'Hubby, I have an STD... did you cheat on me?'
When a doctor told Rosey she had an STD, she immediately accused her Tunisian husband of cheating. But he was determined to prove himself innocent... I wrote Rosey's story for Take a Break magazine #sellmystory
I took my seat alongside another passenger and jigged my leg nervously. Not only was it the first time I’d been on a plane, I was about to travel over one thousand miles to see a man I’d never met before.
‘Is your seatbelt fastened?’ an air stewardess said.
‘Yes,’ I replied.
There’s no going back now, I thought.
I had met Youssri online eight months earlier, when he had messaged me out of the blue.
I had been separated from the father of my six children for a while and had been happy being single. Or so I thought. The more me and Youssri spoke, the more I realised I liked him.
Problem was, he lived in Tunisia. Luckily my mum had agreed to look after the kids while I was away.
After landing, I scanned the airport for Youssri.
Minutes later, a voice said: ‘Rosey.’
I turned to see his familiar face.
‘Hi Youssri,’ I said.
Then he kissed me on both cheeks and my stomach fluttered with excitement.
We got a taxi back to his house where all of his family were waiting to see me. I couldn’t believe I was meeting them already, but they treated me like a queen.
As the days passed, I was pleased to find Youssri was even better in person. I could feel the chemistry between us as we lay on the beach, the sun beating down.
After two weeks, it was time to go. Youssri gazed at me, tears in his eyes.
‘I don’t want you to leave,’ he said.
‘I wish I didn’t have to,’ I said.
Then he kissed me goodbye and I boarded my flight.
When I got back, I was thrilled to see my kids, but I missed Youssri terribly.
That week, he phoned me.
‘I’m falling for you,’ he said.
‘I feel the same,’ I said.
We decided to become a couple.
At seven years younger than me Youssri was a toyboy, but the age difference didn’t matter to me. I was smitten.
Five months later, I went back to see him. This time we couldn’t keep our hands off each other, especially in the bedroom.
After my trip I missed him so much.
But then I got an unwanted distraction, I started feeling sore down below. It felt like cystitis and I was passing blood in my urine, so I stocked up on cranberry juice.
I drank gallons of the stuff, but it didn’t help.
Next I went to the sexual health clinic, just to make sure. Thankfully the results came back clear.
I saw my GP who agreed it was a urine infection, but the antibiotics he prescribed didn’t seem to work.
In between being a busy mum-of-six, working as a carer, and making many visits to the doctor, Youssri and I spoke every day to keep our long-distance relationship alive.
A year after we had met, I was back in Tunisia again.
We had just finished a romantic meal in a restaurant when Youssri pulled a small box from his pocket. He opened it to reveal a ring sparkling with diamonds.
‘Will you marry me?’ he said.
‘Oh my god,’ I gasped.
I could feel everyone in the room staring at us.
‘Yes, I will,’ I replied.
I knew my family and friends would think I was mad to marry a man who lived so far away, but I was in love.
The following year, we tied the knot in Tunisia.
I was dressed in a white lace gown and matching veil as I sat next to Youssri to sign the papers.
Three days later, I was at Youssri’s house as I slipped into an elaborate white dress adorned with crystals and diamantes.
I took some painkillers to ease my groin pain before we held a party with a big cake and fireworks. Then I changed into a glitzy pink dress and danced the night away with Youssri, as Mr and Mrs Mejri.
‘I love you,’ he said.
‘I love you too,’ I said. ‘I want to move out here, once I’m feeling better.’
‘I would love that,’ he replied.
But back home, my health deteriorated. My legs started feeling heavy and sore and my pelvic pain was agony.
This was more than just an infection.
I went back and forth to my GP and hospital, undergoing tests to try and find out what was wrong with me. I lost count of how many appointments I had with various doctors and specialists, as well as visits to A&E.
I was so unwell that my children went to live with their dad. I was left depressed and desperate for answers.
One day, I went to see a gynaecologist.
‘You have a sexually transmitted disease,’ she said.
I sat there, flabbergasted.
‘You haven’t even examined me,’ I said. ‘And I had STD tests not long ago, which all came up clear.’
‘It’s a rare and hard-to-detect type called mycoplasma genitalium,’ she said. ‘Do you have a partner?’
‘Yes, my husband lives in Tunisia,’ I said.
‘Hmm,’ she said, nodding.
She was suggesting he had given me the STD.
I left the surgery, my head in a mess. I thought back to when my symptoms had started, just after Youssri and I had slept together three years ago…
I phoned him with shaky hands.
‘Who have you slept with?’ I said.
‘What are you talking about?’ he said.
‘You’ve cheated on me,’ I said.
‘Rosey, I swear I haven’t been unfaithful,’ he replied.
I told him what the gynaecologist had said.
‘She’s wrong,’ he said.
‘I want a divorce,’ I said.
I hung up, my jaw clenched. I hadn’t slept with anyone except Youssri since my clear results.
It had to be him.
I sent him a message: You have been the cause of my suffering all this time. I don’t want anything to do with you ever again.
Then I blocked him on WhatsApp and Facebook.
I started taking medication to try and help treat the STD, a cruel reminder of my cheating Tunisian toyboy.
But the pain didn’t go away.
It only got worse.
In time, a scan showed I had three small cysts in my womb and I had surgery to remove them. Cervical cancer cells were also detected, which I had lasered.
Soon after, I started reading through medical websites.
I’d had five months to think about everything and I just couldn’t accept Youssri had cheated. Deep down, I knew he was an honest, faithful man.
Then I found something that made me sit bolt upright.
Pelvic congestion syndrome.
It was described as a chronic medical condition caused by varicose veins in the lower abdomen. I knew instantly it was what I had. Its symptoms matched mine exactly.
I unblocked Youssri and told him what I’d uncovered.
I could hear the relief in his voice.
‘I’m so sorry I blamed you,’ I said.
‘It’s OK,’ he said. ‘I just want us to be happy again.’
We were both in tears by the end of the call.
There was a problem though. The doctors in the UK were still convinced I had either a urine infection or an STD.
‘Why don’t you see someone here?’ Youssri said.
‘Good idea,’ I said.
But despite scans and tests, the Tunisian medics couldn’t find what was wrong.
Then a friend told me about a venogram, an x-ray of the veins. It was the only thing they hadn’t tried.
I spoke to Youssri and somehow, he managed to find a specialist in venography, just down the road from him.
I left my home in Erith, Kent, and got the next flight out.
After the x-ray, the specialist said: ‘You were right, it is pelvic congestion syndrome.’
His words were music to mine and Youssri’s ears.
I definitely didn’t have an STD.
‘I really am sorry I doubted you,’ I said.
‘Don’t worry,’ he smiled.
Weeks later, I paid to see a vascular specialist in London who agreed I had PCS, otherwise known as pelvic venous reflux.
I couldn’t believe I had accused Youssri and almost ruined our marriage in the process, all because of a mistake.
Now I am so relieved to have an answer, but I have to find £6,000 for specialist treatment on my varicose veins to stop the pain and bleeding. As soon as I’ve sorted it, I plan to move to Tunisia to be with Youssri.
Last year we were headed for divorce, yet now we’re stronger than ever. And it’s all thanks to my husband.
Youssri saved my life. He’s my hero.
Youssri said: ‘After we got married we was happy. But after she tell me (about the STD) I couldn’t believe it. It was like a big storm and everything go wrong. I was really heartbroken. I know for sure I didn’t cheat on her. I had to fight to find out what was wrong to prove myself to everyone. We are happy now.’
By Julia Sidwell