My name is Erica Shofner, I am 23 years old. I am a daughter, an artist, a volunteer, and a C.diff survivor.
I was first diagnosed with C.diff in August 2018 at the age of 22. I had been mysteriously ill since March after receiving antibiotics in the hospital for an antibiotic-resistant staph infection. I was discharged with broad-spectrum antibiotics to continue on at home for a few weeks. At no point was I warned that I was at risk for C.diff.
About two weeks after finishing my last dose at the beginning of April I started showing my first symptoms of C.diff. I couldn’t stand the pain with eating, I was spending hours in the bathroom each day, and was just getting more sick. I saw my primary care doctor who was perplexed so she sent me to the local ER. They called it a stomach virus and sent me home. Five Emergency Room visits and several admissions later in August I was tested for the first time by a Physician after yet another hospital admission for dehydration. At this point, my body was shutting down. My hair was falling out and I was in the bathroom up to 20 times a day. I had lost 40 pounds and was in constant pain, I couldn’t even keep water down or in, and I had begun having terrible brain fog where I couldn’t put sentences together, I was fading fast.
I was treated with Flagyl and things seemed to get better at first, but then I relapsed. Because of Vancomycin allergy and my provider’s inexperience with C.diff they kept trying Flagyl. Finally, I was able to see an Infectious Diseases (ID) specialist who got the okay to prescribe Dificid. I thought that was going to be the end of my C.diff story but it just bought me a few months. That is, until February 2019 when I had my third relapse when I was officially diagnosed with Acute Refractory C.diff and placed on Dificid while we searched the entire state of Oregon for a provider who would do a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT). After a month of no luck locating this provider, my new amazing Gastroenterologist stepped up and said he would give it a try. I received my FMT on May 31, 2019, using donor material from OpenBiome. I got back my life that day. I still live daily with the physical scars, PTSD, and anxiety that C.diff has left behind. But I am a survivor and that makes every day that much more meaningful.