One of the most tiresome aspects of my recent health problems – though pleasingly at a very low ebb at present – is that every test pares down the range of options away from really very immediately serious (e.g. cancer) but also away from the relatively minor (infection, etc).
This leaves us, sadly with a range of less salubrious and unpleasantly permanent possibilities. Multiple sclerosis, for example. And... other things.
On Wednesday I took the somewhat unusual step of having a sexual health check-up; unusual in two ways. Firstly I haven't had one since I met Fella. And secondly I haven't had one since well before I met Fella. The first point is important because we're in a stable, loving monogamous relationship. Why therefore would such a check up be important? Well, ever since the debacle with my erstwhile counsellor I've gone right off visiting what is the nearest and by far the best appointed sexual health clinic to my home. In fact it was months and month of fun and fun between then and my relationship beginning... and whilst always taking care to ensure a crop failure however many wild oats sown, there are no guarantees. Safer sex, not safe sex, no?
And the stupid thing is we've never really talked about it, he and I. On that Wednesday I could not put my hand on heart and say, for instance, my Fella is free of diseases!
"But why now?" I hear you ask gentle reader. Well, this is the thing. My symptoms – and this gives some measure of their unpleasantness, are what one might expect to experience when an HIV infection progresses to 'full blown' AIDS. A card in my increasingly slim deck that the standard range of tests had not eliminated.
So there was my paranoia about that but what really began to worry me was if it was by some chance the emergence of one of my worst nightmares, the risk to my man – exposing him to risk, however unintentionally, was more than I could bear.
On Wednesday my anxiety spilled into action. I cleared my calendar, went into Soho, found a rather well set up and excellent sexual health centre and within minutes the Cheerful Fairy was a big pink pin cushion and within a very short while after that a very friendly, short and Welsh nurse was cheerfully telling me all was well and – pending a short delay for my syphilis screen (!!) – there was no cause for concern.
Amusingly my own attention to safety and her determination to provide some kind of service had led the nurse, whilst we waited for the results, rally magnificently in the face of my inability to put myself at (great) risk. She gave me some excellent tips on avoiding and treating sunburn (moisturiser and hope – not unlike my anti-aging strategy).
Anyway... that night Fella and I sat down and properly, properly talked about That Kind of Thing for the first time and I am so glad we did. It led to a much wider discussion about fidelity, sex vs love, how that might evolve as our relationship does (no stone left unturned in the maintenance of monogamy; no door closed in terms of our relationship) so in so many respects the experience was a positive and productive one. But the moral of the story is, I suppose, twofold – one: I am a bit of an idiot sometimes. Two: however crass it seems some things are better discussed. Fully, early, and honestly.