This guest writer has requested to remain anonymous.
Today, I became a statistic. What sort of statistic? I’m not entirely sure because I’m older than the typical age range according to the CDC. What I am sure of: I tested positive for chlamydia.
The diagnosis didn’t come as a total surprise, which I’m sure my doctor could hear in my voice when she called before 8:30 in the morning. That’s not to say it wasn’t a crushing blow to hear the news, because it was. When you get that inkling that something might be wrong, you hope you’re just overthinking, so confirmation of the suspicion sucks. The good news is that I decided to get tested. The good news is that it’s something treatable. The good news is that everything else came back negative. The bad news is that it IS something, and there’s no denying it.
At work I felt like a zombie walking, preoccupied with the thought of this sexually transmitted infection lurking inside of me. I checked my phone non-stop for the text from the pharmacy saying my prescription was ready for pickup. Saying I raced to the store would be an understatement. I have never been so excited to pay for antibiotics and take the first dose in my life. A week-long pill regimen for a lifetime of, “yes, I have been infected before.” My brain has been racing with questions – did he give it to me? Have I had it for years unknowingly and then gave it to him? How did I let this happen? How did he let this happen? I don’t want to be accusatory; how will this conversation go?
Having the conversation with your partner is incredibly nerve-wracking. Thank goodness for nervous laughter and its way of preventing tears. I’ve never had to have a conversation like this one and neither had he. Apologies were said by both people. Questions were asked. Genuine concern was expressed. Out of the numerous ways the conversation could have gone, I’m glad it went the way it did. My stomach was in knots all day for him, in anticipation of his own appointment, even though we both know what the outcome will be. In this state, a healthcare provider can only prescribe treatment for their patient; in some states, treatment can be prescribed preemptively for an exposed partner. I can’t help but feel for him, knowing he is also going to have this same conversation with someone else, but as the bearer of bad news.
It’s hard to think of a time when I have felt less sexy. Confidence, shot. Libido, non-existent (which is fine, because you’re not supposed to have sex again until after the antibiotics are finished). If you’re able to slut-shame yourself, I have done it. I’ll have to be retested again in three months to make sure it is really gone. That means three more months of not forgetting that I’m a statistic. It’s easy to say, “use a condom (I didn’t)” or “don’t sleep around (I wasn’t),” but we all make our own choices. Yes, this could have been prevented, but it wasn’t. Perhaps I tempted fate one too many times. I managed to survive my promiscuous teens and twenties, but was brought back to reality in my incredibly tame thirties. I don’t regret any of the choices I made in this situation, but it will definitely change the choices I make in the future. It doesn’t hurt to have a reminder: know your status – get tested.