Putting out a shingle

For the last three days, I’ve woken with a terrible headache, a lancing pain from the top of my head exiting somewhere in my upper jaw, and my left eye has been progressively sorer and sorer. To begin with, I assumed this was a bad hangover, but dosing with more gin, less gin or no gin at all made no difference. When the headache was bad enough to wake me at three this morning I figured there was something serious afoot and so this afternoon I left the office early to go and see the doctor.
Our doctor delights in looking for the worst possible diagnosis, so I had steeled myself for an early suggestion of something rotten or cancerous in my head. Instead, he had a quick look in my eye, tutted to himself and said that it was either glaucoma or shingles. Opthalmic shingles, which is the only serious kind, as he put it. This is the kind that can lead to scarring of the eye if it’s not treated, which really wouldn’t be wonderful.

Oh great. I suppose at this rate I’ll have mumps and gout by the end of the year as well, with probably a side order of TB or something else that only people in the 19th century are meant to get sick of.

Before deciding that it was definitely shingles, he looked around for the blisters that would confirm it. I’ve got bad skin around my scalp anyway, so there’s a mark just above my hairline that might be the first sign, or might just be an ingrowing hair. My wife is convinced it’s the latter, my doctor is convinced it’s the former, and I just feel ruddy awful and want the pain to go away.

Next he tried to drop some fluorescent dye into my eye, so he could look for scarring. He hadn’t reckoned with my inconveniently fast blink reflex, which meant it took much longer than either of us wished, and then when I tried to wipe away the residue, I carried on blinking so that I ended up with bright yellow eye liner. This is not a good look for me. Take that on trust.

To make sure it wasn’t glaucoma, he sent me over to an opthalmologist in one of the nearby office buildings. I went into the unit at 5:20 and a woman came out and told me they were closed. I thought of telling her that they obviously weren’t closed, because the door was open and all the lights were on, but really, I didn’t have the necessary strength to kick up a fuss about something that was going to possibly be rendered unimportant by another diagnosis anyway, so I went back to the GP, who gave me the mound of pills that is de rigeur for any visit to your physician in Singapore, and then my wife and my child and I trundled home, where I passed out at six.

I woke an hour later, bathed our child, then spent a few miserable hours trying to catch up with work, while outside Chinese New Year was celebrated by some more deafening sub-par karaoke. About half past nine I took a triangular painkiller, which hasn’t made much difference yet. Now I just need to avoid pregnant women (and my baby, who won’t be able to enjoy her usual pastime of fondling her father’s face) until tomorrow, when it’s back to the doctor to see if I’m going to be on anti-virals or a good anti-dandruff shampoo and eye drops for a few weeks.

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