Back home, I went straight to the doctor. By now the rash had broken out on my back as well. All of it was only on my left side. The doc took one look and said “Yep, that’s shingles.” The pain was intense and constant. He put it at 7 on the 10-point scale.
The one-time shot isn't "recommended" for people under 60, so I always figured "that's something for old people." Nah. Depending on which source you check, 1 in 3 or 4 adults will have shingles. It mostly affects people over 50. I’m 46, but even younger folks aren’t necessarily safe; I have a cousin by marriage who got it when she was 11—in her eye. She can’t wear contacts because of the damage it caused. Another good friend--centurion cyclist, 6min-miler, and general badass--got it when he was 24.
CAVEAT: Consult with a medical professional before getting the vaccine. For instance, according to the Mayo Clinic's site, you shouldn't get the shot if you:
- Have ever had an allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin or any other component of the shingles vaccine
- Have a weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system
- Are receiving immune system-suppressing drugs or treatments, such as steroids, adalimumab (Humira), infliximab (Remicade), etanercept (Enbrel), radiation or chemotherapy
- Have cancer that affects the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma
- Are pregnant or trying to become pregnant