We’ll Always Have Pearl Jam. And Herpes.

I remember when one of my best friends was diagnosed with Herpes, in my head I thought, “Well that’s what happens when you sleep around!” Boy how those words have come back to bite me in the ass, almost literally.

Contrary to what educators would have us believe, safe sex isn’t always enough to protect you from disease or transmission of sex-related infections. I know this, because last week my poor doctor had to deliver the news that I suspected…I have the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1. That is the herpes that normally appears on your face in the form of a cold sore.Except my sores won’t appear in the facial region. They’ll appear in the genital region.

I can’t tell you how uncomfortable the last two+ weeks have been. To walk, to sit, to use the restroom…the only thing that came close to this kind of discomfort was the first two weeks post-child birth. Today, the pain started spreading down my left leg into the nerves in my thigh and just below my butt cheek – the kind of pain that made that whole area sensitive to even touch.

Dr Google tells me this is somewhat normal, and is similar to the sensation people with shingles have. The medication is the same treatment also. In my research, I came to learn that Herpes is the most commonly transmitted STD and if I am lucky, this initial outbreak will be the worst, and future outbreaks will be few and far between. I also came to learn that oral sex is not always “safe” and that someone with a cold sore or even a developing cold sore, can spread HSV1 to their partner.

Initially I was absolutely devastated and distraught. I thought I was getting what I deserved for sleeping around. What I remembered as a fun and intimate night of enjoying each other, and singing along badly to all the Pearl Jam classics, turned out to have a much bigger impact than I thought at the time. The truth is, the guy who gave me this may not have even known he was infected or at risk of sharing this virus. Even couples who have been married for years can give this to each other unknowingly.

The stigma associated with the disease is, supposedly, much worse than the disease itself, although after the last two weeks I am not sure about that. For me, the hard part now is having to have this discussion with future partners and dealing with the potential rejection because of it. For someone who was just starting to gain her confidence and sexuality again after a really long time of insecurity, this has absolutely knocked me for six. But, like I have every other situation I’ve faced in the last 12 months, I will learn to live and deal with this and it is Just Another Bend In The Road.



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