Last Updated on February 21, 2021 by Jenelle Marie Pierce, CSE, Executive Director
This short story was submitted anonymously after the author participated in the STI Interviews. This is part 1 of a 3 part story.
I have Molluscum Contagiosum, and have had it since spring of 2012.
It’s not like I thought there was never a chance I could get an STD; I guess I just never thought that I would get one. I am a professional. I don’t hang around scuzzy places or scuzzy people and I have never, to my knowledge, had any friends who have had an STD. I always use protection. I assumed that a condom would take enough of the risk factor away, and unless you had symptoms, you were pretty in the clear.
I was in a relationship with a wonderful woman at the time. Both us us were monogamous, so there were no issues regarding the use of protection with us. Around the one year mark, I was given a little freedom in the relationship, and it didn’t take long to use it.
I often think about what I did wrong to get this horrible virus. I used protection. I trusted the woman to be honest. In the end, I determined it was karma for being thrown in to an obviously awesome situation. Heaven’s way of evening the odds, I guess.
The reality is that you can only do so much. You can use protection. You can try to select people you trust. You can even go and get an STD test. In the end, even if I had demanded each one, I still could have gotten Molluscum Contagiosum (MC). I could have also gotten it from the pool or from any other of the countless daily activities. I have children who are school-aged. I don’t even know for sure how I got it. I remember an odd bump on my daughter’s knee; I froze, and eventually it went away. It looked similar, but who knows? Regardless, I got it, and whether it was from a sexual partner or my kids doesn’t change things much.
I clearly remember finding my first sign of MC. I was lying in bed watching tv, and I looked down at my chest and saw a weird looking bump with a dimple in the middle of it. It looked like a weird pimple, however, it wouldn’t pop. So, I did like most people would and poked it, got the stuff out, and carried on.
Not long after I noticed another weird bump forming close to the last one. This one looked different. It was more typical of a molluscum bump in that it was fleshy and had the dimple in it. Being a Google fanatic, I got to work on the self-diagnosis. Since it wasn’t on my genital area, it didn’t even dawn on me that it could have been an STD.
As I dug further into some websites, I came across a picture of a molluscum bump. Bingo, it was identical. Other than reading that one website, I didn’t do any more research and made a doctors appointment. The information that I had read revealed it was a common ailment mostly caught by children and goes away in adults with a healthy immune system. No problem, or so I thought.
The doctor took a look at it and immediately diagnosed it as MC. ‘It’s nothing, goes away on it’s own, just leave it.’ If you aren’t already aware, that is something you will hear a lot. No mention of it being communicable, or that it was an STD, among other things. No mention of treatment options, and no warning to abstain from sex.
Okay! So, we are all good then? No reason to research anymore; just wait it out and that one unsightly blemish will clear. Not exactly.
I went back to my girlfriend without any reason to be concerned whatsoever. I told her all about the bump and what the doctor had said. We left it at that and continued on as normal in the bedroom. About a month later, I noticed another MC bump on my chest. Back to the doctor I went. It wasn’t until then that I was told it was, in fact, contagious. However, I was told it is easily managed by covering the bumps with a bandage during sex.
It all seems so obvious in hindsight. Why on earth would I have not had the common sense to think anything with ‘contagiosum’ in its name would be, wait for it….contagious? That’s what happens. Honestly, at this point, the smaller head took over and all common sense went right out the window. In retrospect, I remember feeling sick at the thought I was contagious; and when I was told I could still have sex, I was so relieved, I think, subconsciously, or even consciously, I didn’t want to dig further and find out different.
For the few months following that doctors appointment, I really thought very little about it. I had gotten fed up with seeing the bump and cut it off. Nothing had come up in it’s place; so, no problem. Life went on as normal.
I even moved in with my girlfriend, which, was great. Everything felt good physically. I had some issues from a while ago in regard to a bad accident, which, in addition to some other issues, had caused some symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Mentally, it was a very stressful time in my life, and I decided to take sick leave from work in order to address the issues and, hopefully, come back as soon as possible.
