Adventures in STD Screening

Adventures in STD Screening

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series STD's and You

Let me start by saying that I want to encourage everyone who has been sexually active at any time in their life to get a STD screening for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Sexually transmitted diseases are far more prevalent than many assume.  Often, there are no physical sign that a carrier is infected, so it’s possible that some people may carry a STD and never even know it.  With that in mind, please realize that a guy telling you he’s never had any problems with his equipment, and that he has never been tested, is a guarantee of only one thing – that he’s irresponsible with his health, and with your’s too.  Even if you think you know everything about your partner’s sexual history, even if you’ve only ever slept with one person, you really should get tested.

you might need STD screening too

std gone logo

My ex-wife was unfaithful to me, and I wasn’t aware of the fact until after our divorce when I found compromising pictures of her on the internet. At the very least she had unprotected oral sex with a man who frequented sex professionals. Essentially, that was the equivalent of my ex-wife having sex with thousands of men.  Without some asshole posting his “trophy” pics of my ex-wife online, I never would have known for sure that I’d been cheated on. Prior to that point I’d always assumed she’d kept her word that our play partners would only be enjoyed in each others physical presence. So, when it comes to STD’s and your health, don’t take your partner’s word.  Maybe they are actually telling you the truth, but it’s entirely possible that a former partner may have lied to them too! Some people really will say anything to get laid . . .

In the end, getting tested is the responsible thing to do for our health and for ourselves, as well as the responsible thing to do our partner’s health and their overall well-being too. Don’t let the comedy story I’m about to tell dissuade you in any way from getting a STD screening for yourself, if nothing else, you may get a funny story, or two, of your own to share.  And, please do realize the story is comedic in nature.  The verbal portraits I’ve painted of local health department workers are deliberate caricatures, and as such, are far from being politically correct.

visiting the public health dept

So, let’s say, hypothetically of course, that you are a responsible straight man who feels the need to make sure everything’s clean and safe. In basic training, soldiers are taught the difference between their “rifle” and their “gun” – so let’s just call this an exercise in “gun control” and hope that the guys from the NRA don’t take it the wrong way.  Fellas, this has nothing to do with your rifles, OK? And, for the sake of this story and for simplicity’s sake as well, let’s imagine that I am this hypothetical man, if for no other reason than to allow me to speak in the first person.

So, I do a little research, and find that in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health, that my local health department does free STD screenings – $10 donation suggested.  Now a $10donation isn’t free, but I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth either.  It really sounds like a good deal to me.  I mean Government Health Care isn’t the darling of the Libertarian crowd I find myself hanging out with these days, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.  My new subbie drinks Pinot Noir @ $9 a glass at munches, so Government health care means I can urge her to drink irresponsibly. My free market friends have to appreciate the efficiency of that particular gambit, I’d think!

And, I find myself at the local Public Health Department’s office, and feeling confident that I’m doing the right thing, I step up to the bullet proof glass that separates me from the receptionist. She doesn’t seem to notice me, so I gaze more strongly at her. I’ve got a pretty “heavy” stare, I can usually wake folks up from across the room by simply looking “hard” at them. So I give her “the look”, but Public Health Department receptionist lady is oddly oblivious.

I clear my throat. Nothing.  Tap my foot. No response.

Finally a nurse steps behind the counter, nudges Public Health Department receptionist woman, and nearly gets her to disengage from her stupor. If you’ve ever seen the deliberate movements of a Ground Sloth, then you’ve got an idea of the pace Public Health Department receptionist woman was capable of achieving. She made a ground sloth look like an Indy Car!

“Can . . . I . . . help . . . you . . . ?” she finally intones.

“Yes, I’m here for the STD screening,” I say, using my quiet voice.

I usually have a loud voice, it carries very well. I didn’t figure the entire 4th floor of Davenport’s Bi-Centennial Building needed to hear the reason for my visit. Some things should be on a “need to know” basis, ya know?

Apparently not . . .

“Excuse . . . me?” Public Health Department receptionist lady replies.  Don’t sloths have excellent hearing? Maybe not, but I thought I remembered that from Zoology – I’m just saying . . .

