My experience with chickenpox

I knew I would be busy for about a week, running around for five to six consecutive days, so I envisaged the break from the blog. Next post by schedule was going to be on June 7th. But I did not expect the extra one week of the chickenpox torture that had to follow.

Oh my!!! This past week was the most taunting period of my life.

It was a weekend of family reunion, fun and celebrations in my hometown, every member of my family, their families, friends and well wishers were around. There was a wedding and a birthday in view, so hey every road led to Iyara-Ijumu.

Amidst the whole excitement, was a mood dampener for me. Well just a little at first because I thought I was merely having a mild reaction.

Let me guess, it’s just acne or water reaction…

I first noticed a pop up (blister) on my right breast, on Sunday the 3rd, which I ignored and generally assumed to be a zit.

The following morning, the blister had gone from one to a couple more. And naturally I thought it was just a reaction.

Around here, we tend to blame the water for our woes, when clearly there could be other things that might be responsible for such. I increased the quantity of liquid antiseptic in my bath water, because hey what could be bothering my supposedly glowing skin right now if not the water.

Alas! This blisters found their way to my back too, and at first I tried messing around with my Bixby to see what we could find out on the mysterious zits from the internet, but the network was not cooperative.

Alas! The realisation

So, I had to give in to my inner voice which led me to ask my brother whose white wedding we traveled for what I might be dealing with, he confirmed I had the varicella-zoster virus. He mystically had chickenpox come out his entire body during his traditional marriage in May. I presume I contacted it from him at this time, which makes sense considering the time it takes the virus to develop after exposure to someone with the virus.

From the moment I found out what it was till now, I haven’t been the same. It came out fully on Thursday 7th June, the day I was scheduled to publish a post (which I was still working on). Unfortunately, that was the day I could barely move a muscle, it was the height of the torture.

Well technically, I did move my muscles, I was extremely itchy. So I flexed my arms trying to reach my back with a soft cloth. I have now just passed the drying out stage, where everything around me seems to be irritating to me. You just keep experiencing these different stages of discomfort.

Here are some thoughts:

What is the cause of the infection? And reinfection sometimes after you might have experienced it before? Low immunity? Does it mean it’s actually a myth that once battled forever battled? And WHY is there no actual cure? Besides the vaccines? How long does the vaccine last before you become susceptible?

How do I know it is chicken pox and not shingles? Especially since both rashes are similar and caused by the same virus. Such that if you’ve had chickenpox in the past (which I presume I have), you can still contract shingles?

That’s because the virus remains in the body, lying dormant in the root of nerves and can get reactivated many years later.

The reason for the reawakening is not clear, but researchers believe that the virus is triggered when the immune system weakens with age (I’m not even that old) or in conditions of stress (definitely stress for me).

I noticed a pattern, quite easily; it seems to appear at the oddest periods. My immediate elder brother came down with the virus at the same time I did (not the one who got married). He was doing a lot of running around st the time too, so it seems being extra active or super busy helps to push them out.

Oh well, I answered myself. But the question still remains, does anyone know why they get infected by chickenpox? I mean, besides the obvious fact that they came in contact with the virus. Well, never mind my ramblings.

How I managed the experience

This thing brought me to a standstill. I was somewhat isolated (in a well ventilated room please not a quarantine), and I have a toddler human to cater for (in has attention seeking stage too). Thank goodness for my forebearing husband who became daddy, mummy and nurse all in one. I DON’T know what I would have done.

Life mostly slows down for over a week or less, if one is lucky to get a good medication that can help put a stop to the number of blisters increasing from its hundreds to thousands.

I bathed bread of soda which is basically baking soda in the bath water. I applied calamine lotion afterwards to pacify the itching and other times I used vitamin E oil which hydrates the skin and remove darkened and dead skin cells from the surface. There were times I had to use a soft cloth to hit my back, because the itching DOESN’T completely stop.

Foods TO Eat and Foods NOT to Eat

Yes, this one was a shock I am GRATEFUL for.

I found out that there are foods to eat during the chickenpox torture (good lysine to arginine) such as carrots, yogurt, fish, CHICKEN and specific fruits to discourage the growth of the virus. And foods to avoid during chickenpox (bad lysine to arginine that helps the virus grow), such as nuts and seeds, grains, caffeine, chocolates and some other fruits.

This is something a lot of people are probably not yet aware of, even health care providers. The person who administered injection to me offered me groundnuts to eat before I could be injected because I was yet to eat anything that day. It will help a lot to know about this just in case.

And My Hair…

My hair (natural African hair) has not seen care in two weeks. And I cannot begin to describe how I have managed the blisters on my head, because I did not.

Current state and recovery

I’m still occasionally itchy with the sensational feeling of been bitten by a tiny insect, but a lot more sore (as the blisters dried out) and my hips too because of my sleeping position in the last couple of days.

There are a few ways to treat the aftermath spots using a number of oils and brightening black soap. But before getting to the phase of the spots, while the blisters scabs over and when approaching complete healing some oils like sandalwood oil, coconut oil, and even cocoa butter can be applied for relief and help reduce scarring.

I am currently using a mixture of coconut oil and palm kernel oil with a few drops of lavender essential oil and other times blackseed oil.

Coconut oil is known as an antibacterial and antifungal, and is an excellent moisturizer for skin.

Palm kernel oil though has a pungent smell, but happens to be one powerful oil that most people just do not bother about. It has sufficient amount of Vitamin E, tocotrienols, and a good amount of anti-oxidants.

This oil provides relief to itchy skin and leaves the skin feeling soft. I don’t know if all of the above ways I have managed my situation has had a major effect, or just mere coincidence that my skin looks so good.


Scabs are falling

Still on the recovery and aftermath

For the next few months ahead, I’ll be supplementing Vitamin C, antiviral herbs like turmeric and garlic if I can manage the after smell. Antiviral herbs helps the immune system by boosting and supporting recovery, the part I am most excited about.

Please note (as a victim of this virus who might be reading this) that though chickenpox will leave you feeling less active and unable to do major work for about a week or more, depending on its severity; but as soon as the scabs starts to fall off you’ll be able to return to some normal activities right after.

Also, from the conversations with people during the whole experience, one can tell that there is the tendency to feel terribly sad about the spots on the skin. Talking about how it will deter them in some way (applicable to other skin diseases too).

Well, we should never forget that this doesn’t take away the fact that one is absolutely awesome and beautiful. My husband asked if i’m worried about the spots, well I have resolved to enjoy it while it lasts as it makes me feel like a leopard, and I’m not joking around.

Of course, personally I will be following certain skin care routine and diet too specifically meant to soothe, nourish and restore my skin. But in the course of all that, thoughts about what people will think when they see you with spots all over should be put far away. Remember, the skin is just housing the actual beauty that you really are.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

A penny for your thoughts...