Episode 35 - St. Louis Department of Public Health: Sexual Health Free-Sources

April 16, 2018

 As mentioned, for STI Awareness month, I'm actively seeking out guests in the medical field to speak about STIs on the podcast. This episode features Tyrunne Johnson, STI Program Manager of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health. 

It's important for us to not make excuses for why we don't KNOW our sexual health status. I learned that the services they provide are free of charge, and you can find locations for STI testing sites in your area with a simple online search. There are programs in your city similar to The St. Louis Department of Public Health with available resources to promote safer sex through condom distribution, sexual health education, as well as testing and treatment for STIs. 

What I find most interesting is that even though these resources are so readily available to us and for FREE! Free-Sources! (I'm so proud of myself for that one) In all seriousness, I've not known these resources were available and free to us until I did this podcast episode. I encourage everyone to seek out these organizations in their area and utilize them. You'd load up on free snacks in the breakroom, load up on free condoms at these distribution sites and go get yourself tested.

Some facts about STIs:

There are more than 25 different types of germs that can be transmitted through sexual contact. Anyone who is sexually active can get an STD. You can become infected through anal, oral, and vaginal sex.

You can be infected with an STD and not see any symptoms. You may not even feel like you are sick.

Bacteria cause some STDs and viruses cause others. STDs caused by bacteria are curable and treatable. However, if left untreated, even sexually transmitted diseases that are curable can do serious damage to your body. Sexually transmitted diseases caused by viruses are not curable and remain in your body, but treatments are available to minimize or relieve symptoms.

There are five reportable sexually transmitted diseases in Missouri chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV and chancroid. The St. Louis County Public Health Department STD clinics screen for these diseases free of charge.

For more information, visit: https://www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/DiseasesandImmunizations/SexuallyTransmittedDiseases 

I'm on social media @HOnMyChest. If you're concerned about following an STD Podcast and your friends finding out and thinking you're associated/positive, just follow the hashtag or check in from time to time #SomethingPositiveforPositivePeople. 

Please keep those reviews coming, the podcast is growing and evolving into something useful to everyone not only affected by STIs but as an education tool as well.

Stay Positive!


Episode 34 - ProjectAccept.org’s Nanette Part 2: Social Support

April 14, 2018

Nanette returns to us to share how group support helped Nanette make the connection that birthed ProjectAccept.org in addition to various social media interest groups for people living with herpes. Nanette talks a little about how contracting herpes helped with her bedside manners interacting with patients.

There's a ton of inaccurate or inconsistent information available to the public from credible resources but the information is presented in ways to skew statistics. One example is referring to the statistics of people living with genital HSV-1 being one number, but living with genital herpes (which includes HSV-1 and HSV-2) showing the same numbers. This kind of miseducation makes it difficult to be taken serious when presenting facts that don't support equally credible sources.

Social support has tremendously helped me. I immersed myself in chatrooms and connected with people had it not been for herpes, I would never have met otherwise. Social support in this context means to socialize with individuals who understand what you're going through so well that it doesn't even have to come up. In social support, there's a level of freedom where you get to genuinely just BE yourself around a group of people. For Nanette, it started at a barbecue, for myself, it was a float trip. Tremendous psychological gains were made as a result of getting out of my comfort zone. I'm forever thankful for the social support and the person who introduced me to it.

Project Accept is another resource for us. One of their goals is to provide consistent, accurate and REAL information about HSV and HPV to the public. They recognize the emotional and physical struggle of a herpes diagnosis and is here to help. For information on the support discussion referenced in this episode, visit: http://projectaccept.org/support-discussion-information/ to register. Visit their website: www.projectaccept.org for more information.

Check in on the hashtag, #SomethingPositiveForPositivePeople if you aren't comfortable following the social media pages of an #STDPodcast. I'll share things I like as well as updates of the show/episodes and all that fun stuff. I'm still on social media @HOnMyChest. If you want to share your story, feel free to shoot me a message.

