SL Letter of the Day: Someone Missed a Podcast


Awwwwww...(sniff, sniff)

Take some L-lysine pills and shut're still alive.
This calls for a drink. Well, OK, just about everything calls for a drink, but what the hell.
That spot on Gorbachev's head? Herpes.
Here's a comic (er graphic novel) recommendation for the letter writer (or for anyone):…

It's a well-done story about a guy who discovers he has teh herpes. The letter writer will probably be able to relate to some of it.
Yes, I just finished listening to that 'cast on the plane from Denver last week. (Dan, you have sustained me on many bumpy flights this summer).
I'm at least glad is sounds as if the guy isn't going to dump him. That happy(?) ending was a godsend.
Dan posted this to make up for the HIV+ disaster post. (Which I still think was a trick.)
Me, I'm so cynical, I think the guy he's been seeing is the one who gave it to him. Explains why he wasn't stunned by the news, and why he thinks it's extremely noble of the letter-writer to have told him.
The way the guy writes, you'd think he just got diagnosed with HIV! If he's been reading Dan's column for that long he should know that 1 out of 4 adults have herpes and you can have it for years before you have an's really not a big deal.
Do yourself a favor and get to a Dr and have him prescribe Valtrex. I dealt with herpes for years, not even knowing what it was. Not just the outbreaks themselves, but the flu-like symptoms that go with them- yuck. Valtrex prevents outbreaks like magic.
EricaP, you really are cynical. :-) Of course, you might turn out to be right :-(... But then again you might turn out to be wrong :-).... Here's hoping (no offense)!
I think the physical pain is blowing his mind. It's on his genitals, folks! OUCH. And considering the way guys often seem to consider their dicks to be a sort of mini-extension of themselves, if something is wrong with his dick, something is wrong with HIM.
The first outbreak is always the worst. There's the pain, which is tremendous, then the flu-like symptoms, and the gross out factor when you see the blisters. It's not a good time. But hopefully you be put on valtrex and after that you can expect maybe 1-2 outbreaks a year, and they're almost never as bad as the first one. I have herpes on my arm (simplex 1 - no clue in hell how the fuck it got on my ARM) and the first outbreak felt like the blood in my arm was filled with ground up glass. Now if I get an outbreak it just aches, which isuch, much better. Yeah, herpes is gross and painful, but I'll take it over HIV any day..
@ 2: He's only 22, it is likely early in his sexual life. I'd be freaked out too.
The following is going to be way TM freakin' I for most folks who aren't desperate to learn more about dealing with their herpes and to hear from others who are experiencing what they're going through. You've been warned. My motivation is compassion and frustration with the taken-for-granted stigma of herpes--coming out of and fostering ignorance. The fear and the jokes propagated about it are more psychologically difficult than the disease is physically difficult. It's almost always a very mild medical problem, it's common, and it's very easy to get with or without condoms (though I'm sure condoms help), especially because so many people don't ever have symptoms and don't know they have it, and because it can be passed on (it's called "viral shedding"--yum!) while the infected person is asymptomatic. Stigmatizing herpes makes as much sense as stigmatizing sex in general. When I first realized this, from personal experience, I honestly had the strong impulse to wear a declamatory T-shirt, like positive (and non-positive ally) HIV consciousness-raisers. I decided I'm not quite enough of a free spirit for that, though. I really think there ought to be a social and public health awareness campaign about this as everyone would be better off if the reality was more common knowledge. So maybe I should write about it more elsewhere... there's not many situations where you want to bring it up in person.

I was freaked out by having herpes at first, too. Even though my then (and current) sex buddy didn't care. (I probably didn't get it from him; he was a little bit freaked and got tested, or so he says, and I have very little doubt that he's being honest. As my last partner had been more than a year before, and your first outbreak supposedly usually happens around a month after infection, how I got it is kind of a WTF thing.) All I could see was physical misery and a severely limited future sex life, and sex is very important to relationships for me. And that first outbreak, over a year and a half ago, was just awful. I have it in my thumb and my genitals. I ended up on a catheter for two weeks! (Herpes can affect your nerves and prevent you from being able to piss, no matter how much you have to go.) I'm STILL paying off the bills from that...

