Starting last Monday, I entered a crash. The main two symptoms of this crash are hand pain (especially in the finger tips, but also in the palms) and a terrible headache. As last week entered the weekend, it seemed that the hand pain was waning and the headache was getting worse. But now I can see that both of these symptoms are coming and going day by day, but not resolving.
The more I think about this crash, the more I think it is another flare of Shingles, which I experienced for the first time starting in July, 2016. At that time, my doctor did warn me that, in some people, Shingles becomes a recurring problem.
The reason I think this might be another flare-up of Shingles is because the hand sensitivity feels exactly like the hand sensitivity that I experienced with my first bout with Shingles. That time, the pain was worst in the torso region (right side), but it was also present in the right hand. Apparently the pain was so bad in the torso and legs that I didn't even mention it in my post about Shingles, but it was certainly there. Now it is back in the right hand (although a little more concentrated on the fingers this time, and more overall more severe) It is also present to a much lesser extent in the left hand, which could cut against my theory.
I'm not exactly sure if the headache can be explained by Shingles. Most information on Shingles does say that headaches are part of the early stage of Shingles, but I would have expected that to resolve by now. Then again, when you combine Shingles with the already unusual biochemistry of a person with ME/CFS, it wouldn't be surprising to find it behaving in an atypical way.
It is perhaps an oversimplification to call it a "headache." Most headaches I've experienced can be described as localized in one part of the head. This one is an overall feeling of inflammation or swelling, like encephalitis. It affects the whole head except the face.
So far, there have been no rashes like the first time with Shingles, but that could be because most people don't get Shingles a second time. The immune system may have build up antibodies to prevent a full-blown rash outbreak, but not enough to prevent it from causing other trouble.
Also, both times I had a flare of Shingles (assuming this is in fact Shingles again), it was right after a weekend when I "pushed it" too much -- too much activity for a person with a weak immune system. Over the weekend before the pain started last Monday, I went camping with one of my daughters as part of a local father-daughter camping program. (I know that many would say I shouldn't be exerting myself like this with ME/CFS, but I want to try to be as much like a "normal" father for my daughters as possible. I thought I could handle this.) Although I "took it easy" on the camping trip, the nights were really cold, and I wonder if my body became worn down by the poor sleep and cold conditions.
That's my working theory as of now. Admittedly, it's mostly based on the similarities in sensations, which isn't a lot to go on. But one shouldn't discount a patient's intuition about their own body.
If this is another Shingles flare, then I would expect it to resolve in 4-6 weeks. I really hope it doesn't take that long.