“I’m here for the STD screening,” I say, stepping a little closer to the slot in the bullet proof glass, hoping to push the vocalization through to Ms. Sloth. Instead, my voice booms down the hall. I swear there was even an echo, “STD . . . std . . . std” carrying my voice all the way to the building’s elevators.

“Are . . . you . . . having . . . any . . . symptoms?” she asks.  Great, I think to myself, so the sloth is doing triage too?

“No, I don’t have any current STD symptoms,” I scream at the glass and the sloth. At least if the whole building needs to hear me say “STD”, I want them to know I’m not having symptoms.

“OK . . . then . . . step . . . thru . . . the . . . door.”

WTF – Couldn’t we have had this entire conversation on the OTHER side of the door, ya know where there’s actually medical privacy?

So, I’m given a standard government issue clipboard, pen leashed by ball-chain attachment. I believe there were 7 pages of information to submit. Apparently, because I may have at some point in my life screwed a skank, I now have to give them my Mother’s maiden name, and my place of birth?

I tell public health as much as I know about my most recent sex partners, not having my phone, I can’t give phone numbers, and I really don’t want to give the real name of people I know from fetlife anyway – if there’s a problem I’d know what to do, there’s only one thing that can be done. Full disclosure.

Thinking of disclosure, and the flat voice of a public health official lecturing about hepatitis on the small TV monitor in the Public Health Dept waiting room, I can help my mind from drifting away to Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop . . .

Axel Foley:  Tell Victor that Ramon – -the fella he met about a week ago? – -tell him that Ramon went to the clinic today, and I found out that I have, um, herpes simplex 10, and I think Victor should go check himself out with his physician to make sure everything is fine before things start falling off on the man.

Anyway, a few moments later I get the joy of interacting with Ms. Sloth again, and it does appear that she’s been raised from her stupor. She’s contentedly grazing from a package of processed food. Being a bit of a wildlife aficionado, it was instructive to watch an individual member of this species dine in it’s normal habitat. When seen outside their usual domain, at bars and restaurants for instance, they are usually observed traveling in herds or packs, which dramatically effects behavior.

This one’s alert, she sense’s the presence of a predator, so the food is quickly slid into a desk drawer.  Then my form is taken. I’m given one sheet and a number in return, so it’s hoped that I’ve cleared the ground sloth hurdle, and am now on to bigger and better fauna.

not how you are supposed to do it

public health logo

Whew. Soon I get called back behind yet another security door, where a nice African-American social worker took my information there at.  I feel as though I’m meeting and talking with a facsimile of Samuel L Jackson.  OK, it wasn’t really the F-bomb throwing actor in person who did my intake, but it was a gentleman who was close.  He had the look, he had the talk, he even had the confident walk.  He may as well have been a character from a movie, I’m sure I’ve seen this same guy in at least a dozen different inner city type movies, usually heading up a methadone clinic.  I’ve heard of life imitating art, but this was starting to get more than a little surreal.

So public health intake guy is asking me questions about my sexual activity and history, how many people had I had sex with in the last three months, did I ever meet people form the internet for sex, did I ever pay for sex, did I ever get paid for sex , did I ever have sex with snakes on a plane. . . you know just your standard chatter between guys, like we were around the water cooler . . .

I tell him the truth, that I’ve been pretty careful my whole life, but may have screwed a skank once or twice, not having actually recognized that individual member of the species before it was too late. And I mention that my wife and I had done a bit of experimenting with some folk we weren’t exactly married to, as of late, although I do withhold the tasty tidbits about restraints, blindfolds, whips and chains. Like I said, some things should be need to know!

Everything’s going along great, snakes on a plane guy isn’t dropping any f-bombs, so I figure I must be moving along nicely. We’re both smiling and laughing and pretending he doesn’t have to spend 6 more hours in his sterile, depressing, poorly lit, not to mention shared office that day. It’s all good until he clears his throat . . .

That’s when he tells me that the government isn’t funding these programs like they should. Apparently, screwing an occasional indiscriminate skank that one might otherwise drunkenly mistake for a chameleon, well that doesn’t qualify one for free testing anymore. Getting told I’m really just not a high enough risk candidate to call for HIV testing feels good, but it also means that I’ve cleared the sloth hurdle, but may not make it past snakes on a freakin’ plane.

