Update 4/08: Positive for C-Diff. Monday afternoon the infectious disease dr. did get back with us and called in a prescription for a lab test for C-Diff to our local hospital (we live 45 miles away from that doctor). My husband picked up the test on his way home from work late Monday aftertoon, and turned around and drove the lab specimen back into town about 20 minutes later. This morning we got the call, and it is C-Diff. The local pharmacy doesn’t stock the antibiotics used for treatment, so now he’s driving to the bigger city 45 miles away to pick it up.
A few days ago the Cherub finished, at long last, about a month’s worth of hard-core antibiotics. And almost everything else about this post is entirely in the TMI department, so I am giving you this opportunity to go read about flowers, weeds, or books or some other pleasant topic instead of reading the rest of this post.
You’ve been warned.
The infectious disease doctor wanted us to watch for several warning signs after she got off the antibiotics, and one was any indications of things not right with her digestive system.
Still with us? It’s not too late to change your mind.
On Saturday we had plenty of evidence that things were not going at all well with her digestive system (this is a euphemistic phrase for diarrhea, okay?).
Now it’s a little late to change your mind, but not totally too late.
I was already kind of teetering on the bleeding edge of the line between reasonable concern and bat guano levels of insanity, because you know what kind of a year it has been for us with medical stuff, and I posted about it to my private FB account (the secret one under my real name, where I try to limit friends to 250 or less, and would prefer 200 or less but have actually lost control and am almost to 350, but seriously, I really, really am stopping there) for a prayer request and a heads up that yet again, some of us would not be at church tomorrow.
Two nurse friends, one whom I know only from the internet, but I have known her for over 15 years, and the other I know from church, both responded quickly. One suggested amping up yogurt and acidophilous, the other suggested it might be C Diff.
Really. You can still stop.
After reading up on C Diff around the internet, always a kind of dumb thing for a neurotic mother to do, I sort of toppled right over that bleeding edge and well over my head into bat guano levels of insane. (How insanitary. See what I did there?) I could actually feel myself unraveling into a tangled and very ugly pile of crazy. I said to my FB friends,
“I’m looking C-Diff stuff up online, and I am not enjoying what I am reading.*
*This is a euphemism for I want to burn the house down and run away.”
Actually, I said even crazier and more unstable things, but I have deleted those things- both from the FB conversation and my memory.
Well, I do remember one of them because it is a constant part of our lives.
One of the symptoms of C-Diff that should have been helpful to know is that it comes with abdominal pain and cramps. But we would almost never know this with the Cherub.
She does not respond to pain in anyway that remotely resembles a response to pain. Sometimes there are no visible signs that she in pain at all- she fractured her elbow once, and I only knew something was wrong because she wouldn’t let me straighten it, and it was swollen and hot to the touch. But while she wouldn’t let me straighten it, she was grinning at me, and generally happy as a lark, so at first I thought she was just teasing me while I was trying to get her dressed. You know, playing keep away with her arm, so I couldn’t put it in her shirt sleeve. And then I grabbed it. That’s how I knew it was hot and swollen, and probably kind of broken- but she never so much as whimpered over it.
Minor discomforts might make her freak out and cry, but major ones, she might not even acknowledge their existence. And she cannot tell me “yes, I hurt here,” not even in gestures.
Mostly, we live with this. It just is what it is. But this past month while she was in the hospital and they kept asking me, ‘Didn’t she seem to be in pain?’ “Does she hurt anywhere?” and then this weekend, it seemed suddenly entirely too much to endure.
I had a great big facebook conniption fit about that.
I have a hazy memory of saying something about moving to Thailand after I set the house on fire.
But really, that’s all I remember. That’s more than I want to remember.
So, anyway. It was the weekend. Saturday night. She had no fever (keep in mind she had no fever when her entire left lung was completely whited out in her x-ray, either). She didn’t seem to be uncomfortable (essentially meaningless). Her color was good (this is a good sign, and it actually means something). Even my hospital treatment oriented nurse friend didn’t think we needed to go to the ER. We fed her some yogurt and tea with raw apple cider vinegar and put her to bed and prayed.
