Last week, I was reminded of a reality – I will at some point get infected with HSV2. For some of you, this may seem like a pessimistic view, but being married to someone who is infected with HSV2, I know it is only a matter of time.
Last week was a flurry of testing – nine months after the initial round that led to the diagnosis of G. Last time, it was stressful – it was life changing – it was full of a lot of re-examination. This time, it was stressful – but it was what it was. I have accepted that it is a matter of time before the results are positive for me. And I’m okay with that.
Last time, I was a scared person in the doctor’s office. I was treated with kid gloves. I was reassured constantly. This time, I was educating the staff – and left feeling like it was time to find a new doctor. This time I got and gave lectures.
They tell you after a diagnosis that the #1 issue they watch for in someone with HSV2 is depression. Having to tell partners of the news and react to the stigma is hard to bear. Life changes – significantly – and you have an infection that people react to as though it is HIV or the like. A friend wrote about his own HSV1 like this – HSV1 is the classy one to get while HSV2 is like its frat brother counterpart. HSV1 is from chaste kissing – people have it and deal with it all of the time without judgement. HSV2 is careless, it’s dirty, it’s caught by risky people who don’t use condoms.
The reality, of course, is that they are the same infection – the same risk – the same treatments. Yet, the location of the outbreaks is different – one the mouth, the other the genital area. The total prevention of contracting the infection is the same – avoidance of the area entirely. Condoms are interesting, but not a sure thing as virus shedding occurs around the genitals as well as on them. A fact I had to remind my doctor and her staff last week.
And as I was telling them this, I realized she was not going to get it my situation now or in the future. I realized that I could not explain to her why, in my situation, condom use would not be 100%. I could not have the conversation how condoms were killing our sex life – how they represented the infection – how that little foil package became a barrier to our intimacy despite our dependence on it before we had kids. I could not explain how throwing it away – how accepting the when had brought us back together – had reignited what we were losing by constantly being reminded of that disease through that little foil package.
So, in the end, I demonstrated via my lecture that I was not some idiot who was living with her eyes shut – then made note it was time not to come back. It was time to find someone who would understand the situation, understand the open relationships my husband and I have, understand those were not going to change, and, ideally, understand I am kinky and may see her with bruises on my body.
Because I am not freaked out at the idea that I will test positive at some point. I hate the idea of daily medication to keep it in check, but that is all I hate if truth be told. Well, I hate the stigma too….but that’s why I write about it, to hopefully get people to understand it IS just a stigma.
7 Comments Add yours
Yeah, as long as the society at large does not understand what the problem is…
Most of us have type 1 and most of those who are infected refuse to acknowledge that…they use the “just a cold sore” statement as if that’s a fact.
Sadly, it is not. I had a friend who suddenly realized at age 22 that her mother has had type 1 herpes the whole time. Her mother got indignant when my friend tried to tell her that it was actually type 1 herpes.
That, is how the society views herpes. We “sweep it under the rug” and hope that this goes away on its own. Herpes has been around for decades, DECADES…and yet we spend so little on research for herpes and STDs.
There have been major strides and breakthroughs in AIDS…only because that scared us so much. Hmm?
I like the fact that you are facing this head on. You know a secret that many people know but are in denial about. You know that we are ALL going to die. Not one of us will escape that fact.
In knowing this, you have chosen to live. You feel that quality of life is better than quantity.
I admire that about you and your hubby. Sure, taking the meds is a hassle, but the pleasures and freedoms you have far outweigh this inconvenience.
And besides, there are very few practicing medicine people out there that I would truly call doctors. Sure, they have the book savvy but their people skills are sorely lacking.
Oh yeah. Beautifully written post, RTWS. I got infected anyway despite taking every precaution of using a condom each and every time along with showering afterward. I knew the condoms were at best, 98% effective.
It was interesting to see how my perspective changed upon discovery of getting herpes.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thank you for posting this!
On the point of daily medication: I have a friend who had CF, who had a
Who has FOUR kidneys because they keep failing.
If she doesn’t take her HANDFUL of medicine everyday,
No reset button.
I can take an extra pill a day.
Perspective is everything.
We love you!
My wife and I both have HSV1. Unfortunately, while I express it orally (and had it from my first gf long before I met her) she expresses it genitally. And got it from me.
So yeah, HSV1 isn’t always the more respectable cousin, and viruses really are the dominant species on the planet.
I admire how you speak so honestly and are working hard to erase the stigma.