Kind African-American social /intake worker goes on to say that there are certain groups who get tested, but that with the cuts, other’s simply don’t qualify. Then he starts rattling off the list of people who can get the state funded HIV test . . .

I look across the desk at him, manage to interrupt Samuel L. Jackson for a moment and say, “So you are telling me that the state won’t test me unless I tell you I have sex with men ,or I shoot heroin?”

“That’s basically the story,” Mr African-American Public Health intake worker replies . . .

“Oh,” I say, less then deadpan, “I guess I forgot to tell you that I have sex with men then, huh.”

In the movies, Samuel L Jackson in the role of Mr African-American Public Health intake worker would have dropped the “f-bomb” and told me to get the fuck out of Dodge. I have been walking around in a bit of a dream state lately, so it shouldn’t have surprised me that the reply was almost as good, almost as if it had been scripted . . .

“Damn man, that’s not how you are supposed to do it,” he says to me . . .

“I don’t want to get you in any trouble,” I say earnestly, “But before you mentioned it I’d forgotten that I’d done some experimentation back in 1990, back when my ex-wife and I kept a houseboy in our basement, and only let him our for private parties!”

“Whatever,” says Samuel L Jackson in the role of Mr African-American Public Health intake worker, and fills out the paperwork to get my test.

Now, I have to say that while having sex with the houseboy is a complete invention, the houseboy himself is not. His name was Davey Jones and he didn’t have a locker.  Hell, he didn’t even have a foot locker, just a musty old duffel bag with two pair of jeans, some t-shirts, and a few other essentials. He was actually a cross dresser, but one who I never saw cross-dress.  I’m told he was quite passable, rather attractive as a woman, I just never saw it. My ex-wife took a liking to him, and when we moved from St. Louis to Rock Island he tagged along as, you guessed it, our houseboy.

Oh, but I do digress . . .

Next, Mr African-American Public Health intake worker got out the special “men who have sex with men” forms that apparently are different from your average run of the mill men who have sex with biological women set of forms. Samuel L Jackson seemed to be a little perturbed to have to do the extra paperwork, but he did take it all in stride.

In the end, he even thanked me for being so polite and easy to deal with. “You’d be surprised at the kind of attitude I get at my job,” he confided in me.

“I can only imagine,” I said politely, praying to God that I really couldn’t imagine.

I sometimes wonder if Purgatory isn’t really a state of being here on earth, and sadly that my new friend, Mr Samuel L Jackson Public Health intake worker, was being punished for the sins of some past life. That, however, would lead one to believe that a stint in Purgatory comes with good medical benefits, and that’s not something my free market friends could ever accept.

Feeling compassion for his plight, I did try to offer my version of a kind word. “There’s no reason I can’t be nice, I mean after all, it’s not your fault I’ve slept with a couple of skanks thru the years, right?”

That made him smile, so I felt better for him. In fact, I felt better for my visit to the whole Public Health Department Sexually Transmitted Disease clinic, the whole experience had just become more positive for everyone involved, except the sloth (of course).

buttsex

Then, of course, all the reverie, all the comradery, the whole spell that everything was going to be ok, was quickly shattered with Mr Jackson’s brief addendum . . .

“And you have buttsex with men. Right?”

Yeah, that’s right! Thanks for reminding me.

I hope the motherfucking snakes on the motherfucking plane get your ass next time Mr Jackson, at least then you’ll escape purgatory. Right? I’ll stop short of wishing that the aforementioned snakes have butt sex with you, Mr Jackson, because I’m sure you’d have to fill out a extra form then for answering “Yes” to question #13 – “Have you ever had butt sex with snake on a plane?” Jeesh, those public health questionnaires really have become way too thorough, haven’t they?

They did get around to asking if I had buttsex with women too . . . Eventually.

“Yes I enjoy fucking a woman’s ass,” I said to the plump Caucasian nurse who kept using the term “butt sex” which is really way to cutesy for what I consider to be a primal act. She looked a bit like Sally Struthers, not like I remember her from “All in the Family”, but instead as she’s portrayed on the cartoon South Park.

