We all know that taking care of our bodies is really important for many reasons, the biggest, obviously, is so that we can be healthy enough to still be around to use the line, "well, back in my day..."
Sometimes though, we make stupid decisions. One of those stupid decisions is not taking the matter of healthcare seriously enough and I am included in that particular act of stupidity because I opted out of health insurance when my premium went up exponentially in 2017 and I never signed up for another plan. The importance of health insurance didn't really hit me until a friend of mine exclaimed wide-eyed, "you don't have health insurance?! I would be afraid to leave the house if I were you." I kid you not, those were his words verbatim. And he's right. What if I got into an accident and broke a leg? I could be one of millions of Americans who drown under medical bills.
Although health insurance is important, what I really want to talk about is sexually transmitted infections (STIs). No, this isn't like your middle/high school put a condom on a banana and show you gross pictures of infected male and lady parts, this is a refresher for adults delivered in a manner that I hope will be effective.
Going back to the insurance issue, if an old friend hadn't told me about the clinic she goes to that operates on a sliding scale, I probably would have spent a lot more money at places like Minute Clinics or not gone anywhere at all to get regular STI and STD check ups. And I have noticed that people will make any number of excuses to not get checked. Here are a few:
-We always use protection. Well, except that one time.
-He's the only person I've been with and I'm the only person he's been with.
-I feel fine, I haven't notice anything weird down there.
No. Just, no. Those are not valid "reasons" to not get checked and I think you (not pointing fingers but yes, you) know that.
I am careful about using the words "always" and "never," so I won't, but for some reason, most of the men I have dated never seemed to care as much about catching a disease as me. Many exoticized not using contraceptives and as a woman, I found that to be unbelievably unfair. Why should a man care as much as us? They're not the ones who will worry most days of the month until they get their period. They're not the ones who ultimately have the final decision to make. They're not the ones most effected emotionally after. And my thinking is that any man who insists you have sex with him without a condom because it feels better or whatever other excuse, is selfish. He is willing to risk not even possibly passing you an STI or STD, but getting one as well, all to amplify his pleasure slightly. He is putting himself and his needs, over what's right in the long run.
I don't have to say this but I will. An STI and STD can ruin your life. It can freaking shorten your lifespan. So why do we keep making these mistakes to put ourselves in a position to be vulnerable? To snatch our sexual health out of our own control? The simple answer is that we're idiots. The more complicated answer is that we're human.
I'm writing this because I was in a manipulative relationship for many years and I went back to him time after time because I believed many of the lies I listed above as "reasons" not to get checked. It turned out that I wasn't the only one. That just because something isn't visible doesn't mean it's not there.
After 2 negative paps, I was told that I needed to have a colposcopy and biopsy, which involves taking a closer look at the cervix and getting samples, and this usually means that you have HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). There are many strains of HPV but not all of them lead to cervical cancer, which is why a colposcopy and biopsy are important.
Did you know that about 80 percent of sexually active people are infected with HPV at some point in their lives?
I was informed of my final pap result over 6 months ago and I had been avoiding it since. I didn't want to go through the pain and I had decided that if I did have cancer, I didn't want to know. I was THAT person. Then I realized how stupid I was being and that there was so much more I wanted to do with my life and damn if I'll let one bad, selfish guy be the reason I died sooner than I was supposed to, if cancer turned out to be the case.
So I finally got the courage to make an appointment and went in today. I'm not going to lie, it was one of the most uncomfortable and painful things I have ever experienced, but definitely not THE worst. Thanks to a wonderful friend who told me about her experience with a colposcopy and doing research on my own to understand the procedure, I think I was in a better state of mind. And while I lay there for 15 minutes, I mostly stared at a floral curtain and grew upset with myself for being such an idiot. For getting lost in the moment, in love, and in someone elses lies that ultimately put me in this position. And then I realized that I couldn't blame him because although he was selfish, I had to also take responsibility for my own choices.
And that is what it comes down to. When I get my results in a week, I have to accept responsibility for all the times I actively chose what I allowed and how much and all I can do now is be better.
So be safe, because whether you have a curable STD that makes you uncomfortable but can be cured with a single pill or a serious STI that is enough to take a chunk out of your future, there is less time being spent on what matters to you. And your life is worth more than a smidgen more sensation.
You can learn more about HPV here.
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