Almost immediately, I noticed more molluscum bumps forming. Stress or timing? I’m not sure. However, that is when I really started to do some more research on MC. Most of the medical websites were fairly generic in their explanation of the virus and how benign it was. As I dug deeper into personal stories, it became apparent to me how, if left unchecked, it can become severe; and how, at the very least, it was quite an inconvenience.
So, armed with this new information, I decided my best course of action was to continue to scrape off the lesions myself. This time I would be careful disinfecting the opened wound, and just get the ones I saw. I checked myself over well, found one or two more, and took care of them. No problem.
Fortunately (although it didn’t feel like it at the time), my girlfriend and I decided that moving in wasn’t the best idea and began making arrangements to move out. With that, any and all intimacy stopped, which, as it turns out, was a blessing in disguise.
I remember the first time I looked at my body and realized I was in trouble. It wasn’t hard to see. As I was drying off after a shower, I noticed more bumps around my pubic area. I frantically folded back the skin and started looking around the whole area. I found around 10-15 bumps covering my pubic area and testicles. I knew I was in serious trouble.
The feeling of shame started immediately. I knew that being intimate with my now ex-girlfriend was out of the question, so, I had no reason to burden her with my medical issues. I was very embarrassed and felt dirty. I still had the hope that I could get it under control, since I really had only tried one method of removing the bumps.
As I delved further and further into the information I found, scattered randomly around the internet, many things became apparent. How your body deals with this virus, and how it responds to treatment is a case by case basis. What someone considered a minor inconvenience for a month was someone’s living nightmare for years. Examples were everywhere of people at both ends of the spectrum and everything in between.
The treatments were equally diverse: Aldara, tea tree oil, clove oil, wart remover, apple cider vinegar, freezing, and the list goes on and on. Some things people reported immediate results from, and some waited months before giving up and trying something else.
I settled on molluscum contagiosum apple cider vinegar (ACV) treatment as the first option. Many people on the forums said it was the miracle cure. I had a lot of hope and wanted it gone fast. I had so many in a spread out area it was impossible to use a cotton ball and bandage. Plus, I hadn’t told my girlfriend that I had an outbreak; so, sleeping with cotton balls of ACV on my package might have sparked her curiosity, as we were still sharing a bed.
So, night after night for a week, I sat outside on the deck, watching movies and surfing the computer, looking for any information I could find on MC, my legs up on a foot rest with paper towel soaked in ACV plastered across my testicles and thighs. I would shower before heading to bed and made sure I had pajamas on. It was the first point where I was fighting as much of a mental battle as a physical one. I felt so disgusting. I even hid the bottles of ACV to avoid questions from my girlfriend.
Right away, I became OCD about checking myself constantly. It was hard to go to the bathroom and not take a look. It’s not like I expected a miracle, and after the tenth time that day they would be gone. I didn’t know what to expect. I was just being OCD. It was hard not to be. I wanted to know if any bump came up or any went away immediately.
After that week, I realized the ACV was doing nothing more than irritating my skin and making me smell bad. So, I made the decision to get out the tweezers and start taking the things off again. This time, I was more prepared and way more hygienic about it. I was surprised that even in a sensitive area, the pain wasn’t too bad, and I quickly had all the bumps off and disinfected. I continued to disinfect often during the day. To my delight, after a of couple weeks, I had no more in my pubic region. Occasionally, one would pop out on my chest, and I would cut it off and wait for it to heal.
I was feeling pretty good about things, which, as I learned later, was a common, albeit, short lived emotion. I had even told the ex-girlfriend, I really felt I was done with it. I felt I was better, or close to it anyways. One day, my son approached me. He had been running in the sprinkler. As he got closer, I could see an obvious MC bump on his chest. That was the point it really hit home; I obviously wasn’t giving the virus the respect it deserved. Even though I thought I was being careful, I wasn’t, and now my son had it.
I quickly grabbed some clove oil, which, I had bought and briefly used on myself. It was stronger than the tea tree oil, and I wanted this thing gone fast. I put the clove oil on a band-aid and left it on the bump for a of couple days. When I took the band-aid off, I could see it had worked. No more lesion. I was happy, but cautious. As the weeks went by, nothing new came up on the kids.
This short story was submitted anonymously after the author participated in the STI Interviews. This is part 1 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.
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!