Sex & the Shingled Girl

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.

Helen Boyd

is the author of My Husband Betty and She's Not the Man I Married.


  1. “my apologies again for missing the Lambda reading in DC and the CLAGS conference”. It musthave felt at timesthat youhad been ‘shingled out’.

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