I had shingles about one month ago. When the doctor diagnosed me, my mouth literally dropped open. I was not expecting that! Dealing with the pain of shingles for about 10 days was the most physically painful experience that I’ve dealt with. A friend of mine who also had singles in the past said, “The pain is singular, isn’t it?” Indeed, it is. The horrible stabbing nerve pain turned me into a crying mess each day – feeling tired and just wanting the pain to end. The sores appeared on the right side of my face (MY FACE), neck, tongue, throat. To say I was utterly miserable is an understatement. (I’m kind of tempted to post a picture for sympathy points, but it’s rather mortifying.)

I tried praying through it. I thought a breath prayer would be perfect since I couldn’t do anything but sit there and try to breathe. “Lord, Jesus Christ…ugh, ouch…ow” (breathe in) “have mercy on…ow, OWW, ow… me… owwww… a sinner” (breathe out) “Lord, ow, ow, OW… oh, forget it!”

Now that the pain is gone (I have deep respect now for those who deal with chronic pain.), I’m left with some residual numbness on my right cheek. I can’t really pinpoint where it is, but I can tell that something is odd, numb, and not quite right. The doctor said this could last for months and it could even be permanent. I also have a few scars on my face that will probably always be there.

This whole terrible shingles thing takes my mind back to the pain of grief that I’ve been trying to sort through well. The grief I cried my way through over the past year has been miserable. I tried praying through it, but I often don’t have words. Now, I’m left with some residual scars and I can’t pinpoint where it still hurts, but it does still hurt. My spiritual director told me the other day that a person can’t fully grieve when they feel unsafe or are in crisis mode. Now that I’m finding my footing in my new job/home/community, more grief will no doubt surface.

Sometimes, the numb spot on my cheek suddenly tingles. The doctor said that’s a good sign of healing. Sometimes these days, my heart is unexpectedly light and I find myself smiling. Surely, that’s a good sign too. I think I’m going to be okay.

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