Occupation: Publishing (journalism/visual communications)
OB's per year: I have had four since being diagnosed in April of 1998.
Prodromes: Severe headaches, general body aches, swollen glands, nausea, pain in the joints, itching, burning and tingling in the genital area, low-grade fever.
Method of control: I tried suppression for the first few months. Now I've decided to go the natural route: Multivitamin (1 tablet twice daily), vitamin C (500 mg twice daily), vitamin E (two 200IU capsules twice daily), echinacea with golden seal root (3 capsules three times daily), and L-Lysine (only during on OB) (1000 mg twice daily). I keep a diary of my outbreaks and of all the symptoms, my temperature, my environment, attitude, diet and stress level leading up to and during the OB. I have noticed a direct correlation between stress, lack of sleep and lack of fluids with my OBs.
My story: I was in a monogamous relationship that started in January of 1998. We used condoms until I started on birth control. At that time we both made a conscious decision to go condom-less. A month after I got on the pill I had my primary. My boyfriend seemed more concerned with my well-being than his at the time. I was not accusatory in any way. I had been in several sexual relationship before him and believed I could have contracted this before him. But as time went on, he became more in denial about the virus, less willing to accept information from me about it and less willing to talk about it. It was with his absolute refusal to get tested himself that I really had to stand back and say, "Look. This is something I have. I can't deny I have it. I can't deny that you may have it. We need to work on this together. If we can't, I'll do it alone." We parted ways. I am in no way going at it alone now though. With the help of my friends and family I have a good support group. At the moment I am working to reestablish a HELP group in the Denver area. I feel there is a definite need for it.
Medical experiences: I was diagnosed by a doctor who was not very knowledgeable about the virus. I was forced to all but beg for my test results so that I could see, in fact, that I was tested for type. (A culture was taken of my active lesion.) The results actually came from the nurse practitioner, who I have been in contact with since. She has been very helpful and was actually who suggested suppression therapy. (My doctor prescribed acyclovir initially but never told me anything about suppression therapy or about Famvir and it's effectiveness when taken at the onset of a primary.) The nurse
practitioner was actually quite knowledgeable about the Western Blot blood test as well. I had read about it through a herpes forum and asked her about it when researching testing methods for my boyfriend.
Telling: There have been many times when I have had to "tell" about this virus: to friends, family, my ex-boyfriend, a potential lover. Each time was extremely difficult for me, although the end results have been, for the most part, positive. I first told my best friend, who is an RN, and I thank God she was the first. She took the news with such a, "Mindy, it's not that big of a deal," attitude, that I was immediately put at ease. I know many people don't like to hear that when they are first diagnosed, because to them it is a
big deal, but for me that was exactly what I needed to hear. It made me have a
completely different attitude about the entire thing than had I been faced with a teary-eyed emotionally wrought reaction. I find it easiest just to come right out about it ... to be matter-of-fact and not emotional. Seeing my good attitude, my confidence and knowledge leaves the recipients of my news at ease and more open to hearing about it. I know that with each experience telling, I will grow more comfortable and adept. I know that I must tell any potential lover. Who I tell in addition to that is completely up to me.