Thursday, September 19, 2019

Return to Chernoybl – or why Beans has been missing except for comments.

And now for something Completely Different...

This summer was weird. Spring was dry and cooly summerish, while Summer was a wet, fetid hell. Mold and mildew everywhere, strange Lovecraftian sounds and vague glances of new horrors that… no, it’s a rooster, hello Mr. Rooster…

With the molds and mildews came the worse case of combined low-grade sinus infections and upper respiratory maladies that just made it miserable to try to breath indoors, let alone outside in the Mugginess…

So that, along with some other issues with the better half of my life, sucked all fun and energy out of the summer.

Then, came…

Day 1. (calendar date 08/23/19) Must keep journal. United Healthcare (it’s a lie, it’s not healthcare…) broke in and this tech looking vaguely Jeffish Goldbloomy tossed me into some strange portable reactor and said, “You’re costing us too much money, kid, so suck it!” A loud bang, much flashing of strange lights piercing my skin to my very core, the tech deposited my maligned body back into my bed. All seems normal except for the creepy crackling under my skin, as if small insects or cracks in my skull were occurring. 

What the UH Guy looked like before he tossed me into the portable reactor.
(no, actually from "The Fly")

Day 2. (calendar date 08/24/19) No more visits from UH goons, looking like Jeff Goldblum or not. Thankfully. Right forehead still crackly, like the feeling of a deep bruise breaking up and sending daggers of clots into the blood stream, or like the way the forehead felt when Dr. Zorro hacked out a cancer clump (benign, thankfully, and it wasn’t his brother Dr. Drunken Zorro, so the scars are minimal and nice looking.)

Day 3. (calendar date 08/25/19) Subtle concerns as to what may have happened to my right forehead. Warmer to touch, not swollen, but not painful, much. Definitely wondering if cancer has returned. Must watch for further signs. Getting an urge to eat liquid food. Curious.

Day 4. (calendar date 08/26/19) My hair on the top of my head hurts. Little needles spiking into my skin. Hmmm. (takes shower, hits area with hot water and soap) Sensation of pain has lessened. Scrubbed all oils off, felt like beginnings of poison ivy or other biological reaction. Increase Benadryl intake, monitor. Forehead still crackling in pain, reaction noted previously (years ago) either connected to cancer (please, no) or reaction to waxy green plants… Must continue to monitor.

Day 5 (calendar date 08/28/19) right side of face above eye swelling, red, definitely looks like poison ivy, as weepy lesions are appearing. Pain. Oh, the pain… Swelling bad. Right eye problems seeing. Pain. Right Eyebrow definitely growing all Cro-Magnon. Face looking bad, real bad. Not feeling good at all. Feel like I’m in a transitional state to something… PAIN!!!! ADVIL NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!!! PAIN!!!!!!!! 

Artist's rendition of Bean's whole face if Bean's whole face was affected
(from the movie "The Fly")

Day 6 (calendar date 08/29/19) Bzzt, bzzzztttt! Bzt. Bzzzt, bzzzttttbzzztttt. BZZZZZTTTTT! BZTTTTTTTTT!!!! (Mrs. Andrew, “Let me look at you! Now!”) BBBZZZTTTTT!!! BZZTTTZTTZTTT!! (“Get over here and let me look at you or I’ll…) (Beans-brain, must reassert itself!)(Brundle-Beans – BRZTTT!!ZZT!BRRZZZTTTTT!) (Mrs. Andrew, “Calling Doctor B., NOW! (phone conversation) You’re going to the Doctor at 2:30pm today or ELSE) Beans-brain and Brundle-Beans – “Yes, ma’am.” (Have I ever said how much I really love my wife? Well, lots. Like supertanker much in a 5 gallon gas can world. Or even more…) 

Artist's rendition of what Beans would look like if his whole face looked like the right upper quadrant of his face...
(yes, from "The Fly", duh)

