I thought about whether I wanted to share this or just keep it to myself, but then decided that this blog has always been honest even about things I don’t normally share. Plus, I can’t find any other blogs about this topic the way I want to read about it (although if someone else finds one, link here please). This will NOT take over the blog, but there may be updates from time to time. For now, let me explain what happened.

I noticed a few things that worried me – I was having pain and spotting during sex which is unusual and a quick glance with a hand mirror told me that things weren’t looking normal. In high school everyone had to watch a slideshow on STIs, which was horrifying and traumatized me just long enough to buy a box of condoms. I have used condoms with every guy I’ve been with and my list is short…although there are times when I do not use them with Studly because I trusted the STI tests he took at the beginning of our relationship and we discussed our sexual histories openly.

So given the slideshow images seared onto my brain and my easy ability to Google, I was pretty sure what I was seeing in that little handmirror was an STI. However, I’m an expert in denial so I decided to run to the doctor the next morning and I reassured myself that she would tell me I had some infection but a few pills would clear it all up. I’m the Queen of Denial.

After a long wait (that’s what I get for going to the walk in doctor on a Monday morning), I put on the paper gown and shoved my feet into the stirrups. Doctor WalkIn took one look and then broke my heart:

“Oh yeah, you have classic symptoms of HPV. Those are definitely Genital Warts.”

Now let me slow this down – HPV sounds like a serious but acceptable disease name. Obviously an acronymn for something scary, you can say “I have HPV” and it doesn’t sound totally gross. If you say “I have Genital Warts” it sounds like you rubbed a toad* against your vagina and it’s now covered in disgusting warts that will spread to other parts of your body, like your face. It’s like herpes: it brings to mind dripping, pus oozing sores covering your lady garden or man meadow, but that’s not necessarily the case.

*Note: Toad-vaginal contact does not cause genital warts.

To hear that diagnosis was terrifying, because the first thing I think about is CANCER. Isn’t that what the Guardasil commercials told us? They can help you keep away this sexual virus that leads to cancer? So by this point I was kicking myself for putting off the Guardasil shot until this year – which I did because my FlexSpending money was low last year and I had to pick and choose what I wanted. Obviously I picked the wrong thing!

Doctor WalkIn acted like it was no big deal, going on to say she would contact my gyno to set up an appointment for later today. Meanwhile I sat there in stunned silence and then to the horror of my doctor, I started to sob. She calmly offered me a tissue and gave me these loving words of wisdom, “In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t so bad. It could be worse.

What a bitch.

I know I could have AIDs or Leukemia or Cystic Fibrosis or have been handed a death sentence. We all know that life could suck much worse than it currently does. But in that moment, my life changed. Out of all of the STIs out there, I know very little about HPV and I was terrified that this could be my death sentence. I realize now she was probably trying to comfort me in her really horrible way, but I needed compassion.

She left me in the room to cry, clutching a piece of paper with my gynocology appointment information on it. I didn’t have much time before my next appointment, so I walked out to my car, drove to my gyno’s office and parked. Then for the next fourty five minutes I stared at the flowers blooming on the stucco wall while I tried to figure out what this meant for me. I hastily texted Studly to let him know something was wrong but that I needed to tell him in person that evening. Then I went to work, writing down every question I could possibly think of. When I’m under stress, I want information. It calms me down.

When my appointment time came, I had a long talk with Dr. D, my gynocologist for the past few years. She was patient as I explained what happened and she took a look, shaking her head. Due to the last minute appointment time, she said it would be best if we removed as many warts as possible then did a pap at my next appointment. Since she squeezed me in, she simply didn’t have time for both.

This is the state of our healthcare system, guys.

She requested that I ask my questions while she was doing the procedure – which involved chemically burning off the warts using a gross liquid. So my questions went a bit like this:

“Does this mean – ooooh, that burned – um, that Studly might have HPV since we had condom-less sex before I realized I – Owwwwww – I um, had an outbreak – Jesus Christ on a Peanut Butter Cracker that fucking hurts!”

It’s hard to ask questions when your vagina is being attacked with acid rain.

Afterwards, I put my clothes back on, sans cute lacy panties (because I couldn’t imagine friction against my lady parts right then) and started heading back to my car. I was walking like a cowboy with my legs straddled far apart, assuming that holding them close together in a lady-like manner would bring forth agony. By the time I got home it stung a bit, but not too bad.

Then came the hard part. Studly called. I still had to tell my boyfriend that we had an STI.

I’ll post again tomorrow, right now I need to reflect. And drink rum. Lots of rum. I wonder if they have a brand of rum called “Reflection”….

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