Monday, July 9, 2012

Paging Dr. Facebook

“Don’t post that on Facebook.” 

This was my mother’s advice to me when my two-year-old came down with what we’re pretty sure was a MRSA outbreak.

If you’re not familiar with MRSA, it’s a strain of bacteria that’s resistant to many antibiotics. And the more we use antibiotics to treat it, the more resistant it becomes. (I’m no medical professional, so you might want to check out our Health Library for a more accurate description.)

My mom’s advice struck me as odd.

“Why not?” I asked her. I didn’t intend on posting my son’s infection on Facebook, but I was curious why she didn’t want me to.

“Because it scares people.”

Her logic for not wanting me to post the MRSA status was exactly my logic for why I would have posted it.

When my daughter had MRSA two years ago, I posted about it on Facebook.  I knew what MRSA was because I had written articles about it for the hospital where I was working. I knew how toddlers in daycare settings could easily spread it. I knew how the doctor was going to give her a super strong antibiotic to treat it.

But there was a lot I didn’t know. Like how to actually get my daughter to take medicine that smelled like mildewy socks smoldering in rotten eggs. Or if there was a special way I should be doing my laundry to kill the MRSA bacteria.

But my Facebook friends did. One of my Mommy friends who had recently been through a MRSA episode with her own toddler responded to my post with some tips on how she got her daughter to take the antibiotic. She also gave me a head’s up on what side effects her daughter had from the medicine—and how to manage those.

Here’s what I learned about MRSA from my Facebook friends:
My Mommy friend suggested I mix the medicine in with chocolate milk. She said her daughter gobbled it right up.
Another Mommy veteran recommended that after putting the medicine in her mouth, I should gently blow on her face. For some reason, this tends to make kids swallow.
She also suggested that we hold her nose after we put the medicine in her mouth. This, too, sometimes forces kids to gulp it down.
Someone else reminded me to feed my daughter lots of yogurt to replace the “good” bacteria in her gut that the antibiotic would eliminate.
My stepmother posted a link to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s website, which says that regular laundry cycles will kill the MRSA bug. (I wish I had read this one sooner. I’d already double-washed everything in the house with bleach and/or color-safe bleach.)

If anyone was scared about us having or spreading the MRSA bug, they didn’t say so on Facebook. Quite the opposite. I got great tips from friends who’d been there, done that.

Next time we’ve got some nasty bug going around our house, check my Facebook status for the gruesome details. And by all means, I’m stockpiling tips for if this ever visits our family again so please share more tips if you’ve got them.

Melanie Medina is a Senior Communications Specialist at Texas Health Resources.

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