10.8.2015 | 7:35 am

MRSA man, MRSA man
Doing things a MRSA man can
What’s it like?
Don’t want to know
MRSA man
—With apologies to “Particle Man” by They Might be Giants

I’ve left something out of one of my race writeups this year. Something important, at least to me. Something that has been, for the past two months or so, been the center of my life.

And I’ve got pictures. Although, to be fair, you may not want to see these pictures. I’m dead serious here, so I’m going to go bold italic red for a moment:

You may not want to see the pictures I’m going to show today, so might want to skip this post. 

Why? Because I’m going to be talking about the MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an antibiotic-resistent infection I’ve been living with.

You’ve been warned, OK?

It Started in Leadville, Maybe

There are many things to love about being a man with shaved legs. An almost overwhelming number, really. So many, in fact, that many male cyclists with naturally-burly leg hair (e.g., me) still go to the effort of keeping our legs smooth.

There is one drawback, however: occasional ingrown hairs. A hair somehow forgets that its job is to grow straight out and instead becomes a sullen, inward-pointing thing, trying to return from whence it came.

Maybe it’s Freudian. I don’t know. Nor do I care, really.

Generally when this happens, a zit-like red bump appears where the hair grew in. Within a couple days, it’s bothersome enough that you pick at it, dig it out, squeeze out the goo surrounding it, and carry on with your life.

No big whoop.

But about the time I got to Leadville this year, I had an unusually big ingrown hair. Or at least I thought it was an ingrown hair, and treated it as such: squeezing and digging and picking at it.

Someone should have put a cone of shame on my head right then.

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It might’ve saved me from the agony I was about to put myself through.

But nobody did put a cone of shame on me, and so I continued to push, squeeze, pick and otherwise mess with this sore, which was becoming both larger and more obvious to all those around me.

And yes, it was obvious and visible to those around me, for it was not on my buttocks area; it was on the left side of my right leg, just above the knee.

It got big enough that it often hit the top tube when I rode. It got red enough and oozy enough that people asked me if I’d perhaps been bitten by a rattlesnake and just hadn’t noticed it.

I told The Hammer that I thought it was infected and that I thought I needed antibiotics.

“You’re just being paranoid,” she replied. “Stop playing with the thing and it will go away.”

Well, ceasing to obsess and fiddle with this thing — this thing that was the very center of my existence, to be honest — was out of the question, so I called my doctor (couldn’t go to him, since I was in Leadville and he doesn’t make 7-hour-drive house calls), described what it looked like, and got a prescription for antibiotics.

By the day of the race, the redness and grossness of this bump had faded considerably. In fact, it had faded to the point that I don’t recall it hitting my top tube a single time, and thus cannot blame it for the twelve minutes I’d like to blame it for.



[A warning from Fatty: This is your last notice. Soon you’re going to see a picture, and you won’t ever be able to unsee it. Continue at your own risk.]

The Sunday I got back from Leadville, I did my laundry (by which I mean, “I put all my laundry in the hamper and all my clothes magically appeared clean and in their proper place). This was necessary because the next day I headed out to Austin for a three-day offsite meeting.

It was super fun.

On the flight home from that meeting, I was sitting on the plane, minding my own business, when — all of a sudden — a sharp pain began about three-quarters up the back of my right leg. Not severe, but sudden and surprising and painful. Like an ant had bitten it.

The next morning, I remembered the pain, reached around and felt where it had happened.

There was a bump. And it was tender and painful.

I got out a mirror and contorted myself into a position I won’t describe here. Not because I want to spare your feelings here, but because I lack the vocabulary to describe it with adequate precision.

I, apparently, was growing a little volcano out of the back of my leg. A volcane-let, if you will.

Luckily, however — since it was high up my leg and nowhere near my saddle — I was able to continue to ride, without particular pain, so long as I covered it with a bandaid or something so it wouldn’t get chafed by the constant motion of my bike shorts.

It got bigger and bigger each day. I tried to leave it alone, and utterly failed at this attempt. But bearing in mind that my wife had previously said I was just being paranoid with my last (oh-so-recent) sore, I didn’t do anything more.

In fact, on Saturday, The Hammer and I rode the Interlaken 100 (another story in my race report backlog). Even though the thing had grown to be the size of a racoon head (I’m exaggerating here; it was actually no larger than a squirrel’s head).

By Saturday night, however, it was hurting so much that I could not sleep. At all.

I took a picture of it, to get a better look at the thing. And then, aghast, I took another photo with a quarter beside it. For scale:

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I decided it was probably time to get myself to a doctor.

Ow ow owowowowooowwww

I didn’t want to wait ’til Monday to see a doctor, and had no idea whether I’d be able to get an appointment with my regular doctor on Monday anyway, so I went to the Instacare. 

Which turned out to be a stroke of genius. 

I had no wait, and the doctor took quick, decisive action. 

“We’re going to get you on antibiotics,” she said. “But first, let’s see if we can get some of that crud out.”

At which point she squeezed the living hell out of that volcano growing from my leg. I resolved to remain silent.

I failed, to a certain degree, in my resolution.

And by “certain degree,” I mean “high degree.”

