A teeny red bump had mysteriously appeared on my left index finger. It hurt when I pressed on it. I figured it was nothing. . . .
That’s the start of the June Reflections essay in AJN, “Ms. Lisa and Ms. MRSA,” a patient experience narrative by freelance writer Shannon Harris. As luck would have it, the bump on her finger, it turns out, is not nothing. It’s MRSA.
The diagnosis takes a while. Finally the situation worsens, and surgery is needed. The author takes it all in stride, at least in retrospect:
The third physician stood out to me most. He asked to take a picture of my green and black, staph-infected finger with his iPhone. “Sure. Look at it! I thought this only happened to pirates,” I told him as he snapped away. He glanced at the young, button-nosed nurse standing beside him. “Don’t you want a picture? For your records?” he asked.
She shook her head, squinting and gritting her teeth. “I know. Yuck,” I said. I later shared photos of my infection journey online, to the great wonder and disgust of my friends and family. Before that, though, came surgery.
The author’s tone is light, but the situation is a scary one for any patient.
After various humorous episodes, nurses in this essay end up appearing in a pretty good light. One in particular plays an instrumental role in teaching this patient how to handle her necessary but not entirely pleasant self-care after surgery.
Patient teaching: whether for chronic conditions or postsurgical discharge, it gets more and more important all the time. And a sense of humor for both nurses and patients—well, it sometimes helps when things get a little stressful. Give the essay a read (it’s free) and see what you think.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor