Tony’s Story

Arlene Brailey

In 2012, I thought I had pulled a muscle in my back. The pain increased in intensity and appeared to move into my stomach, but despite several trips to see my GP, nothing was found. It was 2 months later that I was rushed to hospital following severe spasms in my back and I was finally diagnosed with an infection in my spine. A swab showed the infection was caused by MRSA.  An MRI scan showed swelling in the spine of various vertebrae. Since the resistant bacteria was found to be MRSA, staff moved me into isolation for 3 weeks. I received an infusion of intravenous antibiotics through a Hickman line to ensure the antibiotics got to the site of the infection as soon as possible. I had the highest dose of an antibiotic reserved to treat MRSA, twice a day for the 9 weeks I spent in hospital.

It took me 8 weeks to improve. I could barely walk at first and therefore my muscles wasted, and I felt very weak. I used to walk up and down the hospital corridor 3-4 times a day to build up my strength. Before I left hospital, I was allowed out to walk into town one day. It felt great to be outside again and I felt a great sense of achievement.

The IV antibiotic treatment continued on my return home, with district nurses visiting regularly to flush out the Hickman line.

What impact did your experience have on you?

I was unable to work for 9 months in total and my wife and I decided to think about what we wanted to do in the future. I look at life in a different way now. Things that bothered me before no longer worry me eg money, material things.  I still can’t do all the things I used to be able to do such as mowing the lawn and I still can’t stand in one position for very long.

All the burden was on my wife, in terms of hospital visits, and worry about my recovery. I was unable to drive for a while, so Sarah had to do all the driving. Even when I was able to drive again, I could only manage one way.

To what extent did your experience change your knowledge about antibiotic resistance?

I didn’t know that 1 in 3 people carry MRSA in their body but it only becomes a problem when it causes an infection. I now know a lot of antibiotics no longer work to treat MRSA, so I am less inclined to ask for antibiotics to reduce the risk of resistance developing. It shows the importance of reserving the “big guns” for when they are needed!

The consultant was very good at explaining the issue and the treatment. At that time, my wife could have used more support and information, for example, from a helpline (like ANTRUK now has) so she had someone to talk to. I am glad to be fit and well once again, and back at work as landlord in my pub.

Read more about MRSA here