So me and Brundle-me go to the doc. I’m still thinking it is a bad poison something (oak, ivy, some other waxy green thingy (I am allergic to waxy green thingies)) or to the flea goop I gooped the dog with. Get to the docs, with hat on and sunglasses as my face is even more atrocious looking than ever, get checked in, get taken back by the Doc’s Nurse, who asks me why I’m there, so I take off my hat and glasses and say to her “I am not an animal, I am a human being.” And she says, “That’s the worse case of…. I’ve ever seen…”

So she calls another nurse over, who immediately says, “That’s the worse case of…. I’ve ever seen…”

Trundled off to Exam Room #7, the Beans Suite, which seems small without Mrs. Andrew, Lurch (her power chair, which lurches at high speed, thus “Lurch”) or Dog Kegan also there, like in normal times. And I wait, and I can actually feel my teeth moving from the swelling (a normal occurrence with me, due to lots of sinus swelling, which cause the upper teeth to shift around, weird, painful, but totally ‘normal’ to me.) And pain. Lots of pain.

Doc B. finally walks in, and I say, “I think I overdid my makeup for my part in ‘Return to Chernobyl,” at the same time he shouts, “That’s the worse case of Shingles I’ve ever seen!” Followed up by the wonderful question of, “Does it hurt a lot?”

My answer was, “It hurts so much I’d rather have a camera shoved up Mr. Happy (which I have had, very painful, pretty much the most painful thing that’s ever happened to me, until…) so what do you think?”

Dr. B. laughs (we have that kind of doctor-patient relationship, and, yes, on seeing a bad bruise from fighting, he has stuck his finger in it and said “Does that Hurt?” Yeah, he’d fit in here on the Chant quite well, would Dr. B.) and says, (yes, he actually said this) “My friend, this is going to suck. But you’ll be okay, for values of okay, as long as you don’t get any direct involvement in your right eye or right ear.”

By this time, the eyelids have swollen until the eye isn’t seeing anything, so he does a visual acuity check with me forcing the eyelids open. Whew, I can still see. And he gives me a hearing check, which matches the last crappy hearing test I had (yeah, my hearing sucks, not from blowing stuff up but more due to bad genetics and really powerful meds as a kid. Tinnitus has been my life-long friend. Yay, me.)

Prognosis, as long as it doesn’t actually affect the eye, go home, take serious drugs. If eye gets funky (actual words) go to the University Emergency Room as they have an on-staff eye doc. Take Valacyclovir and Gabapentin, keep taking Advil and Benadryl, sucks you can’t take opiates (yeah, I’m one of those, can’t do opiates, most anesthetics are very bad for me.) Call if you get significantly worse…

On the way out, get informed by counter people that my medical insurance has been cancelled. WTFudge?

Drive home, in pain, in dark mood, totally pissed at the world.

Get home, inform Mrs. Andrew and Kegan what’s up, call the insurance company that’s recommended by AARP (previously named at top of post, so make your assumptions) and begin conversation with the phone people who only can operate off scripts and show no independent thought and find out that my insurance was cancelled. Not why it was cancelled, but that it was cancelled. So, after a very Anglo-Saxonish tirade on my part, the dweeb on the line realized he was out of his depth, and switched me to someone who could actually maybe answer my question as to why, if they are taking out money for my insurance, why my insurance is cancelled.

Nice lady finally says… “Well, you never answered our letters as to your current residence, so we cancelled you.”

“What residence did you send the letters to?”

“We sent the letters to X address (the address I had for 1 month before moving to current address, of which I informed insurance company at time of move that I had moved.)”

“What? You (tirade full of Anglo-Saxon expressions, few which were very nice) have been sending me mail to my current address since February 2016 so what is your problem? (followed by more not nice stuff…) You !!Y!Y(%(%**R))” (Mrs. Andrew snatches phone out of my hand)

Well, yeah, seems some computer glitch went ‘Glitch’ and said, Hey, Beans, you live at Y address even though we’re sending you mail at Z address and you haven’t responded to our messages sent to Y address so you’re cut off. But we can restart you on September 1st! So things are good, right?


So, get signed up. For to start the following Sunday. Because they screwed up.

F’ing hate the world, I do. Far too often this CARP happens to me. Far, far too often.

