For an upcoming “Zero Birthday” I gave myself the gift of a vanity surgery in the form of lipoplasty. All was going well after two weeks until I awakened in the middle of the night to a burning sensation in the area of the incision. After daylight, I could see there was a red circle about the size of a baseball on my lower tummy. I went to the surgeon who’d performed the surgery and with a ball point pen, he drew a circle around it, giving me instructions that if the redness spread I was to come back. Twenty four hours later, the redness had spread up my front and around my back. I had a fever of 105 and uncontrollable chills and shivering. I was admitted to the ER and hooked to an IV of antibiotics. I began to vomit and don’t remember much other than a plastic surgeon reopened up my incision to allow pus to drain from it. Two days later, a team of gowned, gloved and masked nurses whisked me and all my belongings away to an “isolation room.” They told me I had a superbug called MRSA.

I spent 8 days in the hospital My fever broke about the sixth day. Tired of being in bed and needing to relieve myself I went to the restroom where I was startled by the figure of a man with gray hair, yellow eyes and ashen skin. Seeing myself in the mirror was the first time I really saw what the disease had done to me. I’ll never forget seeing myself and not recognizing “me.” On the 8th day I was released and instructed on how to give myself intravenous anti-biotics for the next four weeks. My follow up lab tests came back negative three days after my special Zero Birthday. I asked the attending doctor on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the worst, how bad was I? She would only say that she was very concerned for me those first two days.

Three months later, I uncontrollably broke down in tears when I realized I might have been yet another victim of MRSA. My tears were of joy, anger and gratefulness all wrapped into one. It was at that moment I realized I’ve been given “bonus time” and am one of the lucky few.