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Don't let it keep you down

When I left my ex in May of 2001, it was tough. I had little to no money, had never lived on my own before, was scared to death of being alone and because of that fact, had gotten myself wrapped up in yet another doomed relationship almost immediately. The guy was a loser. Only I couldn't see it because he was SO good looking and "fun" to be with. I guess after 10 years of marriage I was ready for some fun and I never took into account the damage that can happen when you're blinded by raging hormones. We spent the weekends that he'd come to visit riding on his motorcycle and having endless sex. Then one day while I was at work, he left me and took all his stuff, plus some of my things. No warning - just gone. I was hurt, but figured I'd live. Time went by and I actually got used to living alone. It was my own space and I was loving it!

I wasn't looking to get into another relationship but nonetheless, it happened. The guy I'm with now found an "old" ad of mine online and contacted me through that site. I hesitated, but decided to give it a shot. I wrote back, and we chatted for about 2 weeks online, with me doing my best to keep a little distance and hold on to my new-found freedom, even though I was definitely starting to feel something for him the likes of which I'd never felt before. Then we decided to meet in person, and he drove the 145 miles to come see me without batting an eye at the distance. We hit it off really well, he drove that distance every weekend for 5 months to see me, and before you knew it, I was madly in love with him.

Then the real devastation hit. Weeks before my new guy and I had met for that first time, I had been extremely ill with a case of the "flu". I went to the doctor and he said "you are one sick young lady". The look on his face was all-telling. He knew something was seriously wrong, but was lost as to just what it was. He sent me for a battery of tests that took the majority of a whole day to complete. It included blood work but for things like cancers, and HIV. No one ever even suspected herpes. I only found out much later, after putting the pieces of the puzzle together, that it was from having contracted herpes and that my body was doing what comes naturally; my white blood cells were in over-drive trying to fend off this foreign invader (the herpes virus).

When all of the test results came back, I was mostly recovered from that bout of illness and had every intention of just putting it behind me and being grateful for the news that I wasn't terminally ill or something. Then, my first lesion popped up during a weekend when my guy didn't drive down to see me because he was on an ice-fishing trip. Just one tiny little bump on my genitals. But it was enough to get me back into the doctor and get it tested. He looked at that little bump and said it looked like herpes. I'd never in my life given herpes a single thought.

He did a culture of the lesion, and because it was a free clinic, I was told it would take two weeks for the results. I waited those two weeks with probably the most anxiety I'd ever felt in my life to hear the results of that test all the while fretting about everything that I'd been through in the past few months and feeling like ending it all. Just when I was starting to feel good about life again, a new dilemma to deal with. I was reeling from the emotional ups and downs. I was sure I'd lose my guy right after we'd just declared our love for each other and I had no idea how I was going to break the news to him if it turned out to be herpes.

Herpes? I didn't know a thing about it! I got online right away and began a journey that to this day has me constantly learning about this disease. I armed myself with the proper information I needed to be educated about it and to help him understand, too, when I finally was able to break the news to him. I was ready for anything by then and fully expected him to leave me.

Well, the bad news then was that it was herpes. The good news is that I'd done all that fretting and worrying over telling him for nothing. Although he wasn't exactly aware of what herpes was, he took the information with a grain of salt and told me we'd be okay. I told him what I knew about it so far and he listened closely and with great interest.

Five months later, I left my apartment and that small town behind and moved the 145 miles north to live with him on his farm in Minnesota. Last year we sold that farm and invested the money into a turn-key dairy operation and this is where I'll be for the rest of my able days. I made a promise to him in the beginning to keep him well informed of anything and everything I'd learned over the course of time, and he made a promise to get tested and to keep doing so indefinitely. He never did show any signs of infection over that first year while he was still getting tested every month. He doesn't go anymore because he says he's not concerned.

I love life and I just want to see other people happy, too. My hope is that, with the proper tools and the support you need, you'll get through having found out that you have herpes and see it for what it is; just a virus. Don't let it keep you down!


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