I will warn you ahead of time that I am going to be fairly graphic in this post so those of you with weak stomachs may want to browse away.
I consider myself to be a lucky guy. I’ve never had a broken bone. I’ve never had any major medical problems. And while I’m no great physical specimen that women drool over, I’m in pretty decent shape for a middle-aged guy.
Then one evening I noticed a bit of sensitivity in my groin area. I was sitting home watching television and every time I shifted position my groin just felt a little strange. I’m not sure how describe it. It was feeling I wasn’t used to.
I went into the bathroom and pulled down my shorts and gave myself an inspection. Grouped around the base of my penis were several blisters. I call them blisters for lack of a better term because they weren’t like the blisters you get on your feet or hands from too much friction and yet they were nothing like pimples or zits that you get on your face or other parts of your body. Perhaps they were somewhere in between.
I can’t really describe the feeling that shoots through a man’s body when something is wrong with his penis but it is like an electrical charge that travels from the feet to the brain. The heart speeds up, hands become cold and clammy, and you can actually notice the increase and shallowness of your breathing.
I gave these “blisters” a closer inspection and started touching and prodding them. They were tender but not really painful. One specific one was engorged with fluid underneath the skin and I squeezed it. Out came a watery puss onto my fingers. I cleaned my hand off and squeezed another and another hoping that just like a zit that once you had gotten the offending object out from under the skin it would heal and everything would be just fine.
After popping all of the blisters that would pop I cleaned up and ran to my computer to do searches on phrases like “genital blisters”, “genital skin conditions”, and “genital sores.” I’m sure some readers will have no problem guessing that trusty old Google kept returning pages pertaining to genital herpes.
I was shocked. I was mortified. I’ve always practiced safe sex. How could I have genital herpes?
I dug into several herpes sites and found some comfort in the fact that I didn’t seem to exhibit all of the classic symptoms. I had no fever, no body aches, the sores were sensitive to the touch but not burning in sensation. But at the same time I was aware I was looking for ways to deny that I had contracted herpes so there was a battle going on in my mind.
I began looking at pictures of herpes and again found some comfort that my blisters hadn’t become ulcers like most of the photos. In fact, my blisters looked very different. And they didn’t merge together like they did in many of the photos to become super-ulcers.
I couldn’t sleep well that night. I kept thinking about what my life would be like if I actually had herpes. I tossed and turned and would go out to the living room and look up more herpes sites on the internet and try to convince myself that I couldn’t have herpes.
I thought about all of the women I had slept with recently. What really didn’t sit well in my mind were a few instances. First was a girl I had been with and during the act I heard the dreaded “Uh oh.” I asked what was wrong and she told me the condom broke. Was that it? Did that bitch give me herpes?
Another incident that concerned me was a late night out drinking and I woke up the next morning not even remembering having picked up this girl. I rolled over in bed and there she was. Who she was or how she got there I don’t really know. She was naked and there were used condom wrappers on the floor so I assume we had one or two session before passing out but I can’t really say I remember them so there’s no way to be sure that safe sex was practiced rigidly or that the durability of the condom itself wasn’t compromised.
I don’t normally do the black-out fuck session so I felt bad about it at the time and I was feeling even worse about it knowing that I might have gotten herpes as a result of it. Images (or lack thereof) of those nights kept replaying in my head every time I tried to calm myself down and sleep.
The next morning I carefully examined myself in the mirror again. All of the blisters I had popped did not refill with fluid and had begun to heal like a normal break in the skin with a crusty scab. Again, no ulcers so I was beginning to think maybe I just had an allergic reaction to a condom or lubricant or some cunt I had slept with had a nasty cooche that had irritated the skin.
I can’t say I forgot about it but I put it in the back of my mind and decided that I would start becoming concerned only if the blisters didn’t heal normally or if they ulcerated in any way.
I went on like that for a week. I was actually starting to feel foolish for having been so worried.
On Thursday night I felt really tired. I hadn’t slept well the night before but this was like a really drained tired. I wasn’t sleepy per se but more like I had no energy.
That’s another herpes symptom checkbox. I didn’t sleep well that night.
Friday, I started to run a fever. Again I tried to convince myself that it was a coincidence because I was starting to come down with a chest cold (actually mild bronchitis), which I normally get about once a year due to my love of cigarettes. Just walking to the BTS had me drenched in sweat so I decided to stay in and get some rest.
I showered before bed and as I stood there nude in the mirror I noticed something strange on my inner right thigh. I raised my leg onto the bathroom sink so I could see what was going on and my inner thigh was covered with red blisters.
I couldn’t ignore this any longer. Something was wrong. I had to go see a doctor.
On Saturday morning I went to the clinic on Sukhumvit Soi 11. It’s a place hidden away (which is a good thing) on that little sub-soi where Cheap Charlie’s and Charlie Brown’s are near the 7-11.