Stay Positive!


Episode 34 - ProjectAccept.org’s Nanette Part 1: It’s Just a Cold Sore

April 11, 2018

ProjectAccept.org Executive Director and Co-Founder, Nanette Tincher shares her own experience living with HSV up here and down there. We talk about her personal experience on this episode. She contracted HSV-1 (cold sores) willingly after kissing a partner who had an active, visible cold sore on the mouth. For many years she went on not realizing it was herpes until she educated herself. After contracting genital HSV-2 at age 42 unwillingly, she shares that she had such a completely different attitude about it due to the stigma. 

We discuss her time in an unhealthy relationship constantly weighing whether she should stay with someone because he's there or if she should just be alone the rest of her life.

How we talk about herpes determines how it is received. "It's just a cold sore" has such a lighthearted tone to it that makes anyone think, "Oh well when you have one we just won't kiss", versus having the exact same thing on your genitals being the end of the world. We can begin to reframe the association once we see just how common herpes is, how tricky the virus is to detect and transmit, we just have to be open to educating the misinformed and be able to provide consistent, accurate and REAL information about it.

Project Accept is another resource for us. One of their goals is to provide consistent, accurate and REAL information about HSV and HPV to the public. They recognize the emotional and physical struggle of a herpes diagnosis and is here to help. For information on the support discussion referenced in part 2 of this episode, visit: http://projectaccept.org/support-discussion-information/ to register. Visit their website: www.projectaccept.org for more information.

Check in on the hashtag, #SomethingPositiveForPositivePeople if you aren't comfortable following the social media pages of an #STDPodcast. I'll share things I like as well as updates of the show/episodes and all that fun stuff. I'm still on social media @HOnMyChest. If you want to share your story, feel free to shoot me a message.

Stay Positive!


Bonus Episode - What Happens When You Tell Someone You Have Herpes

April 7, 2018

This episode doesn't have a guest. I write every so often to sort through thoughts and emotions so I know how to deal with them as they come up again in the future. This episode, I thought about Cake. . . metaphorically. "You can't have your cake and eat it too." is my least favorite proverb hands down. Why have cake you can't eat!? Well, because limits were placed on your mind by society telling you that statement makes sense the way it's phrased. More accurately one would say,  "When one share's their cake, they become surrounded by bakers" or something along those lines. 

When I told people I had herpes, they didn't care. When I kept it to myself, I manifested my mindset about herpes in the world around me. It felt like everyone wanted to know my secret and use it against me. I began analyzing my values, one of which is freedom. I can't live free with the restrictions of the stigma created by a group of people outside the group of people the stigma applies to. I had to un-learn that and construct new beliefs based on my experiences. My view began to change and I noticed the reactions I got began to change. 

I had a scarce mindset. "I think I will only be 'accepted' by ______ which is a limiting belief we project onto the world based on our beliefs about who we are NOW THAT WE HAVE THE VIRUS, not who we are. This reveals itself via rejection, people attacking or being mean to us or making herpes jokes. I'm moving into the abundance mindset. I constantly have to remind myself of that. It gets a little quicker each time I do it, but I notice more of the positive. More people share with me that they have something personal going on, want to be on the podcast to share their story, want to come train with me, want to literally give me cake. Ask yourself what kind of person you'd be if everyone around you knew you had herpes and you didn't have to hide it. Act like that for a day and see how much more you like yourself and the world appears to be as giving as it's meant to be.

Let me know what you think of this episode. Like I said, I want to do more of these if there's value and it helps make the podcast more useful.

I'm on social media @HOnMyChest

Stay positive!


Episode 33: Ask a Doctor About Herpes - Total Access Urgent Care

April 6, 2018

This episode of Something Positive for Positive People features Dr. Matthew Bruckel, President, Founder and CEO of Total Access Urgent Care. Bio at the bottom.

