Shingles And Meningitus!

My name is Ana and I am 50 year old English lass. I am currently working in Atlanta Georgia (USA). When I was back in England in march I had indigestion pains in my upper chest. They came and went.

Then on April 13th I had a wee itch on my right shoulder blade. I thought it was a thread from my shirt so changed shirts. Then I got 2 bug bites on my right breast just where my bra line is.

Over that weekend my 'indigestion pain' became constant. I went to the ER thinking I was having a heart attack. They did EKG and chest x ray and found nothing. The Dr examined me and saw the 'bug bites' and diagnosed me with Shingles. The rash spread across my right breast, under my right arm an across the upper portion of my back to my spine. The chest pain continued and I was put on Oycodene and acyclovire and sent home

One week later I got up in the morning and found I had a massive headache and I could not bend my head forwards and hated light.A migraine.....I get them about once a year. I had lifted a box the day before helping a desperate friend move (stupid) so assumed I had pulled something which caused me to have a migraine. I had a chiroparactor appointment that morning. I explained the symptons of my 'neck pull' and she sent me to the Dr and told me she theought I had Meningitus.

My Dr is just up the street and saw me that morning. She saw that I had very restricted movement of my head up or down and left to right (classic test for meningitus).She sent me to the ER. They gave me a lumbar puncture (successful on first try) and we waited for the results. it came back that i had meningitus but they did not know which type. They admitted me and put me in isolation. I was on Acyclovire and Morphine drips and fluid drip.

After 2 days in hospital the pain got worse and I could not eat. They put me on a morphine drip but I kept throwing up so they had to change to something called 'Delotted' which is stronger than morphine. They also gave me Fenagrin injections into deep muscle to stop the nausea. They put the delotted on a pump.

I was in hospital for 8 days total and when released I could not walk as I was so week. My head pain in hospital was a 10 at times and the pain meds only ever got it to 7.

My shingles compared to the meningitus was not that painful. However, I had lost feeling under my right armpit and the right armpit sweated and the left did not. I also still had the chest pain.

It is 3 months later and in terms of the shingles: I have regained feeling under my armpit. The chest pains have stopped being constant and only occur when I cough or sneeze. I am left with a big knot under my right shoulder blade and my shoulder and neck muscles sometimes spasm/contract giving me a neck ache. But massage has helped with this and the knot is reducing.

As for the meningitus: I have good days...and bad days.... I always seem to have headache at a number 2-4 pain level which is great considering I was at 7-10 before. Some days I have number 1! I always lean my chin to my chest and that gives me a gauge of the inflamation in my meningies. I do get tired very easily. I sort of hit a wall and have to lay down.

The Dr's think that the shingles virus went to my spine and thus causing the meningitus. They thankfully treated the shingles within the critical 48 hours of the rash appearing and they treated the meningitus within 8 hours of the headache appearing.

I have stopped work and just do one thing a day. Go to the bank or food shopping. I have read this site avidly and are listening to your sage advice and trying not to do too much.

I believe that helping my friend move and not resting when I had a bad case of shingles, is what shifted it into Meningitus.

I believe I am incredibly lucky to have been ill in the U.S. because they assume the worst case scenario when you walk into the Er. Where as in U.K. they work up from the least. So in England they send you home telling you that you have a migraine or flu. A week later they realise you have not but your meningitus has really done a lot of damage by then.

But...in America they do not have a web site like this so I am thankful that I have support.

I have worries that you may be able to help me with:

I worry that this will come back.

I want to know about people describing emotional problems. Like what? What do I need to look out for?

Thank you all for being on this blog and helping folks like me out,

Yours Ana

7 Replies

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  • Hi Ana,So sorry t hear about your Meningitis ,but glad to hear your experience in US was better than many of us in UK! I nterestingg what you say about US healthcare looking for worst case scenarioand uk working up -definitely my experience!Paracetamol seems the cure all for everything!

    Shingles/herpes meningitis is I think quite rare,ands comes from the herpes virus.It was somnething I was asked -if I had had any cold sores recently.

    I am not knowledgable re your type of M ,but perhaps the helpline could give yopu more info.Any type of or you can get another type.I remember asking the same question in hopspital!At least you are aware of symptoms and will Im sure always be vigilent!I know I panic every time I get a migraine as I wonder if its the M.

