Bike News, Bike Tips

Skin Infections and Cycling

This information comes from Team Brain and Spine, here in Austin, Texas. One of their team members almost died from a Streptococcal infection after a simple case of “road rash” from an accident on a road bike. MRSA is also a debilitating pathogen and there is some information at the story concerning MRSA infection prevention. Here is Mark’s story:

I am home from Seton Hospital today after a week of suffering and agony. I have suffered through body aches, nausea, rapid resting heart rate (>120 RP), fever (>105 F), diarrhea (10x day), vomiting (4x day), low blood pressure (<75 systolic), skin rash, and pink eye just to mix
it up. As you might imagine, I lost a lot of fluid and was severely dehydrated. I went to the hospital. After a 6 hour stretch in the emergency room (4 hours longer than anticipated), we were transferred to ICM. I had expected to spend 90 minutes pumping in 2 liters of IV, a hot in the fanny, and a `good day sir’. ICM, unfortunately, was my next step. ICM appears to be the bench for intensive care – kind of holding pen for people who get one more chance before going in for
their final battle. I spent my time laying bed while sucking down 16 liters of IV plus 4 liters of other concoctions and shots. Yep, that’s more than 20% of my body weight.

While not the primary focus, here it is worth mentioning that I endured 96 hours without more than 15 minutes of sleep. The sleep deprivation was so bad that by the end of the stretch I was able to dream the instant my eyes closed. It was like operating on in two worlds simultaneously. With my eyes closed I was still aware of the ‘real world’ through hearing and touch and was present in my conscience. One world was sterile and predictable with lots of alarms, cords, straps, contraptions. The other world a constantly array of ever changing shapes, people, places, objects, and patterns which would dissolve into each other to form the next scene. Sometimes, there would be near darkness with a bit a light. Following the light led to a new room of activity. With sounds still in my ears I would occasionally ‘try’ open my eyes – not certain if they were open or not. Some scenes felt so real and inviting – sometimes relevant to the surroundings that the only difference was a small variance. I could see the hospital alcove in which I lay with monitors, gadgets, prods, and a horse looking over the curtain. I checked on that one –
everything in place, but no horse.

Back to reality. I just got home. After the ordeal, I am left with the following…

1. It takes a huge effort to walk across the house by myself. A straight line is completely impossible at the moment.
2. My total caloric consumption for the period was approximately 500 calories (that’s total for 5 days). With a typical consumption of about 20,000 calories over a 5 day period. I should be down about 5.5 pounds to 166. Interestingly I weighed in at astonishing 183 lbs! My first look in the mirror explained in. My body was hoarding water everywhere it possibly could.
3. My platelet count dropped from 250 to as low as 50 before recovering to around 120 at last check. I will have a lot of work to do to make that back up. The doctor suggested that I could start “walking” a bit next week.
4. Most importantly, Carmen completely saved the week. Despite my endless whining and whimpering, she still took really good care of me and still managed to take care two sick children who had all the usual needs. Everyone should be so lucky.

Oh, and in case your keeping score, doctors deduced from the symptoms that it was Streptococcal toxic shock picked up from the minor road rash that I got at the Driveway on Sunday. The wound was even cleaned within 5 minutes of the crash. You have most of the pertinent facts.

Stay healthy.
Mark

More about MRSA and Information from Team Brain and Spine:

Sorry it has taken awhile but I just wanted to let everyone know about 2 medical items everyone should have with them at all times. Keep these at home and take them with you when you travel. Both of these medications will help treat and keep you from getting infections, most importantly the MRSA infection.

If you are not familiar with the MRSA infection you should be. Everyone has the MRSA virus living on and in your body at all times, but it is not always trying to kill you. The problem is that if you cause it to become active, it WILL try and kill you! And how does it happen?

Well the main reason that it happens is because of open wounds, cuts, sores, etc. This is very important to us cyclists. If you get a saddle sore, a cut from a crash or even a razor cut and the MRSA virus becomes active, if it is not treated aggressively and quickly, there is more than remote chance that it will kill you! Not can, but will!

MRSA lives in your nose and under your finger nails, a bad combination when you think about having a cut or saddle sore that you pick at with your hands. The first thing to remember is to NEVER EVER pick at sores, cuts etc. Second is to keep the wound clean and covered with the proper medicine.

First off everyone should go purchase these items, Hibiclens and Bactroban or Mupirocin which is another version. Anytime you get a sore, cut etc, you should wash the area with the Hibiclens and then put the Bactroban ointment on the wound. Keep the wound covered so that you don’t pick at it and repeat the process until the wound is healed.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that washing with soap and using alcohol or some other solution will keep you from getting an infection. It will not!

Watch the area for signs of an infection. If you see a red area that expands away from the wound and grows larger than what you saw at first, go to the emergency room immediately and get treatment. DON”T WAIT!

If you have a chance go on line and read about the MRSA infection so you are aware of its symptoms and treatments.

Chuck

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