Get passed by someone, I get pulled over for going 3 miles over the speed limit (happened twice! By cars that match standard parameters of DRUG COURIER VEHICLES) FML!

Working on killer project, mouse catches on fire and have no backup mouse (I have set 10 of the old-school ball-type computer mouses on fire. Mostly just releasing the magic smoke out of them, but one actually spouted flames and melted! Why? And Why ME?)

Things like that.

Day 7 (calendar day 08/30/19) Pain, fever, the shakes, feel like warmed over dog poo, or any Hormel food product. Grump, must hold out till Sunday, Sept. 1st. Because I’m a cheap bastige, yes I am. Day goes horribly. Dog Kegan headbutts me on the right side of face, I don’t hit him, or punch a hole in the wall, or turn into a giant green dude from anger or pain or both, but… must… control… fists… of… DOOM!!! I go hide in bathroom and cry from pain. I take more Advil, bum a Gabapentin from wife and cut it to roughly right amounts of prescribed material, take G. Hide from world. World SUCKS!!!!

Day 8 (calendar day 08/31/19) Wake up. Right eye has disappeared, replaced by huge swelling. Clean goop out of eye, eye still works… barely. Pain is PAIN. PAIN HURTS. PAIN SO BAD SCREW BEING CHEAP BASTIGE, DRIVE TO PUBLIX, GET DRUGS YOU CHEAP BASTIGE. So I get drugs, get some food down, get drugs down, pass out as sleeping is only way to ignore pain, pain keeps me from sleeping, hate the world, good thing I already had chili frozen, fix chili, can’t eat much, go to bed.

Day 9 (calendar day 9-1-19) Who-the-friggin-hooo, first day back on insurance YOU BASTIGES!!!! (no, I don’t hold grudges (he says while wiring the building with explosives and gasoline.)) Pain really bad, forehead on right side of face, well, actually, head on right side from just below eye over top to back of head even with just below eye level, is swollen and has lumpy pussy bloody lesions appearing all over. Did I mention PAIN? Well. PAIN!

Day 10-current time. Every day, less overall pain. Red is slowly disappearing, as is swelling. Right eye functions better each day as huge amounts of goop come out of eyehole, every day, swab out huge amounts of just goop. Yay. Goop. Lesions drying up, skin on fire. Deep nerve pain appearing. Weeeee.

So now I have a mostly normal looking face, though you can still see a dividing line center of forehead going up from nose, left side perfectly normal, right side still somewhat swollen, barely, and still somewhat red, barely.

But. Pain in eye socket as nerves in skin around eye fire off. Think nail under skin (yes, I’ve nailed myself, it hurts.) Random feelings of hot bacon grease splashing skin (yes, been splashed with hot bacon grease, thanks older brothers…) Random feeling of being hit in unprotected head by hickory stick (Yes…)

Wait? Whut? Hickory stick to Head? Oh, we’ve got to hear this…

Okay, so when doing sword practice, you don’t actually use a real sword, for the most part. And you don’t actually hit real people, until you know how to use a sword. So, in the SCA, we use pell sticks instead of real swords (which we don’t use, we use rattan) and they’re usually hickory axe and hammer handles (because you don’t want to pulp your good rattan, do you?) And we use, instead of a wooden pell (a pell is a sword target thingy. Think Bayonet Practice. That hanging dummy? That’s a pell, sort of.) Being SCAdian, we tend to make pells out of tires, no, seriously, old tires, either nailed to a post in the yard (or on a moveable base made out of a tire filled with cement with which the post is inserted into) or a hanging pell (somewhat bodyish shape made by tires tied together hanging from a tree.)

