I woke up this morning to discover an ‘uninvited guest’ clinging firmly to my lower lip. I was pretty certain I knew what it was, my lip hurt a bit and was slightly bumpy, but the room was dark so I went into the bathroom to confirm my suspicions. After checking in the mirror, there was no longer any doubt, my old friend ‘Cold Sore/CS’ had decided to swing by. “Ah, there you are!” I said aloud. “Getting lonely, were you? How long are you going to stick around this time? Will it be a week or two or would you like an extended stay?” I should have known it would be making an appearance. I haven’t really spent a lot of time in the sun but I have been really physically tired and stressed, and that’s when it tends to ‘pop in’ unexpectedly. And it’s a really nasty guest!
On day one, most other people don’t even really notice CS. It stays pretty quiet and tends to mind its p’s and q’s. I cannot help but notice because it has attached itself firmly to my lower lip, the lip I also use in conjunction with my upper lip in order to speak and eat and whistle and even bite from time to time. And frankly, CS doesn’t feel good. Not good at all! It hurts. Most people would probably think it’s not such a terrible guest to have around. They’ve had much worst guests, guests that clog the toilets and others that cover them in a terrible rash. But they don’t know how unreasonable CS gets! CS can get rather testy after it’s been around for a while. By day 3, it’s downright angry! I try to calm it by rubbing expensive ointments into it and trying not to upset it too much, but it’s just determined to make my life hell! I don’t even want to tell you how bad it gets by day 5.
And the thing about CS, is that it always shows up at the worst possible times! It’s so rude that it doesn’t care if you’re getting married or having a baby or having a professional photo taken. In fact, that’s when it tends to show up! It loves to let you know that no matter how hard you try to fend it off, it will find a way ‘in’, even if that means waiting until you’re fast asleep. And it doesn’t think you should be so offended at this point, because it’s been in your life since you were such a small child that you don’t even remember how long you’ve known one another. It tries to comfort you when it notices that you’re upset, “Honey, look, we’ve been friends a long time. Please don’t be ashamed or distressed. I am not nearly as bad as your cousin ‘Roid’. He can really make an ass out of himself! Remember the last Christmas party? And what about ‘Wart’? ‘Wart’ didn’t even bother to warn you when she showed up and she’s never left! I’m not anything like either of them!”
Why does CS insist on showing up so frequently and at the WORST possible times? I actually have trauma from when I was 16 when CS ambushed me. I let it know it was NOT welcome but it didn’t care. And it insisted on an extended stay. Do you remember what it was like to be a hormonal teenager? I remember those days quite well. I was boy CRAZY! And I just happened to be in pursuit of a running scholarship at the age of 16 so I signed up to attend running camp over the summer in an adjoining state. It was a serious commitment. It consisted of all forms of running, from fast sprints repeated multiple times to distance running on a daily basis, along with all kinds of academic courses. The purpose of the camp was about finding ways to push through your threshold and get even better, which meant even stronger and faster. And it was exhausting. But all of the ‘eye candy’ made it a little less formidable as there were beautiful boys as far as the eyes could see!
I know that made me sound a bit ‘pervy’ but I was the same age as the boys (and girls) and my hormones were raging. What can I say? They were prime specimens. They were fit and agile and gorgeous! And I sure didn’t mind chasing after them! But the thing about running a lot and wearing yourself out to utter exhaustion and then adding some nice, beaming rays of summer sunshine is that it tends to lead to other ‘things’. And those ‘things’ don’t care how much you hope or pray or deny their very existence, they show up anyway. And old CS decided it was time to make an appearance. Maybe it was jealous because I was paying way too much attention to all of those beautiful boys? Maybe it felt my life was becoming much too predictable. And it didn’t wait long. Two days in, CS showed up in the middle of the night and it was pissed! It didn’t just cling to part of my lower lip like it ordinarily did, it covered the entirety of my lower lip and upper lip with angry, painful bumps!
Can you imagine my horror when I woke up? All of the stolen kisses I dreamt about in the days to come? Poof! Gone. And there’s nothing you can do when your entire mouth is covered. It really was the stuff of nightmares. I wanted to put a bag over my head and hide in the woods. But I had made a commitment to complete the requirements of the camp, so despite how I felt, I had to continue to ‘show up’ each day and run up and down and all around and try to make the best of the situation. I don’t understand why CS has to always spoil things and insist on staying so long. It doesn’t think about anything but itself. I’ve mentioned the famous quote by Benjamin Franklin to it a number of times. Do you know the one I’m talking about? No, it’s not about electricity. It’s about guests and it goes like this, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” I thought CS would take that into consideration and maybe take the hint. It completely ignored it.
And don’t let CS fool you! It tries to go by other less threatening names or aliases such as ‘Fever Blister’ or ‘Lesion’ or ‘Canker’ but the truth of the matter is, it’s given name is ‘Herpes’. Once people make the connection, they usually shrink back in fear! “I thought you told me you had Cold Sore come over for a visit? You mean it was Herpes all along? Ack!!!!!!!” Yes, CS is Herpes. They’re the same animal and each just as cunning and cruel and unpredictable. And they drop in unexpectedly on people ALL THE TIME! Last I checked, I found out 50% to 80% of the world’s population suffer from this uninvited guest. And it takes so little. One ever-so-brief innocent kiss goodbye, or taking a sip off a can of someone’s soda or even sharing a towel can change your whole trajectory. You can be in the minority one day (no Herpes) and then just as quickly, you’ve become a member of the most reviled club ever created in the history of mankind. And there are no welcoming committees or parades. Nobody sends you a card on your birthday. You just get to look forward to the occasional uninvited guest when you least expect it, FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
So here I sit. I’ve spilled my guts. If you cannot tell, I’m pretty unhappy at the moment. I was feeling so good about finally painting the bathroom and now I get to deal with the fallout which generally happens when I overdo. Good old CS is back and ready to pick a fight. I’m hoping it doesn’t stay too long. It never gives me any indication of when it plans to leave. Sometimes it looks like it’s packing its bags and ready to head out the door and then it’ll turn right back around and unpack them again. I think it thinks it’s being clever but I don’t find it funny at all! Anyway, wish me luck. If all goes well, maybe it’ll be out of here in a week. One can only hope. In the meantime, I’m going to reach out to ‘Abreva’ and see if she can help. She’s proven to be a real lifesaver countless times in the past!