“I assume the first sex partner listed on the form is your wife,” says Sally Struthers.

“Ummmm yeah,” I say, not wanting to belabor the obvious.

“Well, we don’t always know, most people don’t give out their real name when filling in these forms,” she says with a smile.

WTF??? – I mean seriously – WTF!!! Did someone say that I didn’t have to give me real fucking name? Feeling a bit like the white-bread middle class boy that I am, I realize I don’t know as much about playing the system as I’d thought.

Nowhere did the Government need to have a form saying Michael Samadhi has sex with skanks (and men) – buttsex – Nope! I could have, I should have had, my listed name as John Holmes. That’s right Mr Snakes on a Plane, you can just call me “Johnny Motherfucking Wadd” motherfucker!

Damn, it’s a little late for that now.  There’s no closing that barn door after the cows are out.

So, eventually, Sally Struthers starts up some more conversation.  “I see you’ve had sex with one women and oral sex with another woman who aren’t you wife, and that’s over the last six months, correct?” she says trying not to sound judgmental.

“Well, the form only had three spaces, and I was too shy to ask the sloth for more forms,” I say.

“Formssssss?” She says, putting unnecessary emphasis on the plural.

“Well, I keep trying to have a one night stand, because I’ve never had one, and I really wanted the experience,” I tell her, trying to remain helpful.

“Why did it take so many women to have a single one night stand?” she asks.  Apparently I’ve peaked Public Health Dept Sally Struthers interest.

“Well, they always come back for more,” I say, trying to be matter of fact. I mean, the old catchphrase does go something to the effect – “It ain’t braggin’ if it’s fact!”

introducing Iowa Dept of Public Health to Fetlife

“I don’t want to be judgmental, and I don’t want to sound as if I’m telling you how to have sex . . . “ Sally states, obviously a trained and practiced disclaimer that goes along with the government not being judgmental of folks with open sores on their genitals having sex and spreading disease.

I couldn’t do Sally’s job, and I know it. I couldn’t do Mr Jackson’s job either, for the record. I’m not perfect, and I’ve made my share of mistakes, but I’ve rarely strayed into the realm of absolute self destructive behavior that many of the individuals who come through the clinics door’s represent.

“But, if you are going to be promiscuous you should consider using condoms,” Ms. Struthers states, again a rote line that’s part of her training.

I nod. Smile.

“Do you have buttsex with these women, the ones who aren’t one night stands?” she asks.

I read mannerisms, tone of voice, inflection, and take a good measure of what’s said and unsaid in a conversation. Lots of folks I can “read”, lots of folks I can’t, but the 2nd half of Sally’s question was like sitting in a room full of senior citizens and calling out – BINGO! – It was sure to get lots of attention . . .

Sally Struthers Public Health sex clinic nurse needs to get laid. She’s secretly wishing to find a man who can make her feel all the things she’s read about in romance novels, yet she’s pretty disgusted with men in general, and who can blame her from the class of “gentleman” she likely meets on the job. I’m a nice guy, I don’t break mirrors, and I’m putting of pheromones like nobody’s business because of a new love interest, so putting everything together it’s clear that my reference to women not allowing me my one night stand has peaked her curiosity.

“Only if they ask,” I say with the same grin I use on a lady submissive I might be flirting with.

“And do they?” she asks.

“Do they what?” I say, deliberately being obtuse.

“Do they ask you for buttsex?” she blurts out. I know for a fact this isn’t a question from her sheet.

As I was trying to describe the interplay between a dominant and a submissive recently for a lady who’s new to the lifestyle, I was inspired to use the analogy of the wolf and caribou. Getting Sally Struthers Public Health sex clinic nurse to go off script made my inner wolf take notice. Now I’ve got to be honest, it’s really not a great idea to let the wolf loose in this particular setting, this woman is putting on latex gloves, and about to swab my urethra with q-tip that looks as though it’s been grown on steroids.

“Well yes of course,” I say, “It’s a very common fantasy,” I say, entering my own public sex information officer mode.

“Where do you meet these women,” she asks, “Do you meet them at a website?”

