Yellowland

The colour yellow tends to have negative connotations. Traditionally, it’s been associated with cowardice and deceit. In hospitals, the colour yellow is used to indicate an infection control risk. Last week, Steph’s hospital chart was awarded another bright yellow sticker.

Yes, you guessed right… I’m infected with MRSA again! 

I’ve been fighting a constant battle with recurrent infections in my head since Christmas. Antibiotics gave temporary relief but the infection repeatedly recurred, accompanied by nasty headaches. Two weeks ago, I requested a hospital appointment to get nasal swabs taken and analysed. Shortly afterwards, I was informed that I was indeed MRSA positive. The prosthetic implant which was inserted into my nasal septum last November, was thought to be the source of the infection.

Pacemakers, artificial heart valves, catheters and many other surgical implants commonly become contaminated with bacterial biofilms. The longer a contaminated device remains in the body, the greater the risk of antimicrobial resistance developing. As my infection had been confirmed MRSA positive, I was advised to have the implant removed as soon as possible. Following consultation with my surgeon in Notts, the decision was taken to remove the prosthetic implant.

Sign on door to Steph’s room at the hospital

Last Tuesday, I was admitted to hospital as a day case and nursed in isolation while the prosthetic implant was removed under sedation. This involved another trip to the operating theatre but on this occasion, I remained conscious throughout. When you are MRSA positive, you’re last in the line for everything so as to minimise the risk of cross infection.

When the call finally came, I was whisked directly into an operating theatre, transferred onto the operating table and attached to the various monitors before being given intravenous sedation. I expected to be knocked out by the sedation but far from it. I was able to continue a conversation with the surgeon and anaesthetist while the implant was being yanked from my head. It felt a bit like having a wisdom tooth removed except that it was from my nose rather than my jaw. I was then wheeled straight back to my isolation room to sleep off the effects of the sedation before being discharged home.

It was hoped that the prosthetic implant would remain in place for at least two years to maintain healing of my septum. Instead, less than three months later, the implant now sits in a specimen container while I await further assessment. My head feels a great deal more comfortable now that the source of infection has been removed. What happens next, is anyone’s guess.

I may be labelled yellow… but I ain’t no coward. MRSA watch out!

13 Responses to Yellowland

  1. magnumlady says:

    Aw Steph, you poor thing. Hope you get well soon x

    • Steph says:

      Val – Good to hear from you.

      I’m fine, don’t worry. My head was oozing with infection for weeks but now that the implant is gone, I can breathe easily again.

      It’s more a case that the recurrence of MRSA is unsettling as it poses a challenge for any future surgery, and particularly should I require joint replacement surgery in years to come.

      I could use some reassurance in this regard.

      • magnumlady says:

        Well we have had our fair share of hospital but no one contracted MRSA….not even my dad who had two hip replacements. So let’s hope should you need further surgery in the future you won’t get it again.

  2. Achelois says:

    Steph, you always explain everything in such a logical almost clinical style and I know I have said this before albeit a while back, behind all this, you must be fed up, scared and in pain. I just wish for miracles for you that you will wake up and everything will just be fine. So I will carry on wishing. Take care of yourself Steph. I am thinking of you.

    • Steph says:

      Achelois – Thanks for dropping by. I didn’t think I’d have any followers left having neglected my blog so much in recent months. We’ve been having major re-construction works done on our house (due to subsidence) since mid-November and peace and quiet has been sadly lacking. Almost there though…

      I admit to feeling somewhat unsettled by this recent set-back. The headaches and infection were one thing but the implications of MRSA returning are hard to swallow. Having had 4 separate recurrences since I was initially diagnosed in 2005, I’m left wondering where/when it’ll all end. As a result of all the IV treatment I’ve had over the years (approx 25 years), I’ve developed acute allergic reactions to many antibiotics and so treatment options are limited. Having said that, one’s sensitivity to drugs is constantly changing so what might not work on one occasion, may have changed by the next.

      I would like to see a microbiologist to discuss my drug sensitivities but this service is not available to me except when I’m acutely ill as an in-patient.

      The pain in my head is well-controlled with various forms of pain relief so I can get on with normal living. I’m not scared or fed-up, just a little apprehensive as to what the future holds.

      You’re very kind to have me in your thoughts when I know you’ve more than enough problems of your own to deal with on a daily basis. Take care. S.

  3. Steph says:

    Magnumlady – I’m delighted that your family has escaped MRSA despite all the major surgery and hospitalisations. MRSA is everywhere but when infection control protocols are properly implemented and maintained in our hospitals, it doesn’t get a look in!

