So imagine this visual. I was just admitted to the hospital by the Emergency Room (ER) physician with a major infection in my left breast tissue expander. The hospital transporter was literally rolling me on a stretcher from the emergency department to my room with tubes and IV’s hanging from all areas of my body. The reconstructive physician, Dr. Z, who blew me off in the middle of the night calls my cell phone. My significant other answers (Dave, but remember we call him Phil) and gave the phone to me. The physician proceeds to tell me that even though I have an 18,000 white blood cell count, even though they are admitting me into the hospital with 103 temperature and even though the emergency department physician told me I had a major infection, he said, “Lisa, I still don’t believe you have an infection.”
OK, so the long history of Crites crazy genes had to come out sometime and this was the time!!!!
I said Dr. Z, “You have got to be f’ing kidding me. I have been sick for nearly 24 hours, I have this gross green puss coming from my left armpit, the entire left side of my chest is blood red and you are sitting at your office diagnosing a non-infection without seeing me because you punted me to my primary care physician? Furthermore, the clinicians here at the hospital, who have been examining me for the last four hours are telling me the opposite of what you are trying to make me believe. You need to get on the same page as everyone else or you are fired.”
Wow, after four years, does that feel good to get out!!!! Needless to say, I hung up on him.
I don’t remember much after that as I was in so much physical pain the clinicians kept me drugged. I do remember the infection was deep into the chest and stomach tissue (commonly known as cellulitis) I could hardly sit up or lie down by myself; I literally had no core strength. They continued to take the drainage from the post-surgical drain for testing in trying to figure out the specific strain of infection. At one time they expected it was methicillin-resistant staph infection, otherwise known as MRSA, and discussed the possibility of having my hospital room quarantined until the pathology report was completed, and the specific strain of infection was confirmed.
I spent the first couple of nights at Wuesthoff Medical Center, and then transferred by ambulance to their sister hospital, where I was then referred to an infectious disease doctor. That physician, along with my primary care physician, Dr. Mostafavi, worked together on a care plan for what was stated as a ‘hospital acquired’ infection.
By the way, finally, after 48 hours, Dr. Z blessed me with a visit; when he saw my chest his eyes became HUGE, he sat down and was speechless. I then said, “Dr. Z, do you think I have an infection now?”
Statistically, surgical site infections after breast cancer surgery are decently high in nature with healthcare costs associated being enormous. In a recent study conducted by the American Hospital Association, out of 1,000 patients, surgical site infections were identified in:
• 4.4% of patients following a mastectomy
• 12.4% of patients following a mastectomy surgery with implants
• 6.2% of patients following a mastectomy using a procedure known as a TRAM flap
Of these cases, 96% were readmitted to the hospital.
Lisa F. Crites
Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor
Corporate Healthcare Consultant
Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist