Having herpes does not mean your worth is less

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I read about the herpes whitlow on this site and towards the end it asked for someone’s story or symptoms.

I’m now 33 yrs old and I was diagnosed with genital herpes at 19 yrs old. I wish we had had smartphones back then, a better way to research the virus and connect with others who also had it.

Let me express how AWFUL it was leading up to my diagnosis. Being as usually the first few breakouts can be the worst. (Which I didn’t know at the time) My symptoms started out as a urinary tract infection.

Although painful, I knew that some meds would do the trick and I’d be back to normal in a few days. Boy was I wrong. The pain didn’t cease in fact it steadily got worse. I couldn’t make it to work and peeing became a nightmare. My mom picked me up and we went to the ER. Because it such a severe urinary tract infection it was suspected I may have an STD. It’s been so long now I can’t exactly remember what they did, I think they swabbed my genitals and I believe they were testing for chlamydia. The strange part is one of the doctor’s mentioned the possibility of herpes, but obviously didn’t test me for it. Since I didn’t have chlamydia I was sent home in basically the same condition as I had came in.

Days were torture. I finally went to see a doctor. I think since the ER couldn’t or didn’t help me I didn’t think a doctor’s office visit could reap results. It was a female doctor and I sat there telling her my symptoms. My mom was in the room as well. And as the doc was writing down my symptoms I mentioned the ER doctor mentioning herpes and she stopped writing, and looked up at me with a concerned look on her face. A few minutes later, after a quick exam of my genitals, she confirmed I had herpes. A wave of shame and sadness swept over me and I remember my mom looking so sad for me. Even as I’m writing this now and recalling that day I am brought to tears.

The doctor gave me a few free samples of Zovirax. At the time I was uninsured and there wasn’t a generic med on the market for herpes. Within a day of taking the meds I was feeling so much better. Unfortunately the breakouts were frequent. For awhile I was able to get free samples until I moved down to TN. I didn’t have a car to get to the doctor and I didn’t have insurance so when I got a breakout it was HELL. The itching was maddening. I know this is going to sound gross but I want to be painfully honest to thoroughly explain my story. I would wear a thick pad and when the itching would become intolerable, and cold water and soap wasn’t sufficing, I would rub the pad vigorously on my privates which probably only exacerbated the situation, however it did bring some relief. The breakouts were so frequent my mom was kind enough to buy me a prescription of Zovirax (no refills) that cost her about $200. Eventually I was able to get to the pharmacy and buy a few at a time. It was awful. I believe $35 got me like 7 pills.

Besides the physical agony of herpes I was mentally fighting demons everyday. I felt like a leper. Whenever I was out in public I would look at people and know that I was DIFFERENT. I caught herpes from sex, although I never knew which lucky guy passed it on to me.

Promiscuity definitely aided in my illness. How would I ever be able to find someone who was willing to have sex with me again?? If I ever got pregnant would it affect my baby?

For years and years I went without meds. Eventually the breakouts became infrequent, but one time I had a full blown breakout and googled home remedies. There was some ridiculous concoction you were to rub into your genitals. It consisted of the over the counter cold sore medicine Abreeva and night time Tylenol cold medicine, in pill form. You mashed the pill into the Abreeva and rubbed it on your privates. It brought some relief although I suspect it was due more to the Abreeva than the cold medicine.

Even though the genital outbreaks were infrequent, the outbreaks that were frequent appeared on the palm of my right hand or on my right thigh. Jeans and band aids could help shield the thigh outbreaks, but the pain was awful. The palm of my right hand was the worst though. I’m right handed. Before a well formed blister appears a tingling and itching sensation would let me know trouble was on the way. Within a few hours little red bumps would appear, these would turn into the blisters but at first they’re just hard little bumps that hurt and itch. Sometimes I could actually help cease the outbreak by constantly applying rubbing alcohol to the area and of course it would over-dry the area, but again, sometimes it helped.

Through the internet, over the years, I’ve been able to do my own research on the virus. For a long time I was ashamed of myself for the stigma associated with the virus. And of course there are the jokes about herpes, and honestly, at this point in my life I can even get a good giggle out of a herpes joke. And since I’m not out announcing my situation then the jokes aren’t directed AT me. Let me assure you though, years ago when the word herpes came up, or a joke, I would get an awful, depressed feeling. Time helps heal these wounds.

Throughout the years I had close friends confide in me that they had the virus. What few friends I confided in, well they ended up telling a few other friends and I was devastated. These people are still my friends today, after long conversations they convinced me they only told another person because that person had it and felt bad. I found this to be true. The ones who found out I had it had gone through terribly sad days just like me.

I have a daughter now. She’s almost two years old. Early in my pregnancy I had a breakout on my thigh. For precautions I was put on acyclovir twice a day during pregnancy. After discussing it with my doctor I felt completely confident having a vaginal delivery. I was not in a breakout, and hadn’t had one in many months. My delivery went perfect. The baby is fine.

These days I take acyclovir once a day, unless I’m having a breakout. If anyone has done their research then they know a series of things can lead up to a breakout. Stress, heat, your period, even sexual contact when there are no symptoms, or when your immune system is fighting a cold can contribute to a breakout. I have a big exam in a few weeks, I’m a bit stressed over it and I woke up this morning with my palm hot and itchy. The pain has gotten worse over the day so I took my second acyclovir pill a few hours ago. I will take 2 a day for the next 6 days.

I would love to help counsel people who suffer with this virus. I have come to accept my body and it’s imperfections, but that’s only my journey and it took years of depression and physical pain and finally overcoming all that and realizing that I’m not broken. If only I had had some comfort when I was first diagnosed.

People need to know that even though they may have herpes, that does not mean their worth is less. They can still have relationships, and kids, and friends.

—Brandy

Photo Credit: Pinterest Pin

Hoping my hand herpes story helps someone somewhere!

My story begins 22 years ago when I was 15. I went and got my first manicure and full set of acrylic nails for prom. I went to a friend’s sister who was almost through with cosmetology school and we did this at her home. My nails looked great and I was a happy girl. That is, until 2 weeks later when I got these horrible sores around my cuticles and down my middle finger.

Went to the pediatrician. ( I was 15 ) Dr. said I had gotten a fungal infection from a bad manicure. These sores went away and have come back off and on for 20 years. Never really thought about getting a second opinion because I had never in my life heard about hand herpes. Until last week.

I had a massive burning itching feeling in the palm of my hand and within 24 hours I had a 1 inch painful blister on the palm of my hand. I assumed I had a sticker in my hand, so I opened the sore (huge no no!) and saw nothing. I put triple antibiotic on the blister and covered it with a bandage.

Next morning I wake up to a red streak running up my arm from my palm to my elbow. Ran to the dr to be told I had a blood infection. He ordered IV antibiotics through a Picc line, and did a culture on my blister. Culture came back negative for bacteria, so he did a blood test. By the time the blood test results came back, I had 3 painful blisters on my palm. The blood test showed HSV 1. Mind you, I have never had a fever blister, cold sore or genital herpes. Herpes was a non existent word in my world.

The dr and I discussed my history in detail and decided that the fungal infection I had been diagnosed with was actually my first outbreak of Herpetic Whitlow. Imagine 22 years and I never knew! We are now trying Valtrex to help clear this up faster, taking Xanax to help me deal with the anxiety and are simply using Universal Procedure to keep me from transmitting to my husband and 2 children.

I was astonished to hear that most Herpetic Whitlow cases are not diagnosed because of lack of public awareness. Hand Herpes, who knew you could get such a thing? Now we know and you don’t have to be sexually active to be infected! Lesson learned? Always go to a reputable, licensed cosmetologist to get your nails done! Lol

—NS

Encouraging Others With Herpes

I just want to let you know that your site has helped me so much. The stories that people shared regarding their “talk” with their loved ones really helped me tell my boyfriend that I have HSV-2.

We recently had the talk and I could not wait to share it with your site.

My guy and I have been together for a few months. He has already told me how much he cares about me and that he could see a future with me. We’ve started talking about marriage and purchasing a home together.

As we continued to spend time together the topic of sex came up, but I would just change the subject. I knew that I would need to tell him about my situation soon. I wanted to tell him before either of us became too emotionally attached, just in case it did not end well. In order to prepare for my talk, I discussed it with my ob/gyn and she provided me with literature on herpes and made out a prescription for acyclovir.

I also searched the internet for “how to tell your boyfriend” stories, when I came across this site. The stories here were so reassuring and helped me build up the nerve to have this important talk. I actually wrote out a page long speech to read to my boyfriend to make sure that I did not leave anything out.

One night we were cuddled up on the couch discussing holiday plans and starting a future together. He brought up the topic of sex again and expressed that he did not understand why I was holding back from him. I became silent for a few minutes…thinking to myself that this is the perfect opportunity to tell my secret. After my moments in silence, I asked if I could tell him something…he said yes, “we are a couple, we can talk about anything.” After another brief moment of silence, I told him that I had herpes and followed up with some good herpes facts. He continued to embrace me and responded “ok…that’s it?”

He told me that he’s not going anywhere. By this time, I was shedding a few tears (because he was accepting me and my situation)…he looked me in my eyes and told me that he cares about me and I could not get rid of him that easily. He reassured me that he just wanted to be with me and kissed me. We talked about ways to protect ourselves, when we do decide to engage in sex. We kissed and hugged. We continued discussing our holiday plans and marriage.

This experience was way better than I could have ever anticipated! I am looking forward to an awesome future with a wonderful man. Oh, I never even got around to reading that page long letter that I had drafted to tell him about my situation.

