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How I Spent my August Vacation

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The Hawk's Nest receives an unexpected fall visitor

I get a complete physical each spring; during my last one, Dr. Emry asked if I wanted to get a shingles vaccine. I knew developing shingles would never happen to me, so I declined. 

A few weeks ago, the bug bite on my eyelid was acting weird, as if the bug were still crawling around on it. In addition, I was feeling some strange pains and dizziness. Then I got a call from my wife. She asked how I was and I told her that I thought some kind of insect had been feasting on my face and left tracks that were twitching. 

I also felt like a heavyweight had punched me in the jaw, but there was no bruising or swelling.  She said she didn’t think it was bugs. From the way I had talked in the morning, and now the twitching nerves, it sounded to her like shingles.

“No, people like me don’t get shingles,” I told her. I don’t know what kind of people do get shingles but I’m sure people like me don’t. If we did, I would have gotten a shot last May. She said she wanted to look closer when she got home. 

For me to doubt her diagnosis is a bit ridiculous since she has spent years studying all kinds of health maladies; in fact she knows them by their Greek names. At least, they sound like Greek to me. People have even paid her to tell them they have shingles. However, I wasn’t going to have any of it. 

She said to look and see if blisters were developing on those spots on my face. I grabbed the magnifying mirror and looked. 

“NOOOOOOOOOO, that can’t be!” 

The next day being Saturday, she loaded me into the car for a trip to Urgent Care. There is a law saying she can write prescriptions for everyone in the world, but for me she can’t prescribe pain meds­­—it has something to do with marriage and conflicts. Apparently, my pain is a conflict for her. I guess. I hope it is, but I didn’t know it was a legal issue. 

At Urgent Care there was a quick check by someone else who speaks Greek when talking about my health, and my wife’s diagnosis was corroborated. Just as we were leaving they said they would send this information to my primary care giver—Dr. Emry. I asked if they have to do that and was told it is protocol. “Great! And only a few months after he warned me.”  

Shortly after we were off to the pharmacy for those pain pills my wife can’t write for me, then home to quarantine in the woods. Normally I would jump at a chance to relax in our beautiful, sunny August woods, but this wasn’t particularly fun. Those spots on my eye that were getting blisters suddenly, and without warning, started spreading over the right side of my face. Since I don’t really have a hairline they traveled unobstructed onto the top of my head. The ones on my eye weren’t happy with what they had started so they closed the eye altogether and started drawing out goop (I didn’t ask the Greek word for goop) that oozed onto my cheek. 

For two days all I wanted to do was rest in my recliner, occasionally trying to see what was going on through my left eye, the only portal I had to the world. 

Now, remember those bugs crawling on my eye? That’s how nerves tell you they have shingles. When I asked about it, again the answer was Greek to me. 

I may be a little quirky but I don’t like bugs on my face. Furthermore, there was nothing I could do to change the situation. So I tried to convince myself it was butterflies. It didn’t feel any better but was somehow more acceptable.

On the third day, I arose. Well, not really, but I actually wanted to take a shower and put on clean clothes. I had been doing that every day, but it had been forced drudgery. 

On the fourth day, I wanted to get up and walk around. I told myself I could walk the two hundred feet to the other end of our drive. 

I had lied to me, the worst liar in the world. I didn’t have enough energy to walk to the drive, let alone to the other end­ of it, so back to the recliner. As I passed a mirror I checked out my condition. Yikes! I hope nobody loves me just for my pretty face.

When I expressed that hope, Trish Gannon told me, “I thought your pretty face was the biggest attraction but then when you uglied up I realized I love you for that sparkling personality.”

She is very kind, and I noticed she did not say when, in her opinion, over the last fifteen years she has known me, I did “ugly up.”

While the pain meds relieved the pain in my head, they were creating another. Knowing this medication’s side effect, I had been going through fresh fruit and vegetables faster than a cannery during harvest time. Like most men, I only use the toilet seat for one bodily function.  And I did not need it for day one, day two, day three, day four or day five. I was wondering how much my bowels could hold. Finally, on day six, I started to experience the fruits of my labor—and I’m sure “labor” is the right word.

About the same time I decided I was “on the mend,” so with no enforcers at home to stop me, I decided to walk to the mailbox. With only a mile and nine-tenths left of the two-mile round trip I had to sit down under a tree along the drive before turning back. I struggled to get home before anyone found me exhausted and in pain in the middle of the yard.  

Now that I’m firing on all cylinders again I have a question for Dr. Emry. Where do I get that vaccine, in the arm or….?  

Wherever I get it, I now accept that maybe it is for people like me.  

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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