Alas, the greasy burger did not happen. While I am saddened by this sudden development, I’m certain that my frail arteries are celebrating. Life can be so unfair.
I’ve been having sensitivity issues in the area of my mouth. At first, I thought it could be tied to the various headaches that I’d been having – headaches, I should add, that I’ve not experienced in a couple of months. Given the nature of the cranial nerves, I simply reasoned that the sensitivity was an offshoot from that earlier issue. The pain was slight; a tingling of sorts, and it didn’t bother me until I became conscious of it. As a result, I didn’t pay it much mind.
But then it started become more frequent, and each episode seemed to last a little longer than the previous one. When I had my root canal, the dentist told me that – again – nerves in the head were interconnected and damage in one area could manifest as pain in another. So, I naturally assumed that the discomfort – probably a better term – was due to my questionable tooth. Once the tooth was repaired, the pain would leave.
But it didn’t.
Now it is more pronounced, has essentially expanded to include both lips, yet remains most intense in the corners of my mouth. So, I did a little research, because by this point, the “only” solution that came to mind was the one that I absolutely did not want to hear.
A cold sore.
My experiences with cold sore are limited. I remember junior high and high school classmates having the occasional cold sore; it was always dismissed in the same semi-shocked tone as describing someone with mono. It was a “kissing disease,” and in retrospect, it was treated more like a badge of honor akin to a hickie, than being a transmittable virus. I didn’t know much about them then.
A few years ago, however, I’d hear someone mention a cold sore and they were almost always filled with moral contempt – as if the possessor of such an injury was a modern-day Hester Prynne and deserved to be run out-of-town on the next ox-cart to Cleveland, which is a bit much. It was then that I learned what a cold sore really was – a disease caused by a member of the herpes viral family. Once infected, the virus attaches to the nerves in sensitive areas, often remaining dormant, but they will occasionally flare up if provoked by stress, certain foods, certain activities, or the like. They are often unsightly and painful, and no cure currently exists.
I haven’t been a bad boy. There have been only one set of lips that these jewels of mine have touched in well-over a decade, and I know that the Little Woman is not the issue. It did occur to me, however, that I do tend to put my hands in my mouth a lot – between biting an errant nail and digging out an otherwise immovable piece of beef, I tend to touch my mouth quite a bit. It is therefore possible that – assuming this is the case – that I may have inadvertently come into contact with someone who does have such an infection, and possible infected myself.
Truthfully, I don’t even know if that’s possible. Heck, I don’t even know if it’s a cold sore – I’m reaching for straws here.
I’ve mentioned previously that I’m a go-to person for a number of weird and unidentifiable ailments – always have been – and can’t dismiss the idea that this may be yet another “mystery” that will never be solved. According to my research, I may not even have a cold sore – nerve pain in the lips is indicative of everything from sensitive skin to about a half-dozen major life-threatening illnesses. And as one with limited experience, it strikes me as odd that I’ve had this tingling sensation for months, but no outbreak. My understanding is that the outbreak occurs literally within days of the sensation. So either I have a very lazy virus, or it’s something else. Maybe this is my new normal – to have the nerves in my lips switched “on” permanently; I’ve heard of things like this happening. Maybe my choice now is to engage in pain management, as some other type of resolution might not be possible. I haven’t applied any salves or balms to the sensitive areas because I’m afraid of aggravating things further, yet getting into see a physician is not easy right now. So, I wait.
I don’t know why I feel as depressed about this as I do, to be honest. I know one person who has a cold sore, and she actually did Facebook updates about the progress of her recent outbreak. Another person I know – was almost freakishly laid back about them: “At least a quarter of the people out there have them,” she said, as if it were no big deal. I’d have gotten a greater reaction out of her if I told her that I was wearing mis-matched socks. Like I said, she was freakishly laid back about the whole thing.
A new normal. Seems like I’ve been adjusting to a lot of these as of late.
One more thing to worry about, I guess.