Austin shares the challenges a monkeypox patient faces in the healthcare system to get a diagnosis, medication

He went to the ER three times because of “unbearable pain” and was finally able to get medication from an Austin clinic that helped his symptoms.

AUSTIN, Texas – An Austin man is sharing his experience with chickenpox in hopes that it will encourage the health care system to better care for the needs of chickenpox patients and to advocate for their own health in others who are infected.

The man asked that his name not be included.

“The worst pain of my entire life,” he explained on a Zoom call, as he was still in quarantine.

This Travis County resident first developed a fever on Aug. 9. He thought it was a side effect of the monkeypox vaccine he had received only a few days earlier.

“You know, you feel like you’re making the right move,” he said. “Of course, there’s always something, you can always be too careful, right? Well, here we are.”

But the symptoms worsened and he developed swollen lymph nodes and pain. A few days later, he developed sores and was in extreme pain.

Because he thought he might have monkey pox based on what he had heard and read online, and was in pain, he went to the emergency room. That’s where he said the doctor told him they never did the test on the monkey, but they would do one for him.

While he was there, he got a text that he might have been exposed, but the nurses didn’t seem to take it too seriously.

“She said, ‘Oh, I really don’t think it’s monkey pox’ when she was swabbing me,” he said of the nurse. “‘If this is it, I should be in like full PPE,’ which she wasn’t. So, I was like, OK, this is disappointing. But like, they’re testing me.”

RELATED: Texas set to receive another 12,550 doses of monkeypox vaccine

They said it would take five days to get the test results, but now eight days have passed, he has not seen the patient portal and has not received a call. Tried calling. His STD panel came back with the results he had done while there, and they were all negative.

Although he doesn’t recommend doing your own research, he said he felt he had no choice but to do research, to find out how other people are treating their symptoms.

“I was on Reddit, I was on TikTok, reading people’s live accounts,” he shared.

He went to the ER two more times, the symptoms were unbearable. He hoped to receive Tecovirimat, known as TPOXX, an antiviral drug used to treat some cases of monkey pox.

“I was sick, right? I was in a lot of pain. And ideally, you hope, especially going to the ER, you hope that they have at least some knowledge of what they can do to help you,” he said. I felt like they didn’t know what they could do to help me.”

“Fairly to them,” he added. “I don’t think there’s much information available.”

After four days of severe pain, pain medications prescribed by doctors that didn’t work well, and testing positive for monkeypox in his possible exposure, he had a telehealth visit with an infectious disease doctor at an Austin clinic, who prescribed him TPOXX.

“As soon as he told me he would be able to get it that afternoon, I lost it,” he said of the relief he felt.

He said he hopes the health care system will learn to take better care of patients and encourage patients to advocate for themselves.

“Don’t be afraid to stand up, and fight, and seek information, and try to advocate for yourself when you can,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said patients may be eligible for TPOXX if they have some serious symptoms or are at risk of serious illness. Austin Public Health said they follow CDC guidance, and right now, they have enough TPOXX medication to meet demand.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said that once a person is diagnosed with monkeypox, their health care provider can prescribe the antiviral drug TPOXX if their patient meets the criteria. DSHS added that providers work through local health departments to obtain courses of antiviral medication for their patients.

For more information on monkeypox testing and vaccinations, click here. You can also look into options through Community Care and Kinder Clinic.

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