She goes on to quote some site where men go to hook up with other men for (you guessed it) butt sex.

“I’ve never heard of that site before,” I say, truthfully.

“Fetlife!” I said.

“What?” she replied.

“Fetlife,” I repeated.

“F”
“E”
“T”
“L”
“I”
“F”
“E”

I spelled it out for her.

“What does the “F” “E” “T” stand for?” she asks.

“Fet is for Fetish,” I add with a grin. “It’s like Facebook for folks who want to get their freak on,” I volunteer.

“Oh” she says noncommittally.

“Do you use your real name there?” she enquirers.

“Would you?” I retort.

“I suppose not,” she states.

“I didn’t think so,” I say, concurring.

taking my blood

Sally Struthers Public Health sex clinic nurse swabbed my urethra, but not before managing to comment that my equipment looked healthy enough from a visual inspection (thank you very much . . . ) She then had me pull my pants up (I’m pretty sure she was as disappointed as I was) before leading me back to yet another Public Health sex clinic worker who would then take my blood.

At this point I was introduced to a middle-aged Hispanic lady who was to be my phlebotomist. To my amazement, my local Public Health Clinic was once again staffed by an individual who seemed recognizable from television, who’d have thought, right? Here, right before my eyes, standing before me with a large needle and a smile, was a dead ringer for Consuela, the laconic housekeeper from Family Guy.

“Ellow Misser Michael” she says.

OK, maybe she didn’t really talk like Consuela, but that’s how I heard her. The whole ordeal was starting to get more and more surreal with each passing moment. I’m well beyond starting to think that a few moments of mediocre pleasure with a skankus americus could be worth feeling like I’d landed in a fuckin’ cartoon.

After strapping a rubber tube around my upper arm, Public Health sex clinic phlebotomist lady begins to dig her needle around in the crook of my arm for a vein. She goes through one into the tissue behind. I swear, she apologizes.

“I’m sorry Misser Michael” she says.

She wiggles the needle around side to side, trying to capture a rolling vein, no luck. I’m starting to think this lady really is a housekeeper, she’s surely not accomplished at the vampire business. I clear my throat. I do it again. A third time. Finally, she gets the hint and stops the needle torture.

“Oh, I’m sorry Misser Michael. Did that hurt?” she says.

“Well, it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park you know,” I say, trying to restrain the sarcasm in my voice. Instead of saying what I really wanted to tell her, I ask politely, “Might it be possible to take the blood from one of the veins on the back of my hand?”

“Oh yes Misser Michael, you like?”

“Yes. I like.”

WTF, now I’m starting to sound like Peter Griffin . . .

clean bill of health

In the end, before it was all said and done, I’d not only had my finger pricked, I’d also had my prick fingered. It wasn’t an bad experience, just a surreal one. And, I left with a mostly clean bill of health. By “mostly” I simply mean that not all results are available the day of testing.  I was instructed to call back in a few days for the results of the blood work. When I did, that testing came up clean too. Even though I’d never seen myself as being at high risk, it was good to get confirmation that I’d not compromised my own, or anyone else’s health. And, I not only got peace of mind for myself, and for my current partners, I also got a story to tell.

Serafina didn’t have to tell any lies to get her testing. Apparently my fictional homo-erotic “butt sex” exploits meant she got the full round of testing, no questions asked.

The moral of the story is simply – head on down to your local Public Health clinic, get yourself tested for STD’s. The whole experience might just turn out to be a real adventure.

And remember, you don’t have to give them your real name.

STD germ chasing condom - original artwork by Serafina Samadhi

STD germ chasing a condom — original artwork by Serafina Samadhi

 

Super Gonorrhea ~ Coming Soon to a Host Near You

Super Gonorrhea ~ Coming Soon to a Host Near You

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series STD's and You

As a part of presenting essential information about STD’s, today’s topic is about the increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistant infections; more specifically, the rise of Super Gonorrhea.  The spectre of  antibiotic resistance has now shown its ugly head among sexually transmitted infectious diseases, a problem not likely to get any better in the foreseeable future.  This post is a complete rewrite of an essay I posted at SpiritualBDSM.com back in 2012.   The importance and relevance of discussing antibiotic resistant sexually transmitted infections has only increased since I first wrote on this topic – we all need to be armed with knowledge on the onset of what’s being called Super Gonorrhea.

