Infectious ideas

Back in the fall of 2013, I picked up a sliver in my middle finger while doing work in my back yard. It didn’t seem like anything to worry about in the moment. I’d had many slivers in my lifetime. All of them worked themselves out if I plucked them with tweezers.

But that sliver was different. It carried some nasty type of bacteria from the water in which the yard waste had been sitting. The resultant infection nearly sunk into the bone of my hand. Had I let it go, it might well have meant removal of the finger.

So I learned a lesson. The next time I had an infection, in 2016, it was cellulitis in my hand from a nip by our cat. This time it spread across my the back of my hand, but I was ready and went straight to the urgent care center and then a hand specialist.

But the resultant prescription of antibiotics killed off my good gut bacteria. That led to a scary condition with a bacterial gut infection caused by C.diff . Here’s how WebMD describes it:

You take antibiotics to knock out a bacterial infection. But for some people, these drugs can trigger a potentially life-threatening infection caused by a type of bacteria called clostridium difficile, or C. diff. It can cause colitis, a serious inflammation of the colon.

How Do You Get It?

C. diff bacteria actually exists all around us. It’s in the air, water, soil, and in the feces of humans and animals. Many people have the bacteria in their intestines and never have any symptoms.

The bacteria is often spread in health care facilities, like hospitals or nursing homes, where workers are more likely to come into contact with it, and then with patients or residents.

You can also become infected if you touch clothing, sheets, or other surfaces that have come in contact with feces and then touch your mouth or nose.

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Image by Christopher Cudworth

It’s not a comfortable feeling at all knowing you’re “contagious” from anything. While listening to some sex talk radio the other day hosted by comedienne Nikki Glaser, one of her co-hosts shared what it was like to live with the herpes virus. One of his prospective girlfriends, upon learning of his condition, wryly noted, “Well, that’s not ideal.”

Nightmare bacteria

Whether viral or bacterial, infections can really bring you down. I once slid for a basketball on a gym floor and the resulting floor burn got infected. That spread to the lymph nodes near my crotch and it took antibiotics to knock it out.

But things are apparently getting much worse when it comes to the power of infections in the human body. Yet in an article about “nightmare bacteria” infections, a recent piece on Illinois Patch warns that things are getting much worse out there. Bacteria have evolved resistance to every known drug. That can spell death to those who contract it.

“The bacteria are known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, and can cause pneumonia as well as infections of the bloodstream and urinary tract. The CDC said an alarming 50 percent of those infected with CRE typically die.

Antibiotic-resistant infections are more widespread than just those attributed to CRE. About two million Americans get infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year and 23,000 die, according to Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Prepping for surgery

I just had my pre-operational appointment at the doctor. He walked me through the things I should consider going into surgery. One, don’t get sick beforehand. Two, be sure to clear out your lungs after anesthesia and avoid pneumonia.

Having been knocked out a couple times for surgeries on my ACL and my clavicle, both the result of sports injuries, I still feel confident going into surgery for the meniscus tear that things will turn out fine. But I’ll be cautious in every respect.

No guarantees

Because there’s always a risk for blood clots after surgery too. A friend of mine died from a blood clot after hip replacement surgery. So nothing’s guaranteed.

I don’t tend to run around in fear about bacteria or dying. But I sure do respect the dangers. I’ve seen firsthand (pun intended) what infection can do to your body. My advice is never to take anything for granted. It is far better to be cautious and apply Neosporin and even get checked by a doctor if you have suspicions of any type of infection with your body.

That’s not being a hypochondriac. That’s being smart. As endurance athletes we can pick up all kinds of bumps, scrapes and skin rashes along the way. Saddle sores from cycling are no trifling thing. Nor are the afflictions of hemorrhoids or anal fissures. It’s these seemingly niggling problems that can cause us to flounder or worse, suffer conditions that even put our lives in danger.

It all gives new meaning to the term “infectious ideas.” Better safe than sorry.

 

About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @genesisfix07 and blogs at werunandride.com, therightkindofpride.com and genesisfix.wordpress.com Online portfolio: http://www.behance.net/christophercudworth
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