Tag Archive: HSV

[5/22] So I had a phone conversation just now (lunch break) with a woman who was diagnosed with herpes in February.  I didn’t ask which kind she has; I assumed HSV-2.  She is completely devastated.  I mean I felt like crap and I still have moments when I just don’t want to think about it, but it’s torturing her in a way that I think only my depression has done.  And I realize, I don’t have it all that bad.  Not only do I have the more common form of the virus, I also don’t care about getting married and having children.  This woman is in her early 30s and does want to get married and have kids.  So even though she’s with someone all she can think about is how impossible it will be for her to have the life she wants because no one will want to be with her.

It’s things like this that make me want even more strongly to “come out” as it were and start working to destigmatize this disease.  People shouldn’t have to feel so hopeless and disgusting over a virus that is NOT life-threatening and really doesn’t even change our daily lives in any way.  Of course no one would CHOOSE to get infected.  But at the end of the day, it’s not that big of a deal.

And as I say this it makes me feel worse and worse about NG.  I still haven’t told him.  [5/23] In my mind this makes me a reprehensible person which is probably contributing not insignificantly to my recent (+/- 3 weeks) mood slump.  I told my therapist this yesterday and she didn’t totally berate me which was good.  But I haven’t told her that we have in fact been in contact with each other’s genitals.  So basically, that thing I swore I’d never do again?  I did it again.  I don’t know what I’m going to do.  I have seriously considered breaking up with him instead of telling him.  So here’s to me and my high moral standards. *sigh*  I’m trying not to give myself too much flack about it but it genuinely does upset me to discover that I’m so much of a coward.  Especially since I KNOW that it’s not that big of a deal and that odds are pretty good that he already has it.

And part of me is still rationalizing: If the general populace doesn’t equate cold sores with herpes and the virus I have is the cold sore virus I have just as much right to pretend I don’t have herpes as that 75% of the population has to pretend they don’t have herpes.  Except of course most people, I think, don’t even realize it is a form of herpes, so it’s considerably different from my situation, where I know damn well it’s herpes.  *misery*


Experiment in Outreach

I’ve just recently offered myself up as a “Buddy” for the local Herpes support group — basically, if there are new members who feel like they need a bit more hand holding than just the e-mail list and the social & support events, the admins ask for people to volunteer to be a “Buddy” to that person, to give them some one-on-one sympathy, support, whatever.  Knowing (and as it’s documented somewhat in late December posts) what a traumatic experience it was for me to come to grips with my H+ status, I want to do what I can to make it easier for others.  So I shot off an introductory e-mail to the new member this morning, we’ll see how this goes.

Post new year check-in

Here I am at the start of 2012.  I’ve never taken much stock in the whole “new year” thing — I like to think of each day, each moment as an opportunity for a new beginning.  But because I have been through so many changes over the last few months, because I’m thinking again, thinking positively and actively, I feel a bit like I’m on a bike at the top of a hill, about to push off full tilt into the landscape laid out ahead.  About to.  There are some things I still need to process before I can make that push.

Here’s one thing I envision for this year, the first quarter.  I want to start a campaign to de-stigmatize Herpes.  I don’t know yet what it will look like – it will probably start with YouTube videos (I’m gonna be a star!) stating simple facts.  Facts that people who don’t have genital herpes apparently don’t know.  It may not change anything in the end, but I have to try.  I put myself through a lot of emotional anguish over having genital HSV-1, only to discover a week after the fact that the guy I’m interested also has HSV-1 — he just didn’t know that’s what it was.  I’d like to spare others that same grief.  Anyway, once I think of a name for the campaign and have produced or at least scripted one or two small videos, I’ll reach out to some of the bigger online Herpes resources and try to get some linkage, at least.  The first quarter is only 3 months long, so I may not put it all together by then, but it’s a soft deadline for me to work with.

My body image has come a long way — the fact that my Special Male Friend refers to me as “tiny vegan girl” helps.  I’ve never in my wildest dreams imagined myself “tiny” in anyone’s eyes.  ** I’ve decided that Special Male Friend (hereafter shortened to SMF) will be my blog codename for the friend I’m sleeping with… he doesn’t want to “date” date until he’s gotten all the divorce and custody stuff worked out so we’re kind of “more than friends” but not “dating”… oy.  It’s cool, though. I’ve done a lot of thinking about it and for now, at least, I am OK with things as they are. **  Anyway, I’m doing a minimal amount of work on my abs in the form of occasionally holding plank and side plank positions to a count of 30.  It’s not much, but it’s a start.  I intend to pull out the exercise DVD I have again, too, now that I’m pretty settled in and have enough floorspace to actually do the exercises.  When I can afford to, I also want to get a bike.  The street I live off has full bike lanes that go all the way uptown.  If I can get a bike by April, I will be able to spend the spring months building up my stamina, which was never very good.  Anyway, not any huge commitment here, but I’m more serious now than probably ever before in my life.

