At age 67, rock music enthusiast, avid runner and California native Jon was brought to his knees by shingles, a disease that approximately one in three people in the United States will develop in their lifetime.
Jon maintains a healthy and active lifestyle. He is the first American to reach 50 consecutive years of running at least one mile every day. Despite this healthy lifestyle, he contracted shingles and was shocked by how much damage it caused a physically fit man like himself.
“I felt a stinging sensation after a long bike ride. It was a hot September day and I figured I had been exposed to poison oak. I continued on without thinking it could be something more.”
Anyone who has gotten chickenpox is at risk of contracting shingles, also known as herpes zoster. When chickenpox becomes dormant within the nerves, it can reactivate later in life, causing shingles. Shingles typically presents as a painful, itchy rash that develops on one side of the body and can last for two to four weeks.
“My experience with shingles was excruciating. I experienced a range of symptoms, from trouble sleeping because of the blisters to crippling pain throughout my body.”
When the pain did not subside, Jon visited his doctor, who confirmed that he had shingles. Jon’s active lifestyle immediately changed. He refrained from going out in public and could only take cold showers because hot water would reactivate the irritating blisters.
“Shingles took over my life. I felt helpless in my own body. This was truly a paralyzing feeling for me.”
“My experience with shingles ended up lasting about six months. Though I am feeling much better today, I can still feel the stiffness left by shingles in my right glute.”
Approximately 10-18 percent of patients with shingles experience post-herpetic neuralgia, a pain lasting from at least three months up to several years.
“My biggest regret is that I took my health for granted. I didn’t take the time to learn about shingles symptoms or how likely it was for people my age to develop this virus.”
The truth is, anyone 50 years or older, even if you’re a healthy, active person, is considered at risk for shingles.
Jon learned firsthand that shingles doesn’t play favorites. Now, as a GSK spokesperson, Jon works to educate adults about shingles, the risks of the disease and the importance of talking to a doctor about vaccination.
If you’re 50 years of age and older, talk to your doctor about vaccination against shingles. Vaccination will help reduce the risk of developing shingles and the potential long-term pain from post-herpetic neuralgia, a common complication caused by the disease.
For more information, visit www.ShinglesDoesntPlayFavorites.com.
This is one person’s experience; other people’s experience with shingles may be different.