I reached out to some social groups for some good questions to ask a doctor about herpes. Something Positive for Positive People is evolving into more than a safe place for people living with herpes to share their experience and more than a place for newly diagnosed people to find hope through the insights of others. People like Dr. Bruckel, are helping turn this podcast into a useful sex health tool for any and everyone seeking understanding of STIs in general. I'm looking to have more medical professionals on the show to help present facts along with the experiences of individuals living with STIs.

Some of our topics discussed are:

- What is herpes

- The similarities between HSV-1 and HSV-2

- Who has herpes and how common is it

- Is there a cure or vaccine for herpes

- Why don't we test for herpes in the standard tests

- How being diagnosed without symptoms can play out

For more information on stis in general, please visit the Center for Disease Control's website: https://www.cdc.gov/ 

To find the nearest Total Access Urgent Care in St. Louis, visit: https://www.totalaccessurgentcare.com/ 

Dr. Matthew Bruckel founded Total Access with the goal of changing the landscape of health care in St. Louis. The insights gained during Dr. Bruckel's decade-long service as an Emergency Physician fuel his desire to optimize every patient's experience; he begins by hiring the best staff and providing a cost-effective alternative to the traditional health care system. Dr. Bruckel proudly serves as the President, Founder, and Chief Executive Officer of Total Access Urgent Care. In this role, Dr. Bruckel is responsible for recruiting and hiring top-notch Physicians, strategic market growth, and improving every patient's experience at the best Urgent Care organization in the St. Louis area. Dr. Bruckel's vast Emergency Department experience, coupled with an Emergency Medicine Board Certification and his ER residency-trained background, provides a "lead by example" image for the entire Total Access Urgent Care team of physicians. Dr. Bruckel's commitment to exceptional care correlates to an outcomes-driven practice model and quantifiably high patient satisfaction. Dr. Bruckel is a Fellow of both the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM), and is also a member of the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA). Utilizing these experiences, Dr. Bruckel actively incorporates Evidence-Based Practice as a central component of Total Access Urgent Care's Mission. Academically, Dr. Bruckel earned a B.S. in Biochemical Sciences (Summa Cum Laude) from Auburn University in 1993, Doctor of Medicine from Washington University School of Medicine in 1997, and served as Chief Resident at the University of Maryland / Shock Trauma Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. Additionally, Dr. Bruckel proudly served overseas and in combat zones as an Emergency Physician and Lieutenant Commander in the Medical Corps of the United States Navy.

I'm on social media @HOnMyChest. Please continue to rate and review the podcast on your podcast player.

Stay Positive!


Episode 32 - Support is Closer Than You Think: Disclosing to a Friend

April 3, 2018

In honor of STI awareness month, we're releasing every episode as they are recorded. This episode features my friend Brynn, one of the first friends I disclosed to that I have herpes. Her deer in the headlights facial expression was misinterpreted for being surprised at my disclosure. After finally revising that day recently after deciding to record this episode together, it was in fact because of the moment of WHEN I decided to disclose to her. This disclosure was done out of a few different feelings, one being annoyed that she always gave me shit for having such a passive dating life, and then to just end my own mental misery that came from the strain of having to dismiss the encouragement to start dating again. This meant lying to myself and making excuses at least every Wednesday for happy hour margs and tacos and then Saturday nights for about 2 years.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by such great people in my life, but I wouldn't have known how great they were until having to test that. The best way to test the strength of a connection or open the door for it to take place, is to really allow yourself to be vulnerable to someone. They will either support you or reject the idea of providing support to you. In that case, you know where they stand and then you have to decide where you stand. After my disclosure to Brynn, our friendship grew and I earned the confidence to tell more of my friends, then everyone who knows I do this podcast. This is a great example of just how close support is for us during a challenging time, we just have to use it.

On top of her sharing her experience of thinking she had contracted herpes, Brynn has Type-1 diabetes which I think is an important element to consider here as to how supportive she was to me when I shared something I was secretly so emotional about at the time. We talk about how easy it is to be seen as handicapped because you just have to do some things a little different than most people, and not everyone will be okay with that. Which is fine because that goes to show you how they respond to you when things get challenging.

