Kamloops man gets shingles and wants to encourage others to get their shingles shot | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops man gets shingles and wants to encourage others to get their shingles shot

Earlier this month Jason Hewlett was diagnosed with shingles, a condition he describes as the most painful thing he has experienced. He encourages others to get the shingles shot.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Jason Hewlett

For Jason Hewlett, what started out as a little rash turned into something much worse and far more painful. On a typical Sunday evening earlier this month, the Kamloops man noticed the rash beneath his right arm but initially ‘didn’t think much of it’.

“I get eczema so I wasn’t worried,” Hewlett said. “I started using the standard treatment, which is a body lotion for dry skin. The thing is, it didn't help. The rash started spreading and blistered, and then became quite painful. It got to the point where I couldn't get comfortable while sleeping or sitting, and it became hard to concentrate.”

Hewlett called his doctor the following day. He was given an antiviral for the shingles virus. Getting the antiviral within the first 72 hours guarantees the best chance of success. Hewlett was prescribed a week's supply of the medication but will have to get more as the blisters and rash are slow to decline.

“It's now been four days as I write this and the pain is just starting to subside,” Hewlett said.

“It can take a good couple of weeks for the blisters and rash to go away. If the blisters break, I was told that can leave lasting nerve damage and the pain can linger for months and months. I've been trying to keep busy as much as possible, working, reading and puttering around the house. I use Tylenol and Advil to manage the pain, but they don't really do much. Honestly, a glass of whiskey and a bit of weed has become a bedtime routine through this, as they dull the pain enough to sleep. I'm usually very active and work out almost every day. I haven't been able to because of the rash, fear of breaking the blister and the pain. So a low ebb depression has set in a bit.”

Hewlett says he will be getting his shingles shot going forward. The disease can appear in middle-aged people who have had chickenpox. He encourages others to do the same, describing shingles as the most painful thing he has experienced. 

“Honestly, the pain is the worst,” Hewlett said. “It’s like someone is holding a blowtorch to your skin 24/7. And the blisters are horrible to look at, so thankfully they are hidden under clothing. The shot is expensive, about $100, but that's a small price to pay as opposed to going through this again.”

According to the B.C. Ministry of Health, while the vaccine has been approved for use by Health Canada it is not covered by the medical service plan, but health insurance plans may cover the cost. You can buy two kinds of shingles vaccine at most pharmacies and travel clinics. Shingrix is given as a series of two doses, two to six months apart, and costs about $150 per dose. Zostavax II is given as one dose and costs about $200. 

Jason Hewlett is a broadcaster and podcaster with a degree in filmmaking and film studies. He is co-host of the long running prime-time radio show/podcast From The Basement. He is the writer, director and creator of the award-winning paranormal reality series We Want to Believe and narrator for The UFO Show. In 2020, Hewlett co-authored the bestselling book I Want to Believe: One Man’s Journey into the Paranormal with Peter Renn.

— The cutline on the photo in this story was corrected at 10:31 a.m. Monday, May 31, 2021 to say the vaccination for shingles is not annual, and more information about the two types of vaccine available in B.C. have been added.

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