Shingle Bells
John Norberg, humor columnist s

Before Thanksgiving my wife had a bad cold. I was very concerned.

I was concerned she wouldn't feel well enough to cook Thanksgiving Dinner and feeding the entire extended family would be left to me and a Chinese carryout restaurant.

But mostly I was concerned her cold would spread to me. This is not self-centered. My wife has always said it's easier for her to have a cold herself than to deal with my constant moaning and groaning when I'm sick.

We got through Thanksgiving dinner fine. But at about 6 p.m. that evening I started feeling like death warmed-over. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it's a pretty good description of how I felt. It continued all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. In addition to body aches and pains my ankle and foot swelled to the size of an elephant's. This wasn't a cold. I went to the doctor, took off my sock, pulled up my pants leg and he made a starling proclamation.

Doctor: "You have Shingles!

Me: "Tell me about it. It cost me a fortune to replace them on our house last spring.

Doctor: "I mean you have Shingles on your leg.

Me: "Why do I need Shingles on my leg?

Doctor: "Singles is a virus. After you had chickenpox when you were a kid the virus went dormant. On Thanksgiving Day something woke it up.

Me: "I told those grandkids to keep the noise down.

Doctor: "It's not the fault of your grandkids.

I gathered my thoughts.

Me: "Thank goodness I had the Shingles vaccine.

Doctor: "Well, it's unfortunate that you had the vaccine and you still have Shingles. But that can happen.

Me: "You don't understand. My wife sent my monthly e-mails for year telling me to get the Singles shot. Finally in the middle of last summer I went to the drug store and got it. Do you know what would have happened if I hadn't gotten that vaccine?

Doctor: "You probably would have had a more severe case of Shingles.

Me: "Who cares about that. If I hadn't gotten that vaccine I would have had a very severe case of I told you so' from my wife. A case of I told you so' would be have been much more painful than Shingles.

I felt kind of embarrassed. Me: "I'm not going to tell people I have Shingles. It's an old person's sickness.

Doctor: "Technically it's called Herpes Zoster.

Me: "I'll tell them I have Shingles.

Doctor: "I'm going to insist that you take a couple days off. I know men like you are dedicated to work, but how many days do you think you can take?

Me: "Four months.

Doctor: "Where did you come up with that number?

Me: "I'll 65 in four months.

Doctor: "Take three days.

I called my office.

Me: "I have Shingles.

Co-worker: "Great. If you have any left over I could use them on my house.

It seems like one day I was a teenager worried about my complexion breaking and now all of sudden I'm an old man breaking out in Shingles. So here's my message. If you are of a certain age and your doctor -- or a higher medical authority like your wife -- says you need a Shingles vaccination, go get it. Now. Immediately. It only takes a few minutes at a drug store and it's really easy. It doesn't hurt, but if you whine enough and tell them Norberg sent you the pharmacist might give you a lollypop.

Don't delay. This is, after all, the season for Shingles.

Look at our most popular song in December: "Single bells, Shingle bells, Shingle all the way . . .

Quit your groaning. I'm sick. Give me a break.

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