An Abscess & A Choice

Last year, I had a nasty bout with MRSA. If you’ve never had MRSA, be thankful. It’s, for lack of a better word…nasty.

One morning I noticed a lump under my left arm. At the time I had a cold, so I figured it was likely an enlarged lymph node. However, it was also in a place that I knew was notoriously related to breast cancer, so I immediately made an appointment with our family doctor for the following Friday (3 days away.)

In the meantime, the volleyball  team that I help to coach had a tournament out of town. So I went, and I could barely move my arm without terrible pain. I tried to keep my arm as still as possible, and made it through the tournament.

As my cold seemed to improve, my (thought to be) swollen lymph node did not. It kept getting larger, and started to be a dark shade of purple, and the pain was most assuredly not improving. The night before my doctor’s appointment, my husband said that it looked like I had a golf ball under the skin of my armpit… it was growing, and it was gnarly.

So I went to the doctor the following morning. She said it was an abscess under the skin- which she determined by pressing down firmly on it- which hurt like c-r-a-z-y! She put me on an antibiotic, and sent me on my way, with orders to return the following week if it hadn’t improved.

I took the antibiotics and kept a warm washcloth on the abscess to help draw the infection out (according to Doc’s orders.)

Results? Darker purple, bigger abscess, increased pain.

So, I returned to the doctor again, over a week after the initial onset of the pain. She informed me that she was going to lance the abscess. Growing up, I had a friend named Lance. He was really nice. I also know a very sweet little fella named Lance- he has fought some hard battles in his short life. He’s precious!

The “lance” she was referring to was neither nice nor precious.

She first attempted to numb the spot by injecting some sort of numbing something in. That hurt.

I knew the abscess was worse than I had imagined when she stepped back and covered her face  as she first punctured the skin with the numbing needle. She told me that she had been “sprayed” by this type before. Gag. (sorry about the nasty visual… you did have the option of not reading this 🙂 )

She let the numbing take effect, and then she lanced it. AKA- she sliced into it. It hurt. But almost instantly, the pain lessened. The pressure had been taken off of my skin and arm.

But then she started to “empty” the abscess by pushing and squeezing. She kept going on about the depth of the hole in my arm, and how infected it was, etc.

She took a blood/infection culture (which later revealed MRSA), and then because of the depth of the infection, she packed it with gauze. The gauze was left hanging out of my skin so that the hole would not close up until the infection had healed.

Another antibiotic was prescribed and I was sent on my way with instructions to have Nathan pull the gauze out several days later. Her advice: “Take a deep breath, and have him pull quickly.” When you get that advice, generally what’s to come isn’t going to be pleasant

She was right.

It hurt. But only for a moment…and I was so glad to have that over with!

Or so I thought.

About a day later I began itching like crazy and feeling nauseous. My skin was red all over- I looked like a sunburned lobster- yeah, you read that right… it was THAT bad. This led to the discovery that I am allergic to sulfa drugs- which both rounds of antibiotics happened to be.

So I took lots of oatmeal baths, used anti-itch lotion, had temporary moments where I lost sanity, and then eventually it cleared up.

I was so glad…

Well, last week I was reading some archives on one of my favorite blogs, The Marathon Mom (see blogroll for link.) I noticed that she mentioned having had MRSA, and I went on to read one of the most gruesome stories I have ever read.

What she thought was a bad case of mastitis, turned into a black, rotting breast that had to be literally cut open with scissors, washed out, packed, etc.

It was horrifying.

She literally thought she was dying as the pain and infection wracked her whole body.

After I choked down the vomit that threatened to make its’ way out, I breathed a prayer of thanks.

There is always something worse that we could experience, isn’t there? The Lord gives us what we can handle, and nothing more. He was gracious to me- though at the time I thought it was nothing of the sort.

Last night I read the account of the plagues on Egypt. Knowing the pain of my one abscess, I was even more appalled to imagine Pharaoh hardening his heart, not only through body-covering boils, but flies, frogs, etc.

Brandy, the Marathon Mom saw her situation as a chance for spiritual growth in herself and her family (btw, she’s preg with her 8th son!) Pharaoh saw the plagues as many chances to try and defy God.

I pray that the Lord will help this MRSA instance in my life to keep me pliable. Every situation in life offers us a choice:

1. To either recognize a chance to grow, and take it, or

2. Harden ourselves to what the Lord is trying to teach us, or to the work He is trying to do through us.

Choose wisely!



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