I acquired my C. diff infection a couple of months prior to diagnosis while having a minor hip surgery in December of 2010. Even though I had symptoms, I kept testing negative. Doctors kept telling my husband that they did not know what was wrong, but that I was very sick, and then later said that I was hours from death. After an exploratory laparotomy–and a very wise doctor deciding to send a sample to a larger hospital that did polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing–it turned out that it was C. diff. At the time our hospital was not equipped to do PCR testing, but because of one other person and myself, the hospital now does PCR testing.
I was actually given the “OK” by a GI doctor after a colonoscopy to go ahead with a hysterectomy to correct gynecological problems I was having. Had I known what I know now, I would’ve put up with the gynecological problems rather than go through what my family and I have for the last five years.
The antibiotics for the hysterectomy sent the C. diff out of control, and that’s when I became septic. I dislocated the hip that started this whole chain of events in May of 2011, and my doctor felt that it never healed right because my body was working so hard to fight C. diff. Because of that, I had to have three more hip surgeries. The sepsis caused organ damage when my body started shutting down, and I have had my gallbladder and appendix removed as well. I have had multiple incisional hernias and mesh complications related to that, including erosion and recurrent hernias.
I fought recurrences and had multiple surgical complications for years following. I stopped counting, but at last count total surgeries–starting with the original “simple” hip procedure–have exceeded twenty. I tried every medication: tapering doses, some alternative things I had read about, anything I could find to fight it. I read about Dr. Alexander Khoruts at the University of Minnesota when fecal transplants were still somewhat experimental. I got in touch with him, told him my story, and sent him my records. Shortly after that, I was on a road trip to Minnesota for my first fecal transplant. That gave me about fourteen months of being C. diff free. Then another recurrence, another round of various antibiotics with no success, and in November of 2013, I was headed to Minnesota again. I am happy to say I have been free of C. diff since then. But the emotional, financial, and family effects have not stopped. That is why I would like to help others if I can.
I was the healthy mom of two little boys before this, and as time has gone on I am getting there again, but it has been a long road. I have spent way too much time in and out of hospitals and being sick when I should have been enjoying more time watching my boys grow up. This infection has affected our entire family emotionally. It has also been a tremendous financial burden, not just because of missed work and lost wages for myself and my husband, but we are one of the many American families nowadays that are self-insured. We always carried a high deductible to keep premiums down, never thinking something like this would happen. And God forbid, it did. We didn’t think it would go on for years like C. diff can. C. diff takes its toll on those who get it and their loved ones in so many ways, it definitely deserves the attention of our healthcare system and some efforts in prevention.