I’ve always considered myself to be one of those people who lives life to the fullest. Traveler, explorer, musician, writer – I’ve been all these and more. I was never great at school, but my life has been nothing if not learning through experience. And yes, my life has also been all about taking risks. Sometimes those risks pay off. Sometimes they don’t. This is the story of one of the times that a risk really didn’t pay off…
I was in Goa, in India, for a photoshoot assignment. I spent over a month seeing the sights and location-scouting. Meeting new people and getting to know them and their culture always excites me, so this was a great opportunity to mix business and pleasure. Things were going great.
On the first day of the shoot, I was introduced to all the models. I befriended them and we all got along pretty well. Of them, a Spanish model caught my fancy. Coincidently, her shot was the last one and as soon as I said, “pack-up”, the tiring day demanded some fun afterwards. Since everyone had left, we decided to go for a quick drink. Once we got to talking, that quick drink became a not-so quick one. We had a great time enjoying each other’s company. Needless to say, one thing led to another and we ended up in bed. Our little fling lasted for close to a week, before she flew back to Spain and I headed home to New York City.
In the days that followed my return home, I started feeling a bit sore in my groin, and developed rashes on my skin – among a host of other unpleasant symptoms. I was understandably a bit freaked out, wondering if I’d picked up some kind of bug during my time overseas. So I went in for some tests. And that is how I ended up with a report in my hands, that said I was suffering from Syphilis.
Recommended Read: The Importance of Travel Immunization
I was stunned by the report. It felt like a letter from the Devil himself, telling me I’d entered hell. Looking back of course, I realize that I was probably lucky. Syphilis is notoriously difficult to diagnose, as In the initial phase, the symptoms are common to those of many other infections. If not diagnosed at the right time, the complications can worsen and may lead to devastating symptoms. So I was in fact privileged to be diagnosed correctly, at the right point of time.
Syphilis left me in a sorry state, to begin with. I was used to being on the move and working through the day. Being packed in a room, taking penicillin shots in my veins using injections was very painful, to say the least. Those shots felt like pumping venom into my bloodstream. The medication schedule was rigid and needed to be strictly adhered to. And I was barred from eating a lot of my favorite foods, since I had to watch my diet.
Writing had long been a hobby, and I found myself taking it up in earnest once I was stuck at home. I imagined myself in the places I wrote about. This was what kept me going during those dark times.
After a month or so, I was able to slowly start to get back to normal life. But it took me several months to be completely rid of the disease.
The one piece of advice I’d give anyone in my situation is to get hold of a good doctor right from the start. Getting a proper diagnosis is the key to getting the right treatment.
I still believe that you should live life to the fullest. But do take care of your health as well. Don’t indulge in drugs and alcohol to the extent that they start controlling your life. When it comes, if you are indulging in sexual activities, just make sure that it’s completely safe. Syphilis was a curse that could have been prevented if I’d used a condom. One night’s pleasure shouldn’t give you diseases that, in some cases, can lead to a lifetime of torment.