trigeminal nerve shingles - what to do?
I'm female, 31.
Doc says I have shingles of the trigeminal nerve in my face. When I have outbreaks (pretty common, it's chronic) I get eruptions on my eyeball, on my tongue, and pain that can go all the way to the top of my scalp. I do not EVER get eruptions on my facial skin. This is not cold sores.
I do not have oral or genital herpes, nor have I ever been exposed to them that I know of. I've had Bell's Palsy three times, between the ages of 8 and 12. I'm 31 now and have not had a recurrence of BP since I was 12. I did not have chickenpox until I was 17. The ENT says this is weird, since BP usually comes from chickenpox, and my BP predates my only case of chickenpox by 5 years.
What virus is this, and how did I get it? Doc says it's "probably a zoster virus" but of course he doesn't know for sure. All I know is that if it's the same one that caused the BP, I've had it for over 20 years. I'm on acyclovir (zovirax) right now to control the outbreaks, but still have symptoms even on 400mg 3x daily. Doc put me on 800mg 2x daily to see if that would help, and it seems to have.
The issue is this: I would dearly like to get off the pills. This outbreak has been chronic ever since my father died in 2004 (stress?) and has continued right through my recent tonsillectomy. I would like to have kids before I'm 35, but I'm afraid that I won't be able to rely on antivirals while pregnant, and that the hormone surges will really entrench the chronic nature of the outbreak I'm having.
I guess my question is, is there anyone else out there who has had a similar case of shingles of the facial nerve, and especially, is there anyone who knows of anything I can DO to get the darn stuff to go away? I'm doing what I can with pills, trying to get my stress level down, exercising, eating right, and I had my festering tonsils removed 19 days ago, so hopefully all that should help. I really don't want to have this for the rest of my life, and I ESPECIALLY don't want to develop trigeminal neuralgia, which I've heard is really the pits.
Can anyone help?