I'm on social media @HonMyChest

Please continue to like/rate/share/review this podcast. On a weekly basis I hear from people who find this podcast who put themselves out there to connect with others for support, dating and mutual interest groups who otherwise may not have found this show. Those reviews do way more good than you can imagine. Thank you for all your support!

Stay Positive!


Episode 31 - Who Will Love Me?

March 31, 2018

Our guest for this episode is Emily Depasse, 25 year old Yogi, lifter, model, blogger, paralegal and MSW/MEd Human Sexuality graduate student living with genital hsv-2. Upon diagnosis 2 1/2 years prior to this recording, Emily wondered who would love her as many of us do at some point upon our diagnosis. Her will to persevere was depleting, she felt alone and did what many of us do in this emotional state, turn to a distraction. In her case it was alcohol and supportive, yet unhealthy relationships with friends in order to cope.

As with any other episode, there are some things that'll resonate better with some than others. Bullet points below on the greatest takeaways.

- H Test: Blood test comes back negative, second test from affected area is positive

- Disclosing to friends as a means of support: You never forget that first disclosure

- Challenging beliefs about a person who has herpes and identifying it to ourselves

- Stigma mis-truths: Never says how common herpes is until you have it

- Disclosing on those forms for various services

- Being dumped on Snapchat (what a jerk)

- Support from someone who understands over someone who's 'qualified'

I also find it incredible that Emily is able to do all of these things despite the popular belief that once you contract herpes, your life is over. Facing some judgment from strangers is the least of one's concerns when you have things going on in your life you're committed to! I am grateful to Emily for creating space to share with us her unique experience and offering herself as an educational resource available for additional support.

If you want to reach Emily, check out any of the means below:

Blog: www.emilydepasse.com 

Twitter and Instagram: @eld3393

FB Blog page: https://www.facebook.com/eldsoul/

Smithsonian Article that says almost everyone has herpes citation: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/can-we-gene-edit-herpes-away-180968551/

Thank you for listening! If you haven't already, please leave us a review on whatever podcast app you're listening to us from letting us know what you like about this episode or the podcast in general. It could be as simple as the guest's voice or as complex as herpes is itself haha, I gotta stop.

I'm on social media @HonMyChest.

Stay Positive!


Episode 30 - Rich Mancuso: Author of Asking for a Friend

March 23, 2018

This episode features 49 year old Rich Mancuso who participated in a clinical trial to relieve his severe herpes symptoms. His book, 'Asking for a Friend', tells the story of surviving herpes and receiving a functional cure* from a vaccine. 

Rich shares his experience contracting HSV-2 in his early 20's and how it was possibly mistaken for a yeast infection by a dissmissive doctor, then after some irritation on the butt cheek, it was confirmed to in fact be HSV-2 by a sarcastic doctor. 

In this episode, I wanted to give Rich a safe space to share his story  as well as promote his book without giving too much away. This episode runs long as we anticipated, but there are a lot of nuggets in here that are useful to not only the herpes community, but also to the non-herpes community. We discuss stress and its relation to herpes outbreaks, a different perception of suicide having more to do with loss of control than selfishness and shame and how it prevents us from testing new forms of treatment here in the US.

There are many reviews on the book, Rich addresses some of those in this episode, mainly the absence of advocacy for sexual assault survivors which we touch on near the end of this episode towards the one hour mark. *Trigger warning as there is mention of the word rape here.

One massive takeaway here is a butchered lighthouse analogy I never get exactly the same way twice when I bring it up. People who are 'out' about their condition allow themselves to be approached by those wandering in the dark who feel lost. The more of those people out there, the more people living in silence/shame are able to come out of that place and be a resource to those surrounding them and shed their light on their world to make more lighthouses. If every person with herpes was a resource to their circle, there would be so much less shame behind it and the stigma would crumble. I understand right now that may not work for everyone for various reasons, but it helps SOMEONE to know they have someone to come to when they are diagnosed, or when they meet someone who is. In my case, I've found that helping other people has helped me way more than I think it has the people I helped. . . . . Yeah that sentence looks weird, but I know what I was trying to say. 