MRSA and you

no STD's syringe with hypodermic

I sincerely regret that today’s message is not more sex positive.  Sadly, there are times when current events don’t allow me that luxury.  The news coming from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is very bleak, it’s as cold and chilling as a Midwestern winter’s day.  For anyone paying attention, the rise of antibiotic resistant infectious disease is not even really news anymore.  Urgent stories of MRSA staph infections were very common in the media some time ago, so much so that they are now “old news”, we don’t hear them so much anymore.    But, there’s no denying that more and more infectious diseases are developing antibiotic resistance these days, it’s all around us.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the full name for the more commonly used acronym MRSA,  is perhaps the “poster child” for antibiotic resistant disease.  The disease has touched my life multiple times.  I have a close friend who wears a small scar on her leg, lingering evidence of an antibiotic resistant staph infection that had to be cut away.  Another friend had a similar infection excised from his inner thigh.  Between 20% and 30% of the population are actively colonized by staph at any given time, and studies from 2009 show that as much as 3% of the total population1 is actively colonized by MRSA.  Typical locations for MRSA colonization is ski,n or in their sinuses.

In other words, somewhere between 1 out of 3 and 1 out of 5 people you know are likely colonized, right now, by MRSA.  And, if you know 30 people, odds are good that you know someone who’s colonized with MRSA.   There’s really no avoiding the fact that MRSA is relatively ubiquitous in the average environment today.  It’s also true that more and more infectious diseases are developing antibiotic resistance these days.  I saw that first hand with my Mother, an antibiotic resistant strain of pneumonia was the primary cause of her death in 2011.  Prior to the pneumonia, mom had bacterial cultures that tested positive for: MRSA, C. difficile (a bacterial infection usually caused by the overuse of antibiotics,) as well as an antibiotic resistant strain of Pseudomonas.

cillins and cyclines and sporons, oh my!

no std smallWith the dire news about MRSA and other infectious disease, it should come as no great surprise that sexually transmitted diseases are part of that same trend towards antibiotic resistant bacteria.  My first exposure to the specifics of “super STD’s” was from The Atlantic, who reported the problem back in 2012 with an article titled Here It Comes: Super Gonorrhea.

Did you know gonorrhea can kill you? It can, and it’s also tragically effective at making women infertile. According to her journals, my great aunt Mabel was “barren,” and my grandmother always told me it was probably from gonorrhea. The only reason we don’t hear about these awful complications more often — and we instead think of it as a little oops of an infection (“Can I still drink on these antibiotics?” “Yes.” “Cool.”) — is because we’ve been able to kill it early with relative ease.
But over the past decades, gonorrhea has been mowing down our antibiotics. If this was the Olympic 400 IM, gonorrhea would be the Ryan Lochte and our antibiotics would be the guy from Moldova.
The list of effective antibiotics has been dwindling as the bacteria became resistant, and now it’s down to one. Five years ago, the CDC said fluoroquinolones were no longer effective, but oral cephalosporins were still a common/easy treatment. Now injected ceftriaxone is the only recommended effective drug we have left. And it has to be given along with either azithromycin or doxycycline.
The Super Gonorrhea article, written by James Hamblin, MD, is a pretty stark reminder that we currently live in the waning days of the “golden age of antibiotics”, as we are commonly seeing the medicines of our grandparents and parents rendered obsolete by continually evolving bacteria.

The New Yorker online painted a similar picture just over a month later in a piece called Sex and the Superbug:

As modern medicine has adapted so has the microbe. Natural selection has given rise to strains of the bacterium that are resistant, in varying degrees, to some or all of the treatments applied to them—sulfa drugs, penicillin, tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, and macrolides. Now only one class of drugs, called cephalosporins—cefixime, a tablet, and ceftriaxone, administered by injection—is known to reliably treat it, and for several years resistance to cefixime has been rising.

