Life with Herpes Podcast Interview: Bill Gaylord Talking about What It's like Being Married to Someone with Herpes.
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Alexandra Harbushka: Hey. I'm Alexandra Harbushka and I have my husband Bill here.
Alexandra: Back by popular demand our dog, Scarlett, is taking a siesta you might see her pop up. So, you guys always want to hear from Bill and he's like the biggest fan, well, yes, every once in a--
Bill: I'm your biggest fan.
Alexandra: You are my biggest fan.
Bill: For sure, for sure.
Alexandra: You are my biggest fan.
Bill: I am.
Alexandra: But people want to know what it's like to be married to somebody with herpes. So, I thought I'd bring Bill on and we could talk about it. Some of the initial questions people have a lot, I was asking people in our Secret Society, "What do you want to know about Bill and our relationship?" One of the things that they really want to know is, what was your initial reaction when I told you I have herpes?
Bill: The initial reaction was, "Oh, okay. I still like you. [laughter]
Alexandra: Well, thank you.
Bill: So, tell me more, tell me more about it." So, it wasn't like, "Oh, get away. this is the end," No, we knew each other, we talked to each other, we had a great conversation and relationship and all that, so it wasn't as if I all of the sudden disliked you, it was just like, "Oh, okay well, tell me more, what do I need to know about this?" because I didn't know anything about it.
Alexandra: No and Bill, I got to share. Bill gets tested for herpes, is it twice a year, once a year?
Bill: Yes. At least once a year.
Alexandra: At least once a year.
Bill: I just did it.
Alexandra: So, he's got tested and he got his test results back, and he texted them to me, and said, "HSV-1 negative, HSV-2 negative." And I was like, "Of course you're negative."
Alexandra: [laughter] Because he never gets sick and that's why I'm like, "He never gets sick, he'll have like sniffle and I get to full-blown cold that you're out for two weeks." So, of course, I'm the one the one with herpes and you never get anything, so of course his negative.
Bill: No, but I think part of that is just, you tell me that, "Hey, look I'm may be more susceptible to having an outbreak, I don't really think I have outbreak but I think I'm getting one or if you do have one you let me know."
Alexandra: I let you know and we work around it.
Bill: And you say, "Okay, we figured it out."
Alexandra: We get creative.
Bill: There's other ways to--
Alexandra: Be intimate.
Bill: Yes. That's a good word.
Alexandra: Thank you.
Bill: I was going to say "have sex" but "intimate" is good.
Alexandra: We find other ways to have sex.
Alexandra: That's what's on Bill's mind. [laughter]
Bill: I would [inaudible]
Alexandra: Yes, but it's true so there are other ways. So, initially, so back to that diagnosis, you didn't know anything really about herpes?
Bill: No, nothing.
Alexandra: And so, did you know about the stigma? Did you know it had the creepy stigma?
Bill: You obviously hear about herpes, "Hey, I have herpes." And it's sexual transmitted and all that kind of stuff and my first thought was, "Okay, you have herpes. Am I going to die young? Is the herpes what it was going to make me die young? Am I going to have less of a life because of the herpes virus?" Right? Because you think how much time do you have on this earth and is it going to be shortened? Honestly, that went through my mind.
Alexandra: That went through your mind?
Bill: It went through my mind, I mean, how's it going to affect me long-term. And then, really what you did is you just educated me. You told me what it was all about and it wasn't nearly as scary as what I think people tend to believe. I do believe that it's truly a stigma and I think you're going to break the stigma.
Alexandra: Thank you.
Bill: I think you and the community are going to get out there--
Alexandra: And we need the community.
Bill: --and really break it, I think that it's not this huge, big epidemic, you could consider it almost that because so many people have it.
Alexandra: It is, it can be considered an epidemic, two-thirds of the population have HSV-1 and one out of six have HSV-2 so it is extremely common and I don't know how you've gotten to this point in your life and don't have it.
Bill: Well, the doctor told me that sometimes people just don't get it.
