Battle of the Bugs

Steph’s back! And so is Staph. I had a bit of blip with my health last week but I’m back on form again. At first, there was concern that it might be the unwelcome return of the superbug, MRSA. As it turns out, I have a nasty Staphylococcus aureus (Staph A) infection in my head but luckily, I have a non-resistant version of this bacterium which is very treatable. The problem I now face is finding a way to effectively eradicate this bug from my system.

It’s just over a year since I had surgery to stamp out a chronic osteomyelitis in my skull which had resulted from an MRSA wound infection following previous surgery. A few months later, I started to develop minor sinus infections and was reassured when laboratory tests showed that I was only positive for the more common form of the Staph aureus bug rather than it’s resistant form, MRSA. This bacterium is commonly found on the skin and in the nose of healthy people but it is not harmful unless it gets into the bloodstream. Approximately 20–30% of the general population are ‘Staph carriers’. I was treated with an sensitive antibiotic but the minor infections still continued to occur. Last November, I developed a nasty infection in my hand which turned out to be another Staph A infection. I was treated aggressively with oral antibiotics for 3 weeks and commenced a 6-month decontamination programme with the application of a topical antibiotic ointment to the inside of my nose. This process would appear to have failed as last week, nasal swabs and blood tests showed that the infection in my head is due to a heavy growth of Staph aureus. This latest development is worrying as it confirms that I am again systemically infected with this bacterium. I have responded well to a tetracycline antibiotic so there is no immediate cause for concern.

The reality is that Staph aureus is everywhere. It may well be that I have just been unlucky to have been contaminated/infected on several different occasions. My own theory is that my immune system has been weakened following intensive antibiotic treatment for MRSA and it has become a breeding ground for opportune bacteria like Staph aureus. The problem now is how to find a way to shake off this damned bug before it gets an even greater hold on my system. I cannot afford to let things go wrong with my head again. My GP has gone away to think about the options over the weekend. If anyone reading this has any knowledge on how best to proceed, I would be eternally grateful for your advice. I intend to win this battle.

When I became generally unwell last week and my head started to hurt, I lost all enthusiasm for blogging. I deserted the blogosphere but it didn’t desert me. My new-found blogging friends reached out and gave me the support and encouragement needed to get back on track. Thanks guys! I’m really, really grateful. Blogging – Yes! it’s the way to go!

24 Responses to Battle of the Bugs

  1. Hi Steph ………… as always …. still here.

    Keep smiling …. keep battling …. and you’ll keep winning.

    Plan that camper van trip!

  2. Steph says:

    Thanks! Paddy

    I feel better already just thinking of adventure! 😀

  3. Grannymar says:

    Hey Steph, Welcome back! Take it easy, you know we have to listen to our bodies!

    Hope there will be room in that camper van for me!

  4. Bendy Girl says:

    Steph, so glad to hear you’re feeling a bit better, if not about the ongoing issue. I wonder, could you ask your GP to contact Prof Howard Bird in Leeds? He’s a double prof in pharmacology as well as rheumatology. As far as I understand things (and I may well be wrong) in some EDS’ers there can be a vulnerability to infection, and an increased difficulty in clearing those infections away. I think it’s linked to the fault in our collagen, but not quite sure how it all works.
    I hope you find a good outcome asap. Love, BG x

  5. Caoimhin says:

    Oh Steph! I’m sorry to hear you are battling a bug again. I wish you all the best and am really glad you are feeling better! 🙂

  6. Oh Steph, so sorry you hear you’ve been hit again – but I’m glad you’re also feeling better. Do you, or have you ever considered, supplementing allopathic treatment with another form of medicine? I ask because I’ve had huge success being treated by Traditional Chinese Medicine – herbs and acunpunture, which aims to strengthen and balance my system, getting, as it were, to the root of the “energy” imbalance that causes illness etc in the first place. I’d be happy to chat about it with you if you want to email me.

  7. aquaasho says:

    Aw Steph, you’ve really been through it. Glad to hear you’re feeling a bit more on form.