One takes the pell stick, approaches the pell, and practices one’s shots. Forehand shots, backhand shots, this shot, that shot, hammer shot. Ah, the Hammer Shot. Imagine you have a hammer in your hand. And there’s a nail sticking out of the center of the enemy’s helm (in this case, since it’s a pell, it’s a rubber tire masquerading as a helm. So you swing your hammer-shot from in front of your face into the center of Mr. Pell. Which is a rubber car tire. Which rebounds your pell stick back at you. Into your face, if you’re not careful. Which everyone I know has whacked themselves with a pell stick from such a rebound from a hammer shot. Weeeee! Who knew medieval fighting could be so much fun. And, so, yessssss, I do know what it feels like to get whacked in the face by a wooden stick, hard. (I may throw a not-fast shot, but no-one has ever accused me of throwing a light shot. Usually quite the opposite, if I may say so myself (well, as my Knight has told me many times, “If you don’t win, but three days later they’re still rubbing their bruises and complaining about you, you’ve actually made an impression on them… (Bdum-ching….))

Prognosis: Pain will eventually go away, but may take up to a year or more… Shingles doesn’t come back, usually, but chance of reoccurrence of shingles is increased if one has had multiple cases of Chicken Pox. Well… Damn. Had Chicken Pox, Twice! Beans can’t be normal, can he? Swelling will slowly go away, up to 5-6 weeks. Eye should return to 100% pre-Shingles, once all the lesions inside the eyelids heal, and the eye quits snotting and gooping huge amounts of stuff.

Recommendations: If you have had Chicken Pox, and you haven’t had Shingles yet, and you can afford it, GET THE VACCINE!

Don’t be Beans. Don’t think, “Nahhhh, I’ll never get shingles, I can save the money…”

And that’s what I’ve been doing this summer. Any reason why I’ve been in a fouler mood than normal? Nahhhh....


  1. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.


    All is forgiven.

    1. Yeah, wouldn't be so bad if not for icepick in eye jabby feeling (have had ice pick in skin, not eye, so just extrapolating pain. Oh, the Pain.

      As to forgiveness, nothing to forgive. It is just my life...

  2. Holy Guacamole, Beans-man! I'll add you to the prayer list. Even if it offends ye. You made a believer out of me. Shingles shot on the horizon.....

    I hope you can rest easy.

    1. Prayers gladly accepted. Right now I'd try an Exorcist to chase the pain away.

      Resting? Hmmm, can't lay on right side as pillow hurts face. Can't lay on left side as weight of face hurts face. Can't lay on back because I don't lay on back. So sleep when I can.

      Shingles vaccine, hope it works to chase the evil away.

  3. Holy smokes! How not to spend a summer. Ya......echo STxAR here, that shot will be lined up.

    1. Right now I'd smother myself in Holy Smoke if it would stop the pain. From just a few minutes ago feeling like an icepick, now it's gone to roadrash feeling as all the dead, dying, regrowing nerve paths are firing off.

      Something like 30% of shingles victims have shingles-induced neuropathy. Chance gets larger as one is over 50yoa, also due to severity.

      Yeah, I've done enough bad stuff to warrant a case of Karma, but why the Friggin FACE??? Just felt like someone set a ladyfinger off under my right eyebrow.

      And screaming in pain just scares wife and dog, so nothing else to do except 1. create padded room and hide, or, 2. be stoic. I don't have room for a padded room, so painful stoicism for a 1000, Alex.

      As to summer, well, back in the day, every spring and fall I'd spend 2-3 weeks at home coughing up lung-butter and snotting myself to death, losing about 10lbs from the lack of nutrition found in mucus and snot, so I've had worse problems. Just would have been nice for the allergies and allergy-induced issues to have gone away before my face decided to catch on FIRE!!!! Argh. Worse off, can't wear an eyepatch because pain!!! So not even cool pirate factor, except maybe pirate-leper, and nothing's cool about leprosy.

  4. Holy Air Farce!!! Sorry for your travail, and yes I've had my Shingles vaccine!

    1. Oh, I so wish I had gotten the vaccine. I soooooo wish I had the vaccine. But knowing my luck (chicken pox, twice) it wouldn't have worked....

  5. SwmbO had shingles some time ago. I, being the astute observer of things around me, ran to the local Krogers screaming "SHINGLES SHOT!!! gimme, gimme, gimme NOW NOW NOW!!!"

    So yes, I've had my shingles shot.

    Sorry to hear of your travails, glad you're better now.

    1. An acquaintance of mine had it on one of her hips, a red spot about 4 inches long, with a few angry mosquito bites, and she carried on like it was the end of the world.

