Sunday, October 18, 2009


I haven't updated this blog in the last few weeks because I've been too busy experiencing the secular world. Performances and civic actions and visits from friends were all piled into a brief period in early October, so the meditation and processing of information got put on hold in favor of raw experience.

Unfortunately, the nervous system does not do well with buffered traffic jams of unprocessed information after bouts of shingles. It uses PHN, or post-herpetic neuralgia, as a way of putting an exclamation point on the limits of Available Bit-Rate living. Now, I'm a lucky guy, in that PHN hits me in flares as the neural-network traffic jams increase. Some victims of shingles have such damage done to nerve bundles that they experience PHN as a constant pain, a residual unpleasant leftover of plain ol' living. That would be icky.

Let's step back for those not in the loop. Shingles, or herpes zoster, is the leftover retroviral component of chicken pox. If you've had chicken pox as a child, you have a chance of getting shingles as young as your teen years, though it tends to show up when you get as old and grumpy as me. When a funny pox-like rash breaks out on your waist, arms, or face, you've got shingles. The rash itself isn't so bad, but your nerves in your limbs and trunk start doing weird things, acting as if they have severe sunburn or have been hit with hammers. It's treated with a cyclovir derivative, and lasts about a week. The weird thing is, you are contagious to those who have not had chicken pox - but they don't come down with shingles, they come down with chicken pox!

The folks that have chronic PHN seem to have had significant damage done to nerve bundles. They require some serious drug regimens, and I wonder if their ability to process visual or audio information is impacted - I don't think that's been studied very much. Those of us with the flare varieties seem to respond to sensual cues. If one sense is over-stimulated, it's usually not a problem, but if all senses are on overload, watch out! That's why researchers are beginning to see public events like a fair or amusement park as being those most like to stimulate a flare. Movies, concerts, plays, not so much - unless they're combined with everything else.

No surprise I hit my BRZILCH! moment. As soon as I got back from the San Francisco trip to Intel Developer Forum described above, I had to plan for a week's worth of Afghanistan actions, including the talk of Father Louis Vitale.

Ordinarily, the all-encompassing ice fog of Oct. 10-12 might have been a sense reducer, but I had to go see my friends Paul and Shea, and watch all the semi-trucks jackknife on the freeway. No letup there...

The very next day, my sister and niece arrived in Denver for a fast visit, so we took them wandering around the 16th St. mall, up to Boulder to the Dushanbe teahouse and Ethiopian food, and around the high points of the DIA-downtown corridor.

And, as soon as Lisa and Molly left, there was the political-punky-reggae concert of State Radio to attend, then Ping Chong's moving play about the disabled, Invisible Voices, then helping get the registration and repairs for Abby's new Jetta ready.

And then a Saturday night of Middle Eastern food and beer-tasting pumpkin brews, and a million other adventures. Some time around Shakira's performance on Saturday Night Live (yeah, that's right, blame Shakira), the nerve system shorted out. BRZILCH! Time for a reboot! Luckily, there are several days of low-input, low-impact activities to bring the applications back up in the brain. I just hope I don't have to endure the real-life equivalent of Microsoft's "Blue Screen of Death."


Ruth said...

I am so sorry you have to deal with shingles. I learned a lot from your post, stuff I didn't know even though my sister has the chronic variety. She came to help us two different weeks before the wedding, and just a few days before, she started getting a rash and thought, oh no! I'll be contagious and unable to attend the event itself! But it turned out not to be shingles that time. Weird. But she had been very stressed out about her business, and she actually viewed the work at our place as a reprieve (funny how it doesn't seem that way to me).

I'm glad you can recoup for some time now.

Your sister and her daughter look nice. That snow is crazy all over the green.

Loring Wirbel said...

What's crazier, Ruth, is that it's 75 degrees today. Basking in the sun....