Looking for patterns

Okay, so I have a lot of math background to go with my CS, so I want to find patterns. I’ve had an attack (from what I’m calling postherpetic neuralgia or PHN; we’ll find out tomorrow if the doctors agree) every day since Saturday. It is not at all pleasant, but at least, so far, it’s been short. The pain ranges from 9 to 10 on the good old “Tell us how bad your pain is on a 1 to 10 scale” but is mostly gone in 5 minutes and is just a memory in 10.

So, what causes it? When will I get it? Looking back at the last 3 days, I’ve had attacks:

  • Monday at 11 PM in bed.
  • Tuesday at 9 AM in the recliner in the den
  • Wednesday at 2 PM in my car on I-75

So, what time and where do these attacks happen? So far, the pattern I see is no pattern. But, I do only get one attack a day. Which means today will be a great day, since I was awaken at 6:30 with an attack. I won’t get another, right? (It reminds me of a poster from my youth: Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen all day. Of course, PHN is worse than eating a live frog, I do believe.)

The attack Wednesday was particularly fun. I try not to yell too much during attacks at home since it can bother the animals and Charlie. But after I pulled off the interstate safely onto the shoulder, I could scream at the top of my lungs. And I did and was almost quiet compared to the semis rushing past.

So, why do I think I have PHN? From the WWW site http://www.neurontin.com/:

Postherpetic neuralgia (post-her-PET-tick noo-RAL-juh) or PHN is pain that continues after the rash from shingles heals. It is caused by nerve damage from shingles.

If you have had shingles and now have pain, you may have PHN.

Anyone who had shingles can get PHN. In the United States, about 10% to 15% of people who have had shingles get PHN. It is more common in people 60 years of age or older. But you can also get PHN if you

  • Had a very bad rash when you had shingles
  • Had a lot of pain from shingles
  • Felt pain before your shingles rash started
  • Have trouble fighting infections (such as from cancer or an organ transplant)

Bad rash? Yes.

Lot of pain from shingles? Yes?

Felt pain before the rash? Yes?

Cancer? Oh yeah.

At least I’m not over 60.

It’s a good thing I don’t believe in a deity who appears and gives you choices like “Cancer or shingles?” I’d have an awfully hard time selecting shingles now.



  1. Fran Hunt said

    My dad had shingles more than 10 years ago. It was pretty severe and it took a while for them to figure out that’s what it was. He still feels pain from the area affected, although I don’t know to what extent.

    Are you sure you want to figure out a pattern? I would think that knowing that excruciating pain was about to occur would be a different sort of mental torture.

  2. I would think that you could treat that with Botox. My aunt had Shingles years ago and the rash area (well, where it had been all those years before) became painful again when she was dealing with her cancer (Multiple Myloma — a bone marrow/blood cancer). Her Dr.s never gave her an explination for why it was hurting again.

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