Now How Did That Happen?

One of my friends is coming over today for lunch. I’m excited. It’s just what I need — some company, food that isn’t pretty much the same thing except for a different sandwich filling, and some laughs. If the sun would shine, the day would be perfect.

Truth is, I’m depressed. I’m depressed to the point that I’m about ready to call my doctor and ask if I can increase the dose of my antidepressants or change to another kind.

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I think it’s the circumstances. Except for three weekends away and forays to the doctor, I’ve been confined to the house since early April. Steps. There are steps to maneuver to get in and out of the house. Down isn’t so bad; up is like climbing Mt. Everest. I begin to dread it as soon as the car enters the neighborhood.

Then there’s my latest piece of news: I have MRSA.

MSRA, which stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a superbug, and it requires super antibiotics to kill it. Should I mention the wonderful gastrointestinal niceties that super antibiotics come with?

How did I get MRSA? Darned if I know! I’ve been in the hospital for surgery a couple of times, I go to the doctor a lot, I’ve had visiting nurses, and then there is my husband, who changes my dressings. I have not been touched with bare hands and, except for when the dressing for my surgical incision is changed, the area is covered.

It used to be that MRSA occurred only in hospitals and other health-care places such as nursing homes. That’s now called health-care–associated MRSA, or HA-MRSA because — guess what? — it’s out in the general community now. That form is called community-associated MRSA, or CA-MRSA.

CA-MRSA is said to happen most frequently in younger people, which the Mayo Clinic opines is probably due to immature immune systems and a lack of antibodies to some germs. Participation in contact sports and sharing towels, athletic equipment, and other items in the locker room is another risk factor. A weakened immune system (we all know about those) is another risk factor. And so is (my fave) living in crowded or unsanitary conditions such as a military training camp or a prison.

The list of risk factors for HA-MRSA is shorter: Hospitalization (recent or current), living in a long-term care facility, invasive devices (such as catheters or feeding tubes), or recent antibiotic use.

Ya gotta be careful out there. Keep an eye on cuts and scrapes — no matter how minor — to watch for infection. See a doctor if an infection occurs, and ask to be tested for MRSA before taking any antibiotics. If it is MRSA, the wrong antibiotic could make things worse.

Prevention is pretty much common sense: Wash your hands frequently and make sure health-care workers wash their hands every time before they touch you. Don’t share personal items, shower after engaging in athletic practice or games, keep your wounds covered, and wash your linens in hot water.

Above all, don’t insist on taking antibiotics if they aren’t needed. That’s what got us into this mess in the first place: Germs are evolving because of overuse of antibiotics. Of course, there’s that thing about antibiotics in our food and water supplies, thanks to antibiotics being added to animal feed and things like flushing drugs down the toilet.

In the meantime, I’ll keep on trucking along as best I can. A call to my doctor is in order for today, and tomorrow I get to go out. I have a doctor’s appointment.

  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear Jan.

    Sorry about your run of bad luck. I stay away from my doctors as much as possible for the reasons stated above.

    Watch out antedepressant make me hungrier. We need extra weight like a hole in the head.

  • Pam Isringhausen

    I totally understand. I got MRSA after a broken leg a couple of years ago which caused fracture blisters. One of the blisters did not heal properly and got MRSA which got into the bone of my little toe resulting in the amputation of the tow.

    Then in January, I had some minor surgery which resulted in the hospital giving another MRSA infection. I have been on antibiotics since January and will remain on the oral antibiotic until 8 weeks after removal of the screws in the foot.

    It concerns me being on an antibiotic for so long because there are so few antibiotics that rid us of the MRSA infection.

    At least one person where I work went to Human Resources to ask if I was contagiouis. that resulted in my being called in and having to ask my doctors to fax in a statement I was not contagious.

  • Bernard Farrell

    Jan

    Sorry to hear about this, what a pain. Thanks for doing a good job of explaining MRSA.

    I keep a container of hand sanitizer in my car for use after I’ve been to the doctor’s office. before I drive off I carefully clean my hands. You can call me paranoid, but I’ve not intention of getting any form of MRSA.

    I hope you can figure out something to kill those superbugs quickly.