It started simply enough the Saturday before last. A pimple, a zit developing in my left eyebrow was clearly just everyday stuff. Come Sunday, the scalp on the left side of my head was curiously and exquisitely tender. The tracks of the hair comb caused moderate pain.
These are the times when medical training is both a blessing and a curse. I could rule out several possible diagnoses, but others that would never occur to the average person tugged at my awareness. Temporal arteritis and mastoiditis were among the not-so entertaining and frightening possibilities.
By Monday morning I was weighing the need to call my doctor. The symptoms had lessened and my scalp only exhibited numbness, so maybe this whatever had run its course and was resolving, as many things do. Midway through lunch with my friend the medical librarian, she looked across the table at me and asked " Carina, was your eye like that when lunch started?"
Say what?! A peek in the mirror showed that over the preceding half hour, unbeknownst to me, my left eyebrow had swollen and taken on an ominous shade. A phone call got me in too see the nurse practitioner and she summoned my doc to come have a look.
Shingles, they decided. While this had been one of the possible diagnoses floating through my brain, I still thought - Ac-ck! Old Lady Disease! This is something your mother's friends get, not me, no no no!
Fortunately, the disease was caught pretty early in its progression. I have a very mild case and am doing well.