I just want to encourage others with herpes that there are people out there that will accept us and love us, lesions and all. : )

Thanks again for this site and to all of those that have shared their experiences.

—C

Please Don’t Be Ashamed

After reading the post about the young man named Drew a lot of different emotions came over me. I too was diagnosed recently with hsv-1 genital herpes. Although I have yet to have another outbreak or any physical pain from this virus I am still facing the emotional aspect of all of this.

If I were to give one form of advice to anyone dealing with any form of oral or genital hsv, I would tell them that life will get better and the more honest and open you are the stronger you will become as a person. HSV will never change who you are. You can live a happy and healthy life. Just be honest with yourself and others. The good ones will stay and the bad ones will go.

This virus does not by any means make someone a dirty person or promiscuous. Most people contract this virus as a child even. Please don’t be ashamed.

—A

Today, I rest in the Lord!

I have been with herpes for about 15-16 yrs now. I grew up in church but didn’t have the relationship I have with him today. When I was just about to have sex with the man who passed it to me, as we was just becoming one. I heard a loud scream saying, NO! Still I did nothing and let it happen. I now know that, that was the holy spirit, looking out for me. I just was not in tune with the lord then. I am still highly grateful that I just have herpes, for it could have been much worse off. I was looking for love in all the wrong places, trying to do It my way. Today, I rest in the lord! Thank you lord for all you have done and will do for me. Thank you lord for blessing all who reads this.

—B

Learning From My Mistakes Part 2

Learning from my Mistakes Part 2

Hi, my name is Caitlin. I wrote to Yoshi in September 2010 (it was published on Sept. 24 2010) and I felt it was time for a little follow up to that story.

I am happy to say that I have been with my boyfriend for over a year and a half now. We celebrated our anniversary and a half on February 1st, 2012. So far it has been pretty amazing. We are talking about our future, moving in together, engagement, all that good stuff. I know the engagement is a little while off since he will be in school for another year or two but it’s ok. I’m more than willing to wait.

Amazingly lucky for me, I haven’t had a breakout since my initial one. Chalk it up to taking me medicine like I’m supposed to or just plain luck. Maybe it was the fact that the day I found out I had H I went to church and confession for the first time in weeks/years (church weeks, confession years). While sitting on those wooden pews were really
uncomfortable I remember being comforted by my surroundings and what my priest had told me. And of course since I’ve never had a breakout I almost forget about it until I have to see a new medical provider or have to give my medication list for whatever reason.

The greatest feeling was the other day H got brought up for some reason and my boyfriend was like… “Oh yeah, I forgot you had that” Made my day completely. Because while I forget about it I obviously can’t know what he thinks about so it’s good that he’s not worried about it anymore either. I know that some people could say that it’s easy for me to be so positive about my outlook since I haven’t had another outbreak since my initial one but the thought is still there. There is always the possibility that I could have another outbreak. And I will never forget how badly that initial outbreak hurt.

I graduate from college this May. I’m ready to shake the dirt of this crappy little college town off my shoes. My college experience has been less than stellar (as was described pretty thoroughly in my first post). I’m ready to move onto my adult life, move in with my boyfriend, move into the life I have been wanting for the past number of years.

Thinking back over the last four years brings forth a lot of pain, sadness and regret. I can’t change any of the things that I did but I can be thankful that the only thing I am walking out of those stupid years with is H. A lot of worse things could have happened and for that I am forever grateful.

I can’t say that I have completely embraced the philosophy of forgive and forget. Well I decided a long time ago that, as a policy, it wouldn’t work for me. I just don’t forget. I remember just about everything, from the silliest little thing to the biggest things. I’ve taken on a philosophy of forgive, remember and move on. Without remembering the
past we would continue to make the same mistakes over and over. I’m working on the moving on part.

While I have found a wonderful man who takes care of me and loves me more than anything I still find that I have a grudge against those people that have hurt me. Thinking about them is a further reminder about everything that has happened. Thinking of them also reminds me of the people I have hurt. I know they’ll never read this but I am sorry. To the guys that I hurt during my summer of rampage, I am truly sorry. In the couple of months before I met my loving boyfriend I finally ended things with an emotionally and sexually abusive ex-boyfriend and went a little crazy. Well more than a little crazy. Looking back I’m amazed I didn’t get myself physically hurt. But I took on the viewpoint that most people would say is “stereotypical teenage guy”. I decided I was going to do what I wanted without caring who I hurt along the way. And I hurt a few people. So again to those guys that I can never truly apologize to, I am sorry. I pray that they have come to forgive me in their own way.

I have been working on finding the closure to this chapter of my life as it comes towards its end. Come May, I will be out of Emporia, I will have graduated college, started a real job and moved in with my boyfriend. Writing this is one way for me to help me to bring closure for myself. I also want to thank everyone who has helped me over the past couple of years to accept myself for who I am despite what I have.

