Mr. Sanchez had been feeling unwell for days before he decided to visit the emergency room. When I walked into his room, I immediately noticed that he was scared and anxious. His sore throat had been persistent for five days and was now so severe that he couldn’t eat or drink anything. He had also developed a rash covering his entire body, which was only getting worse. The lymph nodes in his neck were painful, and he was visibly uncomfortable.
From our conversation, I could tell Mr. Sanchez was worried and had a lot of questions. He shared that he had been sexually active with two men in the past month but hadn’t been taking his medications for his HIV. He started to fear that his decision not to take his medication was now catching up with him. However, I wanted to reassure him that he was safe and in good hands.
After examining him, I was concerned about the severity of the tonsillitis, which could lead to complications like pharyngeal abscesses. To determine the cause of Mr. Sanchez’s symptoms, I ordered blood work, CT scans, and cultures.
When the results came back, it showed that Mr. Sanchez had the monkeypox virus, a rare virus that causes symptoms like a rash, fever, and sore throat. I understood this news was shocking to him, and I spent time with him to educate him about the virus and discuss the available treatment options.
Monkeypox is a viral disease that is similar to smallpox, but much milder. It is typically found in Central and West Africa, where it is passed from animals to humans, often through contact with infected animals like monkeys or rodents. The virus can then be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, bodily fluids, or contaminated objects.
In 2022, there was an outbreak of monkeypox in several non-endemic countries, including the United States. This outbreak showed the potential for the virus to spread more widely and highlighted the importance of vigilance in handling infectious diseases.
As Mr. Sanchez was hospitalized and started on his medications, I made sure to visit him every day to check his condition and answer any questions he had. He was worried about his privacy and specially requested to keep his hospital stay confidential, which I assured him would be respected.
During his hospital stay, Mr. Sanchez’s symptoms slowly improved, and he began to feel better. However, he still had a long road to recovery both physically and emotionally. I made sure to check on him every day and offer words of encouragement to keep him motivated in his recovery.
When it was time for Mr. Sanchez to be discharged, I gave him clear instructions on how to continue his treatment at home and scheduled a follow-up appointment to monitor his progress. I also reminded him of the importance of keeping up with his HIV medication and staying healthy during these uncertain times.
Mr. Sanchez’s experience with the monkeypox virus taught both of us the importance of regular medical care and taking medication as prescribed. As his doctor, I learned the significance of being compassionate, listening to my patients, and respecting their privacy during their health care journey.
Ton La, Jr. is a physician and can be reached on LinkedIn.