Alexandra: Get it, and that's you.
Bill: They just don't get it and she actually said that some people just won't contract the HIV virus, it just doesn't happen.
Bill: So, I think it's just is--
Alexandra: Luck of the draw?
Bill: --luck of the draw, who knows what it was?
Alexandra: So, who's luckier?
Bill: Maybe it was the breastmilk when I was young.
Alexandra: Oh, please. We're talking about that because I'm seven-month pregnant right now.
Bill: Yes, and she's filling up right now.
Alexandra: Thanks, Bill.
Bill: No, you're welcome.
Alexandra: We have our nipple class coming up these Saturday guys.
Bill: I'm excited about that.
Alexandra: [laughter] We get to learn how to breastfeed. Bill's very excited about it but it's not for him. Anyways, back to herpes.
Bill: Yes. You want to talk about that?
Bill: Okay, good.
Bill: She's getting off track again.
Alexandra: Well, this is just our life.
Alexandra: We're just trying to share. So, was there any stigma attached when I told you, did you look at me differently because I have herpes? And you won't hurt my feelings.
Bill: No, I didn't look at you any differently, you were really upfront with me and I think you talk about it with people in your community that I think being upfront about it and hitting it head-on, for me it was like, "I have herpes, this is how I contracted it, this is what happened, it won't kill you, you'll have an extended life and--"
Alexandra: Well, it doesn't extend your life.
Bill: Well, it doesn't extend my life but it isn't going to shorten my life either.
Bill: And it was just basically, "Here's the facts and I just want you to know this and if we're going to have a relationship this is part of the relationship." And I said, "Okay, how do I protect myself if I don't want to have herpes?" and you just said, "There are times when you can have intercourse and there are better times than not." Because you talk about shedding and you talk about--
Alexandra: Yes, look at you, you know.
Bill: I hear, I'm listening, yes.
Alexandra: You're listening.
Bill: The contraceptives aren't the end all be all and we try that once and that was-- I didn't like that.
Bill: So, I just said, "You know what?"
Alexandra: No, that condom lasted for like two pumps.
Bill: Really, now we're getting really personal on that.
Bill: But just the condom lasted two pumps not the--
Alexandra: No, not the-- oh, okay.
Alexandra: We cleared Bill's name.
Bill: Yes, I want to make sure that-- hours.
Alexandra: Hours. Oh, please.
Bill: Yes. So, yes, so just being protective and then I came to the conclusion that if I got it, I got it, I'm in love with you, the act of having intercourse or sexual relations or being intimate is such a small minuscule portion of your entire life that it doesn't really matter. And so, for me that was great, let's go, because I love you.
Alexandra: Thank you.
Bill: I love everything else about you too.
Alexandra: Thank you.
Bill: You're welcome.
Alexandra: I love you.
Bill: Yes, I know.
Alexandra: So, just to clarify to you guys, when we first started dating, I was taking the antiviral, I had come out of another relationship and with my past boyfriend, I was on the antiviral with him because I didn't want to transmit it to him. And then with Bill, I was on it, I can't remember how long, a year, two years, I really don't know.
Bill: You were on it a long time, I think.
Alexandra: I was on it a long time.
Alexandra: And that was important to you, I don't know if you recall that part of it but it was important to Bill because it is the best method in preventing transmission, it lowers the transmission rate by 48% so it is the best method out there and that was really important to you in the beginning of our relationship.
Bill: At that time.
Alexandra: But then after a while-- so, what got you kind of over the hump?
Bill: Well, I think in any buddying relationship if you will you always go into it thinking, "Oh, this is going to be long-term, this is going to be great, we both love each other." And at the same time, you kind of are like, "It's new, not all relationships last forever." And so, I think in the beginning--
Alexandra: Ours will.
Bill: Well, I know that.
Alexandra: You got me.
Bill: I mean, we've been together for eternity, 1000 years, right?
Bill: Yes, so anyways, we're digressing once again. But I think that it was more, I wanted to make sure that the relationship was going to be long-term, that we were both in it, that we were in it for the long hall and sure enough here we are.