  8. Baino says:

    Heya Steph . . I agree, I think you’re poor immune system’s copped a hammering over the past 12 months. If only there was a pill that could help us build our immune system. All I can find is advice on a healthy diet, plenty of rest and moderate exercise. (Seems to cure everything!)

  9. Steph says:

    Ooh! Thanks everyone – I’m feeling spoilt now!

    Grannymar – there’ll always be room for you! Can you map read as well as cook delicious meals?

    BG – you could well be right. I long for the day when a doc says “yep, seen this before”. EDS’ers seem to do everything differently. I’ve sometimes been told by docs that I wouldn’t be alive except for antibiotics but you have to wonder at the massive problems they’ve also caused.

    CAO – set-backs are so commonplace for me, we as a family, barely blink at them these days. This last one was different though because the implications are almost worse than the illness itself. I don’t like that sense of losing control.

    AV – welcome back! Over the years, I’ve tried everything going (including Chinese medicine) but still things go wrong. I find the best way to stay well is to try to maintain stability in my life by avoiding stress, eating a healthy diet and generally living life sensibly (well, sort of!). I happen to believe that fresh air is the best weapon against many ills.

    Aisling – no worries – I’m a tough cookie really. When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

  10. Steph says:

    Ah, Baino – Hi!

    You and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to a ‘cure all’. You forgot the vino though 😉

  11. Knipex says:


    I am surprised to hear that they was confining the use of topical antiseptics to your nasal area. The groin, armpits, feet and between your fingers are all potential sites for colonisation.

  12. Steph says:

    Hi Knipex

    Interesting you should say that. You wouldn’t believe (or maybe you would!) the conflicting decontamination advice I’ve received over the years. When I ended up in the MRSA isolation unit (2 months post-diagnosis) I was given a special shampoo and a bodywash. A nurse just casually told me to use it and nobody ever asked about it again so I gave up using it when I left the unit. While in the unit, I developed soreness between my toes and was given some cream to ease it. I was also bombarded with a combination of IV antibiotics x 4 weeks. My MRSA recurred some 10 months later and while I was treated long-term with oral antibiotics, I was actually told not to worry about decontamination!

    When the Staph A infection bubbled up in my hand last November, I was prescribed Flucloxacillin 500mg (8 capsules a day x 3 weeks) plus 6 month use of Bactroban in my nostrils. By January, I’d developed a nasty dermatitis on my scalp which has failed to improve with any treatment, including steroid treatment. Recently, I’ve developed a red rash in my armpits and groin and itchy toes again and a dermatologist prescribed steroid ointments/medicated shampoo to treat. I told her about Staph A problems but no interest was shown! She felt that I was developing psoriasis as there is a strong family history of same.

    I did some research into Staph A over the weekend and low and behold, atopic dermatitis of scalp, armpits and groin is mentioned. I intend to tackle my GP on this issue this week. It would be great if there was one solution to fix all!

  13. Knipex says:


    The problem is the lack of consensus among the medical community about the treatment of these infections. Even some microbiologists fail to keep up with the medical literature so what hope do GP’s have ??

    I am lucky in that I get paid to keep some way up to date with what is happening and every time I meet with microbiologists I try to milk them for information. Even among this group there is some lack of consensus but this is improving. Over the last 2 to 5 years the thinking on these infections and how they are treated and prevented has undergone radical rethinking. Even the role of the environment was not recognised 5 or 6 years ago.

    I am surprised though that your GP did not recognise the significant of the rash on your feet , armpits and groin. The antibacterial body wash is a key component of decolonisation but there is some debate as to the importance of this. Personally my thinking is that it should be eliminated at least while you are on antibiotics.

  14. Harry says:

    Hope the antibiotics have kicked in now, must have been quite a shock waiting to see if it’s MRSA again.

    All the best, Harry.

  15. Steph says:

    Harry – you hit the nail on the head!

    Once you’ve had a recurrence of MRSA, it’s hard not to think the worst when a similar type illness strikes. This infection bore a horrible resemblance to the last time I had a recurrence out of the blue. The fact that you have to wait a minimum of 48 hours for laboratory analysis doesn’t help much either. This time the antibiotic had already begun to kick-in before the result came through so I was fairly confident it wasn’t a highly resistant bug.

