I was deleting photos on my phone the other day when I came across a doozy. It was taken last year. I’d avoided Covid but had been hit with every cold that was going around, as well as the hideous RSV virus. But that was all behind me. I wondered why I was still feeling like absolute crap. There were no worrying symptoms, just extreme crappiness, so I wondered if MS might be planning a surprise attack. But no. Ha ha, said my body. This time you’ve got shingles!

Then I developed the painful rash. It wrapped around the mid-section on the right side of my torso and Dr Google confirmed my suspicion. I knew that it was important to get onto the antiviral medication quickly to prevent any nasty long-term symptoms. The problem was that due to a lingering cough and my GPs Covid policy, I couldn’t see her face to face. She suggested I take a photo of the rash.

This was more difficult than it sounds as the rash was predominantly on my back. So I went into the bathroom to take the photo in the mirror. On checking the shot, all I noticed was the untidiness of the heated towel rack reflected in the photo. I removed various items: husband’s wetsuit and other swimming accoutrements for cold water swimming, my unfashionable hot pink shower cap and mismatched towels. Even as I was doing it, I knew it was insane that I was actually styling my shingles photo (maybe shingles can go to your brain). Still, I spent a few minutes re-arranging things, including matching towels, and re-took the photo. This time I got mostly wall, almost missing the rash altogether. I mentally congratulated myself on the tiles I’d chosen when we re-did the bathroom. I tried again, this time standing a little closer to the mirror, and twisting around further to get a better angle. In this version the only thing the eye was drawn to was the ugly, angry, red rash. Yes, perfect – this was the money shot.

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