It’s just a scratch.

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Because it’s literally all I can think about, let’s talk about shingles for a moment.

Before a week and a half ago, I had no idea what it was aside from a thing old people got. When talking with Loudass last weekend and noting the freshly received diagnosis, he blurted out “YOU’RE STRESSED? WHAT THE HELL DO YOU HAVE TO BE STRESSED OUT ABOUT?” To his point, I don’t really have anything to be stressed out about so I wasn’t sure what brought this on. In the time since that conversation, I’ve become a rather unwilling armchair expert on the topic, so let me take a moment to dispel some myths, and perhaps, as the kids say, ‘drop a bit of knowledge‘.

So for those who don’t know, shingles is the chicken pox virus. If you had it as a kid, the virus still lives in the nerve roots in your spine. It appears as a red rash with blisters which if treated early, will heal in a couple of weeks. The pain of the nervous system lasts much longer however, and in some instances, never leaves. Now that I know some ins and outs about the virus, to my ear, the name ‘shingles’ sounds a bit innocuous. I rather prefer ‘Creeping Misery’ or ‘NQDBPFC’ (not quite death, but pretty fucking close).

Also, it’s not just old people who get it, and it isn’t necessarily just brought on exclusively by emotional stress. In speaking with folks, I’ve found the causes can range from one woman who got it when she was twelve during her parents’ divorce to a fellow I know in his mid thirties who got it after a particularly grueling workout at the gym. In my case, after a year of physical stresses, plus a fair amount of maintenance on my nervous system, it seems as though a perfect storm was created. People who know far more about it than I do have told me that it’s actually better that it came out because holding onto it takes a huge amount of energy. In the big picture, and because I haven’t been vaccinated for it, nor did the hospital give me steroids to combat the rash, allowing it to run its course will be far more beneficial in the long term, and in some instances, actually result in potentially better health.

For me, it began quite strangely, and was maybe why the friendly advice nurse on the phone initially told me I had nothing to worry about. I’d come home from meeting a friend at the bar, and I felt like I had a big scratch on my back, but there wasn’t anything there. The following day, my left arm felt sunburned, the pain from which eventually migrated to the back of my hand. Within a day a small red circle appeared on my side, which to me looked like a small patch of psoriasis. Naturally I put a dab of psoriasis gel on it, which hurt like hell, followed by the ingestion of a bunch of probiotics. It turns out while probiotics are never a bad thing, the gel actually scarred the spot I put it on, so if you happen to experience similar symptoms, don’t do that.

Once full blown (Sylvester Stallone), the virus shows up as a rash that spreads from your spine to your sternum on either your left or right side and travels along the path of your nerves. Some people have noted that it feels like hundreds of alcohol soaked needs pushing through your skin, while others say it’s like all of the nerves in your torso are being zapped by live wires. Sometimes it spreads across one’s face, and into the mouth, which if left untreated can result in blindness. Believe me, after Googling ‘shingles blisters’, I’m more than well aware that things could be worse.

In my case it simply felt like the worst sunburn I’ve ever had, covered in poison oak blisters, and having my muscles injected with white-hot liquid hatred.

It’s really unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Every hair follicle on my chest hurts, (of which I have many) and when I walk, the impact of each step painfully resonates through my skin and facia.

Also please note- In no way, shape, or form am I complaining or looking for pity. I’m simply ruminating on this insane thing because currently it’s literally all I can think about. And perhaps offering/looking for support to and from others who’re having or have had the same experience.

We’re all in a club that no one wants to be a member of.
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Now that I’ve gotten that of my chest, (so to speak), let’s get on with the standard rigamarole.

First, I would like to thank Ethan and those other sods at Breadwinner Bikecycles for a nice little care package that arrived the other day containing a very handsome new chapeau, my model for which took time away from her busy schedule of overseeing all that occurs in my studio;
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Having long been a fan of the ever popular form of cycling headwear, and even writing an ode to it, I cannot thank the winners of bread enough for their contribution to my collection.

If by chance, one of these might by chance strike your fancy, reach out to them and snag one for yourself.

Your hairs and misshapen skull will both most likely appreciate it greatly.

And speaking of hairs, despite the fact that it’s March, and some might contend that cross season ended in January, Cx Hairs just published a post proving that until we hear a fat lady sing, it just simply ain’t over;
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All photos courtesy Brett Rothmeyer.

I support this directive with a vengeance.

Likewise, and an event I have barely heard nary a peep about was January’s Rumble In The Concrete Jungle;
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All photos courtesy of Pink Bike and Go Jam Media.

Do I really exist that far beneath a rock that I didn’t hear about this beforehand? Man, I must be losing my touch.

Holy cannelloni, does that look like a good time though.

On both bikes, as well as a rollerboard, natch.

If anyone who darkens this virtual doorway was there, or plans on attending next year, do me the solid and clue me in next time. It looks like an absolute gas.

Unless you happened to case one of those hips, which would most likely leave you with a bit more of a scratch.
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5 Responses to “It’s just a scratch.”

  1. Lee Flythe March 9, 2016 at 7:19 am #

    Stevil……thanks for mentioning Rumble!!! I’m the guy who puts in on. It’s a blast, and super unique (how often do you get to bomb down a dry manmade whitewater channel?!?) It’s kind of like a downhill race, kind of like riding a skatepark, and good times all around. Come check it out next year!

  2. al b-madison March 9, 2016 at 7:38 am #

    wow. a sincere hope that you can get back to doing the things you want to do very soon & leave this bs behind.

  3. Craig March 9, 2016 at 7:41 am #

    I’ve had skin issues all my life. Yours is an apt description: “white-hot liquid hatred”.

    • Stevil March 9, 2016 at 8:50 am #

      Get yourself on a run of high quality probiotics. My wife swears that nine out of ten times, skin issues are related to gut health.

  4. John March 9, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

    Dude, that is one tough year you’re having. Makes me feel like I need to quit my cryin’ before the world gives me something to cry about.