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Late Start Today Thanks to the Flesh Eating Bacteria

Sorry for the late start to posting today. I had to go to the doctor to take care of the flesh eating bacteria. Well, OK, that’s a bit exaggerated, but I’m prone to sebaceous cysts, and every once in a while one gets infected. When that happens, it’s painful and nasty. But it’s provided a bit of a lesson on health care costs. See, like most people, I had no idea what it costs to see my doctor, because insurance has always paid for it.

Cost 45 bucks to see the doctor, and 4 dollars for the sulfa antibiotic he prescribed. It cost more to get my car inspected last month. Now granted, as some point that cyst is going to need to be removed, and that’s sure to cost more like 10x this amount. But the cost of kicking the can down the road a bit, until I get established with the next job and get on their health plan was a lot less than I expected it to be. Granted, because I was paying cash, the doctor gave me a break on his usual rate, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up making more doing a cash transaction than the office usually makes dealing with insurance companies.

Either way, hopefully the sulfa drug will take care of it. I was surprised to get prescribed that, given that this class of antibiotics has been around since World War II. But it turns out sulfa drugs are actually effective against most strains of resistant staph, which is apparently becoming uncomfortably common in community acquired infections. You want to really be frightened, the pharma industry isn’t really doing much in the way of looking for new antimicrobials. Because of the dangers of overuse, doctors are prescribing them less often, and the market has been getting smaller. In addition, if you do put a new class of antimicrobial on the market, you’re probably guaranteed to be a last line of defense, when all other antibiotics fail. This limits the market size and destroys the incentive to invest in the R&D, and antimicrobials are a tougher class of drugs than most. That’s a shame, because sulfa drugs have a high incidence of allergic reaction. While I’m pretty sure I had this class of sulfa drugs as a kid, I’m not 100% sure, so I’m hoping I tolerate it well. As much as medical science has advanced, it’s a real shame to have to rely on class of antimicrobials dating from World War II to deal with the modern drug-resistant bugs floating around out there.

9 Responses to “Late Start Today Thanks to the Flesh Eating Bacteria”

  1. Robert says:

    DARPA might have a replacement in the experimental stage.

  2. aeronathan says:

    My wife is an MD in residency. I shudder to think of all the superbugs I’ve probably been exposed to. Then again, if I haven’t gotten sick I’m probably building some hellacious immunity to things…

  3. Jake says:

    it’s a real shame to have to rely on class of antimicrobials dating from World War II to deal with the modern drug-resistant bugs floating around out there.

    Ironically, the sulfa-based drug is probably more effective simply because so many people are allergic to it that it isn’t commonly used. Resistant strains haven’t really had the opportunity to develop, whereas drugs like amoxicillin got handed out like candy for nearly everything under the sun for years.

  4. I was surprised to be prescribed sulfa recently for a skin infection. What next? Would the President give a fireside chat next? Would I have to drive a car with a rumble seat? Would I be allowed to order a Tommy gun through the mail?

    But it turns out that so many generations of bugs have been bred with resistance to antibiotics that suddenly, sulfa is a pretty effective treatment again.

    • Sebastian says:

      Seems to be pretty standard today for skin infections, from what I’ve read. They pretty much assume it’s MRSA, and if it’s not, the drug still works on plenty of other bacteria strains. I guess if it was good enough to keep Granpa’s German inflicted bullet wound from getting infected, it’ll work for my minor skin infection.

  5. denton says:

    If you catch the cyst early, get a hand towel wet, wring it out, and pop it in the microwave until it is as hot as you can stand against your skin. As it cools, refold it to expose additional warm surfaces. Keep it on for 15 minutes or so. Pops them little devils right open.

    • Sebastian says:

      I never seem to catch them early. I was treated for these when I was an adolescent, and for bad acne. The doctor promised me that the acne would clear when I get into my 20s, but that I’d be prone to the cysts my whole life. Both have turned out to be true.

      When they get infected, they pop right quick too, but it’s painful as hell until they do.

  6. Zermoid says:

    You’re lucky to be able to use the sulfa. I’m one of the allergic to it crowd!

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