I know plenty of my fb friends were praying, too.
Some were also sending me private messages about their grannies or their sisters, or their children or themselves who had C Diff and ended up in the hospital for a month, and one needed surgery, and one lost 30 pounds (The Cherub can’t afford to lose ten, but can I get some here, please?), and so forth and so on.
Some were helpful, and written completely in the spirit of helping me rule out C Diff, not to frighten me.
I mentioned TMI, yes? You’re here because you choose to be, yes?
So there were some questions, and they were sort of like this (these are not all from the same person):
Is it incredibly awful smelling, like toxic, nearly gag inducing?
Is it mucousy?
If slimy looking is the same thing, and I think it is.
Is it pretty watery, too?
This isn’t really helping me rule out C Diff after all.
Is it sort of seedy?
Okay, this one sounds weird, but does it look kind of like peanut butter?
Enough so that I am never eating peanut butter again, okay?
I did not fall asleep until after 4 a.m. I watched a Lakorn- a drama made in Thailand. It looked awfully tempting to me, Thailand did. Reading subtitles and listening to the very pretty Thai language and watching the very improbable love story didn’t exactly squelch any recollection of all the nasty, horrible, dreadful things I had read about C-Diff, but it did help me put up a sort of flimsy shield between the C Diff monster and me.
By the next morning things were slightly better. The Cherub woke up clean, which she had not done the morning before. That made me feel a little better. We learned our landline wasn’t working and neither was my husband’s cell phone. My husband went over to Granny Tea’s and called the forwarding service for our infectious disease specialist and left a message explaining the Cherub’s symptoms. We didn’t get a call back, either a good sign about the Cherub, or a bad sign about the specialist and I changed my mind about which one it was on the hour.
We continued the herbal tea with a little bit of raw apple cider vinegar and spoonfuls of yogurt. She sat next to me and I literally spoonfed or syringe fed her mouthfuls of tea or spoonfuls of yogurt all day long, about every half hour for tea, every hour for yogurt. I no longer had horrid visions of additional long hospital stays, surgeries, and horrible scenes ending with the big and final D word which I cannot bring myself to say out loud or type in this connection.
However, mentally I was only slightly better because I also found myself in the, to me, ridiculously unbelievable position of actually having to stop myself from posting hourly updates of the Cherub’s digestive system and all its workings. I compromised with myself and posted them about every four hours.
One of my nurse friends (the one I have never met) suggested I try increasing the yogurt. She said she had seen this approach work wonders, especially if taken in the early stages. And when I forced myself to stop unraveling into piles of crazy and made myself stop wallowing in bat guano levels of crazy, I thought of looking up C Diff and NATURAL treatments, figuring not only might I find useful info, but I might also not find myself at sites suggesting the imminent and final D was near. I read plenty of suggestions for various fermented foods.
So we gave the Cherub yogurt, just plain, whole milk organic yogurt, acidophilus pills, and raw apple cider vinegar in sips of herbal tea that support relaxation and stomach ease (ginger, chamomile, mint). We chose those teas because if it was C-Diff, she was probably in extreme discomfort although she wouldn’t necessarily *know* it- she doesn’t respond to pain typically. But we learned in the hospital even if she seems fairly ‘normal’ when she was stressed or should have been in pain (but wasn’t showing it), her heart rate still went up and her oxygen levels down a bit.
Then the Equuschick saw via FB that The Cherub was sick, and she brought over some wonderfully gelatinous bone broth.
Then the HG heard that I was looking for probiotics (also via FB) and so she sent home some home-made kombucha.
In all the talk about fermented foods and restoring the good bacteria that a month of megadoses of antibiotics killed off in a mass slaughter, I remembered that I have some fabulous non GMO, unpasteurized miso paste in the fridge.
