Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Shuvani Sanyal, MD
This short story was submitted anonymously after the author participated in the STI Interviews. This is part 2 of a 3 part story.
During the summer my parents took my kids camping for a couple of weeks. They got eaten alive by mosquitoes and scratched themselves raw. There were so many bug bites when they got home, I didn’t see that both the kids had Molluscum Contagiosum (MC), bumps as well, which, as it turns out they also scratched.
A few weeks later, I met my kids who were playing at the park with my ex-girlfriend and her daughter when I arrived. I looked at my daughter and saw a red mark on her forehead. I knew immediately what it was, and I felt horrible. Now, because of me, my kids were going to have to deal with this. The emotional toll of that was heavy. I was so ashamed. The guilt eats me inside to this day. I know it’s easy to look back and say to yourself how you could have avoided it all. However, it doesn’t change the fact that you gave both of your kids an STD, on purpose or not. Think about that! Even if it is common in kids, MC is still an STD, and with it comes all of the stigma associated with having an STD.
I knew I had to let their mother know. Obviously, she had seen the red mark. However, she thought it was a bug bite. I told her, apparently, I had contracted the virus as well. However, to avoid a rather awkward conversation with my ex-wife, I decided to leave out the part about my extra-curricular adventure. It’s not that it felt good to not be totally honest, however, I knew in the end, the truth wouldn’t change anything.
In the mean time, I had moved out from my girlfriend’s house and was on my own. I was feeling pretty good, actually. After about a month of not seeing any visible bumps, I was starting to feel pretty positive again. The kids were looking good, and I was hoping they were on their way to getting better; I felt that I was good to go.
Like I said before, getting my hopes up was a common theme through this process. One, which, to this day, I have to fight, because each time I do, I am brought back to reality with a slap. The next slap came after deciding it was time to get back in the dating game again. First step was a little man-scaping. I shaved may face, back, chest, and pubic region.
A week later, I woke up and looked in the mirror. That’s when my heart sank. My chest was covered in red marks, AND… tons of molluscum! My back was covered, and so was everything else! I would say, that was the point where my emotional control over the situation slipped away. The first thing I thought was that it was payback for getting my hopes up. I literally had hundreds of them all over me! They weren’t the same as before though. The MC bumps were more flat and pimple looking. None of them looked like dimpled warts this time.
At this point, I really felt that I was all alone. I wasn’t intimate with anyone at the time. The shame that I felt from the kids and having a huge outbreak, it was too much to bear. I couldn’t tell anyone, I was so ashamed.
I spent a couple of days holed up in my apartment desperately trying to get rid of the new bumps. There were so many! Spread out all over my chest, I had to use paper towel to soak up the apple cider vinegar (ACV). I had no other options at this point; there were so many bumps! I knew the longer you kept the ACV on, the more it damaged the MC, so, I decided to leave it on the entire night. For three nights, I slept with sheets of paper towel soaked in ACV on my chest. I had to cover it in saran wrap so that it didn’t stink as bad and ruin my sheets. It was awful. I saw no visible improvement. The ACV did leave some long lasting burn marks on my skin though.
By this point, I was at my wits end. I was covered in lesions! I looked awful! My children had shown up in the meantime; I checked them over and I found numerous bumps on the both of them. To top it all off, I was due to go camping with my children and the family the next day. I had thought about cancelling. However, I decided that enough was enough, and that I could use the support. I couldn’t bring the kids up camping without telling my family, and I didn’t want to waste their summer away with something that they didn’t even care about.
As it turns out, this decision is pretty universal if you have molluscum. The choice to participate and advocate for yourself is governed by a risk versus reward scenario. Going out to play with a friend for the kids used to be an after-thought. Now it depends. Are there active bumps? Have we covered what we need to? Did you wash your hands? The list goes on and on. You can’t just shut your kids in the house for years, however, you constantly have the fear of other children contracting the virus. It’s a dilemma. Do you just tell their friend’s parents? Then the fear is that your child will now be ostracized from their group of friends because of it. For me, anyways, it continues to be an ongoing concern.
So, up we went camping. What an event! I’m glad I went, because I was going nuts in my place alone with them and all the molluscum madness. I wouldn’t say it was fun for me to be up there, but the kids had fun, and it was good chance to vent.
It was tough. I had bottled up the problem and kept it a secret from family and friends for such a long time. I had told my mom the basics before we got up there, to prepare themselves, because I wanted them to be able to decide if they would be comfortable camping with us. They decided to take precautions and still go camping.
When I finally got the chance to talk to my parents, I realized the burden that it had taken on me. I broke down and cried a lot talking to them. While it was a relief to finally tell someone what the children and I had been dealing with, it really didn’t change much. We were still stuck in the same situation. On a positive note, it was nice to know I had someone to talk to.
After that weekend, I was pleased to see that the lesions were fading quite well. For the two weeks following camping, I had been OCD about everything! The typical stuff: washing sheets religiously, hand washing all the time, never re-using towels. I was checking myself constantly, and even though the odd new bump would come up, I seemed to be healing well. Of course, I knew that my struggle was far from over, but I had hope again.
As my research continued, I started looking into other alternatives that could help my immune system combat the virus. I started taking vitamins, eating right, and hiking regularly. I lost a lot of weight fast, and my body continued to heal nicely. I was positive about the future. I felt I was getting better, and I just kept on doing what I was doing and remained patient.
In the past, I had never had an issue with the MC being on my butt. That is, until I got out of the shower one day. To my horror, I looked in the mirror and saw I was covered again. I could tell from where many of the bumps were congregated that the likely culprit was the sweat and rubbing from hiking so much. I literally had 60-80 on both cheeks! The very thing I thought would help my self-confidence and get rid of my MC faster was what spread it more!
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This short story was submitted anonymously after the author participated in the STI Interviews. This is part 2 of a 3 part story. The author is a 32 year old federal employee who lives in Canada. Even though he’s still fighting the virus, he’s looking forward to the day it becomes a distant memory and he can get back to dating and living his life. He says this is his experience and you will have your own. For those of you that do, he wishes you good luck.
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Did this story affect you? Have you had a similar experience or do you have a message you’d like to send the author? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!