Friday, May 13, 2005

Er-Peas

I have a giant cold sore coming out today. Even the Denavir is not zapping it like it usually does. Last summer, three days before the ceremony, I felt a cold sore coming on. Of course-- high stress usually leads to an outbreak for me. I called my old dermatologist who had me come in right away. There was a steroid shot waiting for me and three prescriptions-- Denavir, Prednisone, and Valtrex. It was totally embarrassing filling these scripts since two days before I had come in with a note for Ortho-TriCyclen. Usually I don't like to mess with my menstrual cycle, but the moon was so aligned that I was going to get my period either on the day of the ceremony or immediately after. There was no way I was going to let that happen, so I treated myself horomonally. Anyhow, I am quite sure that my pharmacist now thinks I am a giant slut-- birth control and major herpes medication in a span of less than a week. Oh well.

While I vacation this year, I noticed my neck itching like crazy. Actually, just under my chin. It started after a little sea bathing. I kept itching away, and then realized that little dots were forming. Ah, I recognized this. It's happened to me before. The first time it was right before I started my freshman year of college. We were in South Carolina, and it was making me nuts-- the itching! My father looked at it and thought perhaps it was impetigo. I had just finished a summer stint working in a toy store, so exposure to this was possible. Of course, I felt dirty and awful when thinking of it. I am a pretty clean person, and at one point in life was taking two showers a day! (I've cut down to one now, kids, it's okay.) Euh. The rash went away and has only recurred a few times since there-- maybe this time was the fourth time it has been back since I was 17.

The itching, like all previous times, was absolutely horrid. Partner kept telling me to go into the pharmacia and get some antibacterial ointment, and I resolutely refused until one day we were in the city of Mahon. I popped into a nice little chemist shop, and asked the man behind the counter, as best as possible, if he had anything for my rash. He looked at my neck in a horrified manner and just shook his head. He didn't say a thing, just sat there shaking his head with an odd mean little frown.

"See," I said to Partner as we stumbled back out in the bright Spanish light, "that's what I got for listening to you-- being treated like I had leprosy! It's just a fucking rash!" She agreed the man was odd about it.

Two days the itching was still making me nuts. The only thing that made it feel better was the sea. Here is where my Gramma was vindicated in her opinion that the salt water cures everything, a position I heartily espouse myself. But once out of the salt water, the itching resumed, and it appeared the rash might be spreading. Since we were again wandering a city, this time Ciutadella, I agreed to try a pharmacia again. Two people in white coats were standing behind a very old fashioned wooden counter. I asked the pharmacist if he spoke English. "A little" he told me, in Spanish. So again in Spanish/English/English/Spanish we tried to communicate. I showed him my rash. He took my arm and lead me to the door, tilted my face up, exposing my bright red blistered neck to the sun. "This happen before?" he queried as he touched it. "Si, si! It has!"

"Er-peas," he said to me. "Er-peas! Es Er-peas! Er-peas! No sun now." He left through a doorway and Partner and I looked at each other.

"Herpes? Is that what he was saying?" she asked me.

"Yes. Shhh. Stop saying it." I said. "Should we leave? Was that it?" Whereupon the pharmacist reappeared with a tube of cream.

"Four times a day. For Er-peas. Do this 4 times for Er-peas." I think he may have said "er-peas" at least seven more times. (The tube cost me 2 Euros, which in and of itself is shocking. Everything in Europe is more expensive, it seems, except prescription drugs. That same tube at home would probably have run me over fifty smackers, easy.)

I could swear to you that when left his store, I heard him say, "Adios, er-peas!"

Since then I've learned that 50-80% of Americans are infected with HSV1, but only the lucky 10-20% of us get lesions, and that most people are infected as infants! Yet it is only the truly blessed that get to find out their "rash" is herpes in a small Mediterranean town where the pharmacist is apparently also employed as the town crier, calling out "er-peas, er-peas" after you as you walk innocently down the street.

9 Comments:

Blogger Chloe said...

OMG that just cracked me up.. hopefully it was meant to be funny!!

4:35 PM  
Blogger Katie (WannaBeMom) said...

Yes, it was meant to be funny. I mean, how seriously can you take "er-peas", right? It actually made us laugh for the entire trip and if the mood ever got heavy, all Partner or I would need to say was "er-peas" and we'd be laughing again. Glad I made you laugh!

4:39 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

I get cold sores too. I keep a prescription of acyclovir in my purse and another at home at all times. As soon as I feel the tingle on my lip I start taking it. This usually keeps the sore to a minimum. Usually they stay so small that no can see them.

I see people with them all the time and am amazed that more people do not know there is an oral medication that can treat the infection.

All I have to do is be in the room with someone who has a cold sore and mine will start up within a day or so. For awhile I took one acyclovir pill a day to ward off any infections. I went so long without a flare-up that I quit the once-a-day thing and only take it now when I feel one coming on.

I never liked the topicals. They took too long to work and my lip would still swell and get v. painful before the cream started to work. The pills seem to work from the inside and get the virus where it lives...in the ganglia in your brain.

You are right, they are a lot more common than people realize. I was also told one time, by a doctor, that if you got the oral version of herpes you were immune to the genital version. I don't ever plan to try this theory out but it is an interesting thought. You can however transmit the same oral version of the virus to the genitals. ICK!

I hope yours goes away quickly.

8:01 AM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

This post cracked me up!

I hope the itching is long gone. :)
And welcome back, btw!

3:01 PM  
Blogger Career Guy said...

I wonder sometimes what pharmacists must think about their customers. The last time I had kidney stones and was really suffering, some prissy pharmacist refused to fill my pain medication because she thought the script was fishy. I tried not to feel like a "drug seeker" when I filled a Vicodin prescription this week after kidney surgery. None of their business, right?

8:18 PM  
Blogger Katie (WannaBeMom) said...

ah! John, no doubt! I had a giant sty in my eye, and my dad, who's a doc, called a script in for me, but they hadn't "gotten" it yet, and they acted like I was nuts. I was like, LOOK AT MY STY, YOU IDIOTS!

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Manuela said...

As I'm sitting here trying not to worry away at a Vesuvian-proportioned MONSTER of a cold-sore that is at that really painful swollen throbbing stage... this post was JUST the chuckle I needed!

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I know this is an old post, but I'm a cold sore sufferer, especially at times of high stress or sickness, so I take a vitamin called Lysine. It helps to prevent coldsores. So whenever i get run down, sick or stressed, I take a Lysine tablet a day til I feel better, you can also get a lip balm with Lysine in it. I took the tablets every day for two full months before my wedding day and not a cold sore in sight.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Valtrex Prescription Information said...

My name is Lisa Betty and i would like to show you my personal experience with Valtrex.

I am 33 years old. Have been on Valtrex for 18 months now. My HHV-6 IgG levels have not dropped, but my fatigue did improve enough to get me out of bed most days. This is one of the best things I've done with fighting chronic fatigue syndrome to improve my health. I also experience shingles in my neck while already on Valtrex, and I am positive that it helped keep the rash to a minimum.

I have experienced some of these side effects -
I have to wash off the blue coating because I react to dyes (and GSK will no longer sell the drug to compounding pharmacies). Mild constipation upon initially starting it which resolved on its own.

I hope this information will be useful to others,
Lisa Betty

2:09 PM  

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