For more info on Rich and his book, visit: www.askingforafriend.us Twitter: @RationalVaxxer and Facebook he's just Rich Mancuso.

Thanks to Pig and Pickle St. Louis for supporting the podcast. They're located at 5513 Pershing Ave. here in St. Louis. Check them out online at www.pigandpickleeatery.com and follow them on instagram @pigandpicklestl.

I'm on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit @HonMyChest. Please keep those reviews coming. The podcast is growing and we're being useful to those outside the community by being a safe place for them to access resources when they're ready. Thanks for listening!

Stay Positive!


Episode 29 - Taking Back Control Part 2: Expressive Kink

March 13, 2018

*TRIGGER WARNING for sexual abuse survivors - Here's part 2: Lauren is a sexual abuse survivor. In this episode, she shares how her view of sex was shaped by her for her at a young age. Lauren and I discussed this off air and she's at a place where she is comfortable revisiting the event. We spoke more in detail off the podcast and mutually decided to remove/leave out certain details of the abuse. 

We discuss kink's role in Lauren's sex life as a means to take back the control that was taken from her by her abuser.

"You're safer with ME than you are with someone who doesn't have it". (Referring to herpes) This is a powerful belief for someone so new to their diagnosis! Own the power in KNOWING your sexual health status! You are more mindful of your health while you do have an sti than someone who DOESN'T KNOW if they have one. I've talked to people who say they don't have an sti although they don't get tested often. The people I talk to who DO have an sti get tested regularly. Interesting dynamic here because you'd think it would be the other way around. Thing is, it usually isn't a problem until it's a problem.

Sex education and communication is so important! This episode highlights the importance of how our sexual education early on translates into our behavior with anyone we have a sexual attraction to. It is uncomfortable to have that conversation but it's one that needs to be had. Someone will plant that seed of what sex is and should be, why not let it be a healthy message? At least if it's watered by sexual experiences over time, porn and stories from other people, that deep rooted seed planted with a healthy perspective helps our youth over time develop into something loving that continues that messaging. Thing is, we have to just be willing to have the conversation. 

We recorded this episode January 22, 2018 just 2 months after Lauren's diagnosis. The reason these episodes took so long was just for editing as this is sensative content. We wanted to be sure to remove certain details of Lauren's story and I suck at editing.

I'm on Instagram, Twitter and Instagram oh and Reddit @HonMyChest. Please continue to comment, like, rate, review, subscribe to the podcast. We're helping a lot of people with these stories. Please thank the guests in your review if you find value in their story(ies). I let them know and hey are very appreciative.

Stay Positive!


Episode 29 - Taking Back Control Part 1: First Time’s a Charm

March 13, 2018

We recorded this episode January 22, 2018 just 2 months after Lauren's diagnosis. The reason these episodes took so long was just for editing as this is sensative content. We wanted to be sure to remove certain details of Lauren's story and I suck at editing.

We talk about Lauren's first penetrative sexual experience. Lauren met up with a man she barely knew and had every intention of using a condom, but did not use one. The explanation for this can be found in part 2 of this episode where we discuss past sex-related interactions and education from childhood. 

Lauren found support quickly and has adopted a very positive perspective on her diagnosis. Her story is one that makes us rethink the idea the stigma has that herpes is an std you get from sleeping with a lot of people. We have someone who after her first time, had the misfortune of contracting HSV. Take that you stupid stigma.

I'm on Instagram, Twitter and Instagram oh and Reddit @HonMyChest. Please continue to comment, like, rate, review, subscribe to the podcast. We're helping a lot of people with these stories. Please thank the guests in your review if you find value in their story(ies). I let them know and hey are very appreciative.

Stay Positive!