Memory Lane

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This day last year, I boarded a Ryanair flight to Nottingham with a bag packed with enough things to last for six weeks. I had no idea how long I’d be away and yet I only had one spare set of clothes packed. This was no holiday. I was en route to an NHS hospital to undergo major surgery on my skull.

I had travelled over to Nottingham a few weeks earlier for a pre-op assessment and was therefore permitted to present myself for admission on the day of the operation. Because of my history of recurrent MRSA infection, I had also undergone a thorough screening process in Ireland in the weeks leading up to the surgery and had received the requisite all-clear. I was warned however, that if any active MRSA infection was found in my skull during the operation, I would have to remain in the UK for long-term intensive IV treatment.

My husband and I booked into a little hotel in the city centre the day before surgery and shortly afterwards, set off on a walking tour of Nottingham. We found an open-air music festival in progress in central square and sat in the late afternoon sunshine to enjoy the music and dancing. Knowing that we had a very early start the following day, we opted to eat in a lovely little French cafe/bar which we’d spotted on our walk. We had a delicious meal and I well remember sipping my wine that evening and thinking how surreal the whole situation felt. So far, so good anyhow – our wind-down for the ‘big’ day was going well. We returned to the hotel and having prepared everything for a quick departure in the morning, we hopped into bed early hoping for a good night’s sleep. I had taken the precaution of bringing sleeping tablets to make sure that both of us crashed out that night. We did but not for very long. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to turn my mobile phone to silent and about an hour later, we were both woken from a deep sleep by my phone bleeping. It was a message from a relative, wishing me well for the following day. A kind gesture but by now I was wide awake and couldn’t get back to sleep. I lay there for hours thinking about what lay ahead and eventually decided to give up on sleep and instead treat myself to a final brew of coffee. I had been asked to fast from food and drink from 4am onwards so there I was at 3am, feasting on a breakfast bar and a delicious mug of strong coffee. I was ready to depart for the hospital at least two hours ahead of schedule.

It was a long day but all went well, apparently. I can’t remember much of it. The surgery on my skull took about four hours to complete and I was patched back together with 59 staples across the top of my head. The following morning the surgeon appeared at my bedside and informed me that during the surgery, three separate abscesses had been found in the front of my skull. If any of them tested positive for MRSA, I was there for the long haul. He also told me that my hair had been washed and dried at the end of the operation as it was matted with blood. I remember having a good laugh about this and asking if there would be an extra charge for his hair dressing service. He then proceeded to pull a drain out of my skull which I hadn’t even realised was there.Β  My head was very heavily bandaged and felt completely numb following the surgery but I will never forget the sound and the sensation of having that drain removed. It was horrible. However, I really didn’t care about anything much at that stage as it was such a relief to have the operation safely over. The next day the surgeon came back into my room with a big smile on his face and announced that the lab reports had all come back showing the bone specimens to be sterile. No MRSA was found. I would be free to go home as soon as I was well enough to travel.

I arrived back in Ireland, albeit in a bucket, just in time for the arrival of summer. Last year we had hot, sunny weather for the whole month of April and then it seemed to rain on and off for the rest of the summer. The sunshine proved to be the best get well present ever and to me, it’s still shining. You see, the MRSA infection which had dominated my life for two years, has never returned.

Tomorrow, Monday marks exactly one year since that operation. Writing this post has been a real trip down memory lane but now, as I’m sure you’ll be relieved to hear, the time has come to lay this story to rest. Rest in Peace, MRSA. I bid you farewell.

18 Responses to Memory Lane

  1. Baino says:

    Hey! I’m first up (that’s because it’s a public holiday of course!) Congratulations Steph on both the recovery and washing that MRSA out of your hair and sending it on its way!

  2. Bendy Girl says:

    What an incredible journey. I’m so pleased to hear you are still all clear. I hope this doesn’t mean you’ll stop blogging though?! BG x

  3. Grannymar says:

    Delighted that journey is now over for you. πŸ˜€

    Welcome to your new beginning and the new Steph!

  4. Steph says:

    Thanks, Baino, BG and Grannymar.

