“we are both dying”

VA stairs drawing-jay herron 2006


Originally uploaded by jayfherron
That is what the nurse said! “We are both dying from a sexually transmitted disease”! 

I’m sitting there trying to comprehend that…she is going down a list of  ‘routine questions’about blood pressure and pain levels asking if I’m depressed and then that statement! 

I’m sitting there thinking about that-what? What did she just say? I had ‘labs’ earlier that morning (the VA is an all day affair) and have previously routinely requested HIV testing…(yes,why not?) And-I could not digest what she just said!

I don’t know how long it took. I suppose I asked her faster than I think,but I had to think it over first. We are both dying of a sexually transmitted disease? 

“What did you just say”? 

“Huh”? was her reply. 

“About the sexually transmitted disease”? 

“Life”! was her answer. 


“Life…we are both dying from it”! 


“Life…a sexually transmitted disease”! “We are both dying from it”…”I’m joking”!! 


“I’m joking!…don’t you get it”? 

“Wait a minute-first explain the sexually transmitted disease…?” 

“It’s a joke”!! 

“No…first tell me what we are dying from-are we dying?” 

She smiles at me and nods her head as if to realize I’m the stupidest guy in the room. “I’m joking…just a joke-I thought you’d get it…life-it’s a sexually transmitted disease….we are ALL dying from it….(then comes) “never mind” (and then that dismissing hand gesture)…”it’s too early in the morning for you”! Still shaking her head in disbelief looking at me like I am a dim-lit bulb! 

It was not too early in the morning…it just did not register as a joke! 

What a fucked up thing to say to someone. 

7 Responses to ““we are both dying””

  1. Joan Says:


    Did this nurse not get the fact that you are an MST survivor? Where do they get these people!?

    What part of MST don’t these people get?! What part of “sexual transmission” don’t they get. Just because we weren’t willing participants doesn’t mean that we couldn’t come up with some disease at some point in time. (although with so many years gone by…that is no longer a concern.)

    What part of your medical history didn’t they get? Just from what you have posted you would think that a nurse would have better sense than to make “death and dying jokes.” Hell, just from the patients that I see everyday (cancer, liver disease, heart disease, elderly) I am always telling them that they can beat it…or that they are young. Maybe I am just too tender-hearted, but when I lose a patient I have cared for…I am a basket case. Some of them I feel so close to that I even question my profession – start looking to get out of the patient care fields.

    I think that the disease that is going to kill us all is our lack of love and mercy for one another – for our neighbor. That is what will be our downfall. We want to make stupid jokes at other people’s expense. Or worse, we want to harm one another, whether physically or emotionally. That isn’t a put down to everyone else – I am just as guilty of failing to love my neighbor as anyone else.

    Love you, Brother. I’m sorry it was so rough on you.


  2. bookwitchery Says:

    What a horrible thing to say. Obviously this nurse has no sense when it comes to interacting with others. That was an inappropriate thing to say, ESPECIALLY to an MST survivor.

    I’m so sorry hon.

    • jayherron Says:

      She is nothing…compared…there is a nurse there I met some years back. She was outside on the smokers bench and we struck up conversation.
      Over the years I would pass by in the hallway-and say hello.
      That is all…just hello.
      One day I bumped in to her at our community library-this is rural area here!
      Turns out-she lived there,and invites me for coffee.
      Over the next few years she becomes ‘in love’…not where I wanted to be,realized her feelings-and told her I am FRIEND not ‘boy-friend’.
      It get worse.
      She learns about me thru the VA files-she,as a tel-care nurse,had access.
      Then she begins telling me if I have sex with her-she will make my bad memories go away.
      I have been pestered by this woman since!
      She still trys to call-just the other night!
      It is not a perfect world-not even in the VA.
      My former ‘coke’ dealer…works there!
      An old aquaintance-a true lazy looser…works there.
      Incredible journey!!

  3. Joan Says:


    Somehow at our lunch table yesterday we got talking about “things that go wrong” in the course of a day. (for those who don’t know – I work in healthcare at a VA clinic)

    Since I work in an area that deals with a lot of MST, I often link your page to an email or encourage people to read your blog. You are a rare and special advocate for all of us.

    We started talking about this post. The nurses that I work with grew visibly angry that this happened to you – that someone like them would make that sort of comment to any veteran – let alone an MST survivor.

    I know that the things that you are doing on behalf of all survivors tear at you soul – but I want you to know that YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE. You are making a difference in the lives of survivors – like myself. You are making a difference in the lives of health care providers – like the nurses, doctors and mental health providers that I work closely with.

    Your words are a “gut check” for us…your words are like a “healing balm” for us.

    Keep it up, Brother! God is blessing your work – even though you don’t always get to see it. So much of the bad is being turned to good by the hand of God in your love for all of us.



  4. jayherron Says:

    I can’t remember anything making me feel more rich than what you just said-and I DO feel blessed!

  5. bookwitchery Says:

    Jay, I hate that this happened to you. This woman is a stalker, and it makes me angry, very angry, that things like this just revictimize you all over again.

    I know a man who had a childhood abuser find him somehow. She had him so brainwashed…he actually let her into his home a few times. With encouragement from several of us, he called the police, and the detective that was sent over pretty much told him he was making it all up, creating a fantasy to help him get over what happened to him as a child. The detective treated him so poorly that his therapist didn’t want him talking to the detective without her being present.

    Make one bad event up to help you get OVER another horrible event? What kind of logic is this (and yes, I think we can all agree that the detective in this case was an idiot.) And the “replace a bad memory with a good one”? WHERE do these people come up with this stuff?
    We don’t make this stuff up, and we don’t put ourselves through this misery and trauma to make ourselves “feel better”. Where in the hell is the logic in that?

    To even SUGGEST a sexual relationship, especially after you’ve made it abundantly clear that is not what you want…where in the hell does it end? Sexual healing is possible, but only if BOTH PARTIES are willing participants. And there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG with wanting to have nothing to do with sex at all. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, doesn’t mean you’re broken.

    Words are not coming clearly at the moment….but I did want to at least express…this kind of treatment does anger me, and I wanted to further encourage you to keep standing up for yourself, keep writing here, keep fighting for your rights and the rights of others.

    Together we will make it.

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