Through the roof………..

DSCF3136Well, it’s been a little over two months since moving to Cozumel.  What a wonderful island here in Mexico.  Friendly people, beautiful beaches, and the obligatory hammocks underneath the swaying palms.  Most of my time here has been idyllic, as it should be in such a place.  So, imagine my surprise when I discover that my body decided to revolt against living in paradise, again.  Oh, and this might be the time to mention that –  if you are reading this to be lulled by lush imagery of a magical world over your morning cup of coffee, you might want to look elsewhere.   This is yet another cautionary tale.

Now, as many of you know,  I have attempted to, mostly, stick with the pleasantries of living in such a place and there are many.   The mercado  with its friendly folks and fresh veggies created a multitude of  photographic possibilities.  Then there is  the party in the plaza on Sunday nights with stoic children, silvered men, and dancers of all ages.  I’ve roamed the island taking shots of the sumptuous flowers that are everywhere, along with pics of  ruins,  dancers, soldiers, guitar players, giant tubes of beer and family loaded mopeds.  There’s a lot to see here and I’ve only scratched the surface.   It’s been fun and I’ve been happy to share.  But, it occurred to me that the realities can be just as important to talk about, although not as fun to write, and balance is always important.  So, here goes.

I’ve got shingles.  There is just no other way to go about saying it.  A virus that can attack the system if one has had chicken pox sometime in their background.  This little event can be brought about by heat, sun, and stress.  Hmmmm, okay, let’s see.  I’ve just moved to a foreign country by myself (guess that takes care of the stress) and it’s a tropical island, which explains the heat and sun.  But, forgive me,  I’m from the United States and lived and worked in the state of Ohio for many years.  The only shingles I’ve ever been familiar with are the ones we put on our roofs to protect us from the heat and sun, which is probably why I never had this kind before.  In fact, in my younger days when feminism was still sexy, I used to spend my summers either landscaping or roofing.  There was something about balancing the intellectualism of teaching during the winters with the physicality of manual labor in the summers that made me feel almost zen, with blisters.

Now, I’ve talked about my bout with sun poisoning on here and quickly learned through responses that others had been through the same and were happy to share their remedies.  But, this is the next step, apparently, that can happen if one doesn’t take cover, literally.  I gave my sun poisoning just under a week to subside and back out I went.  Like a kid in a candy store, there was just too much to ignore and I didn’t rest properly.   I took better precautions, yes, but not all of them and my body has decided to let me know the error of my ways.

If you’ve never experienced them I’ll tell you this much.   You don’t want to start.  Mine began with areas of sharp pain as if I was being cut with a tiny, very sharp, knife in all sorts of places on my neck and back.  I’m of the age that a pinched nerve would not be a surprise and that’s what I assumed was happening.  I just needed to cut back on my yoga, no worries.   But, a couple of days later  a rash formed right over the areas that had been getting poked repeatedly and the only nerves I worried about then pertained to my emotions.  Now there was both pain and an itch, lucky me, and, if you are anything like me, the shopping for cremes began.

After buying and trying just about every product on the market at Chedraui and Mega (have to wonder what is going through the minds of the girls who work there) I broke down and went to the doctor, again.  Same guy that helped me with my earlier sun poisoning and I just kept my fingers crossed that he wouldn’t send this diseased American lady back across the border.  I have dogs now, that worries me.   His English is little better than my Spanish, which is absolutely my problem, not his, but he used a Google translator on his computer so we could communicate.  He prescribed Zovirax,  both orally and topically, recommended that I use cool compresses, and, again, with a very stern demeanor, told me to stay out of the sun.  Before I forget, this visit cost me 200 pesos, or about $18.oo usd, and I was with him for over an hour.   Since my body started this revolution I have found myself grateful that medical expenses here are so affordable.

Finally, he told me the last thing I wanted to hear,  which was that I could be contagious.  Apparently this can give someone the chicken pox if they hadn’t already experienced it, and the shingles themselves if they had.  Who knew?   He recommended that I talk to anyone that I had been in contact with over the previous 24 hours and make sure I let them know they needed to shower with an abundance of antibacterial soap.  What?   I’m not an irresponsible college kid, if you know what I mean.  I did not know I needed to use “precautions” when having coffee with friends.  But, swallowing my pride, I stopped by one house, and called a few others.   Let me tell you, I may laugh about this later, but I wasn’t even close to smiling then.

So, back in my apartment with my dogs who, frankly, are just happy I’m around all the time.  And, if this kind of stuff keeps happening, they may be the only ones who remain that way, so I’m loading them up with the extras for insurance.    This means that  I still walk them in the mornings, but we’re back home by sunrise, and, after their treats,  the rest of the day is spent reading, working on my book, watching films, and chatting with friends on social sites.  I’ve had to turn down a few invitations, resign myself to pics from a roof, and listen to a lot of music.  Plenty of water and fresh veggies help, and I’ve returned to my yoga.  As a result, the body is healing quickly, but I’m not rushing anything this time.  It’s a good time to reflect on how to balance life and I’m going to just enjoy the quiet.   There is plenty of time to explore, later.  So, there might be trouble in paradise, but it’s still paradise.  Yes?   Salud!

p.s.  taking pics that beg to be viewed is a challenge right now, thought I’d stick with the realities in more ways than one……….and the pup is my landlord’s newest friend, a pug named Basita who is the sweetest little girl, next to mine, of course

20 thoughts on “Through the roof………..

