- A man with monkeypox said lesions in his mouth were so painful he almost passed out from the pain.
- Silver Steele had intense, flu-like symptoms that made it difficult to walk around the house.
- He shared his symptoms and images to raise awareness, particularly among gay men.
A man with monkeypox said the lesions in his mouth were so painful that he almost passed out while a doctor was inspecting his throat.
Silver Steele shared images of his infection with Insider and described the course of his illness, which cleared up earlier in August.
He also shared his symptoms on social media, hoping to raise awareness of resources available among the gay community.
“I ran the full course of monkeypox, about three weeks and some change,” said Steele, who is gay himself and works as a porn actor in Houston, Texas.
These images show how the disease began and progressed, as seen via the lesions on his chin:
As the disease progressed he also got some lesions on other parts of his body.
Steele said he noticed pimple-like bumps about a week after attending Fourth of July celebration parties, where he thinks he may have been exposed.
At first, he said, he thought it might be razor burn. The bumps weren’t painful, and while he suspected that it could be monkeypox, he said he thought the illness was mild. Here are his marks at that point:
Four days later, “I woke up, and I was like: oh, I don’t feel good,” he said.
“My lymph nodes were swollen. It was hurting to swallow and I was just having trouble getting moving.”
His doctor confirmed that he had symptoms of monkeypox. That night, he had a fever, chills, and night sweats.
Historically, medical textbooks have said that a fever would always come before the rash. But this outbreak seems different, with some people reporting flu-like symptoms before the blisters appeared.
The flu-like symptoms lasted about 48 hours, Steele said. And as the fever subsided, his lesions started to hurt. Here is what they looked lik then:
The rash was primarily around his mouth, but a few lesions were inside his mouth, on his gums, and in his throat.
“It hurt most when I ate. But there were times when I was literally just sitting there watching TV and all of a sudden it’s just like knives stabbing you,” he said.
“The pain was pretty intense.”
On top of monkeypox, Steele had developed strep throat, which made it very hard for him to eat. He lost several pounds, he said.
The pain came to a head a few days later while a doctor was examining Steele’s throat.
“He took the tongue depressor away and all of a sudden it was like: oh my gosh! And everything started to go black,” said Steele. The pain was too intense, Steele said, and he nearly fainted.
Steele was given painkillers, and his doctor sought to access a drug called TPoxx.
TPoxx is an antiviral designed for smallpox. It can be used for monkeypox too, but only with special permission from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Steele wasn’t granted access to TPoxx until it was too late for him to benefit, he said.
Steele got a few more lesions, on his hands and legs, but said these were less painful than the others.
As Steele’s photos showed, after several weeks of illness his lesions started healing.
As he spoke to Insider on Thursday, Steele had just left quarantine a few days ago. He’s now gotten the smallpox vaccine, which is thought to reduce the risk of catching the disease. He encourages others at risk to do the same.
Steele said he counts himself lucky compared to worse cases he’s found on social media.
“I’m lucky because I have a doctor whose primary client base is gay men,” he said. “He finds these resources quicker than most.”
Though anyone can catch monkeypox, a majority of people who have caught it so far have been gay, bi, or other men who have sex with men.
He called on patients to learn more about the disease so they can advocate for themselves with their healthcare providers.
“Tell them what TPoxx is, tell them to order it,” he said.
He also said he was grateful he didn’t have lesions near the genital or anal areas.
“My heart goes out to those people,” he said. “When they go to the bathroom, they say it feels like they’re passing hot needles.”