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Letter To The Editor: Government Should Fund Development Of New Antibiotics

on December 6, 2017 - 8:06am
By RICHARD NEBEL
Los Alamos

This is a response to the Post’s recent article (link) from NMDOH concerning antibiotic use, as well as an earlier article that was run concerning sepsis.

About two and a half years ago, I went into the ER with a sore throat and a low-grade fever. I was concerned that I might have strep and they gave me the standard test. It came back negative. The doctor said that it must be viral, so he sent me home with no medication. He suggested that I take some Tylenol for the fever.

Three days later, I went back to the ER.  I had to stop three times walking across the LAMC parking lot to catch my breath. I had pneumonia in both lungs, my liver was swollen, and my kidneys were shutting down. The diagnosis came back the next morning. I had sepsis.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with sepsis, it is a bacterial infection in the blood. It’s also deadly. The mortality rate for sepsis is higher than heart attacks, stroke, and all but a few forms of cancer. A few days later, a Cat scan revealed that I had lesions (bags of puss) in my liver. They gave me a liver biopsy. They put me on the Cat scanner, and they took a hypodermic syringe with about a four-inch needle on it and stuck it in my liver. Then they took some pictures, stuck it in a little further, took some more pictures, and repeated the process. Forty minutes later they penetrated and drained the first lesion. The Cat scan room is kept at a low temperature, and I was shivering uncontrollably. They took me out and warmed me up for a couple of hours. Then they took me back to the Cat scanner and repeated the process to drain the second large lesion that I had.

Fortunately, this lesion wasn’t as deep and it only took about 10 minutes.

Although this all sounds pretty awful, the biopsy itself wasn’t that painful. The syringe they used had a local anesthetic. However, apparently all of the nerve endings are on the surface of your organs rather than internal to them. Later that evening the remaining puss apparently worked its way to the surface of my liver. The pain was excruciating. They gave me a dose of Morphine, but it didn’t even take the edge off of it. They wouldn’t give me any more because I was so sick that they were afraid that I would stop breathing. I literally wanted to die. Normally I tolerate pain pretty well (I’ve had gangrene before) but this I couldn’t handle.

Although the pain eventually subsided, I spent the next 12 weeks on intravenous antibiotics. I had some allergic reactions to those as well, but at least they finally cured the infection.

I apologize to the readers for writing such an awful, graphic letter, but I think people need to know what can happen to you when you TRULY NEED antibiotics and they don’t give them to you. If they had given me some antibiotics when I first went to the ER, I might have avoided some of these problems. The NMDOH and the NIH make this all seem so sterile and antiseptic. The above narrative is what it’s really like.

While the medical community’s policy of not routinely using antibiotics may be good public policy for slowing down antibiotic resistance, it isn’t good policy for individual patients. If the doctor misdiagnoses your problem as the ER did for me, the NMDOH and NIH policies can be deadly. The real solution is that we need to be developing new antibiotics. Unfortunately, there isn’t any money in developing new antibiotics. The only solution that I can see is for the government to fund the development.


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