I gradually have come to understand that SOME NOT ALL of the impact of outbreaks of antibiotic resistant infections in our media aren't exclusively caused by careless overuse of antibiotics.
I have a dear friend who COULD HAVE SUFFOCATED TO DEATH just a few days ago. For privacy reasons, I'm calling her Lila.
Lila has health insurance from a well - known insurance company.
About 3 weeks ago, Lila went a cleaning and redocorating spree which included replacing plumbing fixtures, painting, scapping, new carpet and more plumbing as well as electrical work. As far as I know - all of it - save for installing the new carpeting was done by Lila herself. As she tired one day in the midst of the painting about 2 weeks ago, she tripped and fell on a paint can. She was badly bruised all over and had a cut from the paint can.
She went to the emergency room at one of her insurance's facilities. Apparently, most of the time was spent trying to figure out if she had sustained a hairline fracture. She had lucked out - the consensus of opinion was there was no fracture.
Lila rested and got back to work.
This past Wednesday morning, Lila called me. It took me a few minutes to figure out that indeed, I was speaking with Lila.
She told me her throat hurt, her ear had been hurting, she couldn't easily swallow and her joints ached. Lila told me that last night, she ended up going to her insurance's non - hospital emergency service. She said that the ENT who treated her gave her a single shot of antibiotics and a single shot of Prednisone. Lila said the ENT kept repeating 1 question - kept asking her if she smokes. She said she gave him the same answer: smoked cigarettes as a teenager and quit a very very long time ago.
Having earned several graduate degrees and being extremely middle class, Lila had quickly dropped the smoking around her college years. The ENT at the non - hospital emergency facility finally quieted but not before terrifying her (after giving her a local anesthetic nasal spray and scoped her nasal cavaties) that he had very serious concerns about her voice box.
Lila asked me to make her an appointment with her regular ENT, not the ENT who treated her that night before.
I got her an appointment for the next day.
I was baffled by her strange empty vocal tone and very slow speech rate. Then I could no longer resist it. The Internet.
I wound up deciding that she was suffering from Epiglottitis which can become life threatening within minutes. I was really scared because the sources I read indicated that a person suffering from Epiglottitis presents with a voice that is described as "hot potato voice." The other possibilities were Adult Croup (less common than Pediatric, but more severe) an abscess in her neck, or mumps because she was out of it and couldn't say for sure whether or not she had had mumps as a kid. Lila wasn't born in the generation that was afforded a mumps vaccine.
Lila completed the office visit that next day with her regular ENT.
Lila was diagnosed with an abscess on one side of her neck and cellulitis of the throat. Remember the part where I wrote that she had cut herself on a paint can but the hospital focused entirely on a possibility of a hairline fracture? Lila told me that nobody had cleaned the paint can cut. Her regular ENT could not say for certain if a neglected cut on a leg could have had a role in this abscess. This visit to the regular ENT worked well. Apparently Lila was so ill that the ENT had to secure a prior authorization for home treatment (fortunately processed quickly) consisting of a Heparin Well to be established, maintained and filled with a "designer" antibiotic ( I don't feel comfortable giving the drug's name) by a nurse several times a week for 7 days or so. Lila's family members are helping her inbetween the nurse's visits.
During one of these visits, Lila consulted the nurse about a lesion in the center of her forehead. The nurse thinks that Lila has Shingles. Lila received an antiviral cream. That night, another lesion appeared uncomfortably close to Lila's eye. Not wanting to tempt fate, Lila saw her dermatologist the next day. The dermatologist confirmed the Shingles diagnosis and prescribed a course of antivirals and maintaining the cream that the IV nurse had started. Lila is on the mend, but will visit an opthamologist in a few days to ensure that the Shingles isn't on a slow creep.
SO WHY HAVE I JUST PROVIDED THESE GROSS DETAILS?
1. Fact: low cost or free generic antibiotics don't afford those of us without insurance access to the very important "designer" antibiotics.
2. Fact: Lila's insurance company forced her to come up with her deductable payment of approximately $1800.00 at the time of service.
3. Fact: I do excellent research finding Patient Assistance Programs. I can't find ones that offer "Designer Antibiotics."
4. Fact: I'm uninsured and I'm scared. Should anything like that happen to me or anyone else without insurance, the most WE (without insurance AND cash) will get from an ER is MAYBE ONLY 1 DESIGNER ANTIBIOTIC SHOT & 1 PREDNISONE SHOT and we shall get sent home with nothing else.
5. Here's my clincher: INSURED PATIENTS WHO PAY RIDICULOUS AMOUNTS OF DEDUCTABLE CASH UP FRONT, EXTORTED FROM THEM - TO GET ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY "DESIGNER" ANTIBIOTICS WILL, LIKE MY FRIEND, LILA SURVIVE A SYSTEMIC SUPER INFECTION.
6. The rest of us won't survive a systemic super infection with non - designer antibiotics.
7. Do you want to stop this? You can help by insisting that our media stop running away from confronting the REAL AND IMMEDIATE IMPACT OF BEING DENIED "DESIGNER" ANTIBIOTICS. Save the truth about overuse of antibiotics spreading systemic "super - infections" for later.
Politicians need to know that we know that insured patients get the "designer" antibiotics but the
rest of us get "Jack."