I have also been working on being more “myself” in social situations.  I have so often been just a “yes man,” sympathizing, oohing, nodding in understanding with whoever is sharing their experience.  Or simply being silent if I didn’t agree.  I already respect myself more for the work I have done on this so far.  I will never be — and don’t want to be! — an aggressive person, but I do want to take part in the conversation as myself.  I realize now that much of my feeling of disconnectedness, of aloneness, has come from my own unwillingness to connect, to be myself around others.  I have been waiting all this time for others to “draw me out” and I finally understand how far that has gotten me, and how it will not take me where I want to go.  I’m sure I’ll put my foot in my mouth, get cold feet, regret speaking up a few times.  But this is worth it.

So happy 2012 to all.  If you have been fortunate enough to have made as much progress in 2011 as I have, this year bodes nothing but good.

New friends, old friends

Today was an exercise in helplessness.

A new friend (the guy I’m seeing/banging) is just at the beginning of what could become a bitter custody battle with his ex.  I grant, I only get to hear one side of the story, but in my opinion if a couple separates and both adults are self-sufficient, gainfully employed, not abusive, drug addicts or criminals, each should be entitled to 50% custody of their progeny. That is, assuming both are interested in the progeny.  In this case, they are.  It sounds like his ex is trying to find a way to prevent him from having reasonable access to his child — for reasons unknown to him.  I think maybe she’s trying to punish him for whatever pain she’s in which may or may not be related to their breakup/separation/pending divorce.  By all accounts he appears to be a warm and devoted father.  No apparent history of violence or intimidation.

But as I said, I only hear from him.  And I’m somewhat biased, because I like the guy a lot.

update on that whole “herpes and us” thing: turns out he had HSV-1 already. like most people (*coughmy ex cough*), apparently, he didn’t really associate cold sores with “herpes”; what ARE they teaching kids in health class these days??  In any case, we’re free to fuck each other silly, which pleases me to no end.

The most difficult thing for me is that I know I can’t actually do anything to help.  It’s not my problem, it’s really none of my business except that I prefer when he’s happy and not stressing out over something jerk-hole-ish his ex said or did.  So there’s helpless scenario #1.

#2: a woman who has been a friend of mine for over 10 years, whom I have tried to love and mentor as something of a sister, has had serious psychological/emotional issues for the last 5 or so years.  We’re talking in and out of hospitals, psych wards, wherever they could pass her off to, they did.  Off medication, on medication, stuck at her parents’ house, kicked out of her parents’ house, she’s just never been able to find her feet.

I remember visiting her in the hospital a couple years ago, staying for hours because she begged me not to leave.  Her moods were all over the place, pleased, childlike, tormented, sobbing, pained, fearful, bitter, depressed.  All in spans so brief I wouldn’t have been able to believe it if I hadn’t been there.  Her mind was all over the place, undirected, then fixated, distracted and distractable.  She couldn’t, or wouldn’t, support herself standing for very long.  We’d take short walks, just down the hall, and she would have to stop and sit for a few moments.  She clung to my hand as if, somehow, my presence could take away some of the indescribable suffering she was living with.

For about a year she’d actually been doing ok.  Living with her parents was wearing her down, she had issues with her mom and (i think) some anger issues in general, but she was off the anti-psychotics, on a regular antidepressant and trying to raise her 3-year-old (but that’s another story).

A month ago her big sister, her actual sister, was killed in a hit-and-run late at night. No witnesses.  From then the whole family broke down.  The house, which was already claustrophobic, became like a hell (for all of them, I’m sure).  Everyone was grieving, everyone’s fuse was a little bit shorter, and my friend’s anger became less rational and less focused.  One night she called me, saying she’d been in an argument with her father and he’d stormed out. Her mom told her she should probably be gone before he got back.  I tried to suggest she stay, apologize, try to work it out.  The service for her sister hadn’t even been held yet.  When she continued to insist that she had to get out, I admitted to her that I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, come get her.  I didn’t have the energy to take care of her.  And I couldn’t afford to bring her negativity and illness into my home.  It was selfish, but I can’t say I regret it.  I knew then, as I know now, that I can’t do anything to help her.

I’m not sure what happened after that.  I was certain she had ended up back at one hospital or another.  The suddenly, a couple days ago, my phone rang and it was her number calling.  I didn’t have the nerve to pick it up then.  What could I expect at the other end of the line?