“There’s a lot of MRSA going around here, she said. I’m going to swab and culture test this, but I think we’ll prescribe antibiotics that work against MRSA.”

Two days later, I got a call: it was MRSA, all right.

Which made me super happy, because now I knew: this wasn’t just a gross pus-filled festering boil. It was an exotic, scary gross pus-filled festering boil.

Ten Days Later

For the next ten days, I was the most religious about taking medicing I have ever been, taking my twice-daily meds exactly at 10am and 10pm.

During this time, I did not ride my mountain bike, for I had discovered that while the wound was not on my sitting area, it was in such a place that the nose of the saddle could (and would) whack it from time to time when I was descending.

Which made me somewhat tentative. And a lot more likely to just ride my road bike.

Little by little, the oozing and bleeding slowed. ’Til it was just a beautifully normal scab:

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OK, maybe it’s not a thing of beauty to you, but to me: sheer visual poetry.

The Moral of the Story

There is no moral to this story. I just wanted to show you some gross pictures.


  1. Comment by Sam | 10.8.2015 | 8:00 am

    I don’t really “know” you, but I’m pretty sure I hate you at this moment..

  2. Comment by Jim B | 10.8.2015 | 8:07 am

    I’m glad it is feeling better. I guess I’ve been desensitized to gore as I would have no problems eating, say, a custard donut while viewing that photo.

    But if you really want to see a photo you don’t want to see, check out the photo associated with this strava ride a friend did a few days ago:

    While on a mountain bike ride, the rider in front hit a branch lying on the ground with his foot, kicking it into the path the the guy in the photo. One end of the branch was braced against the ground at the instant the other (sharp) end of the broken branch aligned with the calf of the 2nd rider.

    I’ll check back later today for the biking accident photo someone will post which tops that, then the one which tops that, …

  3. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 10.8.2015 | 9:02 am

    I notice you haven’t shaved. That area at least. Glad the meds worked for you.

  4. Comment by Tom in Albany | 10.8.2015 | 9:42 am

    The moral of the story is that Fatty’s idea of gross isn’t really all that gross. I’m not in the medical field. But ’tis but a flesh wound’ comes to mind. Not that I’m making light of a medicine resisting infection. I get squeamish when I see limbs that are clearly ‘not right.’ Last monday, at my daughter’s gymnastics class, a 4- or 5-year old girl fell and broke and arm or tore something or whatever. I looked once. The arm was NOT in a normal position. I promptly got light-headed and sat my butt down…

    Glad the medicine’s working Fatty. Hope it clears up wonderfully!

  5. Comment by spaceyace | 10.8.2015 | 10:27 am

    Ewwwwww, gross. Now, for making your readers view your wretched, disgusting pictures, I think you owe each of us (thank you, Jim B.) a custard donut.

  6. Comment by zeeeter | 10.8.2015 | 10:27 am

    So glad I’d finished breakfast before reading!

  7. Comment by GJMAlcyon | 10.8.2015 | 10:46 am

    So much for my custom of reading Fatty while I’m eating lunch at my desk.

    Never. Again.

  8. Comment by leroy | 10.8.2015 | 10:55 am

    Someone, I’m not saying who, was more upset by the cone of shame picture.

    Unhappy memories he said.

  9. Comment by Kate | 10.8.2015 | 11:12 am

    I’m a huge fan of urgent care these days since they did a lovely job of stitching up my leg after an unfortunate platform pedal mishap. I was nervous about going somewhere that wasn’t my doctor’s, but the doctor on staff was a surgeon. Score. And my accident insurance that I got (and have never needed) for my football-playing boys is finally going to pay off. Double score!

    That picture was pretty gross, but I’ve been inflicting my own on other people, so I can’t complain. Glad you got that taken care of. MRSA is scary.

  10. Comment by Heidi | 10.8.2015 | 11:37 am

    “naturally-burly leg hair”

    Great description. MRSA is nasty, nasty stuff and I’m so glad you’re healing well.

    In other news, I found a slightly rusted 18-speed girls mountain bike parked in front of my house at 10:00 pm last night. It’s actually my size, and that says something. Divine intervention of the bike gods? I’ll try to find the owner, but predominantly leaving stuff out is this neighborhood’s way of getting rid of stuff.

  11. Comment by ClydeinKS | 10.8.2015 | 11:37 am

    Man, that is one dirty quarter and no wonder the infection festered. You oughta find a better coin purse.

  12. Comment by Isaac | 10.8.2015 | 11:39 am

    That was a pretty great moral. Possibly the best moral of a story I’ve ever read.

  13. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 10.8.2015 | 11:43 am

    @Jim B et. al.:

    Yes Fatty’s leg is somewhat gross and his ‘call outs’ in red gave us all fair warning. Though I believe Fatty is going ’soft’ on us.

    He had no hesitation posting Chuck Ibis’s ‘Flapper’ story:
    (forewarned though I cannot print this in “RED”

    And because I am eating at the moment, I will defer from Jim B’s link.