BUT my outbreaks very quickly tapered in frequency and severity. I then got it in my mouth, though, probably from allowing my lover to go down on me and then kiss me, as he was wont to do for awhile. (No, not while I was having an outbreak! I'm kind of gross, probably, but not that gross! But I'm definitely inconsistent. I then, and still, religiously wash my hands after touching myself, even after soaping myself in the shower.) (Yeah, that sounds like he knows he already had it, but you don't know this guy... he is obsessed with my smell and taste. I think that mentally overrode the infection risk for him.)

I decided I really didn't want any more outbreaks after the unpleasant, but not major, mouth thing. (It was just the side of my tongue--I am so glad I never get the external mouth sores, even though I know it doesn't mean anything bad about me I'd still be embarrassed.) The prescription to prevent outbreaks never worked for me. I never seemed to have enough heads up from the nerve-pain warning symptoms to take it in time to head off an outbreak. My doctor had little to no good information about the disease.
I also didn't want to be on another synthetic daily pill for the rest of my life, and it didn't seem to help, either.

Luckily, there's a warm and helpful herpes "community" on the web. I started reading about diet, and found the web site of an Australian company selling Dynamiclear, a really, really effective mineral-based topical solution for active outbreaks (I would be pretty cautious using it around your lips, though; it would stain my thumb blue for days.) They also sell lysine supplement and an herbal supplement for preventing/healing outbreaks. They've worked great for me--outbreaks are very infrequent and very mild and shorter; sores don't even emerge during them. Even though I had to go off the herbal supplement because of an interaction with a prescription drug I'm on. And even though my diet isn't nearly ideal for keeping herpes in check (I do try, but I get weak for sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, and it's expensive for me to totally replace wheat and rice and beans and legumes with meat and dairy and vegetables). And even though I'm often very emotionally stressed and sleep too little and don't exercise enough. (Boy, this is starting to sound bad. I'll stop now!)

Another thing that did really bother me--and still just plain sucks--is that it's very serious for babies and young children. If mothers are infectious during birth their babies can get it. Now that I have it in my mouth I have to be reasonably vigilant about not sharing a glass with someone, and about keeping my hands to myself when eating, and not exposing anyone directly to something that's been in my mouth. (When I think I used to scrape and rinse dishes at a restaurant with bare hands!) And I'll have to be extremely vigilant about such with my hypothetical children. It's just making simple good habits.

What's good to know--according to my reading--is that herpes does not live on a dry surface outside the body for more than two to three seconds.

And guess what, after I got it, I talked to my Mom and found out she has had it since before I was born! Something she "brought back from San Francisco," she said. (She liked to spend summers there in her 20s.) Well, she had two kids vaginally and we didn't get it, and we of course shared food etc. with her at different times as kids (not actually sure if she has oral too or not). So I'm a little calmer about the risk to my hypothetical children. I do wonder if lysine supplements would be safe for them to lower their chance of infection. And have to work with a really good doctor/midwife about being healthy for vaginal birth. But still, I can chill some.

I can see Christian righters, if I ever had the misfortune to discuss this with them, jumping on the danger to "the children" as clear evidence that pre/extramarital sex (outside monogamous marriage, of course) is UNNATURAL and WRONG because of course the world is ruled by an all-powerful, if cryptic, god who punishes sex with disease (and more!).... Ugh. (Since when do Christians care about what's "natural," anyway? At base it's all about only the other world being real and good, not this fallen and corrupted one that's just a little test on the way to bodiless, changeless eternity--geez, talk about anti-life.)

Anyway, basically, in all likelihood herpes does not have to be a big deal for you! Honest, you'll hardly notice it! And frankly, knowing what I know now, I don't think it's even worth stressing about getting it from a partner. It's basically impossible to have sex with someone who carries it without a fair chance of getting it, anyway. Condoms don't cover EVERYTHING--I mean all the skin contact during intercourse--and dental dams and saran wrap just seem ridiculous to me considering how mild a problem herpes is in reality. To each her own, though.

Be sensible and aware, and herpes does NOT have to be that big of a deal. Do some research and find out how to take care of yourself--herpes can be very well managed!