We met for coffee today.  Or rather, I picked her up from her parents’ house and bought us coffee at a Starbucks nearby.  I knew — because I had seen what previous her hospital stays had been like — that her experience over the last few weeks had surely been unpleasant.  Beyond that I wasn’t sure what to expect.  We conversed relatively normally at first, but it became clear and clearer that she was not as functional as she had been before Thanksgiving.  She would interrupt, take over the conversation with no allowance for input.  She would tear up and express how much she loved me, how she didn’t know what she would do if I weren’t around.  When she began emoting in broken Japanese — we had both picked up just enough from watching anime that she could create simple clauses and I could more or less understand her meaning — I realized how bad off she must be.  That time a few years ago, when I visited her in the hospital, that was one of the things she did regularly.  I almost cried right there beside her when it hit me.  At the end of the visit I dropped her off at one of the hospitals nearby so she could pick up some medication or another that she said she needed.  Her parents would pick her up, she said.

It was such a relief when I pulled away.  And heartbreaking, too.  After all these years, she’s still fighting the same demons, the same pain, the same lack of reason whose source I don’t know.  And she wants me to help her, to cure her, because she associates me with warmth and comfort, because I did what I could to comfort her during her awkward “tween” period (I was in high school at the time).  I know that there is nothing I can do for her.  My presence isn’t enough to chase away the demons.  Soothing words won’t clear her sky of dark clouds.  I honestly don’t know if there’s anything that can help her.  Persistence and family, I would say, if I thought her family capable.  But time and again they have shown me they are not.  I don’t know what her future is.  I’m afraid she will find herself back in hospital very soon.  Even there they don’t seem to do much for her.  And in her illness she is unable to determine what she needs herself.

By comparison my life, my little chronic depression, is a blessing.

Patterns I recognize

Today may not turn out to be as productive as I’d hoped.  The high I woke up with is giving way to uncertainty, insecurity.  Fear.  I don’t want to be one of those people who constantly looks for reassurance.

I have to remember to be gentle with myself.  The last couple days have been huge and overwhelming and exhausting.  It will take more than a couple nights’ sleep to really come to grips with it all.

Right now, to him, so much depends on the test results, but he can’t even get the test for at least a month.  Maybe with a month’s passing things will be different.  In one way or another.  A month feels like a very long time to wait.

I need to do some meditation exercises so I can feel this pain but not let it own me.  I hope I can.

My World, Upside-down

Oh my god it’s been a whirlwind couple of days in both the best and worst possible ways.

I’m coming to grips with a reality I have been avoiding for the last 4+ years.  This is something that will be a part of me for the rest of my life and I have to start accepting that.  Acknowledging it.  After the little epiphanies I’ve experienced (and documented in prior entries) I guess I am more capable of dealing with it than at any point before.

I have genital herpes.  It’s HSV-1, the one most commonly associated with cold sores. I’ll let the reader work out how I got it.  Let me just say it involved my boyfriend-at-the-time and a very intimate moment.

I knew he got cold sores. What neither of us realized was that it can be transmitted even without the presence of a cold sore.  So here I am, one sexual partner into my life and I have a disease with such an outrageously strong stigma (disproportionate to the facts, in my opinion) that it can make or break relationships in some cases.  Which wasn’t a problem when I was with the guy who infected me.  I didn’t have to think about it or face up to it.  So I didn’t.

Then of course I broke up with him.  Moved out, got my own place, I’m flyin’ high, living the single life, getting myself together.  I’m so shy and not into social scenes that I figured it could be years before I met someone I was really interested in, and who was really interested in me.

Not so, apparently.  In a matter of a couple days hanging out with a relatively new acquaintance we seriously clicked.  Sense of humors mesh, physical attraction, check, witty banter and engaging conversation, check.  He’s even an atheist.

It was honestly the first time in my life I had the experience of wanting someone who also wanted me. It blew me away.

Here’s the kicker.  I slept with him.  We were hanging out at his place and I was enjoying it so much I guess I really didn’t have room for anything else in my brain.  It all happened so fast (literally a matter of days) and I wasn’t expecting to have to bring it up that soon.  I just didn’t think about it.  So then I had to tell him.  I feel so guilty about it; it’s a huge breach of trust and if someone did that to me I don’t know what I would do.  I’m pretty much done crying for now, I’ve “come out” and talked with a couple people who have been very kind and understanding and while it will still take a lot of processing to get over the fact that I did the biggest, douchebaggiest thing I can think of to someone I could potentially have really really come to care for, I do believe that I will eventually be able to forgive myself. And I will learn to accept this disease as a fact of my life.

He’s actually being really nice about it.  Of course he’s disappointed.  And he’s bummed too, because he really likes me.  He still wants to be friends, which shocked the hell out of me.  I don’t know if I could have been so generous if our roles had been reversed.  I am extremely grateful though.  And maybe he’ll get to a point where he feels “ok” enough to try a sexual relationship. Or maybe we’ll cool off and drift apart because it’s just too weird. Or maybe we’ll just end up good friends.  I just know that I can’t undo what I have done.  I can’t undo getting infected, I can’t undo not telling this new flame when I should have.  I have to keep moving forward because looking back and treading water won’t get me anywhere.