When I was 21 years old I went on a vacation with my best friend. We had a great time. Sun, sand, surf, food, drinks, and of course boys. It was Mexico, so of course we avoided the water and the ice cream on the beach. Thus, I managed to return without a hint of the dreaded tourista. I did bring home some other souvenirs: a bottle of tequila, a not-so-glowing sunburn. And a massive cold sore.
Oh yeah, even worse than diarrhea, I got the Herpes Simplex 1 virus. A damn massive one. A boil the size of the wart on Witchie-Poo’s chin. A blight on the society called my face. Or what you could see of it behind the giant scarf I had to wrap around my head in my efforts to hide it.
It even had a name: That Thing. People talked about That Thing on my face for months afterwards. I’m pretty sure I sent people to therapy.
Hideous. There were no other words. When it finally healed I was able to rip up it’s application for a new postal code.
Thanks random boy on the beach for making March of 1991 a total nightmare. There’s a lesson for ya kids. Keep your lips to yourself, especially when it’s dark out.
Anyways, no lectures. These things could happen to anyone, especially me.
I haven’t had a cold sore for a really long time. It’s been a blissful boil-free existence. But last Thursday, everything changed.
It all started with a little itchy scratchy on the side of my mouth. My lips are prone to cracking and dryness, especially at this time of year so I wasn’t overly worried. But unlike the 1600 other paranoid-stricken times that I’ve suspected a visit from That Thing, a little lip balm did not make the weird feeling go away.
I began to panic. What if it wasn’t a false alarm?!
Every 2 minutes I checked my mouth in my horrible 3x magnifying mirror (great for eyebrow maintenance, not great for the ego).
First the area just itched. So I put more vaseline on it. Then it started to tingle. I rolled some of my favourite EOS balm (sadly now in the garbage) on it. The paper cut started to look less like a paper cut. I was firmly in denial, but headed to the drugstore to buy some Abreva (Clinically proven to reduce the length and severity of cold sores and recommended by pharmacists everywhere). You know, just in case.
Because it WASN’T A COLD SORE. It couldn’t be. No way, no how.
It was a cold sore. I had the Herpes. After 17 blissful years, That Thing was back.
Worse than ever. Like with a vengeance.
I religiously applied the cream according to package directions (every 4 hours, 5 x per day for 8-10 days) all the while pretending that my face didn’t LITERALLY feel like it was getting larger by the minute.
I did not look in the mirror when applying the cream (because visual evidence interferes with pretending something isn’t happening.)
My husband came home and his face went white.
What. Is. That? He pointed.
What do you mean? I replied in all innocence.
I got up and went into the bathroom. I didn’t need any magnifying mirror to tell me that I was having a reverse Disney moment.
My lips were swollen. In fact, the whole left side of my face was swollen. That Thing was definitely back. And it was saying Hey did ya miss me?
FYI- no I did not.
After I attempted dinner (just soup as I could barely open my mouth), and applied more Abreva, I found myself unable to sleep as my face didn’t fit on the pillow. Naively, I was sure the The Thing would be gone by morning. You know, because of my faithful application of Abreva. Which is guaranteed to reduce the severity and healing time of cold sores.
But apparently not in one day.
The next morning my face woke up and went to the bathroom 5 minutes before I did.
It was worser than worse of the worseness. My gums were swollen, my lips were huge and the That Thing was the size of a 14 week fetus. The virus was so bad that I had a fever. I HAD TO DRINK MY COFFEE FROM A STRAW.
I couldn’t even eat. I like eating.
Plot twist: I got my period on Friday morning. You know, to make the day just that bit more fun.
Do I sound like I’m whining? Because I am. It was that bad.
And now it’s not. It’s gone. All bad That Things must come to an end. I can leave the house again without scaring small children, all animals, and everyone.
The Abreva DID reduce the length and severity of my Herpes Simplex 1 virus. After 5 days I’ve got my face back. My husband isn’t afraid to look at me. And hey Eva Mendes, I wore sweats the whole time (note: the same pair. Gross). This is how I know that the number one cause of divorce is not my loungewear. If my man stuck by me through the weekend of The Thing AND sweatpants I’m pretty sure we’re solid.
Who knew what can happen when you follow the directions on the package.
On the upside, I seized the opportunity to read an amazing book (Lisa Genova’s new novel, out in April. Watch for a review) and binge-watch the second half of season 3 of Suits and Chapters 1-16 of Jane the Virgin. (Yes, we have Netflix and Shomi. Don’t judge. I’m a child of the 70s. I love TV.)
Also, my husband cooked
ordered in dinner twice, and did the grocery shopping (in a manner of speaking, since I’m pretty sure we don’t need 7 kinds of potato chips and hot pepperoni because they were on sale.)
And I’m think I lost 3 lbs.
I’m such an optimist. It was almost worth it.
Aren’t you glad you’re not me?
Note: this post is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Abreva. But The Thing is open to talking about endorsement deals.