Clostridium difficile Part 3: Some explanation

Covering the time between my trip to the ER and finally seeing my family physician & a GI specialist. A few weeks of being an unwilling anorexic, and I give a little explanation of some of my symptoms.

What started happening when I ate, and it didn’t seem to matter what it was, and yes I did feel hungry…. I would eat and as soon as the food left my stomach it started causing me pain. I could honestly point to my belly and show you were my food was because the pain followed my digestive tract until it left. If you ever had an incredibly uncomfortable gas bubble, that feels like a sharp burning pain in your belly, and you just can’t get it out… that’s what everything
I ate felt like until I had diarrhea. It would keep me up at night, I started sleeping with a heating pad wrapped around my abdomen.

I understand what was going on now, but I didn’t until after we found out what was causing it. C Diff is a bacteria A very, very hearty bacteria, capable of forming endospores (just like anthrax that can live in the dirt for 200 years and then wake back up as soon as it’s in a good environment) and while it’s active it produces
a couple kinds of toxins that essentially eat away at your intestines. This makes your intestines very, very irritated (hence the pain when food was moving through) and it prevents them from absorbing the way they are supposed to. If you know anyone who has Chrone’s Disease, the symptoms are very similar.

Essentially what happened at this point is that I stopped eating as much, we estimate I was eating an absolute maximum of 500 calories a day (but probably closer to 300), and who knows how much of that was actually getting absorbed. About a week after my ER visit I had my nutritional crash. This wasn’t as dramatic as my trip to the ER, but it did come on suddenly. I felt tired, and tired just doesn’t even describe it. I was driving home from work, yes I went to work this whole time, and I just felt like I needed to get home because I didn’t have the energy to turn the steering wheel anymore. This is when I started sleeping 15-16 hours a day. I would come home from work and sleep until dinner, then I would eat noodles, or some other overly-processed and easily digestible starch, then I would go upstairs and fall asleep until morning. Also, because I quit eating as much, I quit having as much diarrhea. I would never say it was normal looking, but it wasn’t all water and undigested food either. I tried expanding my diet, but never got much beyond yogurt, cheerios, kix, bread, pasta, and rice.

I waited my 2 weeks. Just like the ER doctor said. Then my mom sweet talked the digestive disorders center at the hospital to sneak me into an appointment. Otherwise the GI specialist wouldn’t be able to see me till January (I might have weighed 80lbs by then) I had my GI appointment on December 9 th and I had my yearly physical with my family doctor on December 8 th.

I went to my family doctor on the 8 th. I weighed 109lbs. I was now -15lbs. I probably hadn’t weighed that little since 5 or 6 th grade. My doctor, who is I’ll admit a bit of an alarmist under the most normal of circumstances. Looked like she might pass out when she came into my room. Apparently when you’re losing weight (because of an illness) they go by the percentage of body weight you’ve lost. Losing 10% of your body weight is a major red flag as far as health is concerned. That’s apparently the indicator that lets doctors know “hey, this is kinda serious” I had lost 12% of my body weight. She sent me out with a poop hat, little poop containers and about 4 perscription sheets positively covered in things she wanted to test me for. All imaginable parasites and bacteria. She couldn’t believe I had actually listened to the ER doctor to wait two weeks before seeing her because I was incredibly ill.

I turned in all my cultures on my way to see the GI doctor the next day. (I’m prejudice against him because I’m upset about several things the GI doctor did… and a lot of my animosity comes from the colonoscopy he insisted I have in April of ’05 during which he totally ignored the fact that I wasn’t sedated enough…. I would rate that as probably the worst, most scarring experience of my life, but that is a whole other post just waiting to happen) The highlight -sarcastic- of this visit was the rectal exam which was positively excruciating because they didn’t “look” before they poked or they would have seenthat because of m y 3 weeks of explosive diarrhea I had developed an anal fissure. At this point I was just a regular barrel of monkeys.

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3 thoughts on “Clostridium difficile Part 3: Some explanation

  1. I found your blog while searching Clostridium difficile. I think we might live near each other. I started with this problem last Tuesday after being prescribed Ceftin for what my ENT doctor thought was a sinus infection. I went to her because I have nasal polyps and wasn’t feeling any pain, but my sinuses are chronically messed up, so I took the Ceftin against my better judgment. On about day 4 I started with diarrhea and had a fever of 102. I immediately stopped the Ceftin, and when I was finally able to reach the doctor’s assistant, she told me to “find a lab” and have a stool culture done for C. diff. That was last Friday and I’m still waiting for the results, which were supposed to be available today. She also called in a prescription for Flagyl, which I decided not to take until I hear what’s wrong with me. What I’m doing instead is eating plain yogurt mixed with a little granola–I’ve had enough of antibiotics! So far, I’m feeling better. But this thing seems to be totally out of control, and it’ll be a long time before I agree to take an antibiotic again. This is a nasty way to lose weight!

  2. As I am reading this, my heart is breaking for you… I am so glad you are healthy now. (You didn’t end up with any longterm problems, did you?) I have a friend who got a hold of a parasite while in Mexico at a buffet and it ate through her intestine, letting bowel spill into her abdomen. She was so sick…
    What an ordeal!!! I can’t wait to hear more about your miserable experience and I am glad it is in the past.

    Hope you had a nice weekend!
    J

  3. J = No, fortunately I escaped with no lasting problems. I had to be very careful about eating nonsoluble fiber for months after I was “better”. I finished my antibiotics a few days before new years in ’04 and I wasn’t able to eat completely normal till around June of ’05. I’m all better now.

    Caddy = Hope you’re feeling better! Yogurt is fabulous, you can buy probiotics (capsules of “good” bacteria) in the refridgerated section of some health food stores. Whenever I take antibiotics now I hit the yogurt pretty hard and try to take some probiotics if they’re available. My other food recommendation is instant oatmeal that helped soothe my belly while I was getting better. (the real oatmeal was still a little too harsh) Good luck!

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