Antibiotic-resistant infections aren’t something you typically worry about, much less even think about, on a regular basis. But what happens when you get one? How does it change your life? With the growing misuse of antibiotics on factory farms, the concept of antibiotic-resistant infections is on people’s minds more than ever before.
A few years ago, an antibiotic-resistant infection changed the life of Nicole, a mom from Kensington, Maryland. Nicole leads what she jokingly calls a “pretty crunchy” lifestyle. She grows her own organic vegetable garden, sticks to local and organic meat, and limits the amount of processed foods in her pantry. Nicole was thrilled to breastfeed her new son Thomas, but when he was only three-and-a-half weeks old she developed mastitis.
“Sometimes the milk duct can get infected and it’s very painful,” Nicole said. “You’re supposed to work through it and I tried to do some homeopathic things to take care of it, but it got worse and worse. On a scale of 1 to 10, the pain became a 30.”
Nicole received antibiotics from her OB/GYN, but it quickly became apparent that they weren’t working. A team of doctors soon discovered that she had antibiotic-resistant MRSA in her breast. The infection was spreading rapidly, and everyone was concerned that Nicole’s C-Section incision would soon become septic as well. Nicole was stunned by the whole situation. “I felt like I needed Dr. House!”
By far the scariest part of Nicole’s infection was learning that it had spread to her breast milk.
“As a nursing mom you’re constantly sort of leaking milk,” Nicole said. “So there was basically MRSA oozing out of my breast and when you have a 4-week-old baby you don’t want anything like that touching him… I was afraid to feed or touch him.”
Luckily, Thomas did not contract MRSA. But Nicole was devastated when she found out that she could no longer breastfeed her son.
“It was devastating to me. The worst part of this whole thing for me was being told I couldn’t breastfeed anymore. It was worse than the pain. They robbed me of that experience with my child.”
It took over four months and a lengthy stay in the hospital for Nicole to finally beat her antibiotic-resistant infection. She’s better now, but is constantly worried about Thomas’ welfare. Her son is in school now, and she worries about the possibility of him contracting an antibiotic-resistant infection.
Nicole and Thomas’ story is very scary. But if we can convince factory farms to stop overusing antibiotics and allowing dangerous bacteria to develop, we can start to close the chapter on antibiotic-resistant infections. Take action now and tell Congress to save antibiotics for medicine, not factory farms.