Sunday, June 9, 2013

Personal update 5-23-13

Here's my personal update for the day. It's kind of a downer. But it's the best I can muster, and it's honest.

There is a lot I didn't say that is some background. For example, earlier in the month I was in the hospital because it looked as though my port was infected. The first we did a blood culture from two locations -- the port and then a peripheral vein. The vein came back negative the the port came back positive, for Staphylococcus aureus.

Then the surgeon looked at the port that he himself had installed in my chest, and his opinion was that it should come out. The reasoning is that if the port was infected it could have infected the heart, and it could mess up a heart valve. That would require heart surgery to replace a bad valve. So he removed it and sowed me back up.

Now that the port was out of the picture, we did another culture and found that the bacteria had moved into the circulatory system in general. So that meant I had a legitimate case of sepsis. Not good. Once you have bacteria in your blood then infection can go anywhere, and set up camp. Luckily the infection did not have resistance to all antibiotics. It was sensitive to three different ones. That means, that it could be killed off by at least three kinds of antibiotics that are easily available. The doctor chose to put me on vancomycin. I was in the hospital for three days on a steady drip of that.

My stay in the hospital was generally traumatic. I was quarantined in my room, not allowed to walk around the hospital. People were not to touch me, while we waited for the results from the lab. That was because they were concerned that I might have MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). I was concerned about that possibility, of course. How ironic would it be to have been treating bacteria all these years (almost 10 years), only to get an incidental infection in a port that could've killed me.

I know that these kinds of unexpected complications that can result from having a "central line" for long-term treatment of Lyme disease gave me pause for thought before I decided to get one. But weighing the pluses and minuses of having a port, considering that I would be embarking on maybe a multi – year regimen of daily IVs, the plusses prevailed. There's always the chance that a central line can become infected. However, I was long overdue for heavy-duty antibiotic treatment, having been messing around with oral antibiotics and supplements for close to five years already, and showing little improvement. In fact I was continuing to decline.

Then also, there is the argument by the conservative medical establishment that doing antibiotics for that long can cause Lyme patients' bodies to become more resistant to antibiotics. The argument goes — and it's a reasonable argument — that bacteria of all kinds are very intelligent, and can change their molecular structure in order to survive the onslaught of high quantities and and/or long durations of IV antibiotics. This is especially true of the bacterium responsible for Lyme disease (Borellia). This bacterium has many more genes than does the syphilis bacteria, and we know that syphilis is a mighty adversary. Also, like syphilis, Borrelia is a "great imitator." Estimates are that it can cause a human body to develop symptoms that appear clinically like more than 200 different diseases that have nothing to do with Lyme disease, per se. But, I digress.

Why should doctors who are worried about the development of resistant strains of bacteria pick on Lyme patients and their doctors? There are other examples of syndromes and diseases for which doctors prescribe long-term use of antibiotics. Teenagers with acne and folks with diabetic wounds that won't heal are two good examples. My understanding is that the conservative medical establishment does not call those doctors before a medical review board, put them on probation, or take away their license to practice.

What I have read is that the biggest culprit in the development of resistant strains of bacteria (sometimes called "super bugs") is the policy of blanket administration of antibiotics to livestock, such as cattle. The argument goes that when we ingest the meat, we also are "taking" the antibiotics. We also drink the water that comes out of the water table that the antibiotics have seeped down into, from these highly potent cattleyards. So we humans are ingesting antibiotics just as if we were taking pills prescribed by a doctor. Collectively, bacteria that are just sitting around in our bodies are actively adapting themselves to live in this new environment of basically antibiotic soup anyway. Why deprive people who are terribly sick, and often have been sick for many years, a pass on this particular issue? Could it be that insurance companies don't want to pay for the high cost of antibiotic therapy for its customers who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease? If we want to get serious about reducing the development of superbugs, why not look at much larger contributors to the problem, such as the ubiquitous use of anti-microbial hand cleaners (those antibiotics go straight into the water treatment plants and often come back to us in the form of drinking water), and the overuse of antibiotics for farm raised animals (including farm-raised fish)?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be constructive in your comments.