My Husband and I were expecting our first child. We were so very excited. My Pregnancy was complicated to begin with- I was considered “Advanced Maternal Age” and had Hypertension and Gestational Diabetes. Though it was a labor of love, Pregnancy was physically very hard on me. I ended up on Bedrest at 33 weeks and though appreciative, had frequent testing and checkups to ensure my baby and I were well. There were concerns through the Pregnancy that I would not carry to term. Luckily, I did but only by the skin of my teeth. On the morning that I was 37 weeks’ Gestation (to the day no less), I had a terrible headache. I did not feel well and was nauseated. I was due for a Non-Stress Test, so I mentioned it to the Nurse when we arrived. Shortly thereafter, my OB Diagnosed me with Pre-Eclampsia. I am a Nurse Practitioner and am well aware of what the diagnosis means…. but I was so sick; I did not even realize how dangerous a situation I found myself in. I was quickly taken to the OR for a C-Section and underwent General Anesthesia. I could not even be awake to see my beautiful baby born. My Husband watched everything unfold from the window in the OR Door. The Staff was nice enough to call him in when the baby was being delivered. I received Intra Operative Antibiotics as it was (and still is) a standard of care.
I woke up still very sick. I was on Magnesium to keep my Blood Pressure down and prevent Seizures (Eclampsia). I was Hospitalized for 4 days. Luckily, I recovered, and our Baby was unharmed. Little did I know that it was just the beginning of awful things to come. I remember having foul smelling diarrhea in the hospital. It was likely the onset of C Diff but I did not know at the time. I was again so sick. I was told it was likely from the IV Magnesium I was on for my Pre-Eclampsia, which is indeed a Side Effect. I thought nothing more of it except that my symptoms persisted. I never had a Fever or Elevated White Count, but I was EXHAUSTED. Unfortunately, my Post Partum Course was complicated by some intense Post Partum Anxiety and Depression. I was placed on Zoloft which is also known to cause some GI Upset when starting it. I was also on Metformin which can cause some Diarrhea. Again, I thought my symptoms were all related to medication side effects. I reached out to my GI Doctor as I have Ulcerative Colitis since Age 17. My symptoms were chalked up to a flare. I was placed on some different medications to manage it. I was not getting better. I could not understand.
I finally had enough. I knew something was not right. I was drained. Yes I realize I just had a newborn baby, a Surgery, and a rigorous Pregnancy. I was soon to be returning to work. I called my PCP and respectfully requested to be tested for C Diff. He obliged and an hour later, called me with the Positive Results. I sat on my couch holding our baby and cried. I was initially placed on Flagyl with little improvement and then Vancomycin to the tune of $500 dollars for a 10-day supply WITH INSURANCE. As soon as I finished it, I was sick again. I called my PCP who yelled at me to call my GI Doctor or GYN for further guidance but begrudgingly, refilled my Vanco. I took it upon myself to contact an Infectious Disease Physician who Specialized in C Diff. I credit this Doctor for saving my life. Through a year of recurrences, I was treated with Vanco Regimens and Tapers only for it to return with a vengeance.
I actually thought at one point I was going to die. What’s worse? I was ok with it. It would finally end the suffering. I wouldn’t have it anymore. My family could move on. Everyone would of been better off, or so I believed. Relief finally culminated in December 2018, almost a year after my initial diagnosis when I had a Fecal Transplant. I did it orally in the office on the morning after Christmas. My family was horrified. I wasn’t afraid. I knew in my heart (and brain) that it was my only way out. Luckily, I was right. It worked. I am forever grateful. Despite the fact that this happened almost 5 years ago, the trauma from the event is still very real. I have only needed Antibiotics very so rarely since then and even when knowing I need them (Pneumonia), I had a number of panic attacks before and after taking them. I still worry about recurrence even to this day. I probably always will.
Why did this happen? I ask myself all the time. I still do not know why and may not ever know. I suspect most of us ask this very question as well. What do I know? This is more common than people think. It is preventable. It is treatable. The General Public and Medical Professionals alike need to be educated. Lots of people know about HIV, Swine Flu, COVID, West Nile Virus, Etc. but yet, when you mention C Diff, many will just give you a blank stare. This is a disease that can and will kill you if not careful. Advocating for yourself (and in my case, doing it for myself) made all the difference.