Alexandra: We are.
Bill: We are in it for the long hall. And so, once I got over that thing, then it was like, "Okay, if I'm going to be with you for life," which that's what I'm going to be.
Alexandra: That's our plan.
Bill: That it is the plan, we'll be.
Alexandra: It's our plan. You better be.
Bill: I am.
Alexandra: [laughter] Okay.
Bill: Then it was like, "Okay, if I get it, I get it, if I don't, I don't and she'll be precautionary in whatever she does and it's great." So, I listen to her.
Alexandra: So, here's the question for you, and I don't know if you can know the answer to it because you're not in this position, right? So, some of the things that happen when people are diagnosed with herpes is we immediately think that, "Oh, my gosh, no one will ever date me now that I have herpes." Right? Like, "I am not either going to be an old maid or a spinster or a monk, I'm going to go live in Bali and crawl into an Ashram and be silent for my life." If you want to do that, that's awesome but-- now I lost my train of thought, oh yes, so basically what I'm hearing you say is that you were in love with me, you liked me and so the risk versus reward was worth, the reward was worth the risk.
Alexandra: Now, if--
Bill: It's still worth the risk.
Alexandra: Thank you.
Alexandra: Well, actually it better be at this point because what you're saying is there really is no risk any more in your mind.
Bill: No, I don't feel it.
Alexandra: You don't even think about it.
Alexandra: So, if I were somebody else, if I wasn't Alexandra.
Alexandra: Yes, if it wasn't me and you were just dating somebody else out in the dating and you met someone and she told you, "Hey, Bill, I have herpes." Would it have been the same response? Or do you think you would have been like, "Let me back off for a bit." And I know that's hard to answer because you are not in that position, right? That's a position you weren't in.
Bill: If it was a blind date or something like that.
Bill: I might be a little more cautionary, I would want to understand it, I would want to know what it is, so if the other person knows about it, understand and can communicate the risk associated with it if they were talking about being on an antiviral that reduces it by 48% or whatever it is that you threw out there, I was kind of listening, then yes, I would probably have been okay at starting a relationship.
Alexandra: So, I was just wondering about that.
Alexandra: And that's really important for our listeners and viewers right now, because again, I talk about rejection is normal. We have rejection throughout the day in any aspect of our life, not just herpes, right? If you're feeling rejected daily from herpes then that's probably not a good thing. But we get rejected daily, things don't work out on the way we want it, right? So, I like to make sure that, hey, if you are on a date and you tell this person, "Hey, I have herpes." And they are like ghosting you and you become like the creepiest thing to them ever, you know what? They weren't worth your time.
Alexandra: Right? They're just--
Bill: There's a lot of fish in the pond.
Alexandra: There's so many fish in the sea and if they're going to call you names or run away from you or get icky feelings around you, that's not somebody you want to be with.
Alexandra: And whether you get herpes or not they probably would've had those feelings about you regardless, right?
Bill: Yes. And I know you've always talked about it and to me it makes a lot of sense and it goes from a standpoint of everybody's got shit, out there.
Bill: There's something going on in their life that is probably not good whether it's a fight goes to court, maybe their fight goes to court.
Alexandra: Oh, you want to talk about ficus?
Bill: Their financial situation may not be where they are, they drive a car that they're embarrassed of, who knows what it is, right?
Bill: It could be a past relationship that is still haunting them.
Alexandra: Maybe they have their ex tattooed on their ass.
Bill: That could be.
Bill: And they just don't want to get into it because they don't want to see-- yes.
Bill: I never thought of that.
Alexandra: Oh, yes.
Bill: Have you seen mine?
Alexandra: Please. Well, we did learn in our pregnancy class that someone had a c-section and they had his named tattooed below her--
Bill: Right where it's--
Alexandra: Where you do the c-section and so the doctor was trying to sew it up so the name was like--
Alexandra: --straight and she's like, "Oh, no I'm so over him, he's not even in my life anymore, it's okay."
