MRSA“Have you been hospitalized recently?” the nurse asked me.

I thought this was an odd question since I was at the podiatrist’s office with a toe infection I developed after having an ingrown toenail removed. The nurse didn’t say anything else, but left the chart sitting on the counter.

Maybe my curiosity got the best of me, or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment, but either way I snuck a peek at the chart. What I saw pretty much made my heart stop.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. MRSA.

I was terrified. I used to work in a hospital system and I had heard horror stories about patients contracting this in the hospital — and let’s just say that the results weren’t pretty. I started freaking out. FREAKING OUT. I had a three-month-old at home and I couldn’t end up hospitalized. 

I’d love to say that at that moment the podiatrist came in, explained what was going on and alleviated my fears. Nope, I left the office with a prescription in hand and tears streaming down my face. 

I was absolutely shaking with fear. I had no idea what to expect. Of course, I started turning to Dr. Google. Of course, I found nothing good. I found all these scary stories about how this resistant bacteria had ruined their lives. I was devastated. I couldn’t find anything good.

Even though I started a high-strength antibiotic that MRSA responded to, I still kept breaking down in puddles of tears. I wasn’t convinced that I was going to be OK. It was my mom that then convinced me that I should go talk to my primary care doctor.

That was a turning point.

I went to the doctor’s office thinking that he was going to have bad news. As soon as he came in the room and I showed him my foot, I braced for his reaction. He shocked me when he looked at it and said “Oh, that’s not a big deal. It’s actually way more common than you’d think.”

Apparently, community-acquired MRSA (C-MRSA) is quite common and many people don’t even know that have it. Most people go to the doctor and are prescribed an antibiotic for a skin infection, the infection goes away, and that’s the end of it. My infection had been cultured which is why I knew it was MRSA. 

My doctor had also told me that when he was a physician in the military, he’d often see those kinds of infections. At the time he just thought of it as cellulitis but now, looking back, it was probably MRSA.

Don’t get me wrong, MRSA can be very dangerous. The hospital-aquired MRSA (H-MRSA) is the strain that attacks those who have had surgery and incisions or have medical ports. This is the aggressive version of the bacteria, the version that is even more resistant. Also, patients in the hospital usually have weaker immune systems, so it is much more dangerous.

The kind that I had, the C-MRSA is the kind that is everywhere. The kind that the entire wrestling or gymnastic teams get from the mats. The kind that’s on the chair, table, railing, or doorknob. That kind that if you swabbed the noses of the general population would come back positive. The kind that you probably already have on your skin.


Before you start scrubbing with bleach, having MRSA in the environment is OK. Yes, its an opportunistic bacteria that will invade deep cuts or incisions, but there is no need to panic. There are drugs that it responds to. It’s just important that if you do get some sort of deep cut or wound to clean it out thoroughly and put antibiotic ointment on it.

Since my MRSA had actually been cultured and diagnosed, I suddenly found myself on the health system’s isolation list. Until I passed two negative nasal swab tests I had to stay on the list.

I’m happy to say that all of this happened over three years ago. I passed my nasal swabs and have been declared MRSA-free. There is no indication that I ever even had the infection. Through all of this, I realized that this form of MRSA isn’t as scary as I originally thought it was.

Of course, all infections need medical treatment, but having MRSA isn’t as life-threatening as the media might make you believe. I’m hoping that if you find yourself in the same position as I did, and you turn to Dr. Google you will find this article and you will find some peace.

P.S. Save yourself some grief and skip all of the scary Google articles!

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One Comment

  1. Thank you so much for this. I don’t have MRSA but I am terrified and this really helped. Being a germophobe is tough and I am working on understanding what scares me so I can rationalize and move on. So thank you so much!

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