn’t there a shingles vaccine?
The answer is, Yes. But who thinks about getting a shingles vaccine in their 30s? Not me. But maybe you should. If you’ve had chickenpox, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.
I guess I should’ve listened to Terry Bradshaw.