The story of a worried well
Mar 25, 2005
Hi Dr. Bob,
Let me tell you my story, a story which shows the power of the mind on the body, and which may be helpful for a lot of other people posting questions on this forum. Four months ago, I was on a business trip in Israel. I got together one night with a lady, from who I did not know at all her STD status. We ended up with unprotected insertive oral sex and protected vaginal sex.
The famous day after I started wondering about the possible consequences of this experience. Regret always comes too late and unfortunately, feelings of regret and guilt lead to physical changes as well. I started surfing on the internet checking for possible STD-exposure and of course I got a whole list of possible diseases with even more symptoms. Result was that I have got a minor urethritis, balanitis, itchy skin, throat ache, etc,... I was checking my mouth every day and whenever I saw something unusual, such as a red spot, I would freak out and run to the stomatologist. I was afraid to get Reiter syndrome. The itch also did not help, because then I was thinking about pubic lice and scabies. Again, running into the toilet every five minutes in order to check if the skin had changed in any way.
I have been taking five different antibiotics during the first 1 1/2 month of my worried well story (nitromycin, septrin, procef, augmentin and vibramycin). I did tests for herpes I and II after four weeks, six weeks and twelve weeks: all negative. I did tests for syphilis (VDRL) after four weeks and 12 weeks: negative. I did a test for EBV-virus after 12 weeks: negative. I did a test for hepatitis B after twelve weeks, which showed that I was immune due to a vaccination I probably have done in the past (at least something positive out of it). I did HIV-tests after six weeks, eleven weeks, thirteen weeks and sixteen weeks: all negative. Finally I did three different culture tests for chlamydia, mycoplasma, ureaplasma and E.coli. Only the E.coli was positive, which was a remarkable fact. And then I was still lucky apparently compared to some labs in the Us, because in Greece, where I live, you get the result of the blood tests within a period of one day. You do not have to wait for a week or even longer than that.
Anyway, then I changed doctors and I ended up with a wonderful lady, a dermatoligst who also teaches at the University of Medicine in Athens, Greece, and who has a very straight forward approach which I like. I told her my whole story, as per above, she just looked at me and she said quite surprisingly: do you eat a lot of meat? I answered her by saying: "Yes, chicken, pork." No, no, she said, red meat? "No", I said. She answered: "That is why you do not look like Schwarzenegger at the moment but rather like Winnie the Pooh and of course your daily worrying about this stupid thing does not help either. You do not need all these tests and medicine you were swallowing and putting in the form of a creme. What you need is red meat, a lot of spinach, broccholi and Brussels sprouts and a multivitamine supplement with some extra iron in addition to that. And please, stop freaking out, stop surfing on the internet because alomost in any case, one or two of the symptoms you think you see will match some kind of STD."
Believe me, this helped me a lot.
And, you will be asking: am I still worried? Yes, a little bit about HPV, but unfortunately, there is not test for men available. So, for this one there is nothing else we can do than wait and see.
My message is: it is indeed nerve wrecking to wait for three months in order to be able to do reliable tests for most of the STD's. But, it is even worse to start worrying like hell and to imagine things on the basis of one or two symptoms which are basically the result of stress. Although the internet is a great tool for a lot of things, in this case it is like poison. You get stressed out and as a result of that you pull your immune system down which gives the body the opportunity to produce some symptoms which may look alike symptoms of some STD's. I know this is easier to say than to do. When you are worried, you are worried. But, please do not make it worse by surfing the internet, etc,... Believe me, you can ask me whatever you want about each STD now. I will give you an answer. The point is that it should not be like that.
To all of the people of this forum, stay well and protected.
To Dr. Bob, you were one of my main resources of information during this difficult period and you were one of the few who helped me a lot through this period. I will do another HIV-test at six months in order to be completely sure. Please tell me how I can make a donation to your organization from Greece. Let's have a drink next time I am in Frisco or you are in Greece.
Ciao, a Belgian Greek.
Response from Dr. Frascino
I have a hard time imagining a Belgian Greek Winnie the Pooh, but . . . OK, if you say so. Thanks for writing in and sharing your story.
When you have that drink, we'll toast to your good health, OK?
Stay well. And remember to follow your own advice, OK?
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