Bill: That was pretty--
Alexandra: That's totally off-topic but I thought you guys would laugh.
Alexandra: But yes, you just have a c-section then.
Bill: Just do a c-section.
Alexandra: So, really what we're getting at here with you and being married to somebody with herpes is it does not play a role in your life.
Bill: Not at all, not at all.
Alexandra: Have there ever been times where it's been frustrating too that I have herpes?
Bill: No, I mean, honestly no. I mean, there's times obviously where we're getting a little frisky whatever you want to call it, they tell you, "Oh, man I'm not--" you say, "Okay, well, that's it."
Alexandra: Yes. We figured it out.
Bill: It's like we figured it out and so there's different ways, and having you there is awesome.
Alexandra: Oh, you love me.
Bill: I do, I do.
Alexandra: You love me.
Alexandra: So, you don't worry about picking it up, you don't worry about sharing towels, you don't worry about just coming into contact with it?
Bill: No. I don't even think about it.
Alexandra: See, he doesn't even think about it.
Bill: I don't think about. Again, I go back to, it's really a connection between two minds and that intimacy, it just doesn't happen, it's not an all-day event.
Alexandra: No. You want it to be.
Bill: [laughter] No, I don't.
Bill: But most people, I mean, it's just like two to three days a week, four days for some?
Alexandra: I thought you were going to say two to three minutes, I was like, "Well, that's a little short."
Bill: No, no, no, no, no, no. Hours at a time, but it's such a small piece and if that is holding up a relationship and it doesn't work out for the other person then it's not worth it to be in that relationship but really having the two minds connected, that's the most important part, it's the emotional side of just being connected as people, rather than the herpes virus, it just happens to be part of the equation.
Alexandra: So, something I want to point out to that I think it's really key because you can obviously see from listening to Bill and I right now, I mean, herpes doesn't play a role in our relationship, it is not the foundation, it is not why we're together, it's not anything having to do with-- herpes plays no role in our relationship. So, I want to make sure it's really key that you know, I was just talking about this last night on our support group, if someone ask the question, "How do I know if I really like this guy or am I just into him because he accepts me for having herpes?" so, I really want to point that out to you so that you know, "Hey, don't stay with somebody because he or she accepts you for herpes."
Bill: I would say, and I always told the tell to Alexandra, "don't settle, don't settle" because you want to get into a relationship where it's right for you and it's right for the other person and if you settle you're always going to think, "What am I missing out on?" and don't have any regrets, don't settle, go for it and just educate the person that you fall in love with, the stigma of herpes is not really there, it shouldn't be there.
Bill: And you're going to break it, I do believe that's going to happen.
Alexandra: Okay, I love that vision.
Bill: I know.
Alexandra: See? That's why we have Bill here and we're laughing too because our dog right now is playing with our videographer and they're just playing.
Bill: Yes, let's grab her because I'm afraid--
Alexandra: He's worried, Bill's worried about the dog.
Bill: Jason's-- I'm really afraid of the cameras.
Alexandra: So, wrapping up here.
Alexandra: Well, also, you're going to talk at our retreat.
Bill: I am.
Alexandra: You are.
Bill: What am I going to talk about?
Alexandra: Well, we can figure that out.
Bill: We can do a big Q&A.
Alexandra: Big Q&A.
Bill: Bring it on, I'm ready, I'll answer any question, I'm better at questions I think than just speaking, I mean, I can say a few things.
Alexandra: You get up and speak all the time.
Alexandra: But Bill's going to be at our retreat. Bill will pop in time to time on our support groups as well, he's one of our featured guest, everyone wants to hear from Bill which I love and everybody loves Bill if I were them.
Bill: Do we have a date?
Alexandra: We do have a date.
Alexandra: We do have a date.
Bill: When is it?
Alexandra: For 2020 it's in August.
Alexandra: It's in August, so 2020 it's in August, it is the 21st to 23rd.
