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Shingles stories

Learn about how shingles can impact the lives of people like you.

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Peter’s story transcript

I like to think I can suffer pain quite easily. This was extraordinarily painful. You knew about blisters, but the pain that was just out of this world.

Super: Get ready to hear the surprising truth about shingles. Peter’s Story.

I'm a retired engineer. I've been with my wife 50 odd years. We've got two children. We’ve got two grandchildren. And the family is very close.

I was on holiday in Cyprus. I got pain on my left side and it was itching. I thought no more about it, it's just sun. And then the pain was getting worse and it started to like bubble up. The blisters came, which were unpleasant. Unsightly, especially on your face. The pharmacist told me that he suspected that you have got shingles and all the symptoms pointed to that.

My perception of shingles before I caught it was that only older people get it. Although, don't get me wrong, I was old, but I didn't feel old. Therefore, I thought it's not going to affect me.

Shingles lasted for me about three weeks. It's very awkward to describe pain to other people. As far as I'm concerned, it was extremely painful. I've had other things, you know, I've broken arms, I’ve snapped my Achilles tendon and things like that. This was extraordinarily painful. I was aware that once you've had chickenpox, you could at some stage get shingles.

I was one of these people that believed it's not going to affect me and I think that was the biggest surprise that I could get it and why it had got me and not someone else.

Super: Learn more about shingles and NHS vaccination eligibility. GetShinglesReady.co.uk. If you get any side effects, report them to your nurse or doctor.

Joe’s story transcript

The pain was very deep internally. It wasn't a surface skin irritation, that was really surprising. Another thing would be how long it lasted. It lasted, a good three weeks. It was really quite debilitating.

Super: Get ready to hear the surprising truth about shingles. Joe’s Story.

I'm a singer songwriter. I’ve played music all my life. Obsessed with music from a young age. Effectively can't do anything else, I think is the honest answer. Got into songwriting through just needing to do more really, and express myself more. And that led me into writing and production for other people. A couple of hits for people here and there.

I developed really bad pain in my ribs, on my left side. Like I couldn't work it out this pain in my ribs. Thought I'd like slept weirdly or something. Ended up phoning the doctor and they said, Yeah, it's probably this kind of thing with the connective tissue of your ribs. Don't worry about it. I was trying to exercise a bit and I suddenly noticed there's like a mark on my back. I could feel something itching and I just literally had that word. Shingles just popped into my mind. Phoned the doctor again, managed to get an appointment that day or the next day, and they said, “Yeah, that's shingles.”

My older brother had shingles about 20 years ago, or so, on his head running down towards his eye. So I remember he was scared because there's a possibility of blindness I think. It was like being smacked in the ribs after having done an abdominal workout. It was grim. And it got worse and worse for like ten days. You know, you’re like bedridden.

It was bad enough to stop me. You know it was kind of my life had to be on hold for two or three weeks. I couldn't sing. So that changed a few things. Some people might have said that was a benefit obviously.

The most surprising thing about shingles for me was that the pain was very deep internally. Another thing would be how long it lasted.

Super: Learn more about shingles and NHS vaccination eligibility. GetShinglesReady.co.uk. If you get any side effects, report them to your nurse or doctor.

Chandini’s story transcript

The pain that I went through and the swelling and the fact that it almost affected my vision. Why me? Like, how did I get it? Looking back now, I'm thinking it was probably because of the fact that I was very run down and too stressed.

Super: Get ready to hear the surprising truth about shingles. Chandini’s Story.

I'm a retired teacher. I work mainly with children who have challenging behaviour and who have been excluded from mainstream schools because of their behaviour. And I did love my job.

I woke up in the morning, you know, like the usual stuff. And you check yourself out in the mirror. And then I noticed that there was the spot. So it was kind of irritating me. And I'm thinking this could be maybe a reaction to some food that I ate last night or an insect bite. But then I realized that it was getting bigger and also it was kind of red around the spot, and it was more like a blister. Yeah, I had absolutely no idea what it was.

It was only when it got so bad and it was so painful and the whole face was swollen, including my right eye. It had almost closed. That's at that point, my husband said to me, you really need to go and see a GP. The GP diagnosed it as shingles. He kind of gave me all the background information and why it happens and how it happens.

You can get shingles if you've had chickenpox as a child and then the virus stays dormant in your body and then it gets activated when you're older. And it could be one of the reasons why you get it is because maybe your stress levels are high. Physically and emotionally, for me, it was like a shock and I just didn't want to do anything.

I also felt very lonely. I felt cut off from everyone. And I thought to myself, like when will this, when will this all go so that I can be normal again? After the blister scabbed over, I could see the scar and it was like so prominent and I thought, it's never going to, it's never going to go.

So I've got to live with that.

I still feel like it has affected my vision a little bit. And also I keep getting tingling pains now and then. And sometimes I just feel a sense of numbness on the right side of my face. So it's strange because it still happens.

Since I retired, I've been basically enjoying nature. That's what it's all about, to feel relaxed and to feel calm and to get away from the mad world.

Super: Learn more about shingles and NHS vaccination eligibility. GetShinglesReady.co.uk. If you get any side effects, report them to your nurse or doctor.

The Shingles National Immunisation Programme is a NHS vaccination programme to help protect against shingles.

Find out more and check eligibility

More information

If you’re still unsure about your eligibility or you want to learn more about shingles and the Shingles National Immunisation Programme, speak to your nurse or GP surgery.

Reporting of side effects

If you get any side effects following vaccination, talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. This includes any possible side effects not listed in the package leaflet.

You can also report side effects directly via the Yellow Card Scheme Website: yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk.

By reporting side effects, you can help provide more information on the safety of medicines.