MRSA is a nasty form of Staph infection, and people with weak immune systems are at a greater risk of contracting the infection. People with Cancer, AIDS or HIV, or SCID are at a particular risk. I contracted MRSA in the hospital while I was being treated for cancer. It is an absolutely horrifying experience because many strains of Staph are now drug resistant.
What is MRSA? MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. According to the CDC, most MRSA infections in the community are skin infections, while most MRSA infections in medical facilities are life threatening, because they cause bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, and pneumonia. This particular type of staph infection is so dangerous because it is resistant to so many antibiotics. Studies reported by the CDC show that 33 percent of people carry staph infection in their nose, and carriers can show no signs of infection, while spreading it to others. This is especially dangerous for those with a weakened immune system.
How MRSA Is Spread: I was in the hospital and very ill. For months, it looked like I would lose my battle with cancer. My immune system was basically nonexistent. While I was in the hospital, I was infected with MRSA after an abdominal surgery. Exactly how I was infected has never been discovered, although I believe it was by a CNA who was in training and did not properly wash her hands or wear gloves. It’s very difficult to demand that a CNA or nurse wear gloves or wash their hands when you are completely out of it after surgery. The really horrible thing is that most, if not all of these infections, can be prevented by using proper sanitary procedures. I went through pain, infection, and months of dealing with an open wound (which is very painful) because someone didn’t take the time to wash their hands in between rooms.
According to the CDC, MRSA is spread in medical settings by direct contact with an infected wound or improper hand washing. The CDC also states that people who carry the infection can unknowingly infect others. If you are a caregiver of a person with a weak immune system, wash your hands often and thoroughly. If a nurse, doctor, CNA, or any other person enters the patients room, demand that they wash their hands with hot water and antibacterial soap. Never share personal items such as towels, razors, or toothbrushes. MRSA infections can and do kill.
What Are the Symptoms of MRSA? If you are unfortunate enough to contract MRSA in the hospital, you can experience varying symptoms. I experienced a serious infection at the site of my surgical incision. I had a terrible fever, pain, and my wound would not heal. I developed ARDS or acute respiratory distress syndrome after aspirating during the surgery. I’m not sure if the pneumonia that I developed was from MRSA or from the fluid in my lungs from throwing up. I was very sick. So ill, in fact, that much of my time in the hospital is hazy. I was on very powerful antibiotics, a respirator, and dialysis. My incision went from above my belly button to below my waist line. For almost four months, the wound would not heal and turned a yellowish, green color. Honestly, it was absolutely disgusting. I thought it would never heal.
When I was allowed to go home, a home health care professional came to change my dressings on my wound every single day. She was wonderful and taught me how to care for the incision, deal with the pain, and even showed me how to apply a dressing that provided enough padding that I could wear slacks or sweatpants. I had to be diligent about my personal hygiene, to make sure not to spread the infection to my children. I washed my hands so much they felt chapped.When my wound finally healed, it left a very wide scar that is still tender to the touch two years later. MRSA is an ugly infection that is difficult to treat.
Above All: If you don’t remember anything else about MRSA, just remember that it can be deadly, it is preventable, and those with weakened immune systems are highly susceptible. Demand that health care professionals wash their hands and use gloves every single time they enter your loved ones room. It could save their life.