Bill: I love it, yes.
Alexandra: He'll be nice and toasty in Las Vegas.
Bill: But there's a pool.
Alexandra: There is a pool.
Bill: Big pools, big pools.
Alexandra: And we can cool down and you can't spread herpes through the pool.
Bill: [laughter] because of the chlorine? Or does it matter? I don't know.
Alexandra: It doesn't matter, you can go swimming feel--
Bill: Okay, yes, I'm not.
Alexandra: Your life is totally normal with herpes as you can see.
Alexandra: Any last words, advice, anything that you want to say? So, sum up in two sentences what it's like to be married to somebody with herpes.
Bill: Well, here's what I will say.
Alexandra: Baby's kicking by the way.
Bill: Oh, really? Oh, nice, oh, he's going for it.
Alexandra: He's going for it.
Bill: So, here's what I would say, is that if you get into a relationship and your significant other, the partner comes into it and you talk to them about having herpes and all that kind of stuff and the other person doesn't have herpes I am more than happy actually to talk to that person and help them.
Alexandra: Thank you.
Bill: I would do that because I absolutely it is been the most wonderful thing to be with my love, the love of my life and I know that I can help them get through whatever that situation is because it is a stigma, your life's not going to end, enjoy it, embrace it, understand you're going to have some ups and downs on a weekly, monthly, sometimes annually. Just take care of yourself that would be the other thing. I know Alexandra really promotes the healthy diet and doing that and that's really changed I know your life in many, many ways.
Alexandra: Yes, lysine.
Bill: So, I would embrace that, lysine.
Alexandra: The sore product.
Bill: Yes. And so, healthy lifestyle, have them call me if they have any questions.
Alexandra: We'll set that up.
Bill: Yes, let me know.
Alexandra: You might be doing coaching calls, Bill.
Bill: I'm there.
Alexandra: You might be an emergency call.
Bill: Emergency call.
Alexandra: Look at that.
Bill: I love it, I love it, I'm happy to help in any way.
Alexandra: All right. So, I will see you all in the next episode. You can go to lifewithherpes.com for more questions, there's tons of information and basically, it'll help you on where to start. So, wherever you are in this journey with herpes, whether you were diagnosed today, whether you've had it for five years, whether you've had it for 15 years it doesn't matter, we have people from all over the world in this community here to help you.
Bill: I know. All over the world.
Alexandra: And Bill is now here to help you. So, I'll see you soon in the next podcast, thanks for listening and tuning on our--
Bill: Can I do my sign-off?
Alexandra: You can.
Bill: You want to do it with me?
Alexandra: Okay. Bill has a Gaylord sign-off.
Bill: You ready?
Alexandra: Okay. Are we doing Gaylord is that how we're doing it?
Bill: Yes, that's what we're doing.
Bill: At the count of three.
Bill: One, two, three.
Alexandra: Two, three.
Bill: The Gaylords are out!
Alexandra: The Gaylords are out! And by the way that's my married name.
Bill: Oh. [laughter]
Alexandra: They don't know me as Alexandra Gaylord.
Bill: There we go.
Alexandra: All right. See you soon.
Alexandra: Thanks so much for listening to today's show on Life With Herpes. If you have not subscribed to the Life With Herpes show, I'm going to invite you to do that, just go hit "subscribe" that way you get notifications when new episodes come out and you can download, you can listen to all of them, there's hundreds of them on there, so go check them out. Also, I'd like to invite you to check you the Life With Herpes on YouTube, I have different content, different videos, how to's, tips, tricks, all this other stuff on YouTube, so if you're also a YouTuber go check it out and then, of course, subscribe to that too because that also will let you know when new episodes are out.
Finally, check out lifewithherpes.com, I don't know if I shared it when I was in this interview, so maybe I did, maybe I didn't but go check out Life With Herpes there's tons of information on there, it is a repository of information about herpes. So, go check it out, I will see you or hear you or listen to you or whatever in the next episode. See you soon. Thanks for listening, bye.