Do Not Enter

I had a great bit of fun last week on my last night in the A&E department. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years of being admitted to hospital, it’s to use humour to get through difficult situations. This time, it really helped me through a potential emotional meltdown. I won out in the end too!

Those of you who’ve read this blog before, will know that I have a past history of MRSA infection and although I am clear of this horribly resistant bacteria, I’m still regularly stigmatised by it when in hospital. On this occasion, on admission to A&E, I was carefully questioned about my MRSA status and swabs were taken for analysis. A very kind ward manager found me a bed rather than a trolley and it was pushed into a little side room to ‘protect’ the other patients in case the swabs came back MRSA positive.

The side room had four walls, a bed, one chair and a door. No television, nothing. No en suite either which means that potentially infective patients use the same facilities as everyone else. As I was only a ‘suspected’ carrier of MRSA, no restrictions were placed on my movements around a very busy A&E department. On the third night, I came out of the side room to find a new sign on the door… “Do not enter, please contact staff desk first”. My immediate reaction to this was “Help! My swabs must have come back positive”. I went back into the room and lay down on the bed in despair. That’s when the fury hit. “How dare they put up this sign without first informing me of a change in status!”. I was tired and in danger of losing my cool. Humour was called for. I sat up and carefully made a sign which proclaimed “Enter at own risk, I bite!” and using a sticking plaster from my handbag, I stuck it to outside of the door below the other sign. About 30 mins later, a night nurse stormed into the room and asked if I was responsible for the sign. I smiled back at her cheekily and replied,  “two can play at your game you know. Nobody consulted me about the restrictions placed so I didn’t consult you”.  I demanded to know if my MRSA status had changed. She replied that it hadn’t and admitted that they were playing safe. She then left the room clearly annoyed. I chuckled to myself in victory.

Shortly afterwards, she returned with a smile.  “You win”, she said.  We’ve taken both signs down now”.

raffle ticket

The following morning, I left the room briefly and on my return, my bed and all my belongings had disappeared. Nobody could tell me what was going on but I was hopeful it might be a sign I was about to be transferred to a ward. Another patient was wheeled into the side room and my bed was eventually found in the middle of the department, lined up with trolleys all groaning with patients. Later that day, I was informed that I was to be moved to a ward and as you can imagine, this news came as a huge relief.

The swab reports came back negative on my fourth day in the hospital. Phew! If I’d tested positive, it would’ve compromised my treatment and also meant that I’d been infective to others in the hospital, for a full four days. Countries like Holland, which has brought MRSA contamination under control in the hospitals, must laugh so hard at the Irish interpretation of  infection control.

17 Responses to Do Not Enter

  1. Grannymar says:

    Boo Hoo! I am not allowed in! 😦

  2. Steph says:

    Grannymar – Stop moaning 😉 I’m not sure you would have wanted in that night as I might have bitten your head off. If I hadn’t put up that sign, I think I was at high risk of going into meltdown.

  3. Baino says:

    That’s ludicrous. Four days for a swab test result. And you’re right, if you can move around at will that’s hardly ‘isolation’ What if you had been infected. Honestly, beggars belief sometimes.

  4. Steph says:

    Baino – The type of MRSA screening test used in Ireland generally takes 48 hours to get a result. I suspect, the reason my results took double that time on this occasion is because I was admitted on a Friday afternoon so the analysis of my swabs did not start until Monday! I overheard the docs discussing storing samples over the weekend.

    There is a rapid MRSA screening test available…

    The rapid test returns very accurate results in a matter of hours. It costs more to use than the standard screening method but in the bigger picture, has to be a cost-saver. Look at all the cross-infection that could be avoided!

    “Laboratory screening for MRSA is a complex balance between turn around time, performance (sensitivity, specificity), ease of use, and cost”.

    It appears, the HSE is too short-sighted to look beyond the initial cost.

  5. Geri Atric says:


    Leavy suburb of The Hague,
    The Netherlands.

  6. Geri Atric says:

    You are right Steph. MRSA etc., does seem to be tackled more efficiently over here in Holland. Insurance systems seem more efficient too; i.e., we can ‘build’ or adapt our medical insurance ‘packet’, if so desired. For example; women over the menapause obviously don’t need maternity insurance, so can exclude it from their packet and pay less premium). Everyone pays for the country’s health system. The compulsary basic packet comes in at just under 100 euros per month per adult (and gaurantees excellent health care and minimum waiting times) and there are all manner of ‘comfort’ grades above that, according to choice. I have a ‘Comfort Policy’, which provides for more physiotherapy and a higher dental and prosthetics (e.g. glasses) coverage, etc.. and the system also allows me to claim a contribution to my monthly premium costs, off the Tax Man! Everyone can -although amounts vary according to income.
    Oops, I appear to have rambled off the point, sorry! (Time for a coffee…)
    Glad you are feeling better Steph.

  7. Steph says:

    Geri – I’ll be on the next flight to Schiphol!

  8. Annb says:

    Well done Steph – I know only too well how important humour can be when you’re up against it! I’m off to London today our form E112 came up trumps we’ve got an apt. tomorrow in Barts with a feeding expert. Haven’t had time to blog our broadband’s been out thanks to Eircom hackers! Fingers crossed we can unlock the mystery of our little mister’s feeding aversion! Hope your recovery is progressing well. Take great care we’ll be back by wkend with loads of news – I hope!!
    Big hugs from Galway

  9. Steph says:

    Ann – Best of luck in London! I’m thrilled to hear that bit of good news from you. I look forward to the day when I hear you say that you can’t stop that little man from stuffing his face 😀

    I’m hoping to make it to Notts next week for a 6-week check-up with the UK surgeon. I saw my Irish surgeon today for the first time post-op (he’s been away) and he was fascinated by the new anatomy in my head. I told him I’ll be charging for viewing soon!

  10. Bah humbug to MRSA ….

  11. Steph says:

    Paddy – It’s a great relief to be rid of that damned MRSA from my system but the stigma remains, thanks to a lack of education in infection control.

  12. Hmm, this MRSA doesn’t have vampirism as a side effect, does it – or rabies? 😉
    So glad your sense of humour prevailed, Steph, sometimes it’s the only way through a thing. Especially when the thing concerned is the Irish “health” system.

  13. Annb says:

    Hi There Steph,
    Just sending warm hugs from us here on the western front. We’re all hoping your sense of humour and bug fighting cells are holding the upper hand in this current battle. May the force be with you for a speedy recovery.

  14. Steph says:

    AV – I’m back. Will explain shortly.

    Ann – I’m glad someone still loves me after my long silence 😉

    This is my first contact with the ‘real’ world in 8/9 days. All will be explained

  15. Annb says:

    What a relief – you’ve made my weekend. Please continue to take good care of yourself. Looking forward to the explanation when you feel up to it. Am lifting a glass to your fortitude as I type. Rock on Steph!

  16. Grannymar says:

    Take your time Steph! All we need at the moment is to know you are on level ground once more and back in touch.

  17. Steph says:

    Ann – I’m on a gin & tonic diet. I’ve missed 16 days already! 😀

    Grannymar – I’m on the 4th floor actually 😉

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