As a child, I had always been very sick and required many different antibiotics for various things. In high school I had strep throat 10 times in one year (each time requiring antibiotics) and eventually got my tonsils out in 2013. Even though getting my tonsils out helped the strep throat, the lasting effects of the antibiotics on my gut would stay with me for a while.
During October of 2015, I was diagnosed with my first C. diff infection. My boyfriend (I have been with him seven years now and love him so, so much) was being treated for Lyme disease (that he did not end up having) and, due to the harsh medications, ended up getting C. diff. Without knowing much about C. diff and how intense it was at the time, I ended up with it also. It took five days before being diagnosed, and every day the infection got worse and worse. At this time, I had just turned 18 and was in my freshman year of college at St. John Fisher. Ironically, I was going for nursing. I was being treated with metronidazole, and this just made me feel even more sick. I tried my absolute hardest to stick out the semester, but after weeks of having my mom drive me to class, throwing up or going to the bathroom before and after class and just being in extreme pain, I simply could not do it anymore. I had to medically withdrawal three-quarters of the way through the semester, and all of the work I had done up until finals was wasted.
In March of 2017, I was diagnosed with my second C. diff infection. I was now a sophomore in college and living at school. I started not feeling well Christmas Eve of 2016 but thought that it was just something I had eaten. When these symptoms did not go away, I went to my gastro doctor and eventually had an endoscopy. They found an ulcer in the top part of my intestine and put me on omeprazole but told me to stop my probiotics. By stopping my probiotics and being on the antacid, my ulcer went away but C. diff came back a second time. This time they treated me for C. diff with and told me to stay on probiotics for a very long time. Thankfully this time I did not have to withdraw from school and was able to keep pushing through—but the effects of C. diff never fully went away.
In January of 2018, the dreaded stomach pains and diarrhea returned. This was the week before starting my second semester of nursing school. Thinking that there was no possible way that I had C. diff for the third time at the age of 20 and as a junior in college, I thought it had to be the flu. The pain in my stomach got so bad that I ended up in the emergency room thinking I had appendicitis. Thankfully that was not it, and I did not require surgery, but I got absolutely no answers that night. A week went by, and I finally got into see my gastro doctor. She told me that she thought my ulcer had returned and wanted to do another endoscopy. She was 99 percent sure that it was not C. diff. My mom and I had different feelings, so we contacted my primary doctor and told her that we collected our own stool sample (literally in our own Tupperware container) and asked her to call it in to the lab. Sure enough, the result came back positive for C. diff. I was treated once again with vancomycin. The symptoms of C. diff went away, but I still had the extreme pain in the lower right side of my stomach.
So, I finally decided to get a different opinion and perspective on my stomach issues and went to a well-known holistic doctor in my area. She finally took the time to actually listen to me and find the root cause of all of this and not just try to mask my symptoms. She said that due to the nasty infection of C. diff, I had Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO). With the help of supplements and by following a SIBO, low-FODMAP diet, I am finally feeling like I have my life back after years of being so sick.
I have gone through four endoscopies, two colonoscopies, more IVs and blood draws than I can count and every test under the sun that can be done on the abdominal area, and every single test somehow, some way came back normal. My holistic doctor truly changed my life, and I’ll forever be grateful for her. I am hoping that by sharing my story here and on my blog I can either encourage someone that it does get better or help someone get the help they deserve!
Read more about my story at www.invisible-illness.com.