|Story of Caryl J. Carver, Registered Nurse
My first MRSA outbreak was a boil on my pubic area that I initially thought was a small infected
hair. As it was more painful than a normal infected hair, I applied heat to bring it to a head faster. I
was shocked at the amount of purulent drainage that came from the “infected hair” and realized it
wasn't just an infected hair but a boil.
Two days later, I got what I thought was a spider bite on my abdomen. I did research online and
verified from several different sources that you should not apply heat to a spider bite as it will drive
the venom even deeper. You should apply ice to a spider bite, so ice it was. I was still attending to
the first boil and not paying a lot of attention to the spider bite until I just got sicker and sicker. My
joints were aching, I was lethargic, just had no energy. Finally in the early morning of Saturday,
April 12, 2008 the spider broke open and purulent drainage poured out. The area of infection in my
abdomen became as large as a small basketball. I had trouble walking, sitting, even standing.
Since it was a Saturday and my doctor’s office was closed, I went to the local urgent care center
about my “spider bite”. The doctor there gave me Bactrim and Mupirocin to apply to the skin as he
thought I also had impetigo. It wasn’t until Monday, when I was talking with a coworker, that I found
out that what I actually had was probably never a spider bite but indeed a MRSA infection. I saw my
family doctor who gave me an additional 4 days of Bactrim and I also used Mupirocin in my nostrils
for 5 days. At no time was I ever swabbed anywhere on my body.
In May I had a very large sty on my eye. I am assuming it was MRSA as I never gets stys and
especially not anything that large.
In June I broke out with Shingles and was treated with a tapering dose of prednisone and Valtrex.
The shingles actually cleared up fairly quickly but I am still having post herpetic neuralgia.
In August I had another MRSA outbreak on my leg. I was awake and working when this occurred. I
felt like a bee was stinging me. It lasted for several minutes and was quite painful. When I was
able to, I took down my pants and looked. There was a big red welt and I knew it was another
MRSA outbreak. I called my doctor immediately but was not able to get into see him until 2 days
later. The area on my leg was still very red but it had not come to a head yet and it wasn't hot so my
doctor said, “it’s probably just a spider bite”. When I told him, “It is not a spider bite… I was awake
when this happened and there was no spider around”. He said, “MRSA doesn't just happen like
that”. I wanted him to culture the site but he refused to do. So I had to wait for the lesion to fester.
When it opened up on Labor Day I went to the same urgent care center I had gone to previously
and demanded to be cultured. It came back positive for MRSA. I was again placed on Bactrim this
time for 10 days and did Mupirocin for 5 days.
I was never swabbed nor have I ever had my blood tested. I have never seen an Infectious
Disease doc because my PCP refused to give me a referral. Several ID docs I have contacted in
the Dayton, Ohio area refuse to see me without a referral even when I explain my circumstances. I
don’t know what my colonization status is.
I had bilateral conjunctivitis in January 2009. Again, I NEVER get stys or conjunctivitis. In fact, in
my 50 years on this planet, even as a child, I have NEVER HAD either. I have lingering side effects
including post traumatic stress disorder, insomnia and suicidal ideation. I have lost family and
friends due to this terrible disease. Two precious babies were born into my family in 2008 that I
may never see because their parents are afraid of me. My skin just itches constantly, some of it is
due to post herpetic neuralgia, some is no doubt due to the cold weather and dry heat, some of it
is simply psychological. On the nights I have trouble sleeping, I just lay there and feel my whole
body itch. I try to lay still and ignore it but it is like having a dry, hacking cough, eventually you give in
and scratch but the itch is never relieved. NO ONE will ever be able to convince me that MRSA is a
benign skin condition. It is so much more.
My daily routine includes washing with Hibiclens and every other day with Technicare and
Hibiclens from head to toe, applying Neutrogena body oil after washing, flushing my nostrils with
water during the shower and with saline after, rinsing my eyes with saline and rinsing my mouth
with Peroxyl. All the outside parts that I can sanitize are sanitized daily. I have also started taking
supplements to boost my immune system: Echinacea, Melatonin, Olive Leaf Extract and
Astragalus Root. I wash all of my clothes twice through the wash cycle and dry them in the dryer,
never line dry. I do everything that is humanly possible to do in a 24 hour day without driving
yourself totally insane and it still may not be enough. I know that animals can be colonized and
have infections too. I have 3 cats that I love dearly, if I had to get rid of them due to my condition, it
would devastate me.
The thing I still do not understand is how I got the MRSA in the first place. As a health care worker,
I was always so careful to wear gloves and wash my hands. I haven’t used bar soap in a long
time. Even before I got MRSA, I was washing daily with Betadine gel and also using saline in my
nostrils because I have chronic sinusitis. I believe I got it after I had my hysterectomy in May 2007. I
have read that MRSA can deplete itself of water and lie dormant in the body. The lady from the Ohio
Department of Health that I talked to during the “spider bite” said it probably wasn't from the
surgery, that I could have just gotten it off of a grocery cart. If it is that easy to spread, why does the
CDC say it is okay to go out into the public when you have this disease? If you can get it from a
grocery cart, shouldn't these individuals be quarantined?
All one needs to do is go online and search on MRSA and you will find story after story from victims
who are searching for answers and coming up way short from health care professionals and
Caryl J. Carver, RN, BSN