There was another guy in the waiting room when I arrived. He was an older guy maybe in his early sixties. I asked the receptionist if I could have some blood work done. She asked what tests I wanted and I wasn’t really sure. She gave me a massive form with all of the blood tests they could run and I started checking off the usual HIV type tests.
The guy who was in the waiting area was called into the back by the blood sample technician and I asked the receptionist if there was a doctor available. She said that there was and I asked if I could see him because I had a rash that I wanted him to look at.
She took the blood form from me and told me to take a seat. Less than a minute later she directed me into the doctor’s office and I explained my symptoms to him. He asked to drop my pants so he could inspect the blisters and I complied.
He put on rubber gloves and pulled out a flashlight as he proceeded to push, poke, and examine my cock and inner thigh.
As doctors are prone to do he gave off no signs of whether what he was seeing was good or bad as he asked questions like “Is this sensitive or does it sting?”
When he was done with his examination and after I had pulled my pants back on and sat back down in the chair he said that stinging is usually associated with herpes while sensitivity is normally just some sort of bacterial infection.
While that was somewhat of a relief he ripped that hope out of my hands though by saying that he really couldn’t tell if the blisters were herpes or not.
He asked if I had experienced any flu like symptoms. Yes, I had. He started jotting notes on my file. He asked me to describe when they started versus the timeline of the rash starting on my penis and then migrating to my thighs. I told him everything in detail almost trying to convince him that it couldn’t be herpes because I got the blisters on my dick a week before the flu-like symptoms started. And I get this type of thing about once a year so it’s probably not even related. Just a coincidence, right doc?
When he was done gathering his diagnostic data he told me that it’s likely that it’s a simple bacterial infection BUT (and there’s always a but) he needs to rule out herpes because it’s an infectious disease and I have some symptoms that worry him. FUCK!!!
He prescribed me two different antibiotic pills that had to be taken three times a day and an ointment that needed to be applied three times a day. Simple enough.
He also wanted to take a blood sample and told me that the results would be ready on Monday.
I was escorted out of his office and into another room where a nice young Thai lady was waiting with a needle. Without prompting I rolled up my sleeve, let her apply a tourniquet, and started flexing my fist to get the vein to pop up. When she saw me pumping my fist she asked, “This isn’t your first time?” I smiled and said, “I used to draw blood when I worked in medicine. I know how this works.”
She was efficient and found the vein on the first try. She drew several cc’s of blood in a hypodermic needle and transferred the blood into a sample vial. She gave me a band-aid and told me to go to the waiting room.
Total bill for the exam, blood tests, and a week’s worth of antibiotics was 1700 baht.
Now all I had to do was take my medicine and wait until 6pm on Monday. Oh if it were only that easy.
I couldn’t sleep Saturday night. I couldn’t sleep Sunday night. By Monday I was already resigned to the fact that I might have herpes. I began thinking about how you would tell a serious partner that you have herpes. Would Thais even get the fact that it has no real serious side effects other than the annoying (and painful) blisters that crop up a few times a year? Would they understand that the longer you have herpes the less they appear?
Oh who the fuck was I fooling? I had a girlfriend back home who sprung it on me that she had herpes and I couldn’t dump her fast enough. She was damaged goods. She had some disease inside of her that could be transmitted to me unless I was willing to wear a condom every time we fucked. Who wants that?
Monday came and I had an appointment that I couldn’t miss nearby on Sukhumvit at 6pm so I stopped in the clinic at 5:30. The courier hadn’t arrived with the results yet so the doctor called the blood lab and asked for the results.
He then asked me to step into his office. FUCK!!!!
He asked me to drop my pants again and out came the rubber gloves and the flashlight as he poked and prodded around my privates again.
When he was done he asked if I had noticed any change since taking the antibiotics. I told him that the rash on the inner thigh cleared up almost immediately other than the largest blisters. He gave me the standard “hmmmm.”
After scribbling in my records for a bit he looked up and said, “Well, the test for herpes came back negative. And it appears that the antibiotics are showing to be effective in clearing up your spots. You should have enough to last you for a full week’s treatment so I want you to keep taking them and come back and see me if the condition has not improved. “
YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!
I decided to share this experience with you because Thailand is a great place but it’s also dangerous. Broken condoms can happen. Drunken sex can happen. Hell, you don’t even know if some crazy Thai girl won’t bite a small hole in the top of your condom so she can have some half-half babies.
I’m still not sure how I got whatever infection it is that I got but I’m so relieved that it isn’t something incurable like herpes. You don’t want to spend your days and nights worrying about whether or not you have herpes or HIV or whatever. It’s not fun. It’s stressful. Even if everything comes back negative you’ve still added some wrinkles to your face, some grey hairs, and bags under your eyes.