      Yeah, I could be so fortunate. The only thing keeping Dr. B. from hospitalizing me is he knows I am my wife's caretaker, so I really needed to be home, rather than occupying space in a hospital. That is the only reason I wasn't in the medical slammer.

      Better in the 'my face isn't melting like one of the Nazis in 'Raiders of the Lost Arc' but actually the pain, now that it is coming in waves and not just constant, is actually harder to deal with. I have to fight one style of pain by clenching my eye shut as hard as I can and I can feel the excess liquid around the eye shoot out, which makes me fear I just ruptured my eye. An over-active imagination is NOT a good thing.

      Thanks. Glad you had your SS. Bet you'd never thought you'd hear a reference to good SS, didya! We here at the Chant try to provide new and exciting experiences constantly... :)

  6. Well, $--t. If I had the magic cure, I would be on a plane today. But, I don't. Hope it helps to know that the crew here is pulling for you.

    1. If you had the magic cure, you'd be able to afford your own plane, your own fleet of planes.

      Yes it helps to know that y'all are pulling for me. Thanks.

  7. Damn, Sounds down right awful, prayers up that you are better soon!

    1. Totally damn. Like so painful it's in the 'I wouldn't wish this pain on my worse enemy' level, but I am a vindictive bastige so I do wish this pain on my worse enemy, on the dude who parked in the fire lane to play ATM, on the dem candidates, on the repubs that cave on gun control, on all the leaders of Iran and Communist China and, and, and...

      Thanks for the prayers. Hoping that the nerve pain goes away soon. Also hoping that winter comes soon as cold frozen air feels good and Mrs. Andrew keeps telling me to get my face out of the freezer.

    2. Oh, I'm right there with you on wishing shingles on a vast swath of politicians, Antifa members, useless oxygen thieves (but I repeat myself about politicians and Antifa), the leaders of Iran and Communist etc.

  8. Good Lord.....that sounds even worse than what I've read about shingles.

    Yes, I've had the childhood disease that primes you for shingles the rest of your life.

    Shingles shot is scheduled for next week, *IF* my Doctor's office gets more of the vaccine. They seem to be in short supply of it here...

    Prayers sent, Mr. Beans, and you have my complete sympathy.

    Was it Halsey or Nimitz who got clobbered by shingles? Hmmmm...I should know that.....

    1. Well, most people develop a mild to medium case of shingles, on the body somewhere. Few get it on the face, few get a severe case of lumpy, on-fire swelling. But my luck, face and extremely severe. As mentioned in a comment above, my doc was really considering hospitalizing me but didn't because I take care of my wife. Soo....

      Yeah, Chicken Pox sucked the first time, sucked worse the second time AND I gave it to my dad. Oh, what fun having CP as an adult must have been. Kinda like... shingles...

      Glad you're getting the vaccine. Because active shingles sores can pass the Pox to unwary people, and I know you like having small sprout-like hoomans at your house. Right now I can't have one of our friends over because she's never had the pox and she's carrying. So Quarantine time. But, well, I'd go around touching everyone at walmart if I could get away with it, because I am a grouchy bastige right now.

      Thanks for the prayers and sympathy. I think I'd rather just have dropped a cinderblock on my foot, again.

      And Nimitz. Apparently, fretting and worrying about his forces brought on shingles.

    2. Re: Nimitz. Shingles, in the Pacific, with no AC. That had to SUUUUUUUUUCKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!

    3. When I was but a wee sprout, I had the worst case of chicken pox my Doctor said he'd ever seen. I was laid up for about a month, and missed a lot of school.

      Then when I was vaccinated for smallpox, it never "took". No big blister like you usually got. Then as an adult who was going to be traveling overseas, I got vaccinated again, with the same result. Nothing. They gave me a second vaccination, and that, too, never took.

      My Doctors have always been mystified by this, but I might be a prime candidate for getting clobbered by shingles, and I'd rather not get it.....

