It all started with one painful little boil on my forehead. It looked like a bite from a spider. But I had my suspicions. ‘Was it MRSA?’ I had heard a lot about it in the news. MRSA or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections are caused by staph bacteria that have evolved and developed resistance to common antibiotic treatments.
Along with the boil, I also had a fever. This meant that if I did have MRSA, it had probably gotten into my lungs and could result in pneumonia or a host of other complications. Besides, I was an asthma patient and my immune system wasn’t the strongest. I seemed to be a prime case for a serious infection.
I headed to the hospital and was subjected to a skin inspection and a tissue sample test. The test was positive. I was infected! By now, I had developed a cough and my fever had only gotten higher. After a further battery of tests, I was diagnosed as having pneumonia. The bacteria had managed to get into my vulnerable lungs.
I was isolated and placed in a room all by myself. My parents were called, but unfortunately, when they arrived, the doctor informed them that it was best I stay isolated for a couple of days at least. I was put on a course of heavy-duty, intravenous antibiotics. But things didn’t get better very soon. The next day the right side of my face was swollen and the sore had gotten bigger. I had to have a surgery to open up the sore and clean it out.
The whole ordeal lasted four weeks – two weeks in the hospital and a two-week antibiotic course at home. I still have a small scar on the right side of my forehead. Since then, I have become extremely cautious when it comes to hygiene. I wash my hands often with soap. I take care to avoid cuts and abrasions, and am very careful when it comes to physical contact with others. I also keep my surroundings clean and regularly sanitize my keyboard, phone, doorknobs and anything else that comes in contact with bare skin.
These precautions are especially important because recurring MRSA infections are a common theme in many patients’ experiences of the disease. For them, MRSA has turned routine procedures like an appendectomy into a possible danger zone because of the risk of infection. I consider myself lucky. I haven’t had a repeat bout since the infection in May 2012.