Working in healthcare you learn certain things that scare the hell out of you. Certain conditions that come across the pharmacy counter or the auth screen are truly frightening beasties.
MRSA, or methycillin-resistant staph aureus is one of those.
It’s a staph infection gone horribly wrong, and gives the usual spectrum of antibiotics the finger. Only a limited number of drugs still work on it, and the bacteria is constantly adapting.
Two weeks ago I got a phone call from my mom. I knew right away that something was wrong from the tone of her voice.
“Uh, hon- I’m on the way to the doctor. Dad fell off a ladder and we’re going to get him checked out. He’s a little scraped up, but it doesn’t look like there’s anything serious.”
I rushed over to their house and met them when they got back. They were right, there was nothing wrong as far as broken bones or internally, but he WAS pretty scratched up. His knuckles were shredded and there was a particularly nasty gash on the front of his shin. He got cleaned up and rested for a couple of days, and that was that.
A week later, we were getting together for dinner and I noticed that he was limping a little. When he lifted the leg of his pants, the skin was swollen and red, and looked perfectly foul. He went to the doctor again, and got put on a strong antibiotic with something for pain. Tuesday of this week, for Army Boy’s birthday, it appeared that the drug had done its work and he was on the mend.
Early yesterday morning, he woke up in severe pain to find that (those with weak stomachs? skip this sentence) his leg was swollen and the wound was draining. Back to the primary doctor, only to be met with little concern. Yes, it was still infected but they would treat it with another antibiotic. He should keep his weight off it, and after a few doses,” the pain should be less. (Dr- you are a JERK.)
Dad had to miss another day of work, and as the day went on he got feverish and more uncomfortable. Mom finally made the call and took him into the ER.
The doctor took one look at it and expressed the fear that had been lurking in the back of my mind- the infection had progressed to the point of possible MRSA. They took some blood, and started him on a very strong antibiotic via IV. He was admitted last night, and we’re still waiting to hear the results.
It’s difficult to know the ramifications of that diagnosis, and yet still keep calm and reasonable to assure my Mom that we shouldn’t fear the absolute worst until we have a positive culture. I know that he’s exactly where he should be right now- if a diagnosis comes back, the doctors are able to move quickly to an effective treatment plan. The waiting game is just the worst.