For years, Rosemarie imagined shingles as a type of rash on her back. She would never have thought that it was an illness whose consequences would accompany her for the rest of her life. When she was diagnosed with shingles, she began a path of suffering that continues to this day.

I was out with a friend when I suddenly felt a pain in my face that I couldn’t identify at all. At first it was just a small pimple, but because the pain was unbearable, I went to the emergency room that same evening. The next day the diagnosis was made. I was very surprised at the time that it was shingles. I didn’t know that it could also appear on the face and up until that point I didn’t see any risk of illness for myself. It hit me completely unexpectedly.

Watch the video: What is shingles and how can you best protect yourself?

The pain was enormous. The doctor was able to prescribe me medication immediately thanks to the quick diagnosis, but that didn’t make it any better. The entire right side of my face was covered in open spots, red pustules and blisters and looked terrible – and it hurt too. I would describe the feeling as stabbing, throbbing and burning, sometimes accompanied by itching. At first I had to stay in the hospital for a week because the medication wasn’t working. There I received many infusions and other treatments, but they did not improve my condition. That’s why I was then referred to another clinic for two more weeks. But no one there could do anything about the pain either.

Fortunately, the visible symptoms have now healed. But even three years later, I still have the same severe pain in my face as when I first became ill. Without daily pain medication it would be unbearable for me. This is of course a severe impairment, and psychologically it is not always easy for me to accept that I am now a chronic pain patient.

My eye and the area around it are still permanently irritated and painful, but fortunately the optic nerve is not affected. I am very grateful for this, because if you have shingles on your face there is also a risk of blindness or at least permanent vision impairment.

All these examinations, diagnoses and treatments have meant a real medical marathon in recent years. This was a burden and an effort for everyone. My husband was a great support to me during this time. We have been married for 60 years and have never been apart for longer than during the weeks I had to stay in the hospital. It was difficult for both of us, but he did well. Of course, no one wants a chronic illness for their relationship, but we’ve been through so much, we can do it!

I wish everyone knew how serious shingles can be and how serious it can be – so that people would inform themselves early and take prevention more seriously. At least I wish I had dealt with it better beforehand.