Fantasy Files: Boy, Does Staph Suck

I am compelled to write the following blog post because of the tribulations of one Lawrence Tynes. I’ll make a brief digression before getting to the horrible personal story.

In our local keeper league, our champion won the league in part because Lawrence Tynes, the top-scoring kicker in 2012, missed a 30-yard field goal in the Georgia Dome and he won by two. Because of this, we gave our champion Lawrence Tynes as his backup kicker in the final round. This was meant as a joke, and it worked in a couple of levels because Tynes is not going to play for the Bucs, on whose roster he currently resides.

Lawrence Tynes contracted MRSA, which is a drug-resistant version of a staph infection. His wife posted a picture of Tynes with a PICC line inserted in his arm.

I know from PICC lines. It’s time for a little Tarantino-esque timeline from my personal experience with a staph infection. We’ll start with my first-person timeline.

August 11, 2001: After spending a few nights on a pull-out couch at a beach condo, I think that my back pain is because of a crappy bed. I’m in bed with a fever, shooting pain in my left leg, shortness of breath and back pain. Despite these not-great feelings, I decide not to go to the ER.

August 14, 2001: I call my contracting agency to tell them that I need to go on short-term disability. I know that whatever I have, it’s bad. This is the last thing I remember.

September 7, 2001: I move from a room at the Emory University hospital intensive care to a normal room. I’m coming in and out of reality, to the point that the doctors asked me if I knew what day it was and if there wasn’t a clock with the date on it, I would have no idea.

September 11, 2011: I have to ask my parents if the smoking Twin Towers are actually doing that, as I’m having crazy hallucinatory dreams and need to change the sheets every time I wake up because I’ve sweated through my clothes. I get wheeled to Radiology where I get a PICC line inserted.

What is a PICC line? If you’re getting IV medication more than once a day, and I was on two antibiotics at the time, it makes sense to put a permanent line in your arm so that drugs can be easily injected. Trust me, after a while it’s hard to find a vein, especially when I had lost about 30 pounds.

The real timeline:

August 14, 2001: I’m passed out in my bed and my girlfriend comes to my apartment, somehow gets me into a car, and gets me admitted to the Emory University ER. My dad drives down immediately and my mom leaves her class and drives down herself a few hours later. By the time he arrives, I’m about to go into surgery. Staph infection has invaded my body, pooling near my spine, creating a blood clot in my left leg that’s shooting pieces into my lungs.

August 15, 2001: I have surgery. As I sign the release form, I say “I can’t believe that it’s this bad.” After surgery, I am intubated and put into a medically induced coma.

Following three weeks: I am “critical but stable”.

First week of September: My lungs have healed to the point that I’m given a different drug to get me out of the coma. I have insane hallucinations, including one in which the nurse who’s taking care of me is actually trying to kill me.

September 11: PICC line inserted. Listening to the radio in a freezing cold radiology room, when nobody knew what the bleep was going on and joking with the people putting a large needle in my arm, yeah, unusual.

Late September: I’m sent home.

One week later: I’m back in the hospital. Turns out one of the antibiotics I took was destroying my red blood cells. The pill they gave me to thin my blood due to the clot isn’t working. Now I must take a shot to my stomach twice a day. I’m getting over my life-long fear of needles.

One weekend later: Back home

Following week: Back into the hospital. They’re having trouble keeping my red blood numbers up. I have a blood transfusion, four units of blood. A transfusion would be so much more fun if I weren’t scared for my life.

After a weekend: Back home. My final verdict is six months of twice-daily shots to the stomach, the PICC line finally comes out (like 20 feet of line pulled out of my body), and I get back to work around Halloween.

Staph infections suck. Lawrence Tynes, I feel for you.

I do want to give a shout-out to the incredible personnel at Emory University hospital, because I saw literally every doctor there and the nursing staff was incredible, despite the thoughts that one was attempting my demise. The intensive care folks were great as well and damn do they work in tough environments.

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