    Baino – one of the worst bits of the recovery was the fact that I wasn’t allowed to wash my hair for weeks so I can tell you, I was very grateful for that all-inclusive wash and blow dry. I still get regular sinus infections but my new skull anatomy has been designed so that the bugs have nowhere to hide!

    BG – yes, it was an incredible journey but thankfully, it’s behind me now and it’s time to move on. I don’t think I could ever stop blogging as I can’t keep my mouth shut but I may consider changing my blog persona. Life without blogging – never!

    GM – I like the idea of the new Steph πŸ˜†

    I’m a great believer in finding ways to celebrate ‘life’ because if you don’t bother, no-one else is gonna do it for you. I’ve never been good at conforming to the norm so tend to ignore all commercially dictated celebrations and create my own when the mood is right. Hence Pancake Tuesday in our house can be on any day of the week we like! And that’s exactly why we had our Christmas pud on St. Patrick’s Day!

  5. Grannymar says:

    Redecorate the bed above.. Satin sheets etc., πŸ˜†

    I’ll be watching!

  6. Congrats on reaching this milestone Steph ….

  7. Ian says:

    Isn’t the term for recurrent MRSA ‘colonised’?

    Congratulations on celebrating the first anniversary of independence day!

  8. Steph says:

    Thanks! Paddy

    Onwards and upwards!

    Ian – thanks and now that you mention it, I do feel kinda liberated πŸ™‚

    Anyone who is confused about the difference between MRSA colonisation and infection, can read all about it below.

    https://biopsy.wordpress.com/2007/10/20/confused-about-mrsa/

  9. Harry says:

    Great post Steph, one of your best IMO!

    I sincerely hope that the MRSA is gone for good. With regards to the night before an operation, I think your past experience shows as I’d be a complete wreck in that situation.

    And 59 staples?!? Ouch.

  10. Steph says:

    Thanks! Harry

    You’re right – for me, going into hospital is no big deal any more. I don’t need my hand held. I remember a surgeon once dissolving into laughter with his anaesthetist when I told them I’d travelled alone by train to the hospital that morning, a matter of hours before undergoing a big op! On the day I was admitted in Nottingham, we hopped on the first bus of the morning and arrived at the hospital feeling relaxed and well-chilled.

    As regards the 59 staples – luckily the top of my head was so numb, I couldn’t feel them at all. When they were removed, the nurse insisted I brought them home as a souvenir and my daughter counted them for me. We only had 58 originally and then another one appeared out of the mire and I had to go back to get it taken out! That one was ouch!

  11. Ian says:

    Thanks for the gentle correction, πŸ˜‰

  12. Steph says:

    Hi again, Ian

    I hope you’ve done your homework! πŸ˜‰

  13. Nonny says:

    That is really great Steph. Well done, another milestone for you. You’d really think they’d get their act together with the whole MRSA business. What are they doing to rid hospitals of it?

  14. Steph says:

    Cheers! Nonny

    The answer to your question is…

    Don’t go into hospital unless you’ve absolutely no other choice. And if you do end up in hospital, get the hell out of there as quickly as you’re well enough. Hospitals are dangerous places to be when you’re sick. Many people don’t have a choice, sadly – take cystic fibrosis patients for example and just look at the recent controversy over the conditions they endure. MRSA will never be eradicated as long as antibiotics continue to be used so it’s up to everyone to BE MORE AWARE! I don’t wish to be a scaremonger in this regard but people do need to wake-up and take responsibility for their own safety ‘cos no-one else is gonna do it for them.

  15. What an incredible journey you’ve been on, Steph – and so, so very glad you’ve washed that dreaded MRSA out of your life.

  16. Steph says:

    AV – Thank-you! πŸ˜€

    So far, so good. Fingers crossed!

  17. Laura says:

    That’s such good news and so well told. You have made my day even if I am late catching up on the news. Your an inspiration.

  18. Steph says:

    Thank you! Laura. I’m positively beaming πŸ˜€

    I take that as a huge compliment especially as it comes from someone who has a much more interesting story to tell. You give me the inspiration to blog!

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