A Lonely Journey – Part 3

June 2, 2007

MRSA: Major Resistance to Staying Alone! My story continues…

Part 3: The Diagnosis

Shortly after I was moved to a single room, a young woman entered the room and introduced herself as being from ‘infection control’. She had come to break the news that the nasal swab taken in A&E had tested positive for MRSA. To put it mildly, I was gobsmacked!

My mind went into overdrive as I tried to rationalise this news. “She must have made a mistake.” “This can’t be happening.” “Surely MRSA is something that happens to other people.”

It had never even crossed my mind that I might have an MRSA infection and certainly, nobody had mentioned it since my admission. I knew enough about MRSA however to know instinctively on hearing this news that the implications for me, following the recent surgery close to my brain, could be very serious indeed.

My ‘informer’ continued to trot out general infection control information while all I desperately wanted to hear was information relative to my own condition. She could not give me this. All she could tell me was that I was now considered an infection risk to other people and therefore must be isolated and ‘barrier nursed’ from that moment on. I was in effect, to become a prisoner in this new room. She departed leaving behind a general information leaflet on MRSA. No reassurance was given, nothing.

I was left alone in this room with endless opportunity for my mind to run amok. I remember lying there thinking “Help! what does all this mean?” “Is it really serious?” “How do I tell my family and my friends?” “Will they be able to visit me?” In the hours that followed I felt very alone, and somewhat ashamed. The word leper springs to mind.

Someone appeared in my doorway wearing a face mask, a surgical apron and gloves and proceeded to place a large bin in the room bearing an illuminous sticker proclaiming “Danger – infection control.” No words were exchanged. The door to my room was also labelled with an equally alarming sticker “Do not Enter – Barrier Nursing – contact Nurses Station.”

By this stage, my emotions were all over the place. No reassuring visit came from any nurse/doctor – I was left for several hours totally on my own, to my own imagination as to what might follow. This should never have happened and in hindsight, I can see that maybe if I’d made more of a fuss, someone would have come to my rescue. I think I was too terrified at the time to make my views known. After a long wait, someone finally did arrive from the surgical team that I’d come to know at the hospital and I have to admit that from then on, my care was good.

It’s been a long hard road since. MRSA infection did result in having very serious consequences for me (see below). These days I’m better informed about MRSA but I will never, ever forget the loneliness of those first few hours of my MRSA journey. I have not contacted any of the various support groups as I feel that I’ve developed my own coping strategies over the years. It is a real luxury to have this outlet in which to air my views. I welcome comments.