Occupation: Computer software instructor and database developer
Yr Infected: 1983
Type: HSV2 on genitals
OBs per year: Originally 27 in the first year, now generally no more than 1 per year which lasts about 2 weeks
Prodromes: Tingling, knifing pain in legs, swollen glands, fever, flu like feelings, change in discharge
Method of control: Originally on Zovirax (only option when I was first diagnosed). Haven't used anything for past 9-10 years except to try and minimize stress, eat well, and walk a few times a week.
My Story: I have always been conservative in my sexual practices and relatively naive (borderline prude). I was with a partner of 6 months when I had my first BLOW OUT outbreak. Classic first timer that lasted a full month with high fever and sores galore. What hell! At the time nothing was known about asymptomatic herpes, so I assumed he had either cheated or knew he had it and didn't tell me. I now know that may not have been the case, regardless that relationship crashed and burned in no time.
I personally felt as though God was punishing me for my choice of becoming sexually active and I felt like a leper. I was also very angry. My brother who was known for catting around never had anything like this happen, yet here I was with very little sexual experience with this curse. However, I was extremely lucky that I was able to tell my parents and a few close friends who gave me a tremendous amount of support and love. I received additional support from a local support group, my doctor told me about, for the first few years. This group was a life saver. I met many fine people from all walks of life dealing with this disease. Their stories and how they were dealing with it really helped me to stop beating myself up.
Medical Experience: Was relatively positive from what I've heard from others. Went to my general practitioner due to continued flu-like symptoms, had no clue what the sores were about. When he checked me out he told me he thought it was herpes, but wanted to do the culture. He told me not to worry until we knew for sure. He called
me personally, to tell me the culture was positive. He asked me to come back into his office so he could give me a prescription for Zovirax, some printed materials, references, and support group material that would help me to learn more about this virus and how to deal with it. He was never condemning or judgmental, just informative and matter-of-fact about it.
I used the Zovirax for the first few years. I can't really say that it helped. My OBs were frequent (27 in the first year), painful, and of a fairly long duration (1-3 weeks). It seemed I'd just be getting over one OB and the next one would start. The second year they began dropping off, and by the third year I was having "only" 12-15 per year. This disease was the primary stressor in my life so I think it just perpetuated itself. When I finally, began coming to terms with this "gift" in my fourth year, my OBs really began to drop off.
Telling: I've been very fortunate in this aspect of having herpes. Telling my family was very hard, but they were incredibly supportive. I still remember what my father said..."I know you think this is a punishment from God, but you are wrong. He loves you as much as we do, and no matter the choices you make in life, we would never punish you with something like this...nor would He!" I cried like a baby.
As far as telling potential partners, again, I have been lucky. I had always wanted to find someone special to spend my life and raise a family with. There was no way I was going to let this thing stop me from doing so, but I knew casual encounters would forever be out of the question. As I began dating again (after 3 years of avoiding this scene) I decided the best way to proceed would be to cultivate friendships and accept dates with the clear understanding that we would not be heading for the bedroom any time soon. I knew this "old fashioned" approach would discourage any "hit and run" encounters. Only those men really interested in me (and I in them) would stick
around to pursue a more committed relationship with the restraints I was putting up.
Because of this approach, the men in my life were first and foremost my friends. When the relationships got to the point of moving beyond friendship and to the point of telling, it was actually fairly easy. I knew them well enough (and they knew me) that if there was any rejection, it would be of the disease and not of me. The first two I told were not able to cope with the prospect of the disease. However even today we remain friends. I have never blamed them for the choices they made. The third gentlemen I told, wasn't initially ready to deal with it either. Still we stayed friends, and on his own he did some research about H and a few months later did want to pursue a deeper relationship.
The last two gentlemen accepted me and the disease unconditionally. I was married to the first gentleman for 8 years. We have a beautiful child. Our divorce resulted from a non-related issue and we are still friends even now. The second gentleman is my current husband. We have been together for over 2 years and are expecting a child in April.
Personal philosophy: There is life and love after herpes, but you must first learn to love yourself again.