  1. Oof…that’s tough. Shingles are extremely painful and sometimes hard to get rid of. I pity you and hope that you are in top form ASAP and that they won’t return…or any other problem for that matter. I think it’s very caring and wise that you have shared the ordinary part of being a newcomer to the island. All the aspects are interesting to most folks. IT’S LIFE!! Carry on.

    1. Thanks for saying that Mary, I hesitated, much, before deciding to write about the “other side” of life on the island…………will be back to the swaying palms and umbrella drinks soon, I’m sure

  2. Shingles can be contagious, but the danger is minimal unless you are scratching at the rash & breaking the blisters. Antibacterial soap doesn’t really help (though it can’t hurt), as the Shingles, and Chicken Pox, are both viral, and viruses are a lot harder to kill than most bacteria. Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and Hydrogen Peroxide will kill many viruses, but not all; best is to wash rash (and hands, if you’ve been scratching) thoroughly with the antibacterial soap, then with an alcohol rub, then bandage the rash to prevent or at least deter further scratching.

  3. If it is available in Coz many cases of shingles resolve rapidly with IV drips of vitamin C taken daily. You can be back to your old tricks again soon if you can find a clinic that does even the most basic IV therapies

  4. I am sorry to hear about your bout with shingles. Hope you heal quickly. On an up note – I had worried about whether that dachshund had found a home; I can see she did! So happy for that.

    1. Thanks Cheryl, and, yes, that is an upside, she’s quite a little bundle of joy and when she thinks I look too serious rolls over on her back and shows me her belly, quite a character………..

  5. Hi there,
    I wonder if you knew that there is a vaccine for Shingles and all the drug stores here including Walgreen’s have signs up saying no appointment necessary. My own doctor says he can do it, but Walgreen’s is cheaper. I am thinking it is about
    175-200 US. I had a very mild case about 15 years ago and it wasn’t funny. A friend of mine had it on his face and was close to losing his sight in one eye. Stress and old age are two factors here, but my friends were in their mid thirties, go figure. You might go on line and check out articles regarding the vaccine. Hope you are better soon!! We will be returning to dear Cozumel in October. It’s an annual trip since the seventies. Actually thinking about selling my house and moving down there. Becky/from Chesapeake, Va.

    1. I’ve heard about that vaccine. Unfortunately, not down here, as far as I know. Since I qualify in both ways (stress and old age:) I might well keep an eye out for it since I Never want to go through that again. And, come on down………Cozumel is absolutely the right place to live!

      1. HOla, thanks for getting back to me. I apologize for the mail, I saw several people ahead of me on Carey’s website. I wonder if we have any common aquaintences?
        I have been coming to Cozumel since 1978- I just love it, flat and ugly kind of, not very tropical like other islands, but the people, food and friends keep us coming back year after year. We always stay at Alicia’s B & B now- a good friend. In the 80’s I stayed at the El Presidente and other pricey condos. Now I know better. Another friend is Adrian who owns Especias and also has a bikini wear shop downtown. He does guided fishing tours in the back waters and is an avid kite boarder. Our good friend Alison Dennis is a long time islander who owns her own dive business. We wouldn’t dive with anyone else, well maybe Sergio. There are so many problems involved in moving there. It is quite a step. Maybe you would consider meeting in October and talking a bit about it??? My friends there are bias of course. They just like my cooking, ha ha.
        Hope you are getting better.

      2. Feeling much better, thanks. If you wanted to stay in touch my email is, but we probably don’t have any common acquaintances since I’ve met so few folks due to being a newbie who, almost immediately, became ill. Aside from that, I’m hoping that you are glad you are not here now, it’s quite muggy and hot, October is a smart month!!

  6. Hi there, just checking in to see how you are doing with the singles I know someone else who lives on Tortola and is now going through all he pain and agony. I sent her your website address so she can read through and maybe you two can share experiences. She owns/operates a lovey small hotel on Tortola.
    I sent her a bottle of Lysine- wish there was more I could do. We are counting the days and weeks until we get back to Cozumel to see all our friends. Oct 5th, here we come. Take care.

  7. Hi Becky,

    Sorry to hear about your friend, not sure where Tortola is, but will look it up. Her best bet would be to get Zovirax, both orally (if they just started), or topically. It’s also a good idea for her to get a combination of vitamins that they sell below Mega at the health food store. The Lysine is a good start, but she should add vitamin C and a citrus complex. Those taken with Lysine will help her to get over it more quickly. She absolutely needs to stay out of the sun until ALL symptoms are cleared (don’t mean to shout, but that was the mistake I made and it dragged them out for almost two months). Looking forward to meeting you in October, we’ll leave the lights on 🙂

    1. Thanks for the kind thoughts. Tortola is an island in the British Virgin Islands near St. John which is US. I am going to forward an e-mail from her to you fyi. I was wondering if there is anything I can bring you when we come in Oct?? We will have room for extras. I always pack stuff for school
      kids. We stay with Alicia Platz at her B and B on 65th and 19th sts. We are only diving with Alison 3 days so we wll have time to do other things. Want to do some volunteer with the turtle rescue people this trip. We will be in Tulum from Sept 30 until the 5th of Oct and take the ferry over to Coz.
      Let me know how I can get in touch with you since I don’t have a “smart phone” or laptop with me. Just a regular phone, but it does work in Mexico.
      Thanks, Becky

      1. Have simple needs, but a Butterfinger candy bar would be great, can’t find them anywhere down here………and, here is my email (I think you have it already:), but will give you my number in an email and we can connect.………and, thanks for the kind offer!!

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