Joffrey was - and is - a curious young person. While their peers were often in groups, partying, moving in groups from event to event - Joffrey was more often than not on their own, exploring the world around them and seeing what they could discover.
While their outings were often relatively innocent - wandering through the park, or popping in and out of shops in foreign neighborhoods - they did have an occasional habit of being promiscuous. This was initially by nature of stumbling upon cruise spots in parks around the city; partaking at times in some - mostly - harmless activities. But over time became part of the DNA of their journeys after discovering Poppies - an app dedicated to such things.
Over time, Joffrey found that they were using Poppies to dictate the trajectory of their outings; signing on to the app to find a meetup that was happening - and heading that way to wander around until they "happened upon" the action. And while Joffrey never really thought of themselves as particularly promiscuous or sexually driven, it was undeniable that they were quickly becoming engrained within the cruising culture - often having multiple anonymous partners during each of their trips out.
And while Poppies did - in fact - encourage users to share their testing history and status; the anonymous nature of the app itself made it tricky to verify who it was that was at any spot at any particular time.
In one of the days following a particularly eventful excursion, Joffrey woke up feeling unwell, experiencing a fever, body aches, and a distinctive (internal) rash - it was uncomfortable to say the least.
Having spent as much time with their anonymous counterparts as they had, whom ranged in age from their early twenties to late fifties (possibly beyond) - Joffrey was comforted in knowing that the STIs of today were not much to worry about. That said, however, they still knew that it was necessary to figure out what - exactly - they had come in contact with. Rather than trying to self-diagnose, Joffrey headed out to their favorite local clinic to see what was happening.
Sitting in the waiting room, they made eye contact with not just one - but three - of their regular encounters; offering them a smile, while simultaneously wondering if they were there for the same reason, or even the reason that they were there. Either way, it didn't matter - Joffrey told themselves - all that they needed was to get treated and move on; and of course there was absolutely no way they would out their encounters in public - particularly in such a place.
Joffrey's Journey to Diagnosis
Joffrey filled out their intake form, and waited - eventually being greeted by a kind older doctor who ushered them into one of the many fluorescently lit rooms where they met with those visiting the clinic. Joffrey explained their situation - half expecting to judgement to come from the other side of the room; but was only met with understanding and gentleness.
They soon learned that it was likely - based on their symptoms - that they had contracted MPOX (fka Monkey Pox) and that, while not particularly concerning - there were unique diagnostic procedures that Joffrey would need to find elsewhere.
The road to diagnosis was arduous, as the medical community's limited knowledge about MPOX posed challenges. Patience and persistence were vital for Joffrey during this time, as they underwent various tests and consultations with specialists.
The uncertainty during the diagnostic process was taxing for Joffrey, who felt isolated from their friends & family as they were not fully aware of what exactly Joffrey was up to when out on their excursions. Thankfully, Joffrey's school offered all of its students remote mental health services through one of those cleverly named apps - meaning Joffrey spent a great deal of the time during the diagnosis process glued to their phone, simultaneously venting to their glowing screen of a therapist and explaining to their anonymous suitors where they've been.
Treat(ment) Yo'self & Discovering knō
After weeks of uncertainty, Joffrey finally received a confirmed diagnosis of MPOX - which was more of a relief than anything having been through the experience they had just had. Fortunately, early detection allowed for a more effective treatment plan and with the help of antiviral medication and proper medical care, Joffrey's condition began to improve, leading to a gradual recovery.
Joffrey was determined - however - from the experience to not let the same thing happen again; not to themselves, not to others.
During their experience, Joffrey had discovered knō. And while they weren't able to test with knō at this particular time having been already exhibiting symptoms - they saw the promise of future encounters where they could not only remain anonymous during their cruises through the city - but do so safely.