I live in the United Kingdom (UK). My C. diff battle started in 2009 at the age of 29, just weeks after the birth of my daughter. I required a course of antibiotics and a hospital stay of five days following the birth of my daughter due to a retained placenta. Within about a week of being home is when I first noticed things weren’t right.
My symptoms first started as stomach pains which got worse over the following weeks. My symptoms progressed to severe diarrhea and excruciating pain. I had numerous trips to the doctors and hospital at all kinds of hours of the day and night. I was mostly told that I had postnatal depression, my symptoms were being caused by myself and my own worry, and basically to go home and enjoy being a new mum. I wanted nothing more than to be able to do just that; I was missing out on enjoying everything that comes with being a mum for the first time. I had to rely on family and my partner to do most of the caring for our daughter as I felt so ill most of the time.
My symptoms got worse, and I started to have cold sweats. I felt so sick that I could barely eat most of the time. My diarrhea wasn’t constant, but some days I felt like I spent most of my time in the bathroom. The pain was becoming too much to take, I felt confused and like I was losing my mind at times. I really felt that if someone didn’t find out what was wrong with me soon then I wouldn’t be around to see my daughter grow up.
I’d never felt this ill in all of my life, and I was getting tired of fighting this battle. This battle went on for nearly three months until I collapsed in a pain that I had never felt anything like in my life. It was even worse than giving birth! I was shaking from head to toe, sweating and really confused. I was rushed down to my local doctor, the one doctor that never turned me away, and he knew something was seriously wrong. He sent me straight to the hospital with a letter for them and told me not to come home this time until I had answers. I had been here so many times before just to be sent home again, and I was just so tired of fighting by this point.
This time was different though, and on arrival at hospital I finally got a consultant who promised me he would find out what was wrong. So to cut a long story short, I had presented at the hospital on this occasion with toxic mega colon. I was firstly treated for this, and then it took another few days to finally get a positive sample and the diagnosis of C. diff. I had never even heard of it and neither had any of my family. I was put into an isolated room for a whole month and treated with vancomycin. In that time, I cried more than I have ever cried in my life; all I wanted was to get well and be at home with my baby enjoying what should be the best part of my life. I felt I was not getting much better; some days were better than others, and I realized that this illness was something I was not going to get over that easily. I couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t get treated and get better but at this point I knew nothing about C. diff and how this evil illness works.
After a month, I was finally sent home, but felt something was still not right; I still didn’t feel 100% well. Within two days of being home I knew the distinctive stomach pains and knew that C. diff was back or had never gone away. I rang my consultant who told me to send in a stool sample straight away. I already knew that it would come back positive for C. diff and with 24 hours I got my results…positive! I was then put on a very long tapering dose of vancomycin and saw my consultant every week for a year.
It was a very long road to recovery with days where I felt I was heading straight back to square one. I thought I’d never get well and that I would be battling this for the rest of my life. I lost so many special moments with my baby daughter, I missed her roll over for the first time and lots of other little milestones. Nearly nine years on and I got there in the end. I got well again, but C. diff has robbed me of so much and the mental impact it has had on me is huge. I find it hard to trust anyone in the medical field, I’m too scared to have any more children with the fear of what I went through and knowing I came so close to losing my life (this I was told once I started to recover).
All I want now is for more C. diff awareness, for doctors to have a better understanding, and not go on text book symptoms alone. I was far from a textbook case. Reading peoples stories on www.peggyfoundation.org has been the biggest help for me in realizing I’m not alone. There were times where I felt like just giving up. and I thought I would never get better…but I did. So please never give up the battle—your life is worth fighting for, and believe with the right treatment that one day you will beat this too.