  9. Oof. Oww. Beans, I feel your pain (literally, because I swear four years after having shingles there's days when I wake up and the right side of my belly itches for no good reason whatsoever other than that's where the whole thing started for me). Seconded on GET THE SHINGLES VACCINE if you can afford it and are of the age where they'll give it to you. Most miserable month of my life.

    1. Belly would have been nice, side, back, the usual places would all have been nice. But the Face?

      Mrs. Andrew has been totally understanding but she keeps cackling about me waking up and the sun singing to me (reference to the opening scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where the Mexican with the one-sided facial burn says just that, well, in Spanish...) (Her weirdness and mine make a wonderful combination.

      I've had some miserable times of my life and you are right. This is the, so far and I hope it stays that way, most miserable period. Pulsing nerve pain sucks, have had that all my life. FLAMING SCREAMING PULSING NERVE PAIN AS SATAN'S IMPS PEEL MY SKIN OFF AND POUR FLAMING HOT SALT ON THE OPEN WOUND? THAT SUCKS BIG TIME!!!!! ow, ow, ow... :)

  10. Well, that ain’t no fun. My brother had ‘em, but so far I’ve been lucky. Feel better soon...

  11. Give it to your local politicians, so we can crack jokes about “shingles on a sh!t” instead of the usual “sh!t on a shingle”?

  12. I feel for ya. My better half had shingles on her face and it was not fun for her. FWIW, I had the original one-dose vaccine about 5 years ago but less than a year ago I took the new 2-dose version called Shingrix. Efficacy rated as high-90's percentile for ages 50-70 then drops off to low-90's to high-80's percentile for the older folks. Second dose hurt much worse than the first dose but it is nothing to what you are describing...Best to your recovery.

  13. As usual, whenever I start feeling sorry for my own woes reality introduces me to to the concept of "it could suck a lot more." Hope you get to feeling better soon.

    Halsey might have gooned it at Midway if he wasn't sidelined with shingles. Somewhere out there someone could be playing Spruance to your Halsey and saving the world. Of course there were never any "Halsey Class" ships, so there's that...

  14. I am so sorry you had to go through all this. Lord, it's horrible! I love my gabapentin (take a bunch everyday thanks to weed-control efforts at Ubon RTAFB) and acyclovir (carry it on every trip - don't leave home without it). Get the shots, everbuddy.

  15. Beans. Late to comment cause things piled up today, but I never imagined how bad shingles could be.
    I got the first shot of the shingles series, and I get the second in a while.

    I do remember standing in TSAs matter transmission device and when I raised my arms as directed I looked at the TSA rep and said, "This didn't go so well for Jeff Goldblum." He wrinkled his brow for a second and then cracked up.

    Now I'm going to pressure my wife to get the shingles shot.

  16. Egads, man! Glad you're still with us!

  17. Oh Beans!! Shingles SUCK!! BIG TIME!!!! I am sending good wishes for speedy recovery!!! At least you didn't share the shingles with your Mrs!!!
    Cold packs! Wet a washcloth...wring it out til it is squishy, pop it in a plastic bag of some sort, and pop into the freezer. Take out after a couple of hours. Do several. Rotate them around. That way you can get the good cold effects without leaving the freezer door open. Just a thought. And yes, pain meds are good...very good!! Whatever you can take, do so!!
    I know the nerve pain is the worst, but would some calamine lotion help the burning skin lesions. Or better yet, caladryl which has Benadryl in it. Lets think positive and hope that you don't get any lingering nerve pain hanging on but get this over and done with PDQ, especially since it sounds like you got hit with a Mother of all cases of shingles!!! feel better soon!

  18. I am very pleased that you have started to feel better. You have had a miserable late Summer, I hope you can skate through Fall.

  19. Thanks all. Now if I could stop sleeping 20 hours a day...

    And get the danged vaccine! Trust me on this one.

  20. Actually it's more like 16 hours of sleep a day, just the right eye doesn't want to work but for 4 hours a day, the rest of the 4 or so I'm awake it just shouts loudly from it's cave...

  21. Ouch, that's no fun at all and it sounds like you got a horrible case of it. I hope you're on the road to recovery and it's starting to clear up. Hang in there.


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