I never thought at age 20 I would ever have to worry about where the closest bathroom is to me at all times. However that all quickly changed when I first came into contact with C. diff in May 2017.
During that month I was instructed to visit my local emergency room due to pain in my abdomen; most likely my appendix needed to be removed, I was told. On the bright side, I found out I did not have any issues with that whereas an ovarian cyst burst. I was relatively fine but that visit to the hospital changed my life forever.
Over the course of that summer and the rest of the year, I was plagued with constant and painful diarrhea making it very difficult for me to attend school and my internship. I decided to just deal with it and ignore the pain because maybe I wasn’t eating healthy.
Finally, I decided to make an appointment with my primary care doctor in the early fall of 2017 as the symptoms were significantly impacting my life negatively. I felt like I could not go to school or work because I felt so sick, weak and depressed. I did not want to leave my house for fear I would have an accident or be embarrassed about having to use the bathroom so often. In addition, I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression all my life and the pain I was going through was intensifying it. I became isolated and was desperate for some help.
My doctor was unable to figure out what was wrong with me after changing my medication, introducing new diets, and prescribing over-the-counter medication. I was then referred to a gastroenterologist, who discovered I was suffering from C. diff for months. I was diagnosed in November 2017 and my gastroenterologist concluded I most likely came in contact with spores at the hospital in May. I had no idea I was so sick and contagious for months. I was fortunate that I had not passed it on to my friends and family.
I have been on many medications in the almost two years that I had C. diff. In 2017, (I believe) I was first prescribed Flagyl which helped me get over the disease. I was clear from C. diff for a few months until it crept back in the middle of 2018. This time it was considerably worse. I fell into an even darker depression and I avoided all activities. I couldn’t go to class or work and I barely left my bed — only to use the bathroom. I was enrolled full-time at a University and working two jobs and I could barely push through due to the pain I was experiencing. I felt like my friends, coworkers, professors, and family members could not understand what was going on, and when I explained I just felt embarrassed and humiliated by my awful side effects. I felt alone and ashamed of myself.
My doctor decided to schedule a colonoscopy to see if there were any other causes but everything inside the colon was okay. I had already gone through multiple treatments of Vancomycin and Dificid prior to the colonoscopy. I knew then that I needed to get a fecal transplant because I wasn’t getting better and I could not afford to take any more medication if it was not fixing anything. I was desperate for any relief no matter what it was.
I was then referred to another gastroenterologist at a University hospital in a larger city near my home. I received the FMT in December 2018, and I am C. diff free at age 23!!!
Although I do not have C. diff currently, I still deal with chronic diarrhea and symptoms that still affect me every single day. I take multiple anti-diarrheal medications every day. And, I hope that someday I will be able to drink a glass of wine or eat my favorite spicy dishes without the fear of spending the rest of the day in the restroom.
My hope is that more and more people are aware of this illness so we can support and help one another. This disease is awful and I know it will always remain an impact on my life. I hope others do not have to go through the difficult times I had to over the past two years and can hopefully become healthy and happy again — C. diff free.