Wednesday, February 20, 2008

the one where I reveal way too much crap* about myself

This is probably more information than any of you would like to know, but I’m going to put it out there anyway. If you have a weak stomach or do not like reading about poop, then skip this post.

I mentioned before about having stomach issues. Well, here is the long story.

In October I had an ear infection and was put on antibiotics. It later came back and I took more antibiotics right before Christmas. Just after Christmas, Julianna got really, really sick and they had to give her shots of r0sefrin for two days straight to get her well again. Two days later I was diagnosed with strep throat and was given more am0xicillin. She must have had strep as well. Anyway, before my ten days on the am0xicillin was up I could tell that my sore throat was coming back so I went back to the doctor who then gave me a shot of r0sefrin. This was in January.

Now, let me stop right here and say something. PEOPLE, if you read this post and hear nothing else, HEAR THIS. When your doctor continues to prescribe antibiotics for you (even for various illnesses), PLEASE BE CAREFUL! Give it careful consideration before taking more and more antibiotics. While I am angry at my situation and it would be really easy to blame the doctors for not knowing what they could do to me by giving me so many rounds of antibiotics, I recognize that it was also my responsibility to monitor my own degree of health. In other words, it is your responsibility as well as your doctor’s to determine when antibiotics are absolutely necessary and when they are not. This entire ordeal that I have been through would likely have not happened at all had I just tried to let my body get over one of those ear infections or sore throats on its own.

OK, where was I? Oh yes. The humiliating shot of r0sefrin was a pain in the @s$.* But it worked for my throat and I was soon feeling well again. Shortly after that, however, I began having diarrhea. At first it was only a time or two one day and I thought it was something I’d eaten. Then I had it again a couple of days later and thought there may be blood in my stools, but I got my period and wasn’t sure. After that my bowel movements became somewhat normal again but they were more frequent and darker in color. When I finally developed three days worth of constant diarrhea (so bad that I would go every time I went to pee) I decided I needed to go to the doctor. I had major anxiety over this. I’m sure it’s dumb, but while I knew that I needed to get checked I was so afraid that it would be something more serious and I was worried. I really did not want to go. I was tired of spend $25 copays every other week for doctor’s visits, but I so desperately wanted to get well. When I went back in, I was submitted to an, uhhh, unpleasant exam and told that there was indeed blood in my stools. I was diagnosed with having high levels of “c diff” and prescribed the first round of c diff fighting antibiotics. I don’t know why, but I feel like I should note that this was only after they had me poop in not one, not two, not even three, BUT FOUR LITTLE CUPS and bring it in for lab work. He then referred me to a specialist “to be sure.”

After seeing a gastroenterologist (another $200 gone just like that!) I’ve learned that all of the previous antibiotics I had been on had not only killed all of the bad bacteria in my body, but that they had also killed all of the good bacteria in my body. As I understand it, everyone has what is called “Clostridium difficile” in their GI tract. It is one of the “bad” bacteria’s in your intestines. It produces spores that stay in your intestines even after the meds are done and they multiply like crazy. The spores make it extremely difficult to get rid of. As far as treatment is concerned, most cases of c diff begin as a result of too many antibiotics and it is ironically treated with more antibiotics (a different variety). It can also be called Antibiotic-Associated Colitis.

The antibiotics are expensive and it usually takes more than one round of meds to get rid of all the c diff. One of my biggest complaints about the antibiotics for c diff is that they can cause serious birth defects and therefore are not safe for pregnancy. We’ve had to put our pregnancy plans on hold until I get well and for anyone who knows me even a little knows how hard that is on me. I hate not being able to plan something! I hate not having control! I hate someone or something messing up my timetables!!!

I am just so sick and tired of being sick and tired!

I went off my last dose of the first round of antibiotics this past Friday. I’ve eaten lactobacillus acidophilus yogurt every day as recommended to help get my stomach back “in balance” and I’ve felt perfectly fine. Until last night.

Last night I started getting a sore throat again and my bowel movements have been increasing. This morning my throat hurts so much that it’s painful to talk and my lymph nodes are swollen. The diarrhea has not yet returned but I feel that it’s only a matter of time. Other than that, I feel fine. I’ve put a call in to gastroenterologist again about getting a second round of meds and maybe, just maybe, this will do the trick and get rid of the high levels of c diff.

I am very surprised that more people don’t know about the problems associated with Antibiotic-Associated Colitis. It seems to be a somewhat common thing and since it is soooo nasty and difficult to get rid of, you would think that more people has heard of it. Anyway, C diff can cause such serious illness that there’s even an online support group for people struggling to get rid of it. And here’s the kicker: It can be deadly.

If you’ve made it this far reading my gory detailed, TMI story please tell me you’ve learned something!

  • Don’t go to your doctor and get antibiotics unless you feel you absolutely must.

  • If you feel that your doctor is prescribing antibiotics without really knowing why you are sick then use caution before taking the meds.

  • While I believe that prescription drugs are powerful and helpful, I have also learned through this whole ordeal that they can also have some nasty repercussions.

That’s enough of my PSA for today. Now I’m going back to my regularly scheduled chaos called life. Thanks for listening.

*pun intended


Whitney said...

I did learn something, thank you very much. I will be more cautious now that I've heard your horror story. I hate that you've had to go through all of this on top of dealing with all of Jules' sickness too. Maybe you will feel a little bit better knowing that Jeanne has diarrhea too. She told me all about it today and how she was going to have to knock us out of the way and fight for the bathroom :)

Michelle said...

Sorry to hear about your ordeal and I hope that you're back to normal soon. But, thanks I did learn something! I didn't know about the antibiotic-associated colitis. But, I do know a lot about colitis - it put Tony in the hospital for a whole week last December. He had the ischemic (sp?) kind and it was really unpleasant and scary. Yeah, that yogurt helps him too. I'll be praying for you. :)

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