help me calm my angry nerves
July 4, 2010 7:50 AM   Subscribe

what can i do, physically, to calm my irritated nerves?

i'm on the downhill side of a case of shingles that, in my doctor's words, 'totally covers the dermatome!' i caught it fairly early (1.5 days after the rash popped) & started on the meds--valtrex, prednisone, & painkillers. she now has me on 10 mg/day of amitriptyline as a pain management drug, and i've got hydrocodone as a backup. (i use the hydrocodone only when back pain kicks in.) the rash is 20% of what it started as 2 weeks ago, and it's fairly healed. however, it's still tender to the touch & it feels like my nerves are actually inflammed.

what i'm interested in is finding something that will literally soothe my nerves. not so much medication, since i have that, but something more ... organic, or homeopathic, i guess. something that tells my nerve endings, 'yeah, i get it; you're pissed & i don't blame you but i'm doing everything i can to calm you down.'
posted by msconduct to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Family that had shingles swore by calamine lotion. Sounds like your case is much worse though.
posted by cftarnas at 8:08 AM on July 4, 2010

I have heard that consciously relaxing your tongue is calming. I think perhaps that it forces you to relax the entire jaw and also takes enough concentration that you may be distracted from what is causing the stress. The person who told me this said to think of it as letting your tongue melt into the bottom of your mouth.

Also, neck stretches can help with relaxation. This is a particularly good way of combatting a tension headache, too. Just slowly tilt your head from one side to the other and forward and around to carefully stretch your neck muscles.

Deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation, which you should be able to find descriptions of online can also help. Here is a list of some other suggestions.
posted by Quizicalcoatl at 8:22 AM on July 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

Are you in any condition to take a walk or be someplace in nature? If so, that may help.

Regardless of that, try a mediation. There are some free guided meditation podcasts on iTunes that you can download. I have a series called meditation oasis, and one other that I downloaded, there are scripts for falling asleep, healing, creativity and lots more.

Another option may be writing exercises.

But most importantly I think it giving yourself the space to feel what you're feeling while remembering that it will pass. You seem to have a really good handle on that, so it may seem silly to say out loud, 'this will pass and soon I will feel much better,' but it does help.

You might also try distraction - watching a really funny movies, calling a friend, looking at pictures of kittens, cleaning your pantry, or anything that usually works to take your mind off of things.

(when my friend Christy had shingles in our early 20s people suggested she check out the shingles bars. Some sang shingle bells. I won't do either unless you think it'll help you laugh.)
posted by bilabial at 8:28 AM on July 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

but something more ... organic, or homeopathic, i guess.

Homeopathic "medicines" are water. They do not do anything. Save your money for things that will distract you until this subsides.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:12 AM on July 4, 2010 [7 favorites]

A bath? I don't know if warm or cold sounds better to you, or if a bath would just be excruciating at this point. I wouldn't add anything to the water.
posted by corey flood at 9:17 AM on July 4, 2010

video games. no matter how old you are, they distract you from your pain. several studies have found them more effective than pain killers, even.
posted by jennyhead at 9:33 AM on July 4, 2010

How about a nice oatmeal bath?
posted by thebrokedown at 9:49 AM on July 4, 2010

I had the same thing and compression/'Ace' bandages saved my sanity. I wrapped them over the rash (it was on my chest and sides) firmly but comfortably with a soft flannel cloth next to my skin. I suppose it worked by desensitizing the nerves to the constant sensation of the bandage, kind of like 'forgetting' when wearing a hat. It also kept my clothes from rubbing on the rash, which was painful as well. The pain didn't go completely away, but it became manageable with only OTC meds. I wore the bandages pretty much all the time. When I took them off, the pain would come back almost immediately so I knew it was giving me relief, strange as it may sound. Good luck to you!
posted by abigredchair at 9:50 AM on July 4, 2010

I know you're really asking about physical, rather than mental relief, but in case it's useful - take a look at the work of Jon Kabat Zinn. One of his specialisms is dealing with chronic pain by using meditative techniques of mindfulness. Sorry, I'm on my phone so no links, but I think you'll find books and audio on Amazon. (He also has a beautifully soothing voice, always a bonus on the audio side). Good luck, and get well soon.
posted by penguin pie at 10:01 AM on July 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had shingles-- buy any product with dimethicone. It's literally a liquid barrier that keeps
rubbbing from your clothes and stuff from hurting you. Bandages are good too. Just protect, protect, protect.
posted by sweetkid at 11:46 AM on July 4, 2010

Seconding Inspector.Gadget: homeopathic "medicines" are essentially water.

Have you considered TENS? I've heard it works well for pain like you're experiencing.
posted by tellumo at 11:47 AM on July 4, 2010

You might try some basic aromatherapy. Find a scent you find soothing, like lavender or chamomile or whatever you like, as long as it's more soothing than energizing (so peppermint is probably not your best bet). Just get a tiny whiff of it, like a drop on a cotton ball held not too close to your face. I would use this in conjunction with meditation, either sitting or in a yoga Corpse Pose. I read that if you use the same scent each time you meditate, eventually smelling that will help you relax by itself.
There are endless resources for aromatherapy online.
posted by purpletangerine at 1:26 PM on July 4, 2010

If you want Homeopathic remedy, just pinch your two fingers together, any fingers. Ok, right between your two fingers, right now, you have a Homeopathic remedy. Now just wiggle your two fingers in a glass of water, stir extremely well, then drink it. Now you have taken your Homeopathic cure for whatever ails you. It's guaranteed to work but you must wait and have faith.
posted by nogero at 6:19 PM on July 4, 2010

I also came in to recommend an oatmeal bath. Here's a link on how to make your own.
posted by deborah at 8:52 PM on July 4, 2010

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