Why a picture of my abs here. Because my strong abs look good. A picture of poop doesn't. Also because this blog post is a story about my abdomen going through hell!!! This photo was taken a good year after the stool transplant. I was strong and able to hang out with my family again. I thought I should give some credit to part of my body that survived this horrible bacteria infection I'm about to tell you about. I was weak as hell after all this. It took time and patience to get the energy to be in the gym again. So now back to the story.
A stool transplant...sounds pretty disgusting!! Who on earth ever thought of something so gross. They take someone else's bowel movement and put it inside of another person. Freaking weird!!! Some call it a "super probiotic". I just called it nasty. I said I would never do that.....However I was wrong. I can now say I know all too well what a stool transplant is and how it feels. When you get to the point of being so sick that if someone told you to eat nothing but maggots off rotting roadkill the rest of your life you would if it meant you would feel better. At that point in time a stool transplant sounded like an easy breezy procedure. I got to that point.
How sick do you need to be to get to have one of these super fancy procedures. Well I had a bacteria overgrowth call clostridium difficile colitis also known by its nickname c-diff for 11 months. You may have heard of it before as one of those crazy antibiotic resistant super bacterias in hospitals. Well I had my first perfectly healthy baby and 8 weeks later came down with mastitis. They gave me antibiotics. I had them a million times in my life. Didn't think a thing about it. Well, a few weeks passed and I got mastitis again (knowing what I know now after three kids I think I had just a clogged duct but the doctor said mastitis and I didn't know any better so I went back on the antibiotics.). About 7 days in the diarrhea started. This went on for a few weeks. Not too bad a first but started getting much worse. Then the blood started and that scared the hell out of me. Everyone knows that is a bad sign. The bowel movements got up to 10 times a day. I called my doctor. They gave me another antibiotic called flagyl to treat it. After a few days I felt better but finished the course as prescribed. After a few days passed the diarrhea started to come back. Here I was trying to raise my first child as a first time mom and I couldn't stay out of the bathroom. I didn't really understand what I had but just listened to my physicians. This time when it came back it was much more violent. I ended up in the hospital for a handful of days. Severe dyhradation, pain in my side. Crying in my room because I missed my new baby and crying because I didn't know why this wasn't going away. They put me on stronger antibiotics now called vancomycin. I heard while in the ER at this hospital about a stool transplant for untreatable cases of c-diff. I didn't like the sound of that. I thought I never want to do that. If only I could go back in time and know what I know now. They explained when you take antibiotics it kills both the good and bad bacteria in your gut. Hence the huge trend for probiotics to help replace this good bacteria. So the drugs I took for mastitis caused a massive imbalance in my gut. Eventhough I was eating massive quantities of organic yogurt at the time it didn't offset the medication. So now on this new very strong vancomycin I started ordering these very high quality expensive probiotics and prebiotics. Anything with the word probiotic I would eat or drink. They would show up in special refrigerated bags. I started acupuncture and mindful yoga in my house. I saw a naturopath and picked up all these things to consume. I went on every single message board I could find online. Reading about what other people in similar situations were doing to get rid of this. I thought for sure with the new medication and all this stuff I would be fine when I get off antibiotics this time. I even switched to a specialist that has handled cases like mine for 25 years. She reassured me that I would be fine.
We did some special taper getting off the drugs so all the bacteria would be killed that caused the cdiff. I told her during this tapper when the drugs were getting decreased that the problem was coming back. She didn't believe me. She said maybe I need more fiber or have IBS. I kept telling her and my family it is coming back. She had convinced me and my family this was in my head. Well within a week of getting off the medication I was back in the hospital. This time the bacteria came back raging. My colon swoll up so badly according to the CTscan. You see, people do die from cliff they can get a colon so infected that it kills them. I again was in the hospital for days. The day I was admitted I probably had 60 bowel movements. Not normal!!! Not at all!!! It was too dangerous for me to leave until the medicine kicked back in. I left a voicemail for that doctor that told me it was IBS or in my head from the hospital. Interestingly enough she never called back. 25 years of experience....... Interesting isn't it. We had done stool testing leading up to being off the antibiotics that all came back negative for cdiff. She was positive it would be gone. Of course here I was in the hospital with a positive cliff test.
