Ph.D. Paul Cameron of Colorado Springs found this Facebook post from a woman who stayed in a hostel while hiking in Colorado:
Short Story: I got Monkeypox!
(This is very long, but I know people have questions.)
After our trip to Leadville, CO I woke up one day with a painful scratch on the back of my knee. It scabbed up by the next day, and seemed very strange.
The next day I had another one, plus what looked like 6 ingrown hairs on my thigh.
I thought I was getting bug bites along with ingrown hairs. They seemed unusual, but on the other hand, what’s unusual about getting bug bites in the summer?
More and more bites kept popping up and I mentioned it to a friend.
She said, “Maybe it’s Monkeypox.”
I thought, “Nah. Isn’t that a disease for gay men? Or an STI?”
But then it kept nagging at me.
It DID seem like some kind of pox.
That friend later sent me a Facebook post written by a woman in Denver – not sexually active (certainly not a gay man). She tested positive, and her story sounded exactly like what I was experiencing. She’s the reason I’m writing my story for you all now. I tried so hard to find more stories to help me figure out what was going on.
I called around and found out that an urgent care in town would run a test for me. (There are testing clinics in CO, but not in COS.)
They really didn’t take me seriously.
I just didn’t fit the demographic for this disease and I don’t think they’d seen any cases yet.
They had me sit in the waiting room with everyone else even though I made it clear why I was there.
I was masked up, and had two bandages covering every pox-spot, plus long pants. (My spots are all on my right leg and hip, with one lone exception on my arm. I now think that I spread them around my leg by shaving.)
When it was my turn they took me back to the examination room.
There were two nurses, both wearing masks.
The first thing I said to them was, “I’m in here this afternoon for monkeypox, in case you want to go put on PPE or something,” but they didn’t. They left me with a disposable pair of shorts to put on.
Next a PA came in, with gloves and a mask. He asked me a couple questions and looked from across the room at my bandaged-up leg.
After a bit he asked me to remove a couple bandages so he could see.
Guys, the spots had gotten really bad.
Very large, very painful. Like large, infected blisters.
The PA took a quick look from across the room and immediately stood up and said, “I’m going to go get PPE and test you for monkeypox. This is very concerning.”
I know he ran out to look up the procedure. He came back in all properly covered up and took pictures.
That was exciting. I had to remove every bandage and pose for the camera.
In the end he escorted me out the back of the building and I did the walk of shame to my car.
I haven’t actually gotten my test results yet. So maybe I’m jumping to conclusions to say I have monkeypox, but every description is right on.
Unfortunately, since I don’t have results yet, I can’t get a hold of the antiviral called Tpoxx that everyone recommends.
The only instructions the PA gave me were to “isolate, isolate, isolate.”
I came home, set up camp in my bedroom, and have been isolating from everyone – my whole family and even Spike! (Poor confused Spike.) S has taken on every other responsibility for the family.
How did I get it?
I believe I got it by sitting on a chair while wearing shorts that someone else sat in with a sore on their leg.
I have no proof of that, but interestingly, the lady in Denver who posted about it last week said she thought she got it from wearing shorts and sitting on a chair in an allergy clinic. We both came to those conclusions separately. (Maybe it’s time to switch to pants, everyone.)
Is it very contagious?
I believe that it spreads through contact with the pox, or fabric that has been in contact with a spot. I still keep every single one covered up with two layers of bandages plus pants. I sanitize my hands often, not wanting to spread my spots more, and wear gloves if I have to leave my room. I keep my distance from everyone. I keep my laundry (including towels) separate and use hot water.
Has my family caught it?
No, they haven’t! I’m so glad. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
What are the spots like?
There are sort of different kinds. I usually find the new ones because of an intense, focussed itch. They look like pimples, but pop if you scratch them and seem unexpectedly wet. (Sorry) Some get very large and look like infected blisters.
The large ones take very long to heal.
So far I think it will be at least 2 weeks.
Is it painful?
Yes. Those large spots feel incredibly deep, like they are infecting my muscles. They are healing very slowly and are disgusting and painful. I can’t imagine if I had this on my face.
Is there any treatment?
It seems like I’m stuck with over the counter treatments or home remedies for now. I hope to get the Tpoxx antiviral when the diagnosis is official. I put Neosporin on the spots that need to heal; and I just started self-medicating with Benadryl, based on my friend’s stories about spider bites and Benadryl. No sign of whether that’s working. Also, my pain was much worse after I took a solo walk yesterday, so I decided to stay in bed with my legs elevated to promote healing. (I looked up instructions for “skin ulcers.”) My pain is level 2-3 when I’m in bed and 7-8 when I get up.
Did I get sick with flu or cold symptoms?
Only barely. Congestion and sneezing. Very mild.
When can I get back to normal life?
After every spot is fully healed.
I have 16 spots: four are large and painful (the size of a nickel), and maybe 10 have healed completely. I still get new spots almost every day. Today I got three new ones. I think it will take at least one more week to get healed. Maybe 2.
And I think that’s it. Everything you never expected to hear about my health.
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