Last year, just as the COVID pandemic started to break out, I felt pains in my head, I felt dizzy and I was tired. I went to see the doctor and I was told to go and get some blood tests done. They found out I had glandular fever. This was bizarre, as I have had the same boyfriend for the past 5 years. My immune system was weakened by this infection. A couple of weeks later, I got bitten by a spider. The bite caused lymphangitis (inflammation under the lymph glands under the skin), and as the venom spread from my wrist to up to my armpit I was told to take antibiotics. I took amoxicillin for 8 days, and then when the bite didn’t go away, I had 8 more days of pristinamycin.
After this, I went to eat at a restaurant a couple of weeks to a month later, and in the following days, I couldn’t get off the toilet. I spent 10-14 days with severe diarrhea, unable to work. I went to do a stool test, only to find out I had the dreaded C. difficile. I was given metronidazole for about a week and hoped this would go away. It caused severe acid reflux, to the point where I was sick, unable to keep any food down, fainting, and I ended up hospitalized. I had to have an endoscopy and, even after not eating or drinking anything for 12 hours, they found enormous amounts of acid in my stomach. I was put on an antacid treatment.
I thought that was the end of C. difficile; however, a month or two later, I was back on the toilet again despite my efforts of cleaning my house with every single antibacterial product under the sun. I read up and found that apparently, antacid reflux medicine can cause you to relapse.
This time they didn’t diagnose it straight away. I was put on ciprofloxacin until I ended up keeling over again and back in the hospital.
I then was put back on metronidazole. A couple of days later, I had a severe reaction to the medicine, I couldn’t keep anything inside of me (both ways), and I ended up back in the hospital.
At this point, I had lost 6 kilograms. I couldn’t stand, and I most certainly couldn’t work. This was during the COVID pandemic when everyone was confined in their homes. I ended up going to the hospital to get a 10-day treatment of vancomycin. They gave me 40 injection bottles that I had to mix with water (as the nurses weren’t available during COVID to inject me). After those 10 days, I was cured but was still very tired and very fragile from the whole previous couple of months.
I was off sick for a total of 2 months last year. As you can imagine, this isn’t something that my boss took lightly. The relationship deteriorated and so did my health. I was never told about post-infectious IBS after my C. difficile episodes, and since then, my stomach/gut/intestines have never fully recovered (it is now about a year later). I struggle with food, keeping it inside me. I struggle with pain in my abdomen and intestines, and I have chronic issues with diarrhea.
This is one of the reasons I left my job and decided to work from home.
You are never fully warned about the long-term damage that antibiotics can cause to the gut flora or the traumatic experience of C. difficile. What they don’t tell you about is the emotional trauma (it’s true, we all stress we are going to have a relapse), the financial loss or the stress of managing a job whilst being severely ill, and the long term lasting effects that you have to deal with after.