Behind the scenes of all this I was still a new mom. My anxiety about never getting better just like my mom who died from cancer was overpowering my every thought. I was terrified everyday. Was this going to be the cause of my death. My weight was dropping, my energy was no existent, my body was absorbing nothing. I couldn't think straight I think one part from my anxiety and the other from lack of nutrients. I no longer could sleep at night. My fears tearing me apart and keeping me awake at all hours. My body was disappearing. All the while terrified of what I had and if I could give it to anyone else. I literally was washing my hands until they bleed. Using bleach water in the toilet after every single use. Using bleach water on my hands at times because I was paranoid of giving to my baby.
This pattern of medication and cdiff coming back went on and on this time from a different doctor at highly accredited University. Prior to this I had seen people at the two best hospitals around. Since they didn't get me better I thought I would drive to this school to see the top doctors there. More of the same. More drugs, more drugs that didn't work. Colonoscopy and endoscopy. Nothing out of the ordinary because I was on the antibiotics at the time.
I was feeling hopeless. I had remembered that stool transplant concept. I looked it up. People said it worked. Maybe not the first time but the second. Either way people just like me that couldn't shake it got better. My husband found me a doctor at Henry Ford in Detroit. I told him my story. He explained that if on antibiotics when doing a stool test it will come back negative a huge percent of the time. That is why even though my tests showed negative as soon as I got off the medication it came raging back. He said this transplant is a miracle. It came from a practice used by farmers decades ago. When an animal was sick they would make it eat a healthy animals poop to rebalance the bacteria in the animals gut. They didn't ask me to eat another humans poop but I am telling you as disgusting this sounds I would have. I would have done anything to feel better. At this time I wasn't going out ever. I wouldn't eat all day because the second I did I would spend the next hours in the bathroom. My health sucked and in turn so did my life. I didn't tell anyone. I felt so isolated. They wouldn't understand. Hell, I didn't understand. Plus at the time I didn't have the network of close friends that I do now. I guess that is why when I see anyone going through something I jump on board. I try to help and do whatever I can think of that I wish someone would have done for me.
So what is a stool transplant. Basically they take a healthy person's fresh poop and put it in a special "medical" blender (really just a regular one use blender) with a ton of saline solution in the operating room. They then knock out the recipient just like they would for a colonoscopy. Put the colonoscopy tube up your colon just like a colonoscopy and here is where the exciting part comes in. They then drip the poop/saline mixture into your colon as far up as they can go. Some people do an endoscopy route where they put a nose tube in down to your stomach so I guess in that sense they kind of are eating poop but can't taste it. I did not go that route because some of your body digestive acids can kill some of the good bacteria and I did not want to risk losing anything that could kill this c-diff. That it. I was so anxious the for this I actually didn't fall asleep from the drugs. My body fought it and they said they couldn't give me anymore. They worked well enough. I didn't feel anything but I could watch on the screen. Which was super weird. Trust me, I felt messed from the drugs in my head. It was like being on some weird sci-fi movie.
Some refer to this procedure as receiving a super probiotic. I refer to it as saving my life. Within 3 days my body returned to a new state of normal. The cliff had recked havoc on my intestines causing such damage. But my body was able to come back. 3 days later the diarrhea stopped. I only had to use the bathroom maybe a half dozen times a day and over the course of the next 2 months that slowly went down as well. No longer on antibiotics at all. It saved my life. Who thought the term "eat shit" really could save someone's life!! I have two words for anyone who ever gets c-diff. STOOL TRANSPLANT! Don't waste your time on these crazy drugs. My fears of giving it to someone. Now I know, not relevant unless that person has a weak immune system and is on antibiotics. Let me explain why..... A small amount of healthy poop can kill cdiff (hence the stool transplant) so my family had nothing to worry about. They all had healthy guts with healthy poop. If c-diff got in their digestive tract somehow their body's bacteria would have killed it.
Again, the mental state and the things my brain went through during all this are far too intense for this story. I will save that for another time.
So here I am at the end of my story. What did I learn. "Shit happens!" and it happens when we least expect it. So live each day to the fullest. Love each day till you can't love anymore. None of us know when something might prevent us from living the life we know as normal. I'm lucky because I was to get better. My colon will never be the same but I'm better. Some people are not as lucky.