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Home Personal Perspectives Personal Perspectives "Herpes wasn’t the birthday gift I expected"

"Herpes wasn’t the birthday gift I expected"

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I had just turned 55 years old and two weeks later, after becoming ill, I was diagnosed with herpes. It was the most pain I EVER felt, it surpassed the pain of birthing three boys and kidney stones. It is now three weeks to the day since I became ill and I do feel somewhat better.

As a former women's health nurse, I thought I was well educated on sexually transmitted infections; apparently I was not. Thankfully, the ASHA website has been wonderful support and I will recommend it to my doctor--a gynecologist, who I felt could be more supportive.

I believe, after some research, I contracted it through oral sex with my new husband. He and I have been married almost two years and together nearly four years. I discovered through phone conversations (he is away now as I write-on a fishing trip with his daughter) that he had many fever blisters throughout his life. I recall seeing a slight blister since we have been together. But I was unaware a fever blister carries this virus, even in a dormant state. So much for the educated nurse!

The last time we had intercourse, I experienced severe vaginal dryness. Intercourse was painful for me, and there was no foreplay or even a kiss to prepare. The next morning I recall painful urination but thought I thought it was a UTI. I also recall thinking the pain was "different" and more severe.

I have run the gamut of emotions and these continue. Growing up when I did, I have enjoyed my sexuality, I have used it, I love and enjoy having sex and I grieve that it will never be the same--now at a time when birth control is a non-issue.

I have no one else with whom to share this grief. My sister is the only person (besides my husband) that I have told. She is wonderful and supportive and expresses no judgment but cannot empathize. I have appreciated the writings of others here. I write this in case there is another woman of my age who can gain some support from knowing my story.

Perhaps when we have found a cure for the important diseases such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer, any cancer, AIDS/HIV, we can start a purple ribbon cure for herpes. Purple ribbons have long held a sign of courage and it takes great courage to live through this and face it openly and bravely.


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