Category Archives: Staph Infection

Staph, Staph, Staph…

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard it a million times, “diabetics are at increased risk for…” EVERYTHING.

I for one am a frequent victim of staph infections. I’ve gotten them often ever since I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I don’t remember the exact timing but within a year of being diagnosed with type 1 I also developed a sty (staph infection of the eyelid). I’ve had three staph stys in my lifetime. I’ve also had a few abscesses on my body that were confirmed to be staph. Once I had a staph folliculitis infection (wide-spread infection of the hair follicles on my inner thighs, ouch!). But mostly I get these skin infections that are about the size and perfect circular shape of a dime, they start out closed but are hollow under the skin. They first look like bruises but if they go untreated they will open in the center and begin to ooze clear liquid and eventually a bit of blood. They don’t hurt at first, they don’t feel uncomfortable at all for the first several weeks (I think) which makes them easy to go unnoticed. I’ve had too many to count over the years. They take a very long time to progress, slowly growing deeper, over several weeks or months before they actually start to feel uncomfortable (pain, itching). They absolutely will not go away unless they are treated with antibiotics (usually something like Bactrim). There are several ways these staph infections can be caused: pimples, ingrown hairs, cuts, rashes, bug bites, irritations of the skin…basically anything that opens the skin can let the staph bacteria in and start an infection. I get these over nearly any part of my body but most often in dark, moist places like the armpit, groin, lower belly flab, butt crack…all the embarrassing places pretty much. Even though I am a clean person who tries my best to stay dry I still get these infections too often.

staph
Left: Early infection Right: Advanced infection

I recently found out that some food poisoning is caused by staph. Hmm, I have had food poisoning much more often than the average person. Makes me wonder. Am I just that sensitive to staph?

I have had many doctors ask and/or suggest I am a staph carrier (MRSA carrier) but none of them have ever actually bothered to test me for it. I guess they would take swab samples from various parts of my body to see if I carry the bacteria. Considering how often and easily I get these infections I am willing to bet I carry the bacteria (Yes, I wash with antibacterial soap).

I am currently taking Bactrim for 3 (yes, three!) separate staph infections on my body… thank you, hot summer weather. I average needing antibiotics for staph infections twice a year. UGH!

I view these infections as mere annoyances, but in reality they can be fatal if left untreated. If a skin infection is ignored long enough and eats its way deep enough the staph bacteria can reach your blood system and then it’s super difficult to treat it and it can super quickly kill you!

I have never been told by my doctors how to not be a carrier if I am one, other than to stay clean and dry and wash with antibacterial soap. Well, I already do that…so I guess this is my life for good.

I guess I don’t have any advice or lesson to teach with this post, It’s just a story of my own personal experience. We all just need to do what we need to do to be as healthy as possible. Roll with all those punches.

Teladoc

So my current insurance company offers an option called Teladoc. Basically it’s over the phone care. I tried it today.

I was very skeptical at first; calling a doctor and having them diagnose and treat you without an actual in-person exam. Doesn’t sound safe, does it?

They, of course, do not treat all ailments over the phone. If you call with a certain problem they can not diagnose, or they know requires an in-person visit, then they will deny you care over the phone and send you to your doctor or ER.

My ailment is a recurring staph infection. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt what the issue is and that I simply need a certain antibiotic. So I decided to forgo a trip to my primary doctor and try out this new fangled phone doc.

I first signed up online. This took about ten minutes and entailed such information as my name, birth date, phone number, insurance info, etc., as well as my current medications and health status.

Then I filled out a quick request form (online, of course) to have a doctor call me. This info required was simply letting them know a rundown of what is wrong. They gave an option to upload a photo, so I took a quick snap shot of the infection and uploaded it.

