Years ago, Peter and I participated in a study of a shingles vaccine. Because it was a double-blind study, we didn’t know whether we had been given the real vaccine or a placebo. When it was found effective, the study directors contacted those of us who had gotten the placebo and invited us to be the first to get the vaccine. Peter had gotten the real stuff; I had to get inoculated.
So when I noticed a painful bite-like rash near my scalp after going to the movies a few weeks ago, I decided that there had been some spiders in the movie theater. A few days later, because the rash was spreading and more painful, I made an appointment with my dermatologist. Then a friend told me that she thought the rash looked like shingles. “Of course not,” I said. “I got the vaccine.”
By then, I was feeling pretty awful and since my dermatologist appointment was a couple of days away, I went to my primary care doctor who confirmed my friend’s suspicion.
Because the outbreak was close to my eye, I had to see an opthamologist immediately because ocular shingles can damage your eyes. Fortunately, although my eye was nearly swollen shut, my shingles had not spread that far.
Now, three weeks later, I am much better. My rash is less angry and I have finished the anti-viral medication that made me feel worse, not better. My head still aches, but not so badly.
Bottom line: Get the vaccine, but remember that not all spider bites are from spiders.