I've now had shingles for 16 days (if you count from the first day the pain started, even though there was no visible rash until 3 days later.) After the visible rash appeared, prompting me to see my doctor for a diagnosis, and to begin taking Valacylovir (500mg 3x/day for 7 days) and L-Lysine, the rash continued to worsen for another 3 or 4 days. The rash grew from initial spotty patches on the right side of my abdomen until it eventually formed a more-or-less complete band stretching from my navel around the right side of my torso, to my spine.
I would have never thought it possible that the mere touch of clothing to the skin could be painful, but that's exactly what happened. Even the gentle touch of cotton shirts has become fairly painful. On the other hand, the pain isn't so excruciating that I can't focus on other things if needed. Most of the time, I can ignore the pain and focus on other tasks. But when my mind is unoccupied, and especially when I'm walking around (thus creating more friction between my shirt and my abdomen) the pain becomes fairly intense.
As of today, the rash is slowly disappearing but the pain continues to wax an wane. It is the "waxing" part that concerns me slightly. The pain had been trending less severe along with the fading rash until yesterday, when it started to become more painful again. Today again, the pain is as intense as it ever was. So I will continue to evaluate my options and perhaps seek more Valacylovir from my doctor.
Why did this happen? Other than the obvious--that I have a weakened immune system due to ME—this happened because I "pushed" myself too hard.
I felt the first symptoms on a Sunday. The prior Thursday, I'd experienced a very poor night of sleep. I was already in the midst of period of increased stress in my life. [Trigger warning for severe ME patients] Then I did a stupid thing: I went to a concert on Friday night, as if I was a normal, healthy person. I even drank a beer. Then, after the concert, I had another poor night of sleep because of the stimulation of the concert, its late ending, and the alcohol. Then, the next day, apparently having completely lost my mind, I attempted to go to a museum with some friends. This was far more than my ME-depleted system could handle. By Sunday I knew I had overdone it and there would be a severe price to pay. I felt like hell.
I was correct that there was going to be a price to pay, but I couldn't have predicted that it would take the form of shingles. But sure enough, that Sunday is when I felt the first strange symptoms as I noticed that my clothing hurt.
For anyone interested in further reading, here are two articles regarding possible connections between ME and the VZV virus (the shingles / chicken pox virus.)
Final note: Is it me, or is shingles a particularly nasty word? It evokes all sorts of disgusting images in my head. It's as if roofing tiles are going to grow out of my skin. (*shudders*) Ew.