Wednesday, February 20, 2008


This week I was diagnosed with MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). You can pronounce MRSA as “mursa” for short. Apparently everyone else in the world has heard of this super-bug, except for me and Robb. But now we know way too much about it. It is essentially a staph infection that is resistant to most antibiotics. Because of its resistance to antibiotics it can be very difficult to treat. It is very possible to have MRSA for life and if it gets bad enough it could kill you. Most people contract it from staying in a hospital. However, a trend is emerging where it is also becoming prevalent in the community. I’m not sure how I contracted it, but I’m pretty sure I contracted it this summer, while still living in Florida. I had symptoms starting in July, but I didn’t see a doctor because I didn’t have insurance.

This past weekend a cyst formed on my cheek that grew so large and swollen that my left eye was almost swollen shut. My doctor’s office is closed on the weekend, so we were sent to Urgent Care in Tacoma on Sunday. The doctor gave me an IV to administer antibiotics (I hate IVs more than anything. Give me a shot any day, but I loathe IVs. It was very painful and scary to have an IV. I feel very sorry for the nurses who have to give them to me, because as hard as I try to stay calm, I usually end up crying out and then crying a lot.) The doctor also took a culture so that she could test for MRSA. It takes two days to test for MRSA, but I was given a booklet explaining MRSA.

On Monday (President’s Day – no work for me) I was much worse. Everything was much more swollen and painful. Robb had to work and I insisted that he not miss it, so I drove myself to Urgent Care. Dr. T decided to give me another IV with antibiotics that specifically fight MRSA (even though my test results weren’t back yet.) So I was subjected to another IV. Administering this medication took over an hour, and then an additional hour of saline. They put me in a private room and I tried to watch a movie. But I was mostly feeling sorry for myself because the IV hurt and I was in pain. They gave a narcotic to help with the pain, and while the narcotic made me very dizzy and tired, it didn’t help with the pain. Because I was administered narcotics, Robb left work early to pick me up from Urgent Care and take me home. I slept most of the day and into the evening. Found that vicodin works wonderfully well for my pain.

The next day I was doing a little better, but not much. Because I was still in a lot of pain and taking vicodin, I called in sick to work. I finally had a doctor’s appointment in my local clinic. Although I wouldn’t be seeing my doctor, the local clinic would have my test results and discuss next steps in treatments. When I got to the doctor’s office the nurse looked at my chart on the computer and immediately told me I had MRSA. Dr. S came in and took several minutes to look at my chart. During that time he was coughing and not covering his mouth and also seemed extremely impersonal. He didn’t ask me anything about how I was doing or how I felt. When he finally finished reading my chart and making personal notes, he told me that he needed to get a culture to see what I had. I said, “Oh, the nurse just told me I had MRSA.” Dr. S said “oh, okay”. He then told me I need a shot of antibiotics. I asked what they were and he said that it was the same antibiotics I’d had via IV the night before. I was confused as to why one was in IV form and one was in shot form, but oh well. So I got a shot and was told to make another appointment for the next day to follow up. I was also told, twice, that I was not allowed to return to work.

Around 4:30 that afternoon Dr. S called me and told me that I needed to go to Urgent Care immediately and get another antibiotic. The ones I’d been receiving were not working. I asked if it was to be an IV or shot and he DIDN’T KNOW! So, Robb and I fought rush hour traffic and made it to Tacoma, where I wasn’t seen until well after 7:30. Dr. T (from the day before) came to talk to me. She asked what Dr. S had sent me to Urgent Care for. I told her and she was concerned. Apparently, even though I told Dr. S that I had MRSA, he didn’t comprehend it. The shot he had given me was a completely useless antibiotic. The “new” antibiotic I needed to get immediately that evening was the one I had received the night before. I asked Dr. T if I was allowed to return to work, and she said “of course you can.” So, Dr. S didn’t read my whole chart, wasted my time earlier in the day, told me I wasn’t allowed to go to work, and gave me medicine that I did not need. Robb and I were livid. Dr. T encouraged us to make a formal complaint about Dr. S, which we are planning to do.

