Here's What I Learned About Self-Care After Coming Down With Mono, Strep Throat, AND Chlamydia All At Once

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PHOTO: EUGENE_AXE / GETTY IMAGES

Whenever people hear my life-thus-far’s story, one of the first questions they often ask me is this: "How did you turn out so sane?" The answer is twofold: I’ve had some therapist friends along the way. I’m also a writer.

Here's the thing with us writers: The more we write, the more we purge. Therein lies healing and closure.

Today, my healing and closure come in the form of penning a piece about the time I had mono, strep throat, and chlamydia all at the same time. 

Gross? Yep, I know.

I had initially gone to see a doctor because my throat felt like it was on fire. After he ran some tests, he told me that I not only had strep, but my immune system was shot because I'd also contracted mono somewhere along the way. 

The icing on the cake? That combination of mono and strep had also "triggered" chlamydia.

Occasionally, my doctor informed me, an STD can lie dormant in one's system until some other illness “triggers” or activates it. He thinks my chlamydia was around for two years or so before I realized I had it. 

Translation: I was going about my business — and having sex — with an STD in my system for two whole years.

Here’s where some of that aforementioned purging comes into play: I still have no clue how I caught the mono and the chlamydia, though there's a possibility that I got them both from the same person. (Was I “out there” like that? It depends on your definition of “out there." I’ve been with 14 guys, so do what you want with that information.)

When I told my best friend and boyfriend the news, they were both super empathetic. The former nursed me for a couple days, while my partner was unbelievably calm about the whole ordeal. But the whole time, the same panicked thought was running through my head: I slept with someone who had chlamydia. I SLEPT WITH SOMEONE WHO HAD CHLAMYDIA. (I'm pretty sure whoever passed it to me wasn't doing so actively or maliciously, but still.)

So why am I sharing this sordid little tale with you? It’s a productive purge for me, but also a little health PSA for you. If you’re sexually active, see your doctor annually. Get a complete checkup. Make sure your self-care doesn't ignore your sexual health. It's dumb to assume that the sex you're having is safe just because your partner(s) told you so, or don't seem like the type to get an STD. 

Oh, and when it comes to your partners, know that you are not being corny or extra to want or require some STD paperwork up front. 

Again, I'm still clueless as to who to thank-but-no-thanks for the mono and the chlamydia. What I do know for sure, though, is that you can never be too careful when it comes to your sexual health. 

Word to the wise, y’all. Word. To. The. Wise.

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SHELLIE RENEé

Just a woman who digs all things relationships. HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS, that is. I've been writing (professionally) for close to 20 years, including having two books published. I'm also a marriage life coach and doula. Sometimes I speak to large audiences or do radio interviews, but usually I'm sitting in my favorite chair, surfin' the 'net and penning stuff that I wish I had read in my early 20s.

Listen, I don't have all the answers, not by a LOOOOONG shot. But whatever I can do to spare folks any heartbreak, bitterness or straight-up drama, I'll devote some keystrokes to doing. 

That's it...in a nutshell. For the most part. Kinda. ;)

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