    My own concern having had so many recurrences of MRSA, is that when I’m well, I now suspect that MRSA is dormant rather than eradicated from my system. I’ve a lot of joint pain due to having connective tissue problems and the likelihood is that I’ll require some joint replacement surgery in years to come.

    I personally know two people who had hip replacement surgery in the past which failed due to MRSA infection of the hip joint. The prosthetic hip had to be removed leaving each person confined to a wheelchair for the rest of their lives.

    MRSA has already cost me dearly. I don’t want to allow it any more leeway!

  4. Nancy says:

    Dear Cousin,

    I just knew that you were having troubles. Thank God you seem to have a wonderful medical staff who really care about you.

    I have been thinking of you so much lately and I am sorry that the MRSA has returned. You are very brave and cheerful and deserve so very much to feel better.

    I am thinking of you and remembering you in my prayers every day..

    • Steph says:

      Coz Nancy – Lovely to hear from you!

      There’s no need to worry about me, honestly. As you say, I’m in very good hands and only have to shout ‘help’ whenever it’s needed. I’ve felt a great deal better since the implant was removed and now it’s simply a case of keeping an eye on my newly healed septum. Fingers crossed please that it doesn’t break down again!

      Hope the sun is shining on you and Roy!

  5. Kelly says:

    I just found your blog when searching for EDS and Microscopic Colitis (I share these conditions with you). I hate that you are going through so much and I hope it gets better soon!

    • Steph says:

      Thanks! Kelly

      I just left you a comment on ‘A Rare Bird’.

      It’s all relative really. Makes you appreciate the good times for sure.

      I’d love to hear more about your EDS and how it affects your life. Feel free to email me (in confidence) anytime or leave a comment here if your prefer.

  6. superrandomjelly says:

    Hey Steph,
    Thanks for replying. I haven’t been given a “type” yet with my EDS. Some docs suspected Marfans but others suspect EDS. I’m trying to get a lot of that mess figured out now. With EDS came POTS and I pretty much lost any life that I had. I went from being so very active and working as a police officer to being completely disabled. The MC sure didn’t help. I got really sick from it and still struggle with it almost daily. I finally saved up enough money to see a doctor and he is an amazing cardiologist so HOPEFULLY things start getting fixed soon. How is your MC without meds? Do you find that diet plays a big role in if you are sick/well?
    As for EDS issues…it seems to be a different thing daily doesn’t it? I have about a 100 EDS friends so any questions you have (sometimes we like to compare things to see if they are EDS “normal” lol) feel free to ask any time!
    I hope you are feeling better soon!

    _Kelly

    • Steph says:

      Hi! Kelly

      Sorry to hear of the struggle you’ve had with diagnosis. I don’t know a lot about Marfans syndrome other than that the symptoms of EDS and Marfans sometimes overlap as they are both multisystem disorders of connective tissue.

      I don’t suffer from POTS although my resting heart rate can be abnormally high at times and tends to cause alarm whenever it’s noted in hospital. I just tell them that it’s normal for me but it’s never been properly investigated.

      As regards the MC… the medication that works best for me is Asacolon 800mg bd. This keeps the colitis well-controlled most of the time although certain foods, particularly whole wheat breads, can trigger an acute episode. My colitis is also antibiotic associated which greatly limits the range of antibiotics that can be prescribed. I require oral steroids (Enterocort) as well when I get a severe flare-up.

      Several attempts have been made to reduce the dosage of medication required but each time it’s been tried, it’s exacerbated the colitis so I’m constantly maintained on Asacolon. If the medication is reduced, the symptoms of intestinal pain and diarrhoea slowly recur until it reaches the point where you’d prefer to avoid eating as it causes so much discomfort. That’s when I’m thankful that my symptoms can be so well-controlled on medication.

      I think I was 33 before my EDS was diagnosed (I’m nearly 55 now!). My joint pain has got a lot worse in recent years but if I’m careful to pace myself and top-up with pain relief 3-4 times x 24 hours, I can live a fairly normal existence. I’m lucky in that regard as the other EDS’ers I’ve come across online, certainly do not get off so lightly.

      Do you have problems with healing? My hands and feet seem to be worst in this respect… if I get a tiny burn on the wrist (eg. when taking something out of a hot oven), it can take weeks to heal and goes through several painful stages in the process. I think this explains why I’m so prone to infections in my head and to developing excessive scar tissue following surgery.

      My approach to life tends to be… ‘try it and see’. If it works out… ‘great!’, if it doesn’t… ‘so be it, try something else!’

      Thanks for getting back in touch!

  7. […] did we get to? Oh yes, I remember… I was in ‘yellowland‘ having the nasal prosthesis removed under sedation. That’s just over a year ago now […]

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