Well, 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