The time Adam Avitable may have had a MRSA or staph infection and almost died

The Time I Would Have Died If The Amateur Doctors Of The Internet Hadn’t Saved Me

When I woke up Sunday, I went through my typical morning ritual where I stare at my naked body for an hour or two in the mirror, giving myself mental high fives for not giving into any of the traditional definitions of “beauty” or “health” or “fitness” or “ew, why won’t he put a shirt on”. And that’s when I noticed it, right above my right armpit, pulsing and throbbing and red and painful.

“Must be a zit,” I thought as I contorted my arms into such a way as to actually be able to probe the swollen mass. I squeezed it and pushed it, but there was no release. “I’ll give it some time, and then I’ll pop the hell out of it,” I said out loud, because I live alone and talking out loud helps fill the growing void of loneliness and despair.

The next day, it had not improved. In fact, the redness had started to spread around my arm. I began to suspect that maybe this was not a zit after all, but a spider bite. Possibly late Saturday night, I had cuddled with a brown recluse without even realizing it, and maybe she bit me because I wouldn’t let her be the big spoon. It’s not the first time in my life that’s happened. “I’ll just power through it, and let Mitt the Zit burn out on its own. No big deal,” I said to Phil, my microwave.

Tuesday morning, the swelling had not decreased. When I probed Mitt, it felt like there was liquid inside, and it was very painful to the touch. The redness looked angry now, and my arm throbbed and tingled frequently. “It’s time to go on the offensive,” I whispered to my army of ready fingers (whispering to avoid giving Mitt notice of the impending attack). With a mighty battle cry (which I think was “Owwwwwwwiieeeeee!”), I grabbed a loofah and exfoliated it until it bled. Or oozed. I couldn’t really see through the veil of tears.

When that hadn’t fixed anything, I decided to turn to the Internet. I posted a photo (see artist’s rendition below) online and joked (okay, I wasn’t joking) about it hurting and wanting my mom.

The time Adam Avitable may have had a MRSA or staph infection and almost died

Between Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, well over 60 people commented on the photo, none of whom agreed with my assessment that I should just tough it out. In fact, when I suggested that I just get a scalpel and drain it myself, I am pretty sure I heard someone scream out “YOOOOU IDIOT” all the way from Milwaukee. I got several phone calls and texts, and some of the people were nurses and medical professionals. I ignored those people, of course, and listened to the people with anecdotes about how their grandfather got bit by a spider on his eyeball and it swelled up to the size of the planet Neptune and he contracted a staph infection and then MRSA and then herpes and then AIDS and then his arm rotted off and he became a zombie and they had to shoot him in the head to stave off an attack.

Clearly, I was going to die. I looked at my options. I could go to a doctor and get it treated, or I could finally make my People Who Deserve To Die Before I Do list a reality. On my way to Walmart to pick up a gun, I passed an Urgent Care center and decided that visiting the doctor might be cheaper than buying those thousands and thousands of bullets.

After an hour of waiting and $120 of my money, the doctor came in, looked it over, said it was draining well, bandaged it up, and gave me a prescription for antibiotics. And then, as he was about to leave the room, he turned and looked at me. The lights dimmed, and his eyes glowed red as he pointed at me. “It’s good you came when you did. If you hadn’t, you would have DIIIIEEEEEEED” he bellowed before disappearing in a puff of sulfuric smoke.

So, thank you, Internet, for saving my life and also for making me deathly afraid of staph infections and MRSA and spider bites and necrotizing tissue and amputation and all of these things that I never thought about until yesterday.  Can you take a look at this hangnail and let me know what you think?

37 thoughts on “The Time I Would Have Died If The Amateur Doctors Of The Internet Hadn’t Saved Me”

  1. So after rocking and chanting repeatedly to myself my wish to be able to unsee your FB image post, I *did* think about commenting. My boyfriend just had a similar problem with his toe, which I recommended simply amputating as the pink was rising rapidly up his foot and the broken blister on his toe was seeping buckets full of puss. Non-stop. The reason I hesitated was that he *did* have a staph infection and I didn’t want to freak you out. With the location of the disgusting wound, you would be losing the whole damn arm. Unlucky for you it was above the elbow.

    So glad others came to your rescue. If this happens again, let me know. I offered to remove my boyfriend’s toe with gardening clippers. Can do the same for you. It would save you $120 next time.

  2. Thank God you had $120. A lot of people don’t and would be all “Hmmm? Am I going to die from this? LET’S WAIT AND SEE BECAUSE I HAVE NO $ OR INSURANCE!”

    Did you see how I threw a little politics into the comments? Sneaky bitch, eh?

    GLad you’re going to live.

  3. Funny thing about this. One of my very first case studies when I was working on my NP thingie was about a “spider bite”. Cuz, apparently, everyone always thinks they get bit by spiders. And it is hardly EVER a spider bite, but instead, a staph infection. And sometimes, of course, MRSA (which is just really nasty staph). And the way to tell is that it does indeed turn you into a zombie (and grows really really fast). I’m glad you went and got it looked at and treated. Want me to tell you about a “bread poultice”? :)

    1. @Megan, when I was putting on deodorant the day before, the deodorant itself fell off the container and I accidentally scraped my armpit with the plastic. I think that irritated it and then it just became a mild staph infection.

  4. I knew someone who had a brown recluse bite, and the only thing that saved her after toughing it out for two weeks was Benedryl. The doctor also told her she could have died. Maybe it was the same doctor?

  5. I JUST got back from the clinic with my daughter. The bottom of her leg and her foot looked like your armpit and the skin was red and so tight it looked like a balloon was going to burst.

    Fire Ants bites. Staph infection. 10 days of antibiotics. $79 at CVS Minute Clinic. Free antibiotics at Publix. Good times.

    Hope you heal quickly.

  6. Not that I am not horrified at your ordeal and sympathetic, but your doctor disappearing in a cloud of smoke after delivering that line? Smug bastard. No way to sneak in a smart-ass retort when there’s nobody there. Not having the last word may be worse than spending the $120. No, wait, $120??? That’s definitely worse.

  7. God that made me laugh so much! My partner is prone to this sort of random skin stuff too and instead of seeking medical advice prefers to try and tackle the problem himself via acts of ‘home surgery’.

    I am often roped in as an unwilling assistant to help with probing, lancing and squeezing, and over the last 11 years I’ve seen things that you just can’t un-see.

    So I’m glad you actually went and got it sorted out before it turned into a septic mess. Quite frankly I’ve only just found your blog and you’re too funny to die just yet ; )

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