Tina Anderson, Live Lighter~Find Purpose


Stress, Dehydration and Shingles. My Story.

Your Weekly Wednesday Wisdom

I’ve always known the dangers of stress. In fact, it’s the reason that I’ve calmed down my training a bit and added time for meditation and prayer and/or yoga. I’ve been working on breathing exercises and controlling my thoughts when they start to create barriers and obstacles to peace and contentment. I’m a work in progress but I feel pretty good about my focus and efforts. Enter my summer trip to Peru and the wakening of my chicken pox virus and the constant reminder of my body’s overload. I truly believe that my virus came back to life after my body had to prioritize what it could fight off. The fact that my outbreak was all over my left arm and upper to middle chest area prevented me from forgetting that I had it, even when I covered up, which is hard to do in August in Southern California. My experience with Shingles was Gawd-awful. Horrible. I had a terrible case. My nurse client and nurse sister-in-law told me it was the worse they had ever seen. But, I found my silver lining. Something I always look for in painful situations.

One night as I was soaking in my brown rice vinegar bath (to help with the pain and to supposedly help rid myself of them faster), it dawned on me. All those outbreaks represented ca-zillions of moments of stress, physical and mental; somewhat healthy to completely healthy to downright dangerous. For a few moments, I envisioned my body and my mind taking on the ca-zillion battles, one after another, as a true warrior; strong, fierce, courageous, tenacious. But, one can only take on so much and we are not super-human, even those of us who often feel that way in the gym or on the trail.

Feeling the effects of sickness and dehydration during a long hike.

Feeling the effects of sickness and dehydration during a long hike.

My father and I were a hurtin’ unit at Pisac and this is a picture of us near the top of a climb that could have killed us, literally. I had nausea and vomiting and my Dad had a swollen tongue and dry mouth. We were in the middle of what turned out to be a three hour hike. We had less than one bottle of water between us. We were both weak. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Umm, duh. How and why did you let that happen? There is a long story behind all of this and I’m recording my podcast with the full recap and details on Fri., August 23rd. The importance of today’s entry is to pass along a huge reminder. Your immune system is your wall, your fortress, your PIC (partner in crime) against sickness and disease. Many factors can suppress its ability to protect you and stress is certainly at the top of the list. If you are a strong, fit, generally high functioning individual in both physically and mentally stressful situations, you still have to be careful about pushing boundaries. I learned a tough lesson in that regard. After lack of sleep and chaos two weeks before vaca; non-stop stress coupled with incredibly magical moments throughout the two weeks; a huge change in my diet and exercise; lack of consistent sleep; a lack of discernment and awareness of my worsening dehydration due to bad food or water or who knows what; to altitude sickness in Cusco and taking prescription strength meds (I’ve never taken before) to alleviate migraines that dropped me to my knees; to sick family members, two of which had to stay overnight in the local hospital; to getting-back-home problems like changing planes and losing luggage, to lost gifts; I simply gave my body more than it could handle and awoke a nasty sleeping giant.

Shingles: day two of five days in a row of continued breakouts. It got much, much worse.

Shingles: day two of five days in a row of continued breakouts. It got much, much worse.

My sores were a constant-reminder of the constant-battles we impose upon ourselves, some of which are within our control and some not. I felt bad for my immune system. I felt bad for my internal organs. I felt bad for all my cells that were trying to shield and protect me and yet had to also endure the pain and suffering. I felt bad for the unnecessary and frivolous fights my body had faced up to this point. I also felt incredibly strong and powerful in the middle of all of this because of how beautifully I held on when many would have been bedridden and in much worse condition. However, the most significant element, as I now reflect, is the importance of respecting our body’s incredible immune system. Respect yourself, baby!

Want a good go-to for your immune system? Don’t forget about mine, which I took with me but only drank a few times on this vacation. (That won’t happen again!) Got your own shingles or stress story? Please share. Sharing is caring, my friends.


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10 Comments Stress, Dehydration and Shingles. My Story.

  1. Christine D.

    Thank you for sharing your shingles story and for reminding us how stress affects our immune system, Tina. The story I’d like to share deals more with a stressful situation. Currently I’ve been wrestling with past family issues that no matter how I try to put them to rest, they keep resurrecting. I’m also processing the fact that I have a parent in the midst of mental decline. It seems that no matter how hard you try, the skeletons in the closet eventually come out, and you have to deal with them. No worries, though…I have had to face the most frightening thing (to me) which is dying of cancer. So these skeletons are more of a nuisance than something to fear. I focus my attention on my perspective. I believe that perspective is everything when it comes to handling anything in life. I have found that when these stressful situations crop up, I chose an activity (in my case, hiking) that will help me find my balance so that I can gain a proper perspective on the situation. I’ve also noticed that I choose a hike that once prompted fear in me in order to prove to myself that I can handle the task at hand. My recent hike proved to be a test of patience more than anything. I knew I could do it – I just needed to slow down and watch my step to stay safe and not be afraid. I use hiking analogies all the time to help gain a proper perspective on those things that life throws my way. I love being one with nature when I’m on the trail, it is incredibly therapeutic, and it’s a great workout.

    We are all works in progress. We need to be able to admit that to ourselves and accept it. Once that happens, we can forgive ourselves for our past transgressions. We then need to decide how to move forward more positively so we can be kinder to ourselves and propagate that kindness to others.

    Be well, my friend. You are an inspiration to many!

    1. TinaAnderson

      Your “perspective” on perspective is so valuable and I hope others use hiking or other physical means to sort out issues, struggles and challenges. Clarity is such a gift and I’m so happy for you – that you have found a way to find yours. You are incredibly strong and courageous and your journey is probably touching many more people than you will ever know. Thank you for sharing. Means a lot. You are also an inspiration!

  2. Don Kalland

    Thanks for sharing your reflection on what’s really important in our lives following an unpleasant event that disrupted your normal ‘life routine’ because once again those you influence through your training methods and nutrition tips, prosper from every experience you provide in so many ways…

    Nobody knows better than I do that we’re not invincible, despite feeling that way sometimes. But having been witness to your struggle to beat that shingles virus as you did, (nobody I know could have fought back as courageously as you did), is another testament to the value in the positive attitude and fitness lifestyle you demonstrate and make look “so easy”. Because for us your training regulars, that was the first and only time we remember “not seeing you smiling”…

    Glad your back, we need you…

    Q: OK, now that I’ve softened you up a tad, I’m sure this means Saturday morning’s ride will be “all downhill with the wind at out backs”? Not the usual challenging “race uphill climb in the highest gear possible on a mountain called Everest, mixing in a dozen or more of those lobotomies you love so much”…right?

    1. TinaAnderson

      Thank you, my friend. Your words and comments and reflections are always uplifting and motivating. As far as your attempt to “spin” the spin workouts, you are soooo SOL! But, thanks for trying!

      1. TinaAnderson

        Safe travels, blessings on your important work – again! Friends are allowed to say that over and over and over again and over and friggin’ over again! Talk when you return!

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