  • Sorry posted this mid sentence!The dr at hosptital said you can get M again,but would be most unlucky!I have read of several folks who have had M more than once,and a few have had bacterial ,then viral.

    Re emotional symptoms I found my moods wrer very up and down,for a very long time afterwards.One minute I felt so so lucky and blessed to have survived,the next I was on a copmplte downer and wished I had slept away as living like this is so hard,even 4and half years on.I found it hard to control theses moods and also got very weepy and sometimes angry and irritated with people.I particularly felt that no one really understood how ill I was feeling(and still do sometimes) -counselling from MT and 1-2-1 buddy helped me hugelky with these issues.Without the counselling I had I think I would have fallen into depression -it was a real lifeline.

    I now volunteer for the 1-2-1 contacts as it is one way I can help others.The trust will match you up with someone of similar age and M experience and conatct can be by email,text,phone or writing,whatever suits.This forum is a great way of getting in touch and you will find that lots of folks will reply with advice and support.

  • Hi Ana,

    I've just red your post with interest as I had a similar experience to you with regard to having Shingles prior to Meningitis. Last year I had a painful small rash just below my right shoulder blade and the Dr diagnosed it as Shingles. I took a week off work and was prescribed medication and the following week I returned to work with no problems. It was probably 2 or 3 weeks later that I became seriously ill with Bacterial Meningitis (infact it is exactly a year tomorrow that I was rushed to hospital).

    I have my good days and bad - at the moment I am very emotional especially about things such as my health and am finding this week particularly difficult. Since having Meningitis I find that I am far quicker to loose my patience, and I seem to get frustrated very easily especially when my brain is saying one thing but I open my mouth and something else comes out. I still have headaches and back pain, and I do struggle to cope with bright light (which is something I never thought would remain post Meningitis).

    The Meningits Trust are a fantastic support and people on this forum share similar experiences and I have found it very helpful to know that I am not on my own - even though at times it does feel like it.

    Take Care x.

  • Hi Ana, Sounds like you are having quite the journey of recovery as well. I received quite a few extra vaccinations here in Canada and there is now apparently a vaccination for shingles. I will have to speak to my GP about this. I received the pneumonia shot for adults and children, Flu shot, and another vaccination for another type of infection. I feel that anything that will help ward off the bugs out there will help me from ever getting M again. If I had stayed in my local hospital I would be dead. My son and girlfriend squeaked loudly and I was shipped out by air ambulance to a larger and more equipped hospital. I was comatose at the time. Kind Regards, Jeffery

  • I am so sorry to hear how unwell you have been, and you are doing the right thing by resting, re not having such a site, if you have facebook, you can add this web site to it, and maybe start a facebook help page?

    LOL you wrote "I believe that helping my friend move", I wonder if M has something to do with house moving, I moved my mom to her new home, and on the second day, could not figure out why I felt so ill, I but it all down to stress and my mother ha ha, maybe we could do a market research on house moving. but joking a side.

    Fear itself I believe can bring many things on, like if you worry you may get run over crossing the road, your odds go up, as you cross the road you may not be giving 100% to it, hence a big bus hits you. what I am trying to say it, and I know this will be hard, but try and remove fear, everything you feel fear coming on play a song that you can sing along to, or smell something you like, I love the smell of vanilla and choc (LOL a girl thing) this will help your brain, shift from the fear thoughts.

    the problem is out brain, can something's be a naughty little sod and bring on things, have you ever been on a medical page where they give you symptoms, hell I know I have and with in 5 mins, I have all the symptoms haaaaaaaaaaa

    ok this may be the weirdest reply you will get but I try and think out the box, I try and think, yesterday has gone, what can I do today.

    best of luck hon.

  • You have all been so kind to tell me your experiences, it does help.

    On Wednesday I had a relapse. I had a headache at a number 10 and was throwing up with the pain. Thought I was going to have to go to the hospital but the pain eased by 8pm to a number 6.

    I went for coffee to a friends and talked about my father's death 2 weeks ago and I think that was not good for me. I told them of how I couldn't get to UK as I can't travel so I could not attend the funeral. After the visit I had a wee headache. The next morning the headache just kept building. I never knew that emotional stress could trigger the VM to come back.

    I suffered the VM only 3 months ago so I know it is still early days. Your insights and cmments do help. Thank you all....

    Ana

  • Aleigha, go see a Doctor asap.

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