Written for Mediaplanet‘s Dermatology campaign.

Published online and in print inside the National Post on September 12, 2015. 

The pain was so intense that everything felt uncomfortable. She couldn’t sit, stand or settle herself and sleeping was nearly impossible.

“It was so constant and so severe. I felt like I couldn’t take a breath,” says the Ontario woman. “I’ve had broken bones, I have arthritis, and I’ve had a knee replacement, but nothing comes close to this.”

Gareau went to her local healthcare provider but after a series of tests, they were no closer to figuring out the source of her pain.

A few weeks later, a red bump showed up on her back. It was the summer and Gareau had recently been to an outdoor event, so she thought it was a mosquito bite — but upon inspection, her husband disagreed. This looked different.

Her healthcare provider took one look at the lesion on her back and recognized it as a characteristic sign of the herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles.

Read the full story here.