Friday, September 4, 2009

As the Stomach Turns Part VI

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V

The doctor had my test results and he was smiling, but I really didn't care as I just wanted to sleep.
He very nicely asked me how I was feeling, and I, thanks to the left over effects of anesthesia and painkillers, told him I felt just peachy, and then he showed me a picture.
I fumbled for my glasses and peered at a pink funnel shaped object on the computer printout.
He told me it was my stomach and pronounced it to be in very good condition.
"It looks so clean!" I remember blurting out and then I laughed, "It's so pretty!" I was quite pleased with my stomach.
"Well just take a look at your colon," and with a flourish, he handed me another printout.
Now I was looking at the inside of what looked like a bumpy slimy hose full of bacon grease.
Big blobs of grayish white bacon grease.

This wasn't such a nice picture and I told him so.
"You have Clostridium Difficile Colitis." He proudly announced and sat back, awaiting my reaction.
I was stunned. After all that I'd been through; the crippling spasms, the sweaty hours spent on the toilet, and all I had was colitis?
"Is that all?" I asked, and I think I was disappointed.
"Not just any colitis. Clostridium Difficile Colitis!"
Which meant absolutely nothing to me so I went back to sleep.

My mother's phone call woke me up and I told her I had colitis. My boss called and I told her I had colitis. Hans called and I told him I had colitis. I fell asleep after each conversation and I barely remember any of them. Elizabeth and old Leather Lungs could have held a rousing tea party over my prostrate form and I wouldn't have given a rat's ass, because that's what anesthesia does to me.
Luckily the gastroenterologist came back later that afternoon, just after Hans arrived, thus waking me up, and explained exactly what it was that I had.

He said that Clostridium Difficile Colitis, or C-Diff as it's more commonly known as, is what happens when bad bacteria in the colon takes over and kills all the good bacteria. "It's so contagious that it's been known to wipe out half the population of nursing homes," he cheerfully informed me. "Back before anyone knew what it was, or how to treat it." He added quickly.

So how did this happen to me?

Remember back when I had my root canal and the dentist prescribed antibiotics? Well, they were far too strong (which is why most doctors won't prescribe that particular one) for me and this was the result. He said that normally someone who is as young as me, and in good health, will not develop this nasty condition but once again, the antibiotics were very powerful. Also, I'd been off of these drugs for a couple of weeks before my symptoms manifested themselves, thus adding to the mystery.

The good news was that a regimen of a totally different family of antibiotics should knock this pesky bug out of my system.


Not everyone responds to this antibiotic called Flagyl but it would be a start. Some people can take weeks, even months to recover. Some have recurring bouts of this awful condition, and Irritable Bowl Syndrome might possibly become a new and unwelcome friend. As to what my future diet restrictions might be? He had no idea. Every case was different and we would have to wait and see.

During the doctor's visit, a nurse arrived and added Flagyl to my IV line. She also brought me dinner, which was a cup of broth.

Two hours later I was still working on my dinner which, for someone who can wolf down a sixteen ounce steak in just a few minutes, shows you how weak I was. Hans tried to interest me in a crossword puzzle but I kept falling asleep.

Suddenly an army of gloved nurses stormed my room and started gathering up all of my stuff. One cleared the bed stand of my belongings and another tossed my garbage can on my feet. Hans was directed to clear out my locker and away we went. I rode down the hall with all my items rolling around on the bed, and my IV pole following closely behind.

I arrived at my new room which I was thrilled to note, held only one bed.

Nothing that touched me could touch another patient. The blood pressure cuff, the thermometer, all of it had to stay in my room. Nurses would be required to don rubber gloves and gowns upon entering my room and they would be thrown away before leaving. Any guests (and any guests other than Hans were frowned upon, but just try telling that to my mother!) who dared to enter would also wear gowns and promise to wash their hands before leaving.

We were informed that the only thing that will kill C-Diff is soap and water. That meant that the sterilizer pump right inside the entry to my room (and in every room) that all hospital personnel are required to use when entering and leaving, was virtually useless against C-Diff.

I felt like Typhoid Mary.

A very contagious, contaminated Typhoid Mary.

And even though my prognosis was a bit iffy, it was worth it.

Because I finally had a room of my own!!!


BeeBee said...

Well I gotta say that a simple stool sample would have been much easier on you than all this testing. Same result, same answer. Same Flagyl. Are you going to continue with your experience with Flagyl, a case of the cure possibly worse than the disease?

debbie said...

Aha! Finally the reveal. Thank you.

Now if you're so contagious my question is what about everything at home being contaminated?

When I had my appendix out I had an elderly roommate that had explosive and nasty smelling diarhhea. She was in the room when I got there and whisked out the next day, thank god! All of the sudden the nurses came in and wheeled her out in seconds, saying she was going to a private room. Makes me wonder now. I was so knocked out by heavy duty painkillers (they didn't know it was my appendix yet) that I'm surprised I was even aware of it!

laura said...

BeeBee, the samples I gave my family physician were never tested for C-Diff, they tested for blood only.
Debbie, I would just about bet that's what your roomie had, and as for my fear of having contaminated others, I'm not done yet!

Kathi D said...

It really gets me how cheerful doctors can be when announcing a diagnosis!