Sidelined by shingles


Words you want to hear during a business trip: “Hey, team, lunch is here!”

Words you do not expect on a business trip: “Think about your skill set and then decide what color hat you wear.”

Words you do not want to hear during a business trip: “I saw your CT scans and I want the vascular surgeon to look at them.”

I heard all three sentences during a June business trip to North Carolina. 

One: The lunch was delicious. 

Two: Our team was studying the business book Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono. Turns out, I wear a blue hat. Maybe it was yellow, I don’t remember because …

Three: I went to the emergency room after the Great de Bono Business Hat Summit. My head had been hurting for days and, me being a certified guy of the male persuasion, I thought, “That searing pain radiating into my clavicle probably will go away after my third taco. I wonder what’s – OUCH! Dammit! — for dinner.”

Long story short. The first day I was in the emergency room in Charlotte, the CT scan revealed some vascular issues. A tiny tear here, some plaque there, high blood pressure everywhere.

The vascular surgeon determined I would be fine for now; just see my doctor as soon as I get back to Florida.

A day later, during my second visit to the ER in Charlotte, the doctor noticed the red lesions migrating from my oversized ear south to my shoulder. I had shingles. I was in tears from the pain, asking to see Milton Morphine and wondering if I would make my 3pm flight back to Florida.

Shingles, as many know, is a virus that develops from the remains of decades-old chickenpox dust. I am not sure if that is textbook accurate, but I do know this: Shingles hurts. A lot. For a long time.

Since 1992, I have had three brain surgeries. No joke. The pain was typical of any procedure in which they pull apart your neck muscles, drill into your skull and slice brain parts with knifes. 

But I am here to tell you, shingles pain was worse. Imagine pressing nails into your face and neck. Then, somehow, you reach the innards of your head, press those nails into your skull from the brain side and then stick your face into a hornets’ nest the size of a holiday pie.

This went on for three weeks. The fireworks finale was partial facial paralysis. I could not smile or blink on the right side for two weeks; frankly, it was fun to watch food and water cascade out of my mouth.

I am fine now. But, dear friends, take care of yourselves. I would offer: Watch your cholesterol. Monitor your blood pressure. Get your shingles vaccine. Get your COVID vaccine (we also had our COVID fill amid Shingles Palooza ’22). See your doctor. Do the tests. 

Despite our bold Business de Bono Hat Color proclamations, we are human and not getting any younger. OS

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