Sunday, February 26, 2012

My experience with MRSA

I am writing this post to hopefully spread the word about the dangers of Staph infections.  We have all heard about them on the news, especially MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a type (strain) of staph bacteria that does not respond to some antibiotics that are commonly used to treat staph infections.)  The media likes to call it "the super bug" because once it gets into the blood stream it is very hard to treat.  Below is my account of what happened to me back in January.

January 3rd, while at my parents house in California, I began to feel a zit developing in my right nostril.  This happens from time to time so I never thought twice about it.  It did hurt more than usual, but I blew it off.  I do believe at some point I tried to pop it but was not successful.  I also tried hot compresses and neosporin.  The next day, on the 4th, I woke up to a swollen upper lip.  Still I was not connecting it to my nose or anything, but I did feel a lot of random sharp pains throughout the day which was odd.

The next day, January 5th, we were scheduled to fly home to NY.  I woke up at 4am with my upper lip swollen to twice its size.  I was in a lot of pain.  I iced my face until the kids got up and then panic started setting in.  I had a long day ahead of me, which included a 5 hour flight home.  I took motrin, continued to ice, and went to the airport.  I knew I was going to have to be seen either at Urgent care or in the ER that night.  The entire flight was a nightmare (and I am not even talking about Madeline's huge fits she was throwing :)  I was in a ton of pain, was super swollen, and kept making ice packs on my own to try and help with the swelling.

I am going to share pictures I took to track my swelling progression.  At the time I swore these would never be seen, but now that I am past it, its fine LOL. Most of these I look horrible, but had little to no sleep over a 3 day period and could barely eat, let alone put make up on! 

Here is a picture of my normal face:

Here is how I looked Thursday night when I landed.  You can see the upper lid swelling as well as the nose. 

Thursday night I went straight to Urgent Care from the airport.  I was seen quickly and the Dr. gave me Amoxicillan and sent me on my way telling me it was an infected pimple.  I felt better knowing at least I could get something in my system.

I went to bed that night around midnight and woke up at 4am in excruciating pain. The swelling was much worse and I knew something was not right.  I woke Curtis up and told him I was going to the Emergency Room.  I must say that at 5am on a Friday, no one is in the ER in case you need to ever go LOL.   The doc took one look at me and said that Amoxicillan would do nothing for this infection.  He predicted it was Staph and then said "I am about to do something to your nose that will be horrible.  I'm sorry".  Fabulous....

He moved me over to a bed and told me "Lay back, grab the rails of the bed, and whatever you do do not hit me or move your face".  Then I seriously had the most horrific experience ever.  I would rather have another baby and that is not an exaggeration.  He had to lance the infection site to drain it.  Step 1 was numbing the area with novacaine.  It was the worst pain I have ever experience.  At one point it shot up my nose and down my throat.  I was sobbing, gagging, bleeding everywhere.  It was awful!!!  Once that was over, he prescribed me a stronger antibiotic and told me this should be the worst of it and sent me home.  However, throughout the day it did not get any better.  I was in a ton of pain and could not sleep at all.

By 7pm that night I was torn.  I wanted to go to sleep and hope the new meds would kick in, but I was also afraid of waking up with my face swollen shut.  Here is my face Friday night (24 hours after the last pic)  My lips were so swollen that I could see a thin layer of liquid on below the skin.  My nose was completely distorted, and my cheeks were starting to swell.  When I walked I could feel the liquid in my face moving.  I also started having pain in my gums and teeth from the pressure. I looked and felt like absolute crap. 

So at 8pm that night, I took myself back to the ER.  Yes, twice in the same day.  Luckily they have an urgent care there and sent me there.  People  were very put off by the fact that I was back already.  I didn't care at this point. I wanted to beg to be admitted because I just was afraid!!!   When the doc finally saw me he ended up calling the ENT I was supposed to follow up with and decided to change my meds yet again to a super strong medicine called Clindamycin.  I was to take it 4 times a day and see a doctor on Monday.  Then he decided to take two cultures of my nose.  This involved him pushing with his full body weight with a q-tip in my nostril, but at least it wasn't a novacaine shot. It still hurt a ton though!  He also gave me a topical cream and I  needed to use hot compresses 3 times a day to try and break up the infection. 

I got home around 10, Curtis went out and got my new meds, and I went to bed feeling a little more settled.  I did not sleep great and the next morning I at least didn't look worse....  My top lip had gone down a bit but the facial swelling was still in full force. 

I kept taking pictures of my face to track the swelling progress which really helped.  I also was able to start eating and drinking easier after about 24 hours on the right antibiotics.

Here was some pics taken on Sunday.  Big difference!

Here is Sunday.  This pics cracks me up because I took it in the pitch dark of my room and blinded myself.  I also have incredibly short eyelashes.  Anyways... still have some nose distortion but the lips were getting better.

I saw in ENT on Monday Jan 9th and he put me on 5 more days of antibiotics and told me to come back in 6 weeks.   I must say that a large portion of the swelling took over a month to go away.  By the 6 week mark all but a tiny section under my nose is back to normal. 

My 6 week check up was this week.  It was confirmed as a MRSA infection.  Nice of them to let me know huh?  I would think I should have been called or notified about this.  However, I had to ask for my results 6 weeks later.  The doc did say that if this had spread it could have been very bad and possibly fatal.  So glad I got on the right meds in time!  Bottom line:  be persistent if you feel something isn't right!  When I went back to the ER for the second time a lot of the nurses looked at me like I was nuts, but I KNEW what I was going through was not normal and I was not getting any better after being on the first 2 sets of medicines.  I still have no idea how I contracted this infection.  So glad everything worked out for me and I am hoping that was my only experience with MRSA.


  1. Scary!!!! I never saw the second swollen picture! Horrible!

  2. I can't believe you had to go through this! I am glad you are better and it all worked out!

  3. OMG, Katie, I had NO idea!!!! This is awful! This is totally something that BJ would've laughed at me and told me I was overreacting by going to the ER so much. Unreal! Glad you're better!

  4. Thank you. As I am reading this, I have been in the hospital for 12 hours and had 2 courses of antibiotics. No one has used the term MRSA YET but your experience was helpful.

  5. Wow, thank you for sharing, I would also recommend checking this swollen nose page.



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