So, while I was there, Dr. T decided that another round of the antibiotics would do me some good, and she added another kind of antibiotic. So there I was, ready for my next IV. Goody. The nurse they brought in to do it though was excellent and had techniques for me to calm myself a little. Again, extremely painful and I cried a lot, but Robb was there to hold my hand and help calm me down. After a couple of hours it was time for me to go home again. This time they left the IV in my arm and wrapped it. This was so if I needed more antibiotics on Wednesday, they wouldn’t have to re-stick me.

Now we’re to today. I had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon (again not with my primary care doctor, but at least it wasn’t Dr. S). My pain and swelling has decreased, so Dr. V decided that I didn’t need anymore IV drugs. Yay! The IV was taken out. I am to continue on my oral antibiotics and come back Friday for another follow-up appointment. I am on several different oral and topical antibiotics. I look like I’m a walking-pharmacy. Apparently MRSA is pretty contagious, so I need to be vigilant about using antibacterial products constantly. Luckily it doesn’t seem as though Robb will get it, and I’m not really close enough to other people for them to catch it from me (although apparently pets can contract it. The cats seem fine though.)

So that’s my MRSA ordeal. Dr. S was terrible. Dr. T was amazing (she even called to check up on me today.) I hope on Friday when I finally meet with my primary care doctor that he can tell me more about the long-term issues with MRSA and if I will have it for life. I’ve never been really sick before, so to have a super-bug is somewhat strange. Let’s hope that the outbreaks are few and far between.

And finally, I want to say that my husband has been absolutely amazing. He currently has a knee injury from work, but has dropped everything and ignored his pain to take care of me. I feel incredibly lucky that he is with me.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Washington Caucusing 101

I approached my first caucus with a little bit of excitement and nervousness. Other states I've lived in don't caucus, they participate in primaries. So I was psyched to partipate in my new state's voting system. (Full disclosure for those that don't know, I received my BA in political science and was extremely involved with Virginia Democrat state politics during college. I am a politcal junkie/nerd.) An interesting tidbit about the voting process here: this year Washington had a caucus on Feb. 9 and will have a primary on Feb. 19. I'm not sure of the exact reasoning behind it (I think a lawsuit and/or legislation change), but that means that people can decide on their method of voting. The Republicans will allocate 50% of their delegates based on caucus results and 50% of their delegates based on the primary results. The Democrats, however, will only be allocating their delegates based on caucus results. So, any Democrat who votes by primary will not have their vote counted. Unfortunately not a lot of people know this, so I'm sure that thousands of people will vote via the primary on Feb. 19, but won't have their vote counted. It's very strange. And I'm not quite sure what to think of my beloved Democrats for choosing to make such a stupid decision. So anyway, I made sure to head to my caucus in order for my vote to count.

I looked up my caucus location on Friday (good thing too, the caucus locator tool on the state Democrat website was so overloaded on Saturday that it crashed) and headed to the middle school cafeteria about 12:30 on Saturday. The caucus was scheduled to start at 1:00, but I wanted to make sure that I could get parking. I'm glad I went early, parking was already difficult, but I found space for my car. I went into the middle school hallway and found a couple of tables with giant maps. I had to locate where I lived in order to determine my precinct. Once I found my precinct I entered the cafeteria and had to find the table with my precinct number. The table was already overflowing, so we "stole" a table next to us and pushed them together. I was able to sit down, but later in the afternoon, our precinct was so crowded that people had to stand as well.

In fact, the entire cafeteria just became packed. There was standing room only, all the tables and chairs were being used. There had to be at least 400 people in that room (my precinct alone had almost 40 people). There was an announcement made towards the end of the voting process that people needed to be aware that cops were ticketing cars outside, because people couldn't find enough parking, so they parked in fire lanes, on private driveways, double-parked, etc. It was complete madness. I was told that in the last caucus (2004) only 20 people were in the entire room. Washington caucusing in the past has meant very little because the presidential nominee was usually already decide by this late date. It's a rare treat for Washingtonians to caucus and for it to be meaningful! And it was very inspiring and heart-warming to see so many people care so deeply about being a Democrat and being a part of this election.

