A pretty rose still has thorns

A rose by any other name still has thorns, and my bushes are no exception. The winter’s rains nourished the row of white rose bushes one spring, repeat bloomers that cheer the travelers down our back alley. That spring, I grabbed my clippers to perform a seasonal hair cut on the branches. In my eagerness to complete the task, I completely forgot my gloves. How serious could that be, with only four bushes to tackle? I was already thinking about the lemonade I would enjoy later. That was the fantasy anyway, when one tiny thorn pricked the knuckle space in my hand. Initially, I washed the area with soap and water.

Later that evening, the injured finger became mildly swollen, pink, and somewhat painful. The next morning, symptoms had worsened. Mercifully, I was able to see a doctor that day. It seems a “rose thorn puncture” had some clout when requesting an appointment. Sporotrichosis (or “rose gardener’s disease”) is a fairly common infection; and is MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureu), which was my likely diagnosis. I was sent home with antibiotics and instructions to go “to an Emergency Room” if my hand grew any worse. Unfortunately, it did. A red streak was now headed up my hand.

The ER visit involved more precautionary instructions along with a slow drip of antibiotics directly into my veins. I was sent home with additional antibiotics. I was shocked at how quickly this infection progressed, especially given my excellent health.

Spring is a wonderful season for celebrating all the blossoms and beauty in a garden, especially when you’ve taken the proper safety precautions. The best way to prevent a rose-thorn injury is to don protective gloves. Should the wound become red, or swollen, it is crucial to see a health care professional immediately. I’ve learned firsthand, this is serious business. I’m still terrified of trimming roses. My instincts are telling me to steer clear of those bushes and ask my husband to prune them instead. Now, I just need to find him.

Maureen has more than 30 years of experience as a registered nurse working with diverse populations across varied medical specialties, including  public health and community training programs.


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