  14. Comment by Mark | 10.8.2015 | 12:02 pm

    hey fatty, after having my own long, drawn out bout with mrsa, here is what I went through to get rid of it once and for all. the bacteria lives on skin that isn’t easily wiped out by antibiotics. Supposedly it likes warm areas like the neckline, groin, arm pit etc. So to deal with this, I followed these steps as recommended by a specialist:
    1. wash folds of skin daily with hibiclens (amazon), its a surgical wash
    2. use antibiotic cream in nostrils daily for 3 months
    3. wash clothes in hot water

    Overall its not a big deal, but mine just kept coming back after the antibiotics until I followed this procedure.

  15. Comment by Captain_Passive | 10.8.2015 | 12:08 pm

    I am disappointed that you did not manage to work in a ’suppurating’. Nay, I am discombombulated.
    Get well soon, on all fronts!

  16. Comment by centurion | 10.8.2015 | 1:39 pm

    I looked down at my legs on my last ride, and the first though was ‘Who do those gorilla legs belong to?’. Then I resolved to shave them, in the spring.
    BTW, rinse your razor with alcohol after each use.

  17. Comment by berry | 10.8.2015 | 2:14 pm

    You wrote a story ain’t got no moral?
    Let the bad guy win every once in a while.

  18. Comment by Sunday | 10.8.2015 | 2:48 pm

    Having been through my own (and my husband’s) MRSA scares a few times, I thoroughly sympathize. That’s a nasty little bacteria, and once you get it you’re more likely to get it again. (One doctor referred to being “colonized” with MRSA. That is one horrible mental image.) Next time you’ll recognize the enemy and know that a prompt visit to your doctor or Urgent Care is a really good idea. Stay well!

  19. Comment by PNP | 10.8.2015 | 3:47 pm

    @Jim B: I’m now rethinking my desire for a mountain bike. My budget and the carrying capacity of my bike racks thank you. And I hope that hideous wound healed up okay.

  20. Comment by bob in denver | 10.8.2015 | 3:58 pm

    Fatty you do know THERE IS NO FIRST PLACE FINISHER for this right?

    Just checking.

  21. Comment by Brian in VA | 10.8.2015 | 4:14 pm

    Ewww. Just ewww. That is all.

  22. Comment by ScottyCycles | 10.8.2015 | 5:41 pm

    Stop shaving and get those legs waxed!
    Takes far longer to grow back (no stubble to bother your significant other) and less chance of ingrown hair.
    And it doesn’t hurt anymore than pushing yourself that last 1k on that 10% climb ;)


  23. Comment by Kent | 10.8.2015 | 7:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing, my diet is off to a great start.

  24. Comment by Ferde | 10.8.2015 | 7:09 pm

    Glad your hear your healing up.

  25. Comment by MikeL | 10.8.2015 | 7:50 pm

    It is a long way from your heart. Wo/man up.

  26. Comment by Corrine | 10.8.2015 | 8:09 pm

    Tom in Albany, I agree, I was expecting something a lot worse. I’m disappointed. Now Jim B, that was a gross picture! Ouch! I wish I had the picture of my son’s dislocated ankle on me to attach. That was really gross to look at. The skin is intact but the bones are all weird. His coach luckily took the picture to send to me but couldn’t look while he was taking it or he would pass out! Hope your MRSA is all better. I agree, that definitely cleaning the house with a mild bleach solution and cleaning your skin from the neck down with hibiclens for 3 days is a good thing to do that may get rid of the MRSA if you are a carrier.

  27. Comment by Tom in Albany | 10.9.2015 | 5:26 am

    So, being completely unfamiliar with MRSA, I’m now scared of it…

  28. Comment by Rocky | 10.9.2015 | 3:20 pm


  29. Comment by Bo | 10.10.2015 | 5:56 am

    A nurse told you not to worry about a spot that continued to grow in size…………

  30. Comment by Geoffrey | 10.12.2015 | 10:29 pm

    Glad you found it:

  31. Comment by Benji | 10.14.2015 | 8:43 am

    Damn Fatty! Good job you’re ok just make sure to keep an eye on your MRSA it’s no joke and after hearing about the NFL player who might lose his foot, we don’t want you going down the same route! Keep it clean lad.

  32. Comment by Anonymous | 10.14.2015 | 2:15 pm

    As someone who recently suffered an even larger, more awkwardly placed (but MRSA-free) bump, I empathize with your story.

  33. Comment by Libby | 10.16.2015 | 7:40 am

    I must say it wasn’t as gory as I would have liked, but then I’m fascinated by such stuff…because of the wonder of the how the human body works, not because I’m warped. Well, maybe that too. Liked the links to the flappers though.

    I can’t top that photo because my photos are of bruises, the best which is on a 4″ floppy disc somewhere (3rd degree sprain on left leg from ankle (swollen to the size of a softball) to the knee which is also swollen almost twice the size).

    Glad it healed. Though Fatty with artificial leg would/could change the perspective of your blog.

  34. Comment by Steve E. | 10.19.2015 | 10:46 pm

    MRSA is nothing to mess with. Danie Fells, Tight End for the NY Giants, has had multiple surgeries in the last weeks and won’t likely play football again:

  35. Comment by Barry | 10.20.2015 | 7:26 am

    So…you apparently have a nipple growing on your left leg?


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