[Continuation of "Something's wrong" written 2 days ago]
I awoke that day, feeling more anxious than I ever remember feeling. I slowly got up as Sebastian came to kiss me goodbye to leave for work.
Today I get to find out what's wrong. I'm sorry Sebastian.
Work was particularly slow, but I tried to make the best of it. I was leaving about fifteen minutes earlier to make it to my appointment on time.
Then, when no one was looking, I did some research.
Herpes and HPV.
At this point, I don't know which one I'd rather have.
Herpes Simplex Virus 1- aka: Oral herpes, "cold sores"
Herpes Simplex Virus 2- aka: Genital herpes
HSV-1..... "Herpes often unknowingly spread"; "Sometimes Asymptomatic"; "At least 50 million persons in the United States have genital HSV infection."; "HSV-1 is usually passed from person to person by kissing. HSV-1 can also spread from the mouth to the genitals during oral sex. If this happens, it becomes a case of genital herpes."; "both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be spread even if sores are not present."
I know BEG admitted to being diagnosed with "cold sores" but didn't have a breakout when we dated.
Why did he tell me it was cold sores, when it's in fact Oral Herpes? I wonder how many other people confuse it the same way.
Cold sores ARE Herpes. Presence of the HSV-1 virus. "As many as 50% to 80% of adults in the U.S. have oral herpes." So it's obviously very common, but it's not as uncomfortable as genital herpes. I think my mom has herpes, but she gets it on her chin. It's been years since I last saw her breakout, but I remember it used to come once a year or so. I was very little, so it never occured to me to ask her what it was. The only way I concluded she had it was because it reappered every year and she would treat it.
"Lives in saliva, sharing kitchen utensils or drinking glasses can also allow infection"; "ocular herpes, when herpes infects the eye."
HSV-2: "Roughly one in five American adults has genital herpes."; "The textbook symptom of genital herpes is a cluster of small fluid-filled blisters that break, forming painful sores that crust and heal during several days."
No, that's not what I have..
" ... some people may have just one or two outbreaks in their lifetime."; "No cure. The virus lies inactive in the nerve cells until something triggers it to become active again."
I was starting to accept my fate. I was starting to understand the disease and not worry so much.
HPV- aka Human Papillomavirus.
[ok, let's keep going]
"HPV infects at least 50% of all people who have sex"; "Possibly asymptomatic for many years" "HPV can cause genital warts"; "Passed through bodily fluids, through intercourse."
BEG told me he had HPV back when we were together in September for the last time, but I know for a fact he couldn't have given that to me.
"Some people clear the infection without treatment."; "Over 100 strains exist"; "High-risk HPV strains include HPV 16 and 18, which cause about 70% of cervical cancers."
I just completed the Gardasil treatment this past November. It protects against types 6, 11, 16, 18.
Then I remembered that men are not likely to get tested. In fact, if they have no symptoms, they can't be tested. Sebastian could have it, and never know if he doesn't experience an outbreak.
I had put my mind at ease. Even if I knew having either virus would affect my life dramatically in the beginning, I said to myself "You're not alone. There's a good percentage of people who have it and they're ok. Hell, one of your best friends has HPV, and she's ok."
I went to the doctor and waited an hour to be seen by my doctor. She's very chipper, so she'll give you bad news in the same tone as good news. This happened to me last year when I tested positive for the Hepatitis C antibodies. I got so scared I cried in the chair. I retested soon after with the RIBA test which was negative. (Hepatitis C affects your liver and can cause death if not treated adequately.)
"So, your tests came back and it looks like-" she began,
Oh shit, here it goes.
"your potassium levels are very high. This could be caused by eating too many fruits or.... are you eating a lot of bananas.....?"
I couldn't help but smile and nod my head no.
"Or caused by dehydration-"
-I nodded yes-
"Which could be very possible considering you had fasted prior to the exam;"
I know this- I've been tested for dehydration before, and whenever I come see her, I have them test my urine. I ALWAYS have a urinary tract infection, and I'm not very responsible when it comes to taking the antibiotics twice a day, so they never clear up. That, and I just don't drink enough water throughout the day. I don't get thirsty. I average half a bottle of water, approx 10oz, when research shows you should drink at least 64oz.
It just gets harder for me to drink water. That's my only excuse.
"You have a bacterial infection though, which is causing you to have the UTI" she mentioned.
"What about herpes?" I asked
"Uh.... no. Negative to both 1 and 2"
It wasn't making sense.
"What about HPV?" I asked her again.
"That'll be on your pap smear, and that's in the other room. I'll be right back." she said
A few minutes later she comes back reviewing the results and says "Ok, your pap came back normal."
(The following is just one page of the 5 page report)
OK, I guess I better tell her now.
[Avert your eyes now if details gross you out.]
"I found a bump in my genital area last Thursday. It didn't hurt. When I checked on it two days later, it was still there in the same size, but when I touched it, white stuff came out" I described.
"Like a pimple?" she asked.
"Yes." I said. "I still had it this morning, diminished in size, but when I checked before coming here, it was gone, so there's nothing to show you anymore."
"It could have been an infected hair follicle, or viral infection. Either case, herpes gives you a cluster of blisters that are filled with clear pus that will break and scab over."
And they hurt right?
"Let's do a second round of bloodwork for your potassium levels and your Hepatitis C because it came back positive to the antibodies like last year" she said.
I took a seat in the lab and sat still as they drew blood for my tests, taking the first sigh of relief.
Once back home, Sebastian called me to ask how I was doing. "I went to the doctor today. She said tests came back negative. But I have high levels of potassium and Hepatitis C that she wants to retest" I told him.
"See, I knew there was nothing wrong" he comforted me.
Thank you for your optimism, but you wouldn't have been feeling the same way if you'd experienced what I did.
For the record, we abstained from sex until I could talk to my doctor. I didn't want to possibly put him at risk, not knowing the results. Plus, the thought of BEG was riding in my conscience the entire weekend. Would I have to tell him I'd been with someone else "in between" our "relationship"? We've always talked about safety and being monogamous while with each other. He's like me- he's not promiscuous because he doesn't want to become infected.
I guess all I can say at this point is..... crisis averted. However, it definitely opened my eyes and made me more aware of this infectious disease that a great population is suffering from. I'm glad that I read up more and learned not to be biased about these STDs.
To those who are infected, I respect you for being brave and learning to deal with this difficult experience. I pray that you get to live a carefree life while others learn and become educated to understand your hardships.
To the readers who expressed concern and prayed- Thank You. It was one of the most sincere gesture I've ever experienced.