In addition to celebrating my first Mother’s Day as a grandmother, I am sobered by the fact that this begins my fourteenth year of Burning Mouth Syndrome.
I never imagined when this journey began that it would last so long and would affect my life so much. Each year at this time, I review and see what I have learned, whether there has been any improvement in my pain, and evaluate how much I have been able to help others who are not as far down this road. I have kept up with the research on the BMS Support website and respond to comments on this blog, and it feels like those are helpful things to do.
2020 was a challenge for everyone. The COVID19 pandemic took the chessboard we usually move around on and tossed it in the air. Sickness, Death, Lockdowns, Masks, Respirators, Ventilators, PPE, Social Distancing, and more, all became a part of the pandemic landscape and our new vocabulary. The folks who dealt with chronic pain and illness had to find a new level of coping skills and count ourselves lucky that it wasn’t worse if we were able to avoid COVID.
2021 started out very hopeful with the advent of incredibly effective vaccines, but the rollout was uneven and slow, frustrating even the most patient of us. Then the variants began popping up around the world, inevitable but scary, and things were made even more chaotic as disinformation spread and vaccine hesitancy became a thing.
I have generally been a strong proponent of vaccines and get my flu shot every year. Knock on wood, flu has not been a visitor at my house for many decades and I would like to keep it that way.
That said, when the vaccines came out, like many of you the first thing I thought was, “What will the COVID vaccine do to my Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS)?”
We have all tried so many things to relieve our burning, and some may have helped a bit, but we also discovered additional triggers and things that caused flares, and so we may have become just a little more wary than our neighbors. Not because we don’t trust science, and not because we have hard held beliefs for or against vaccinations, but simply because we don’t want to hurt more.
I started to write this as an update for Burning Mouth in the Time of COVID 19, but I realized it would be too long. Feel free to read that previous post since it lays out my thinking about checkups in a pandemic! Many doctors and specialists are moving to a mix of virtual and live appointments and for the most part, I think that may very well be the way of the future. However, if you have something they need to see, test, or feel to diagnose, don’t hesitate to press for an in-person appointment. They have protocols and PPE and are doing a great job of keeping everyone safe. Ask ahead what the procedures are, and you will either be reassured or decide to switch doctors!
That said, here is my update and what I experienced as I tried to catch up on my checkups.
The Annual Physical was protected and easy, and I was so glad I went in person (We have done a virtual follow up appointment.) because the little itchy, burning rash I had developed on my gluteus was not prickly heat. It was shingles! It was so mild because I had taken the Shingrex vaccine, but it gave me a hint of how extremely painful that could be.