Both of those quotes are full of a cocktail of antibiotic names, cillins, sporons, cyclines, and quinolones, families of drugs we’d all rather not know.  Sadly, that’s the reality we face today.  All of the confusing antibiotic drugs (and antibiotic drug families) listed are either already useless, or soon will be completely ineffective against Gonorrhea.  There’s no denying evolution at work here, the microbes simply adapt faster than we can create drugs to safely kill them.

super gonorrhea

WWII Era Poster She May Look Clean But With the point about bacterial evolution made, I’m sure that some of my Evangelical Christian friends will see the hand of God at work behind this obvious act of bacterial evolution.  I mean what else can they see?  It’s not like they accept evolution in any of its forms, it’s purely a matter of faith to them.  They will posit that promiscuity is evil and unhealthy, and this potential epidemic is a sign that God (the Trinity) is displeased with all but purely monogamous lifestyles.  There’s no arguing with faith anyway,

I’m personally think that the onset of antibiotic resistant disease is simply a symptom of the overuse of antibiotics, both in the treatment of human disease, and in our food chain. Far too many chemicals are fed to far too many livestock animals simply because the balance sheet tells a business person that a few extra pennies per head can be garnered. Yes, there is one science that the Religious Right (which is neither truly religious nor, are they right) has faith in, the science of the balance sheet.  Far too many antibiotics are prescribed far too freely for humans as well, but it should be understood that by far the vast majority of antibiotics used in the United States are used by agriculture.

The overwhelming majority of scientists agree, it’s only a matter of time before disease-causing bacteria learn to resist our last antibiotic lines of defense. That future is clearly envisioned in Dr. Hamblin’s article:

Once gonorrhea becomes resistant to the last of our cephalosporin antibiotics — “it’s only a matter of time,” according to Dr. Gail Bolan, Director of STD Prevention at the CDC in today’s announcement — we will have no treatment. Then when it gets into your bloodstream, it will be lethal.

I’ve watched Doctors pull my Mother back from being nearly dead on several occasions in her life. At the end, it involved using antibiotic cocktails which brought her back even from sepsis. Those cures weren’t available in your my grandmother’s day, and they won’t be available in your grandchildren’s day either.

My paternal grandfather, like Al Capone and many other more famous people, died of syphilis. The bacteria got into his brain and disabled him, left him like a zombie, and finally, ultimately extinguished his life. He died in a sanitarium, leaving behind a family with no means of support, the majority of his children were given up for adoption, that they might eat.

When I was younger, that always seemed like a tale from a barbaric time, that thankfully was left in the past. I’m realizing now that the past and the future may not look so different.

Ciguatera – When Food Poisoning Becomes a STD

Ciguatera – When Food Poisoning Becomes a STD

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series STD's and You

NPR style Valentines Day massacre

I spend a lot of my morning time catching up on news.  It’s a habit that goes back to my former life working in politics.  If I wasn’t up to date on that morning’s news, it was too easy to get caught off guard by phone calls from people who had read, watched, or listened to news I hadn’t caught.  (As an aside – in case you didn’t already know, or hadn’t guessed, a dominant like myself never likes to be caught off guard.)

Of course, having left my former profession behind, not to mention the fact that I’m now a kinky sex blogger, the key words I use in my news searches are a little bit different these days.  And, in all honesty, that makes for some very interesting mornings . . .

On Valentine’s Day (I do question the timing of the story a little!) I opened my news aggregator to discover a NPR story titled – Sexually Transmitted Food Poisoning? A Fish Toxin Could Be To Blame.  The piece opens up with an interesting tale . . .

Twenty-five years ago, two pals went out for a seafood dinner while vacationing in the Bahamas. What could be better than some fresh grouper steaks and a night on the town without the wives?

Um, plenty.

A few hours after dinner, the men started having stomach pains and diarrhea. Their legs began to tingle and burn. And their sense of temperature went haywire: Ice felt hot while fire felt cool.

All the while, their wives were completely fine — until they had sex with their hubbies.

The men had ingested a potent fish toxin, a team of doctors wrote at the time in the journal Clinical Toxicology. And they had passed the poison along to their wives through their semen, the doctors hypothesized. For several weeks, the women had terrible pain and burning in their pelvis.

