I didn't want to have to tell you this. It's embarrassing and it isn't attractive. But it's a reality for one of every four women, one of every five men, more than thirty million Americans altogether. Most of us (ninety percent, according to some web sites) aren't even aware that we are members of the club. In my case, I've been unhappily cognizant of my membership for seventeen years, ever since my freshman year in college and a certain irresponsible ex-boyfriend who shall forever remain nameless. Here's the ugly truth:
I have herpes.
For many years, I only had an outbreak on rare occasions of heightened stress. A~ and I were able to, shall we say, work around it, for a very long time. But then I went back to school and all hell broke loose. Little sleep, poor diet, intense competitive pressure. It wasn't long before I was flaring up regularly.
Two years since graduation, I'm less physically taxed and the disease has eased up some. But emotionally, these have been two of the most challenging years of my life. It doesn't surprise me that I still have outbreaks on a regular basis.
In the past week alone, I got both engaged and divorced (or nearly so). I commuted back and forth between J~'s place and mine more times than I can count. I taught my most demanding pre-finals classes, after which, I'll be virtually unemployed. On top of that, I painted J~'s kitchen and prepped the living room, began packing up my apartment in earnest, and embarked on the really and truly life-altering project of making a baby. As if the rest weren't life-altering enough.
I'm thrilled. I'm emotional. I'm occasionally exhausted and overwhelmed. For a few minutes lately, several times a day, it feels like my heart rises up and spasms in my throat. I suppose it should come as no surprise that in the wake of all this, my herpes would flare up just a tad.
J~ and I did make a stab at baby making (forgive the horrible unintentional pun) on the night of his birthday, and another when we woke up the next day. But by Friday evening, I wasn't feeling quite right. I went to bed early, and in the morning, no surprise, herpes. We absorbed the sobering news: There can be no more baby-making sex until I heal. This takes several days, at least.
"Maybe it's a good thing," I said to J~. "I'm still painting the house, and I'm paranoid about breathing the fumes while pregnant. Plus, there's lots of heavy furniture to move in the coming month. Not to mention, I just got divorced. And we just got engaged. Maybe this is my body's way of saying I can only absorb so many big changes at once."
And, wouldn't you know it, not until just this morning do I have the tell-tale sign (EWCM) that the fertile window is upon us. And healing? Not quite yet.
Bottom line: J~ would need to have some powerful mojo (or some very tenatious sperm) for his birthday wish to come true. So, as is my habit of late, I'll be waiting on my period with bated breath. But meanwhile, we've turned our sites to next month, when I'll be mostly moved into the house, rested, healthy, and ready to try again.