Within three minutes my phone rang. I could tell immediately that I really was speaking to an actual doctor. He had that tale-tale doctor voice, serious, educated, studious. He first asked me to verify I was who I said I was, then he asked me exactly where the infection was. He had looked at the picture but it was so up close he couldn’t identify the place. Then he agreed it was cratered like staph. We had a discussion about my recurrence of staph, how prone I am to these infections. He suggested I may have a strain called MRSA. I’ve never been tested for this so he suggested I request it next time I see my primary.

In the end he sent a prescription for an antibiotic to my local pharmacy.

And I never had to put on pants and leave my house. 🙂

Staph Infection? Fat Ass!

So, this post needs a lot of setup because there are several factors in play.

1. I am highly prone to staph infections for some weird reason. I always have been. So I can recognize one pretty easy in most cases.

2. I have a frozen shoulder caused from my heart surgery…nearly two years ago.

3. I have been overweight since I hit puberty, but it hasn’t spiraled massively out of control until this past January…and it’s not from poor eating habits or lack of exercise. I’m still trying to figure out why I’m gaining weight when my lifestyle dictates I should be losing.

OK, so two evenings ago I was lying in bed and my hubby walked into the room. From the position I was in, he could easily see the under-back side of my left arm.

“Tamra? Do you know you have red marks under your arm?”

“Where?” I asked as I tried to reposition my arm (which is the one with the frozen shoulder).

Hubby got closer and examined the spots. “They look exactly like the staph infection craters you get.”

Shit! I think to myself as I get up to go to the mirror. Hubby takes a picture of the area because my poor eyesight can’t focus enough in the mirror to clearly see the spots. I look at the picture but it doesn’t look like anything serious, but when I touch the largest red spot on my arm I can easily feel the classic staph crater.

“God damn it!”

These infections come with no pain, itching, or anything like that; so they are easily missed if I don’t closely examine my entire body daily.

The next day I have an eye appointment so I don’t bother to go to my primary doctor. I hate more than one doctor appointment in one day. But I do call his office and make an appointment for first thing the following day. I don’t get in with my primary because he isn’t in that day.  I end up with a doctor I’ve never seen before. This is typical with my doctor’s office.

After waiting nearly an hour past my appointment time, which really irks me because I’m like the second appointment of the day…why the delay?, I finally get called back. My weight is still frustratingly high, my BP is 132/68. The nurse asks me a ton of questions that I always get asked at this office. Then I wait just a few minutes for the doctor.

“Hi.” She says kindly as she walks in. “So, you have a rash or something on your arm?”

“No, I’m pretty sure it’s a staph infection. I’m prone to them.” I say as I take off my shawl.

“You are diabetic?”

“Type 1.”

“How is your control?”

“My A1c is 7.7.”

“OK.” She walks over to take a look at my arm. This is when she notices I can’t lift it all the way. She asks, and I explain the frozen shoulder.

This is where things get weird. This doctor goes off on a tangent about why it is so important to be getting therapy for my shoulder…and why I need to lose weight.

I swear to you she not so delicately makes note, points out, flat out says I’m fat, obese, overweight, big, about fifty times during this twenty minute visit.  She may have well outright called me a fat ass.fat

I know she meant well.  I know I need to lose weight.  I’M TRYING!

It wouldn’t have bothered me if my weight problem was just a matter of me overeating and not exercising.  But I don’t overeat, and I do exercise. The point is, it hurt so much because I’m trying so hard to lose weight, but the opposite is happening! And this doctor doesn’t know me, so she just assumed  I’m some kind of lazy pig.

So, my visit about a staph infection became a lecture about exercises I should do at home to cure my own frozen shoulder, followed by a long lecture on how I need to eat healthy and exercise more because I’m fat.

“Diet soda. Don’t drink it, give it up and you’ll lose 15 pounds in a month.” She said, along with many other helpful tips.

Finally she prescribed antibiotics for the staph infection. “You’re right, it’s staph.” She confirmed.

“I am proud of you for working so hard at improving your health, your A1c is a good indication of your hard work, it’s never too late to get healthy.” She ended the visit on a positive note, at least.