With fish now imported to the U.S. from all over the world, the toxin has since appeared outside its endemic tropical regions — in Vermont, North Carolina and New York. Some researchers are now worrying that warming seas could make the poison even more common.

The toxin causes the strange foodborne illness, known as ciguatera fish poisoning. The molecules open little holes in nerves, triggering an array of crazy symptoms: reversal of how you experience temperature, vertigo and the sensation that your teeth are falling out.

ciguatera posterOh yes, after the ciguatera toxin is ingested, victims experience another symptom, painful intercourse.   The official medical term for that is dyspareunia (dis-puh-ROO-ne-uh).  Within the medical profession dyspareunia is simply defined as – “Persistent or recurrent genital pain that occurs just before, during or after intercourse.”

Although researchers indicate that the incident cited by NPR is the only documented case of ciguatera poisoning being sexually transmitted, they also admit that sexual symptom in general are often under-reported.  Lots of folks aren’t terribly comfortable going to their doctor for sexual symptoms, especially if it seems to be a transient problem.  Some folks aren’t even comfortable discussing that kind of thing with their partner.

So, it may very well be that the spread of ciguatera poisoning through sexual contact is more common than is medically documented.  I also have to wonder, if the spread of ciguatera through sexual contact is diminished by the particular symptoms caused by the illness.  I’m not sure I’d be particularly horny when little holes were being opened up in my nerves, my teeth had the sensation of falling out, and I was experiencing vertigo.

Hey, to each their own, but pain and burning in my pelvis isn’t a turn on either!  With that said, as a sexual adventurer, I must give kudos to the two buddies who were vacationing in the Bahamas.  For better or for worse, they didn’t let a little thing like fish food poisoning get in the way of their vacation lovemaking.

Ciguatera

Here’s what Wikipedia says about ciguatera:

Ciguatera is a foodborne illness caused by eating certain reef fish whose flesh is contaminated with toxins originally produced by dinoflagellates such as Gambierdiscus toxicus which live in tropical and subtropical waters. These dinoflagellates adhere to coral, algae and seaweed, where they are eaten by herbivorous fish who in turn are eaten by larger carnivorous fish. In this way the toxins move up the food chain and bioaccumulate. According to Dr. McBoomlis Gambierdiscus toxicus is the primary dinoflagellate responsible for the production of a number of similar toxins that cause ciguatera. These toxins include ciguatoxin, maitotoxin, scaritoxin and palytoxin. Predator species near the top of the food chain in tropical and subtropical waters, such as barracudas, snapper, moray eels, parrotfishes, groupers, triggerfishes and amberjacks, are most likely to cause ciguatera poisoning, although many other species cause occasional outbreaks of toxicity. Ciguatoxin is odourless, tasteless and very heat-resistant, so ciguatoxin-laden fish cannot be detoxified by conventional cooking

The wikipedia article is full of fascinating tidbits for a geeky dominant like me, as I do love natural sciences.  For instance, it told how William Anderson, a surgeon’s mate on the  HMS Resolution was first  person to describe Ciguatera back in 1774.  It also included folk methods for attempting to detect toxins in fish before they are eaten.  It’s said in  Northern Australia that flies won’t land on contaminated fish.  On Grand Cayman island, locals test barracuda by placing it on the ground and observing ants crawling over the suspect fish.  Whether the methods are truly effective is unknown, but it makes a strong point about the ingenuity of my fellow human beings.

Folks in the Caymans and Australia know that avoiding Ciguatera is essential, because (as Wikipedia points out) there’s no known way to detoxify contaminated fish.  And, once a person has consumed fish that contain the toxins associated with this illness, there’s no known treatment either.  There are some folk remedies (which are equally fascinating as the ways people try to test for the presence of toxins) but in the end, the only thing medical professionals can do is try to soothe the symptoms, the illness itself only passes with the passage of time.

So beware, if you do contract Ciguatera, don’t be spread the wealth to your loved ones who might not have consumed fish.  In the (hopefully rare) case that the nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,  headaches, muscle aches, paresthesia, numbness, ataxia, vertigo, and hallucinations don’t dampen your ardor1, hopefully the thought that you could pass your agony along to your sweetheart will do the trick.

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