It turned out, after two bad diagnoses, that what I had was shingles. This is a medieval illness, a virus that causes extreme pain, pox marks, and more extreme pain. You can only get it if you’ve had chicken pox as a child; somehow part of becoming immune from chicken pox includes storing this little evil in cells. Stress or a lowered immune system can cause it to flare; I probably had both – the former due to a really bad allergy season, and the latter due to – everything else.
I was very lucky to have a transitioning doctor friend, Deborah, who diagnosed me long distance when the two doctors I saw in Brooklyn failed (one thought it was TMJ, the other Parotiditis).
It felt like an ear infection, a sinus infection, and an abscessed tooth all at once: brutal amounts of pain that even Percoset only quieted. Now, most of the pain has gone away, though occasionally I get these pangs of pain that seem to come right from the healing pox marks. Like I said: medieval.
Thanks to everyone for the good wishes, and my apologies again for missing the Lambda reading in DC and the CLAGS conference. Also, thanks to Carolyn Ann for a ride to the doctor, to Deborah for the correct diagnosis, and to Sarah Joan for the title of this post.