Coping with the Diagnosis

July 7, 2007

So where were you in August 2005? I know where I was – I was on a lonely journey in hospital, locked away in a tiny little isolation room having just received a diagnosis of MRSA infection.

The surgeon who had operated on my head, arrived in my room some hours after I’d been told of the MRSA diagnosis. I couldn’t help but laugh as this was the first time I’d seen him wearing the now mandatory gear of barrier nursing (a plastic apron and rubber gloves) but this light-heartedness was short lived. He was clearly shocked by this new development in my infection status. This took me by surprise as I was used to him always being a step ahead and ready for any challenge. I knew then that my instincts had proved correct and that I now had a serious battle on my hands. I had a rampaging wound infection on my forehead following intricate surgery close to my brain and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that the implications of this could be very serious indeed. My surgeon was very reassuring but his disbelief at my diagnosis unsettled me. In fact everyone who came into my room that evening looked at me anxiously and I found myself trying to reassure them to ease the tension.

I didn’t get much sleep that night. I had been commenced on a new regime of IV antibiotics, the main one being Teicoplanin which I was told was the ‘gold star’ of medication to overcome methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. I tossed and turned throughout the night due to a combination of physical and psychological discomfort. I knew I was in good hands – especially so following a visit from a very kindly consultant microbiologist who’d been called in late at night to supervise my treatment – but I could still sense the aura of concern that hung over my head.

In the early hours of the morning I found myself humming the Monty Python tune “Always look on the bright side of life!” and soon my spirits lifted. I knew I’d found the key to getting through the coming days. I set about making a large sign for the door to my room bearing the above words and accompanied by a 😀 I felt defiant. No super bug was going to get the better of me! Over the following 24 hours, my infection began to respond to the new antibiotics and everyone who entered my room that day did so with a large smile/humming that tune. Even the paper lady used to sing the tune as she made her way down the corridor each morning. That sign achieved more than I could ever have imagined and to this day I still get comments about it.