Here’s a story for the century!
Precisely this time last year, I sat in the treatment room of a sexual walk-in clinic completely exhausted and frightened of what was to come of me.
Oh, and did I mention that it was on my birthday?
It’s my birthday today! Hoorah! Here’s to another year of recklessness, tears, and ‘Oh shit, why did I do that?!’
Let’s begin the story of my shingles:
It began the gruesome week of The Free Range Exhibition where my life became a roller coaster of negative emotions, tears, stress, stress, stress, stress & more stress! It was a horrible week! –/but that’s another story for another time.
The Free Range Exhibition was indefinitely the cause of the corruption to my cooch. I had felt my body slowly shut down and I’d genuinely thought it was due to the fact that I was under so much stress and sleep deprivation that all I needed was a good session of rest and recuperation. Much to my delight, despite all the ‘rest’ I’d given myself, I was still as, if not, more tired than before. To top it all off, I felt UTI symptoms approaching as the days went by… but that’s an easy fix, right? Slap some cream and take some tablets to numb the pain!
Let’s take note of the symptoms during that period: I had a fever, I was tired and stressed, and I had the ongoing urge to run to the toilet with nothing so much as a drop of urine coming out of me… let’s not forget that I had to deal with Free Range at the same time! But it doesn’t stop there! Oh no, that would be too easy for me. A couple of days later, a rash began to form in my lower region, and I’d forced myself to believe that it must have been due to UTI and hot weather. I was certain it wasn’t an STI. Why would I have it when I haven’t been doing the dirty!?
July 16th 2017
Hopelessly afraid on a Saturday evening, I called NHS111 to consult my symptoms. Despite explaining to the man on the line that it was definitely not going to be something sexually transmitted, he disregarded my hopeless murmur and urged me to take a trip to a sexual walk-in clinic. Hello!? It’s a weekend! How am I to find one that’s open on a Sunday!? I’d desperately searched for a clinic open on a weekend, and the closest available to me would be almost an hour away. Granted, saying ‘an hour’ in London terms isn’t too bad… but I was exhausted, and travelling was the last thing on my mind!
July 17th 2017
The next day, I heaved my shattered self out of bed to travel across London to attend the walk-in clinic, only to have been told that the waiting list was at capacity, and that I’d have to come back tomorrow. It was 15 minutes past it’s opening time! Fifteen! People are eager, I tell you! Eager! So there I was, shattered, frustrated, hurting and now crying at my pathetic situation.
July 18th 2017
Roll on Monday, I was to be travelling back to Brighton where I’d lived during university. I was aware of the sexual walk-in centre just behind Grande Parade, and I’d dragged my zombie-self to the clinic once I’d gotten off the train. This time, I’d planned it correctly. I’d get off the train, walk for 15 minutes, and wait in line 15 minutes before the clinic starts to ensure that I would be seen to. Nothing can go wrong, right? The clinic opened, and one by one we entered the waiting room with a clipboard and pen in hand. For anyone who has ever attended a walk-in centre (specifically a sexual clinic), you’d be aware of the condescending and judgmental looks from each member of staff. As you are degraded to the lowest class possible, someone shouts out the number on your clipboard, and as if this number was your first name, you’d promptly answer to the call.
” NUMBER 3?”
(I know right, two patients were more eager than me!)
Much to my dismay, I was turned away within moments as there were no clinical doctors on site to review my ‘issue’. The male employee heartlessly referred me to the walk-in centre close by the Royal Sussex & County Hospital and shooed me away to call Number 4.
Hopelessly tragic that I was, I sobbed my way back home due to the pain and the proceeding tension of not knowing what was wrong with me. In light of my circumstances, a woman stopped me to ask if I was okay, and in the most Brightonion way possible, I’d opened up to this complete stranger. In return, she’d consoled me with a warm hug and words of reassurance while I’d continued to sob on her shoulder.
Oh how I miss Brighton.
July 19th 2017
It’s my birthday! I carried myself to the hospital 30 minutes prior to the clinic started – determined to make my walk-in ‘appointment’. It was the same procedure as before.
I’d marched towards the consultation room to meet the doctor.
Without further hesitation, I’d spilled out the reason for my appointment… after a momentary silence and a horrified expression from The Doc, he’d explained how he would need to examine the lumps on my lower region and directed me to the treatment space.
Like a turkey on Christmas Day, I was the centrepiece on the examination table, with one leg sprawled to the left, and the other to the right. My legs hung up high as The Doc intruded my personal space to inspect the crime scene. He picked and pulled and popped the boils and scabs, and explained to me that he needed another eye to inspect.
Exit The Doc.
Enter The Doc.
Enter The Nurse, medical gloves on hand and a smart look to her face.
The Nurse: Mhm, mhm. Ah yes, I see what you’re saying
The Doc: Do you think it’s the correct diagnosis? It ticks all of the boxes…
The Doc: …So it appears that you have shingles
Huewinn: … uwot? …See! I told you! I knew it wasn’t an STI! I told you! I told you!
The Doc: It’s quite remarkable, really! I’ve never seen something like this around someone’s private region! You could in fact become a case study!
Huewinn: hahahahahaha…. ha…
The Doc: Okay, we’ll give you some time to get yourself sorted while I write you a prescription
Exit The Doc.
Exit The Nurse.
The Doc came back to debrief me, and proceeded to explain that I needed plenty of rest and relaxation. I happily complied and took my medication – all to which conked the life out of me for the following week.
So, that’s my story.
One year on, it’s safe to say that I’ve completely recuperated, and there is practically no trail of shingles scars on me!
Happy Birthday to me.
p.s. this year, I have a common cold.