Tracey McDonald, 38, a bereavement officer and mum of two from Middleton in Leeds, tells her story on how cold sores have blighted most of her life and her relationships.
When I was a girl I got meningitis and almost died. Although I recovered from my illness I was left with one life long legacy of my brush with death, cold sores.
The virus triggered the cold sore virus and I have been breaking out in cold sores ever since.
Most people when they say they have cold sores they mean one of two a year. I used to get four or five a month and they would break out not only on my lips but all over my chin and up into my nose. I even had them on the inside of my mouth and they would bleed.
They were so bad that I was hospitalised a few times, the doctors had never seen such a bad case and they even thought at one point I may have leukaemia and they tested me for it, but found nothing. I simple had horrific cold sores.
I’d be given courses of antibiotics if they got infected and my mum ran through every single possible cold sore ‘cure’ or treatment offered or suggested by doctors or chemists, but nothing really worked.[quote]Having a mouth full of sores obviously had a devastating effect on my confidence. I was bullied really badly at school and girls would refuse to sit ext to me as they said I was infectious. I would dread school photos and would cry when they made me sit for them.[/quote]
As a teenager my dating life was non existent and I didn’t really have a boyfriend until I met my future husband when I was just 16. He caught cold sores off me almost immediately when we kissed and so it became ‘our’ problem and not just mine.
I got married when I was 23 in the Dominican Republic. It was a dream come true until I broke out in a terrible crop of cold sores as the sun and change in temperature and I guess all the stress and excitement of getting married and going on a holiday caused them to flare up. I spent my honeymoon mostly indoors with ice on my lips and was unable to kiss my husband.
So to say that cold sores have been the bane of my life is not in any way an understatement.
Since my honeymoon cold sores have ruined every single summer holiday for me. We went away once a year on a summer holiday and every single year I’d have a face covered in sores and spend my holiday in relative agony being unable to drink without a straw and having everyone starring at me and avoiding holiday photos at all costs.
The doctors told me when I had children they may get better, but they didn’t. In fact when I was pregnant I had them almost all the time, and when the kids were babies I had to spend a lot of time avoiding kissing them or getting too close when I had an outbreak so as not to infect them too.[quote]I’d more or less given up on ever finding a cure for my cold sores when by chance I saw an article about a lady with cold sores almost as bad as mine who had tried a strange treatment for cold sores called liquorice balm, which had been trialed by the Herpes Virus Association.[/quote]
I looked it up and soon found the treatment and ordered some. That was two years ago and I have not had a cold sore since. I can still hardly believe it! The results have been nothing short of a miracle for me.
My confidence is just sky high and has increased 100% in the last two years. Even when I separated from my husband in January this year, I still recovered my confidence fairly quickly afterwards and I didn’t get a single cold sore despite the stress and upset. I feel as tough nothing and no one can get my down now.
I feel much more attractive and I feel proud when I walk in the street. For the first time in my whole life I actually enjoy looking at myself in the mirror now rather than hating my own reflection. I used to walk along with my head bowed down so people could not see my face. I’ve had to learn to walk now with my head held high, which makes such a difference to the way I look and how I feel about myself. I don’t live in fear of an outbreak, I don’t dread going on holiday, I don’t dread going to work, it feels like a new lease of life.
I am off on to Majorca this summer. It’s my first summer holiday in two years and my first holiday as a single woman and hopefully its going to be my first cold sore free summer holiday too.