I added those things to the Cherub’s hourly feedings- via syringe because it was the quickest and surest way to get measurable amounts in her instead of on her. Although she generally despises soup, she liked the miso. She was not best pleased with kombucha.
C Diff is caused when antibiotics kill off the good bacteria in your gut and the bad bacteria everybody already has in some number are allowed to thrive and grow and conquer, because the white knights of your regular gut bacteria are all slain. The Cherub was on the antibiotic most often associated with CDiff and she was on it a long time.
Still- we will never know for certain if the Cherub had it or not (unless she gets worse and we have to take her in). It did sound *exactly* like every description of it I read, but you know, a crazy person was reading, and who trusts a crazy person? It easily could just be a garden variety stomach bug, or just the general post-antibiotic effect. And probably some of the things I did made a difference, and some of them were about as effective as burning chicken feathers in a hollow tree stump at midnight. Well, a little more effective than that, because they made me feel better, and that’s not a useless thing.
I also don’t think we are out of the woods yet. The Cherub’s gas is just unbelievable.
Ha. You thought the TMI stuff was over, didn’t you? Well, it’s not.
Things inside her are dying. Other things must have been dead a long, long, long time. Every time she passes gas I think of Lazarus, just before Jesus raised him from the dead (“Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.”)
Yet another internet friend with medical connections came through with another question and said I was free to send her a private message if I wanted to ask more. So I did. And while I wrote I found myself absolutely astounded at what I was doing. (I mean, besides the fact that I was writing all about my child’s poo to a person I have only met in person once. I can’t believe I did that. I can’t believe I am now telling you all that I did that). This friend lives completely on the other side of the world, and we could communicate nearly instantaneously. The fact that we were communicating about my child’s poo does not reduce the wonder of it, indeed quite the opposite.
Okay, the wonder was dissipated slightly when for a panicked moment I thought I had sent the private message with a detailed explanation of my daughter’s poo to somebody else entirely, somebody prim and proper and with no interest, medical or otherwise, in any poo at all, but then I adjust my glasses on my nose and the words came into focus and I had not sent that message to the wrong person after all.
Yes, I did have one or two prim and proper friends. It surprises me, too. I have no doubt they’ll unfriend me in a shocked tizzy if FB ever shows them the status where I updated the FB on the status of my child’s bowel movements every four hours. I probably would do the same.
But let’s return to the wonder. Through the magical medium of Facebook, I had a possible diagnosis and more than one suggested treatment within minutes. Even if that diagnosis was incorrect, it did provide the impetus for several of the treatment measures we used, and that more than likely sped the Cherub’s recovery and made her far more comfortable than she would have been otherwise.
I received tangible gifts of kombucha and bone broth because of FB communications.
People all over the world, quite literally, have been praying for the Cherub for several weeks now. I have had personal messages of prayer support from the Philippines, Australia, Estonia, England, and, I think, a few other places I can’t think of just now. Oh- Russia. Poland. It might be every single continent. Isn’t that amazing? The Cherub could be so much sicker by now without all the information and resources I picked up in a short time on FB and the internet. (Of course, through the magic of the internet I could also scare myself witless reading up on whatever disease the Cherub may or may not have had, but every tool can be used for good or ill, and we can’t blame FB and the internet for my easily triggered bouts of crazy-town).
I’ve dosed the Cherub up with herbal teas, yogurt, raw vinegar, home-made bone broth, miso soup with garlic and seaweed added, and home-made kombucha. I intend to do that all over again today, possibly with the addition of kefir and maybe kimchi, two more fermented foods with good bacteria. Well, in the case of the bone broth, not fermented, but full of healthy minerals and other good stuff. (When we used to raise chickens, more than once I cured the chicks from what was supposed to be a fatal case of chick diarrhea with raw vinegar and garlic). Sometime today we’re getting kefir grains from another friend, too.
Hopefully, that combo will kick this thing to the curb and restore the Cherub’s gut flora to lively health, whatever the cause.
We should all be eating and drinking this stuff.
Oh, and now? totally and completely too late. I’m done.