My ordeal began three years ago, after giving birth to my son in a fancy New York City hospital. I’d heard stories about being sent home with designer gift bags. Well, I didn’t get a bag. Instead, I left with a bug: a MRSA infection, to be exact. An acronym for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, this type of staph (a bacteria we all have on our skin) has learned to outsmart standard antibiotics and cause sometimes fatal infections. While it’s common in hospitals, it also lurks in gyms, schools, and other public areas.
Of course, I didn’t realize I had the superbug until nearly a month later, when I was suffering through my third bout of mastitis—a breast infection that some women get while nursing. When I called my obstetrician, rather than prescribe an antibiotic, she told me to get to the hospital. Apparently, there had been a MRSA outbreak in the nursery when I delivered. I needed to have a culture taken, and so did my son.
When our tests came back positive, I was worried for our health, but also outraged. As a chronic leukemia patient, I had to stop taking the medication that keeps me in remission when I became pregnant. Because of that, I took extra precautions—seeing a high-risk obstetrician, having my cancer levels checked monthly, and even springing for a private hospital room. After risking my life to ensure a healthy pregnancy, I was then invaded by the germiest germ of all.