They say “timing is everything.” And I’d have to agree.
When I retired at the end of August, I had until November 15th to decide about whether to activate the COBRA option to retain my health coverage for the coming year, until I reach 65. As that deadline approached I decided it was best to activate it, and when I called to do so I realized that I would have to pay the back coverage from September through December. However, during that call, I learned I could activate only the dental or the visual coverage for that time, reducing my cost for that back coverage from about $1200.00 to about $100.00 (for the dental coverage) and that as of January 1, 2006, I could change that over to the regular hospitalization coverage at the rate of about $300 per month. So I decided that was a worthwhile gamble, to activate only the dental coverage for the rest of the year, and hope that I didn’t have any medical issues until after January 1st.
Well my timing couldn’t have been worse. On December 23, 2005, I noticed a few red bumps appeared on my forehead. I put some ointment on them, thinking they would go away in a day or so. On the 24th, I went to visit Cheryl, Mike, and Connor to exchange gifts on Christmas eve. Cheryl said, in a rather alarmed voice, “what’s wrong with your head?” The bumps had become inflamed, were red and had grown in size. I said, “I don’t know, but I’ll see about it after the first of the year.” It turns out that by the 27th it was obvious that I couldn’t wait until the first of the year to go to the doctor. My face had begun to swell and my right eye was closing. So I called and scheduled an appointment with my doctor even through I had no insurance coverage.
Upon seeing me Dr. Gleaves indicated, without hesitation, that I had shingles. This disease, which in some people manifests on the body and in others on the face, causes itching and painful blisters that eventually burst and leave scabbed sores. For me the disease involves the head and face. My right eye is swollen shut and this morning the beginnings of the left eye’s swelling concerns me that soon I won’t be able to see anything until the disease goes away.
Needless to say, it isn’t pretty. So before posting a picture, I’m going to split this post so that the picture won’t show up here on the front page of my blog. If you wish to see it, you can click the “read more” option. If you don’t care to see them, you’ll have gotten all the necessary news on this page. Fortunately, shingles is neither fatal nor permanently disfiguring, under normal circumstances, so in the words of Gloria Gaynor, “I will survivie.” It’s just going to be a bit uncormfortable for a while.
Okay. I warned you. Here are some self portraits from the last several days.
The first picture is from Dec 27, 2005, and illustrates the initial lesions that have already burst. The second shows the initial swelling of my right eye (and this is what caused me to decide to go to the doctor). The third picture is from the morning of Dec 28th, and the fourth is from that night. The fifth photo is from this morning and it shows that the swelling has begun to affect the left eye as well. The final close up from this morning focuses in on the left eye and shows the puffiness as it is starting to swell shut. It could be lights out soon, so I wanted to complete this post before that happened.
If I don’t respond to email or make posts here for a few weeks, just realize that I may not be able to see what I am typing or read any email you may have sent. However, I will return once this illness has run its course.