Well, my check-up in the UK went great yesterday. The surgeon was happy enough and as long as he’s happy, I’m happy. It’s 10 weeks exactly since the surgery to remove a large section (anterior wall of both frontal sinuses) of the frontal bone of my skull. My head was opened from ear to ear (I’ve a very fancy zig-zag scar across top of head) to gain access to the area. This frontal bone was chronically infected following years of recurrent frontal sinus infection which had been complicated by MRSA.
I had a repeat operation performed in July 2005 and subsequently developed cellulitis around both eyes post-op which turned out to be an MRSA infection. I was to have several more admissions to hospital during that summer (each time going through the A&E ordeal) for treatment with IV antibiotics specific to the treatment of MRSA. I also sadly had to have the stent removed from my skull as it was thought to be a possible source of infection (all in-dwelling catheters are suspect when MRSA strikes). By the end of September of that year, I was still on powerful oral antibiotics but was feeling no better and pus continued to discharge from my head. Blood tests showed that my liver function tests were abnormal, the inflammatory factor (CRP) was too high and I also had developed significantly raised blood pressure. A CT scan revealed that chronic osteomyelitis had developed in the frontal bone of my skull and so I was re-admitted to the hospital (back to A&E again!) but this time I ended up in the MRSA ‘unit’ for intensive IV treatment. This isolation unit proved to be a total nightmare of a place but the treatment received there finally stamped out the infection and four weeks later I emerged delighted to be free, not only from the hospital but free of MRSA as well – or so everyone thought…
Almost a year later (August 2006), an aggressive frontal sinus infection recurred and the pus again tested positive for MRSA. I was gutted. I began to feel that I’d never be rid of the damned superbug! Again I underwent prolonged treatment with powerful antibiotics until I tested negative for MRSA but by Christmas the chronic pain had recurred and a new CT scan revealed that the frontal bone had deteriorated further. This time the bone was described as ‘moth eaten’ (a process that happens when bone dies) and there was evidence of new areas of infection as well. It was at this point that I was referred to the UK, to consult a world-renowned frontal sinus surgeon, as all avenues of treatment available in Ireland (both surgical and non-surgical) had been tried, and had failed. This surgeon recommended a highly specialised procedure (Riedel) to remove all the infected bone. This type of extensive surgery is only performed as a last resort as it results in a cosmetic defect post-operatively but it is a highly effective way to eradicate all frontal sinus disease. I had the operation in March in an NHS hospital and it appears to have been very successful. While the procedure has resulted in some facial disfigurement, this pales into insignificance when compared with the second chance I’ve been given.
Today really does feel like the first day of the rest of my life!