To walk across the street is a risk. Mikhail Baryshnikov
So often I see people beating themselves up for acquiring Herpes. The majority of the time, they were just plain blissfully ignorant about the risks, about the fact that we are not automatically tested for H in the STD panel, or they just plain got caught up in the moment … (Damn Hormomones!!!). Many get HSV1 from oral sex because they didn’t know that cold sores could head South (and their “giver” often didn’t know either and/or didn’t know they had the virus because they got it as a child). Others are told by their partner that they are safe as long as they are not having an outbreak, because that is what their Doctor told them. The vast majority of Herpes transmissions are a result of inaccurate information combined with the fact that 80% of the population has no idea they have H. Then, once they get Herpes, they obsess (understandably) about passing it on. Even when you point out that with anti-virals and condoms, the risk falls to about 1-5% (depending on your gender), they are deathly scared about getting in a relationship and passing the virus on to their new partner. So they vow to either become celibate (also perhaps to punish themselves for being so “stupid”), or to only date someone who has H. The problem is, they have forgotten that if you are living life, you are ALWAYS living with risk. The secret here is that once you are educated, you have the power to reduce that risk to an “acceptable” level. Ignorance, as we H+ folks know all too well, is the cause of the vast majority of new cases of Herpes. The following is something that I tell people all the time who are obsessing on the risk factors of passing Herpes on, or who are beating themselves up for having acquired H. Continue reading Driving Yourself Crazy: A Reality Check About Sex and STD’s
Blame: A way to discharge pain and discomfort
Brene Brown … from http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame
Often when someone is first diagnosed with Herpes, the first thing they want to know who gave it to them. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out, other times it’s more complicated because the virus is a slippery little devil and may have been lying dormant for some time (and through multiple partners) before it rears its blistery little head. It’s a normal reaction … we humans always want to know if we can make some meaning about how it happened: Did the person know they had H? If now, why not? Did they give it to them on purpose? How long have they had it? How on earth did they not know they had it… Etc. Continue reading Blame: The Millstone Around Your Neck
One of the more frequent fears I come across is from people who are scared that they will pass the virus on to their children or loved ones. I am saddened when I read a discussion where the OP is convinced that they will have to quarantine themselves from their children, that they have to bleach everything after they touch it (especially toilet seats and bathtubs), that they can never kiss their children or snuggle in bed with them on a Sunday morning. And it’s all untrue.
The simple answer is that if you follow common sense and normal sanitary habits you can lead a completely normal family life. For the purposes of this blog, I’m not including your sexual partner in these scenarios. Continue reading Toilets, Towels and Touching, Oh My!
One thing I have learned over the years. Doctors don’t know everything. And the more broad their scope of practice (Family Doctor vs Neurologist, for example) the less deep their knowledge in what we expect them to know. Now that’s not surprising when you think about it but we tend to believe our Doctors are Demi-Gods who should be able to wave their hands and make us better. Our modern medicine society tends to support that to an extent. But the truth of the matter is, if you are not presenting with very clear symptoms your average doctor may well not have the knowledge to deal with it.
If you have done your homework you have learned about Asymptomatic Shedding, and that just because you can’t “see” or feel anything doesn’t mean you can’t pass the virus on. You have learned that if you have HSV1, it doesn’t protect you from HSV2 and visa versa. You understand the facts that half of all new Herpes cases are HSV1 acquired from oral sex. You know that a condom only cuts Transmission Rates in half. You know full well that you *could* be carrying the virus if you have not specifically asked for the Herpes test in the past. So when you go to your doctor to ask for anti-virals, or for the Herpes test, you need to be armed with the indisputable facts that they have somehow managed to miss in the 50,000 pages of medical journal stuff that they go through every year, because sadly many doctors are woefully behind the times when it comes to Herpes facts and information. Continue reading Dealing With Your (Uninformed) Doctor
Don’t deny the diagnosis …. try to defy the verdict ~ Norman Cousins
So you just got the call from the doctor …. the one you’ve been dreading to hear for days. Or maybe it was totally unexpected. You just went in for your STD tests as usual and you decided to ask for the Herpes test because you heard that it wasn’t normally included in the STD panel of tests…but you figured it was just going to be another hit to the wallet and nothing more. And you heard those three little words: “You have Herpes”. For many, the world seems to come crashing down in that moment. One moment you are skipping through life, dealing with the day-to-day stuff that is thrown at you (or so you think), and now suddenly, your life as you knew it is OVER … you go from being a wonderfully beautiful person to a dirty, unlovable, disease-ridden person who no one will ever love or want to be with in that instant. Or so you think…… I’m here to tell you that Herpes can actually bring you more and better love than you can ever imagine possible. I know it sounds like I’ve been smoking some really great stuff over here …. but with time, counseling, and a bit of work, you have the chance to change your perspective from one of “my life is over” to “my life is sooo much better than I ever imagined could be possible”. I see it happen time and time again with the people I counsel on the Herpes Opportunity Forums (check them out….it’s the BEST place for support and information). You see, Herpes acts like a magnifying glass on all the crap we have swept under the carpet and ignored. All the things we believe (though we won’t admit it) about being unlovable, not good enough, not pretty enough, etc can come screaming out at you after diagnosis, disguised as the belief that this little virus is completely to blame for everything that doesn’t work in your life from now on. And it’s ALL A LIE that your brain is fabricating because somewhere along the line you bought into the belief, the stigma, that says a STD, especially Herpes, is proof that the person is dirty and “loose”…. someone who you would NEVER associate with. So stop for one moment and look at the facts:
- 80% of the population has Herpes (HSV1 or 2)
- 80% of them don’t know they have it
- 15-20% of the population has Genital Herpes … and 80% of them don’t know it
- HSV1 (cold sores) is now making up 50% of the new Genital Herpes diagnosis … because of the mis-guided belief that HSV1 won’t head south combined with that 80% who are unaware that they even have the “Cold-sore virus”.
- 60% of all young people will have HSV1 by the time they are young adults because kids are walking petri dishes and they love to share all their bugs …. or maybe Auntie Sue kissed them with a cold sore and didn’t know it was highly contagious at that time.
Odds are – several of your friends have Herpes too. Some may not know it…. and some are hiding it from you because they believe you will think less of them if they told you, because THEY bought into the stigma too. For now, be gentle on yourself. Get on the Forum and reach out for support… from a trustworthy friend (who may well tell you they know 3 other people with it!), your family, or counseling. Whatever you do, don’t try to go it alone.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ~Maya Angelou