H does not define you, it is merely a facet of your being. H does not make you a good person or a bad person. It does not make you a whore or a slut. Do not let someone make you believe that you are less of a person because of H. As someone once told me, H can become a good filter for guys (or girls). Some people will turn and run at the mention of an STD, some people won’t really know what it is and run at the unknown, some people will know what it is and choose that it’s too much for them, and then there are those who will know what it is and choose that it doesn’t matter whether you have H or not. And those are the people you want to surround yourself with. Find someone who accepts you for who you are, H or not. Find someone who loves you and cares for you, that never puts you down and never makes you feel bad for something that you have.

Everyone deserves to be happy. I’ve found my happiness and I pray that those who read this will find their happiness someday.

—Caitlin

Learning to cope with herpes

Hi! I just read your blog “19 and a virgin”, and I just wanted to share my story, because i just had a very similar happening, except I was 18.

Back in May of 2011, I became in a relationship with the guy of my dreams. He was the sweetest, most handsome guy, I had ever met. I was 17 when we started dating, and he was 21. This was my first serious relationship. Up until this point, i had never even kissed a guy! I’ve always been a shy girl, and he helped me get out of my little comfort
zone, and that’s one of the things I liked about him.

He was in the army, a very clean cut, respectable man. At least that’s what he made me think. Let’s just say, he was very good at manipulating me, and making me believe every word that came out of his mouth.

This is a very drama filled story, so be prepared!

He had his ex-girlfriend pregnant. So throughout our realtionship, I had to deal with all kinds of baby mamma drama. She was not a fan of me, seeing as I “stole her babies father”. Besides the baby mamma drama, our relationship was amazing. I never thought I could truly love somebody, as much as I loved him. I couldn’t see myself with anybody else.

About a month after we got together, we had sex. Not really the time frame I preferred, I wanted to wait, so that way I knew it meant something to him, as well, and not just me. Mind you, my ex had had sex with just about 40 girls at this time. Yes, I shoulda known better, but I didn’t. He said he had recently been tested by the army, because they do yearly std checks. Seeing as it was the army, I believed him, of course.

I only agreed to have sex this early in our relationship, if he promised, that things wouldn’t change after the fact. He did. But things did change..

After this, we were having sex on a daily basis. ALWAYS protected, even though I was on the pill. There was 1 time, we had unprotected sex. But our relationship started spirling downwards. He started treating me badly, started lying, rolled his eyes at me everytime I made him say “I love you” back. It was awful. But being the person I am, I delt with it, and ignored all the obvious signs in front of my face.

In late July, I found stuff down in my “area” that was not normal. This was about 2 weeks after we had unprotected sex, and I was scared. I had my mom make me an appointment with my doctor.

I went and got checked out, and my doctor told me that she was almost positive, that it was herpes, but that she would test it, just to make sure. I left that doctors office, with a prescription for “valtrex”. I texted my boyfriend, and confronted him. I was embarrassed, I felt dirty. I couldn’t believe this would happen to me, of all people. Why did i deserve this?

We talked about it, and he swore up and down, that he never cheated, and I wanted to believe him, but I didn’t. But also made him think I believed him. I was in love. Love makes you do stupid things.

About 2 weeks later, my doctor called me, and confirmed that I was infected with the HSV 2 virus. I was devestated. I cried, and cried, and cried. I’ve never been an emotional person, but it was traumatizing to someone who was only 18!

My boyfriend told me, that he doesn’t have it, and that he has never had any symptoms, or outbreaks. He was coming up with every excuse in the book, to make himself feel better. Which I found humorous, because he HAD to of given it to me. There was no other way.

A month went by, and he broke up with me. I think i was more devastated when he broke up with me, than I was when I found out I had herpes. I went into a full blown, deep depression. I ended up losing 40lbs. I didn’t want to do anything.

The day after we broke up, all the truth came out.

I found out that he cheated on me with 3 girls. 1 of them, being his baby mamma! With finding this out, I knew how I got the herpes for sure.

A couple months went by, and I started talking to someone new. I eventually told them I had herpes. I was so scared, but the reaction he gave me, was unbelievable! He had no problem with it what so ever! I was so relieved!

Our relationship didn’t last, because he’s in the marines, and is stationed 650 miles away from me. But his family lives were i live, and I’m still very close to them.

To this day my boyfriend that gave me herpes, still denies that he has it, and won’t go get tested. We still talk from time to time. I don’t hate him anymore, I’m mature enough to see that people make mistakes, and I moved on.

I was so relieved to see your story, and to see that I’m not the only one this has happened to! I’m still learning to cope with having herpes. its hard, but its getting better, day by day. I hope you enjoyed my story, and hope to hear back from you!

Thanks for reading :)

–Anonymous