Emma – a summer camp story

My name is Emma. Last summer I spent 2 weeks at a horse riding camp that changed my life.

I’ve been riding for years, so when I fell off my horse during a routine jumping lesson I didn’t really think much of it. After the lesson, my instructor took me inside to have a look at my leg. I had skinned it a bit, but it wasn’t even bleeding. Since it wasn’t serious we just rinsed it and put a plaster on it.

About a week later I woke up to incredible pain in my leg; it was throbbing and red and swollen to about the size of a football.

The bruising was pretty bad, and at first this confused the doctors and they weren’t sure what had happened. Eventually they figured out that it was an infection, and took some blood tests to find out what kind. When the tests came back I learned that it was a staph infection. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, and I figured since I was in a hospital I’d be safe..

But the recovery was awful. They put me on IV antibiotics right away, I didn’t get any better. They told me I had MRSA – an infection resistant to antibiotics. I was terrified when I heard the word MRSA– that’s one of those ‘superbugs you hear about in the news where people die or are really ill for ages. I was getting worse, and I was really, really scared and my family were too.

The doctors tried lots of different antibiotics and eventually I had to have surgery to get rid of the infected blood. They used strips of silver, which I guess are antibacterial, to draw out the infection.

After the operation they sent me home with some oral antibiotics, but those made me really, really sick, and they obviously weren’t working either, because my leg started to hurt again the same way that it had before. So I went back to the hospital and they put me back on even more different IV antibiotics.

I spent two more weeks at the hospital. Eventually I started to get better, and they sent me home, with portable IV antibiotics, where they give you the stuff in a little bag with a tube hooked up to your arm. I carried that around for another 3 days.

I never knew that you could get so sick from something as simple as a skinned knee. I know now how lucky I am that the doctors found a way to treat the MRSA. The operation helped, but without the antibiotics I might not have made it. I will never take antibiotics for granted again, and I will never over-use them again, because now I know just how important they are.

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