I got diagnosed with shingles recently, which started out as a tiny cluster of red bumps on my lower back that John confidently described as the result of “some sort of bug that got you while you were sleeping” (why that specific scenario, which is basically custom designed to induce anxious thoughts of a wee-hour descension of, what, fire ants? Here I was hoping for a quick dismissal of my rash-related concern, but no, now I have to imagine the trail of ants marching to my unsuspecting snoring body then lining up, one by one, to take a bite, like the lady-slapping scene in Airplane) then rapidly expanded and crept around one side of my torso until I reluctantly went to the walk-in clinic where a way-too-excitable doctor took one look at my hiked-up shirt and said “Classic shingles. Just classic,” which initially made me weirdly proud (CLASSIC!) then I was like, wait, aren’t shingles supposed to be bad? What I knew about shingles was pretty much limited to seeing those HEY OLD PEOPLE, GET YER SHINGLES VACCINE signs outside of drugstores combined with a vague association with roofing materials but I am now deeply informed about the matter: you can get shingles after you have the chicken pox, because the chicken pox virus lays dormant in your system for thousands of years until a Mysterious Event triggers it to re-animate as the greyscale skin disease from Game of Thrones.

Okay, I might not have that 100% right — to be honest I found the explanation baffling and kind of got distracted by the fact that it’s also known as herpes zoster, which would be the worst stripper name ever — but I can tell you that shingles is pretty damn uncomfortable, although I never had the kind of crippling agony you hear about so either I have an impressive tolerance for pain (unlikely, I’m not sure I am known for my stoic endurance) (cross-reference: literally seventeen years of complaining via blog post) or I got lucky with a mild case.

I did get prescribed a round of antivirals which I took for maybe three and a half days before deciding the side effects weren’t worth it. Probably you’re not supposed to, like, just stop taking stuff, but let’s be honest, I don’t exactly have a great history with following the rules regarding self-administering medication BUT ANYWAY I feel much better now and all the rashy business has morphed into fading scabs (CLASSIC!) and there’s your PSA of the day: you can be only kind of old and still get shingles, which I will thank you not to refer to as “back herpes.”