Post 6: Haley’s Shingles

I feel like I have to write a blog post about this one because people should not forget that I was embroiled in this mess too. Haley got shingles and it sucked. I had to take care of her which was fun in its own ways, pushing her around in a wheelchair and stuff,  but was also horrible because Haley had shingles. You all have probably heard more than enough about it so far but I bring it up for two reasons. One, it is a great topic to think about staying and wandering sickness and traditional v. western medicine, and two, because we as a people are far too overworked and stressed out, and that isn’t necessarily the right way to live.

Western medicine is pretty damn cool because it helped Haley recover from her shingles largely in three days. I think western medicine is fantastic and of course has saved millions, hundreds of millions of lives. But that can’t be said without also saying that we must beware because we should only intervene with our body’s natural processes as long as there aren’t many other options. We shouldn’t immediately take an acetaminophen as soon as we start to get a headache. We shouldn’t be using antibiotics so much so that we have the potential to entirely nullify the beneficial effects of antibiotics as cells become antibiotic resistant. We should not be relying entirely on western medicine but should be using that as a tool when necessary. I think the human species has a tendency to overcomplicate things. A lot of times, we may be taking loads of pills for an illness that can legitimately be helped by some plants or herbal supplements or something like that. I’m no anti-vaxxer, god of course not, but I think we have undervalued the effectiveness of some traditional medicine that has been used by different peoples for hundreds, even thousands of years.

I think the Tohono O’Odham are likely struggling with this problem. Western medicine must be coming in clutch in many situations for them but it is vital that they also continue practicing their traditional medicine and healing as that is an integral part of their culture and no doubt successful in some instances. It’s all about balance and about treating your body properly whenever you can.

I also wanted to mention that we’re all way too stressed out. I think the traditional Tohono O’Odham way of life is seeming pretty appealing to me at the moment. Even though I’m not a desert person, going out and working in the fields for the day and then eating some tepary beans with chili and going to sleep sounds pretty good to me. College and work is extremely valuable, but it’s also necessary that we balance it with a healthy lifestyle so that we don’t overwork ourselves and potentially end up getting shingles (sorry Haley).

4 Replies to “Post 6: Haley’s Shingles”

  1. So I did just a little bit of reading about the link between the Chicken pox vaccine and shingles. There seem to be two facts which undisputed. (1) Singles is on the rise and (2) the chicken pox vaccine has only been in use since 1995. Maybe its spurious correlation, but I suspect a link.

    First there’s this guy who says no way there’s a link…

    “In fact, children who receive a chickenpox vaccination have a much lower risk of getting shingles later in life than those who are not immunized, said Dr. William Schaffner… a leading infectious disease expert… 99 percent of children who receive the vaccine will not get chickenpox at all, The remaining 1 percent who do get it will get a much milder version of it. Therefore, a vast majority of people receiving the immunization will not develop shingles later in life.”
    (source: )

    Next there’s this article which takes a more nuanced view of things and explains some of the reasons why in the U.K. there is a general public health recommendation against getting the chicken pox vaccine. Here again is the relevant quote:

    “Increased annual chickenpox rates in children under 5 are associated with reduced shingles in the 15–44 age group. Having a child in the household reduced the risk of shingles for about 20 years, the more contact with children the better, and general practitioners and paediatricians have a statistically significant lowering of risk,7 possibly because of their contact with sick children (teachers did not have a significantly reduced rate).”


  2. I bring this up not because I’m against vaccinations (most like small pox and measles vaccines are clearly excellent ideas) or western medicine in general, but because western medicine does make mistakes and has been known to be vulnerable to capture by corporations whose first motive is profit – not public health. It’s important to maintain skepticism particularly when the people pushing the treatment are profiting from it.

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