Occupation: Executive Assistant, data communications industry
Year Infected: 1984
OB's per yr: 0 - 2
Prodromes: Feel a little achy, like getting the flu. Stinging skin around my thighs and rear end. Tingling sensations around genitalia, eventual itching and into the ob we go.
Method of Control: Healthy diet, exercise is vital, taking multivitamins and protein supplements, and in general, NOT STRESSING OUT OVER HAVING HERPES, and avoiding overly strenuous sex.
My Story: Date rape at age 16, the summer of my sophomore year, by my first boyfriend, who claimed that it wasn't him. He raped me in his parents house and I didn't even realize what was happening until it was over, all I remember is saying no and then it was too late. He didn't even know I was a virgin. I got the first outbreak 10 days later. My family doctor (how naive! I went to my family doctor with an insurance form from my dad!) said it was classic, textbook herpes -- and wanted to
know if there was anything else I "needed to tell her." She knew I was raped. I wish I had told her but I was ashamed. I went outside and told him about it, and he denied it. Said it couldn't have been anyone else, and he continued to lie. His ex girlfriend told me to be careful with him -- and I thought she was just jealous. Wish I had listened and
never let him take me out, he was so awful. He told me that no one would love me, but he would. He told me no one would have me, but he would. I stayed with him for 2 years before I got smart and got out of that abusive relationship. Joined the military at age 18 to escape from he past. Took me 10 years to really admit to myself that I had herpes,
that this was for life. The first 2 years I had bad outbreaks, about 3 times a month, but after that, they all but disappeared. Now, I haven't had one in about 5 years, although I've had serious stress in my life. I met and married a man who coincidentally had herpes too (see, it can happen) and he died 3 years later from a brain aneurysm, which is completely unrelated to herpes. So, at age 26, I found myself alone, widowed, with herpes, a job that barely pays the bills, and a huge estate of debts to settle. I think I'm a survivor because I can't see how I did it, otherwise. Right now, I'm coming to terms with having h and my obligation to tell my partners. I hope it doesn't take newcomers
as long as it took for me. Information was not as readily available in the early 80's - and I asked! -- as it is now. One thing I can say with certainty is this: how you think about yourself, your health, and your herpes makes a huge difference to how you manage it.
Telling: Not my strong point either. I haven't told in the past because I was in complete denial, and I had the medical community backing me up ("if you don't have an outbreak, it's safe"). I chose boyfriends that had bad character flaws, just in case, because then I could tell myself that they might deserve it, if they got it. I don't recommend this to anyone because it's not only dishonest and sneaky, it's damaging to your own self esteem. I have told 3 people about my condition now. Every time, it was a huge relief to have it off of my conscience and they were understanding. It's still very hard, I don't know what I'll do when I meet someone I "love" versus someone I like and could "take or leave." The conversation is the toughest thing I've ever had to do. Nothing, and I mean nothing -- even losing my husband when I was 26 - is harder
than telling someone you care about that you have herpes. It's a huge risk but I think it's worthwhile, because people may surprise you. I believe that I actually told men that I wanted to reject me! And instead, they were understanding and helpful. I realize that not everyone will have this reaction, but I try to believe that I am worth more than just a virus that can be managed. If I were to believe that without herpes, I had value -- than why should it be so hard to believe that I have value with herpes? It's something for everyone to realize, it just took me longer than some others.