    My GP phoned this evening – he’d contacted a microbiologist today to discuss my case and plans are afoot to decontaminate Steph/Staph 😀

  16. Melissia says:

    Dear Steph,
    As you well know I also tend to have my issues with staph and am currently on a treatment of doxycline’ and rifampin for recurrent MRSA. Interestingly, when not specifically ill with an identified bug this seems to work the best as well and and cultures that I do have done also come up with either staph epi, staph a. or MRSA infections. Might be worth a try and is a common treatment here in the US.

  17. Steph says:

    Hi Melissia

    Good to hear from you again!

    I’m currently on Doxycycline and have spent long periods on it over the years, though never in combination with Rifampicin.

    I was originally treated with Rifampicin in combination with IV Teicoplanin and also in combination with Zyvox orally once IV treatments were stopped.

    At present, I’m awaiting the advice of a consultant microbiologist to see what’s best practice here in Ireland. I’ll keep you posted.

  18. Nora says:

    Dear Steph,

    If you are open to getting rid of MRSA and the other staphs naturally- contact Cynthia Tait at Whole Health Associates in Houston.
    They have had success helping people get rid of mrsa and we are currently working with her regarding this.

    Best of luck and healing,

  19. Steph says:

    Welcome! Nora

    Thanks for your well wishes. I think I do a pretty good job of my own in ensuring that I live a healthy lifestyle. I’m lucky in that I can choose to eat a healthy diet, to take regular exercise and to enjoy plenty of fresh air. Many people don’t have this choice.

    I suspect that my immune system has been altered by the intensive antibiotics used to treat the MRSA infection and I await blood tests to confirm or deny this. I’m a great believer that given the right conditions, the body will usually heal itself but on this occasion I may need a little extra help.

  20. cari says:

    Hi there!
    I just read a little bit here, so I apologize I am not all the way up to speed on everything you are going thru. It sounds like you have really been through a LOT! 😦
    One question I wanted to ask you, is have you heard of a product called ‘staphwash?’ (I found it on a website called
    I don’t know if, at this point, with everything you have been going thru, if this would really help you or not. From what I have read about the product, the active ingredient that is supposed to help, is ‘hypochlorite’ (along with other ingredients as well.) Anyway- the way it knocks out the staph, is in a different way then antibiotics do. It doesn’t weaken the staph, it steals its electrons, therefore knocking it out completely. (I hope I described that correctly.) Check out this website which shows an actual patient’s lesion, and what happened step by step, as this product was applied:

    This may or may not help you. I just thought I would share, since I just found out about this, and intend on trying it out, to see if it helps.

    -But I have been using it on my little one, who has had a bout with a MRSA boil.
    He had what looked like the beginning stages of another boil, and I applied this, and so far, seems to be helping a lot. I hope it wasn’t just coincidence. I want to know if this actually helps or not. It seems like it does.
    Thank you for your time! 🙂

  21. Steph says:

    Hi! Cari

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

    Carolyn’s story certainly sounds impressive but then you’ve got to ask – if ‘Staphwash’ is such an impressive product, why isn’t it in use in every hospital?

    I place my trust in my doctor to find the best treatment for me but that doesn’t mean that I don’t question what treatments are on offer and make sure that I’m as well-informed as possible. Frankly, I only take advice from those whom I trust. There are too many people out there waiting to make a fast buck out of other people’s misery.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  22. James Pate says:

    Steph said “impressive,but then you’ve got to ask – if “StaphWash” is such an impressive product, why isn’t itin use in every hospital?”
    StaphWash was released for sales on April 3rd of 2007. So, it’s still a new product on the market.
    And, yes it is beyound belive!!!! We have a lot of test proving 100% kill on contact. All so, killing the Staph/MRSA bacteria with in 30 seconds. We have a lot of science to back up our claims.

  23. Steph says:

    Sorry guys – no advertising is permitted on this blog hence I’ve removed your offer.

  24. […] represents the outside world, a world which crumples at my feet each time illness strikes. The battle of the bugs […]

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