We have covered a bit of this ground before, and again I urge you to communicate, take the rest (and medicines) you need, and use your coping strategies to get through the stress of the holidays.
Stress can be part of the “Holiday Package.“
Things have loosened up and you may be putting family events together, gathering to open gifts, and doing things you haven’t been able to do for a couple of years. It can be hard to get back into the swing of things.
Presents? Oh, don’t get me started! The logistics of getting everything to everyone with the uncertainty as to whether things will get there in time…
If you have been following the news, you know that most current cases of Covid, including reinfections, are the Omicron BA-5 variant, which has two faces for us. The good face is that it is not as virulent and fatal for most people. Note I do not say all. The bad face is that it is even more infectious than measles and doctors note correlations between accumulated injury to the body and long Covid symptoms with reinfections. For those of us with the chronic pain of Burning Mouth, the prospect of adding another layer of symptoms or exacerbating the ones we have with hacking coughs and congestion is daunting.
Interested in learning more? NPR explains it herevery well.
Our immediate family has remained relatively unscathed from Covid. Our younger daughter and her husband who live in another state got it, but our daughter is a front-line healthcare professional and they are both somewhat frequent travelers, so that was probably unavoidable. They are young, healthy, and did okay since they were fully vaccinated and boosted, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience.
Boosters have been approved and recommended by the CDC, the FDA, and my Doctor.
My 82-year-old Mom got her Pfizer booster as soon as they were approved and after a day of the usual side effects, now feels much safer as she joins her girlfriends for lunch out now and then. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were next up! Moderna was a half dose, so I went with my Doctor’s recommendation and got the Moderna booster. I had more of the side effect reactions with the booster than I did the second initial dose. Fever, chills, reddening of my injection site area, and swelling of the lymph gland under the injected arm. Not fun, but it gave me a tiny glimpse into how debilitating full-blown COVID could have been for me and this is without any lung symptoms!
I have lung damage from chronic bouts of bronchitis, and that was part of what worried me about getting COVID19 personally. I was not sure my lungs would make it through the damage that the virus can cause.
Now I will not worry as much about that.
People ask, “Does this mean you won’t wear a mask anymore?”
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 regularly, 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.