Eventually each table was given a packet of information and we voted on a precinct captain. (He acted like he knew what he was doing and had been around awhile. Turns out he wasn't the strongest leader and really struggled to get through his duties. He had a lot of help from surrounding people, including myself, to get through the day.) We then had to pass around sign-in sheets, that also included a space for us to write in our choice for presidential nominee. After everyone signed the sheets, we then tallied the first vote. In the first round of voting for my precint, we had 24 people vote for Obama and 15 people vote for Clinton. Our precint was assigned 5 delegates, so that meant 3 delegates were allocated to Obama, and 2 to Clinton. (Picture below is of person tallying votes - I helped!)

After this was determined, we then had time to speak about our choice for candidates to try to change other voters' minds. A lot of people talked about Clinton's experience and healthcare plan. And others discussed Obama's "change" ability and his inspirational leadership. I decided to chip in my thoughts on Obama. (I discussed the electibility issue. A lot of people actively do not like Clinton and would vote for McCain just to ensure that she didn't gain office. However, because Obama is much more moderate, he would have a much better chance of winning against moderate McCain. A lot of people, Republicans and Democrats, like McCain. For the Democrats to have a chance of winning the White House, we need a moderate Democrat like Obama to battle McCain. In fact, a article this weekend said that polling showed Obama would have a much better shot agains McCain than Clinton would. I had a couple of people tell me that my "speech" was the most relevant, convincing, and eloquent. That was nice to hear!) It was interesting that almost everyone who spoke about their candidates prefaced their speech by saying that both Obama nad Clinton are phenomenal people, excellent candidates, and either would do well in the White House. So most people were very amicable and just happy to be a part of the political process.

After everyone who cared to gave their little stump speech, we voted for a second time. No one changed their votes. So we were stuck with our original tally, 3 delegates for Obama and 2 for Clinton. Now this is where it gets a tad confusing, and I'm sorry if I don't explain it very well. We then had to vote on who are precinct delegates. These precinct delegates will attend our state convention, held in April. The precinct delegates will then officially vote for the state's delegates for the national convention. So, because Clinton was awarded 2 delegates for our precinct, Clinton supporters needed to vote on 2 people to attend the caucus to vote for her. Originally 3 Clinton supporters wanted to be a delegate, but 1 decided to take her name out so that no one had to vote. That was easy enough. But then, for the 3 Obama spots we had available, over 10 people wanted to be delegates. It took awhile for everyone to figure out the best way to vote (we had to have a paper trail for legal reasons.) But it was eventually figured out. I'm not sure if it was the best way to conduct business, but oh well. The day was so overwhelming for everyone and the crowds were so unexpected, that we just had to make due the best way we could.

It was nice to feel as though Washington made a difference. As I'm sure you saw, Obama got 68% of the vote in Washington. I got to be a part of that!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Yakima, Weather, and Nothing

Even though there's not a lot going on, I suppose I need to write something. I was recently told that someone "lives" for reading my blogs. So, to my many fans...

I'm sorry to say that there's not a lot going on right now. I spent a couple of days in Yakima the end of January for work. Yakima is about a 2.25 hour drive from Seattle, but because of the snow in the mountains, we took a flight that took about 35 minutes. In the summer and fall Yakima apparently has things to do. There are lots of wineries and hundreds of fruit stands/orchards. But, in winter, Yakima is very boring. I didn't even take any pictures.

I'm sure you've heard about the copious amount of snow in the Northwest the past couple of weeks. The mountains close to us have received lots and lots of snow. And in Puget Sound there were a couple of days with some heavyish snowfall (by heavy I mean it snowed enough that snow was on the ground for a few hours). One day my vanpool chose to wait two hours to go to work to wait for the roads to get better. But the snow usually turns to rain by the afternoon and it all melts off in the afternoon.

That's about it for me. I'm actually starting to get really busy at work. Which makes the work day go a lot faster and makes me feel very productive. I've got several trips scheduled for March. I get to go back to the very exciting Yakima a couple of times. One trip is overnight, and one trip is the type where I fly there in the morning and fly home at night. And I will be spending four whole days in Spokane again as well. (In the meantime, my sister's business trips in the next few months include San Antonio and the Dominican Republic. Spokane and Yakima is just as exciting. Right?)