“Because inside me is a beast that snarls, and growls, and strains toward freedom.. and as hard as I try, I cannot kill it.” Veronica Roth
Changes began in 2006, when I started a new job and was beginning to live life. I had moved from Arkansas back to NM in 2004, taking a job I didn’t really want but figured I would make the best of it until something better came along. Around November of 2005 I thought the time had come to move on when I got a job offer to work at the rehab hospital in town. I took the job and started on January 3, 2006 and immediately felt that I had found my true calling. All was going well with my new job, and meeting people through work was making life a little more interesting. Here was the change I had been looking for, a chance to live the second phase of my life without restrictions, to see and make good on all the promises I had made myself, to enjoy life to its fullest, to live. In May of that year I went to a new dentist, and this is where my life changed forever.
At my appointment with the new dentist, he stated I needed a root canal; everyone needs one of those every now and then so I didn’t think twice about it. He prescribed me a dose of Clindamycin, a potent antibiotic to help decrease the chance of infection before and after the procedure. I took the medicine for 7 days as recommended and had the root canal done. About the middle of June my gut started to feel like someone was poking me with needles but I shrugged it off and went about my day thinking it would just go away. I was going on with my life with this pain I couldn’t explain but what else could I do? It got to the point where the pain got worse so I went to the local urgent care where they said I probably had a stomach bug and gave me some medicine to calm the cramping. I took this medication as prescribed with no relief, but I had to live my life so I went on trying to live.
Around the middle of July I met the “Man”, and we began to date and hang out on the weekends. We took trips up into the mountains, drove around and explored new and exciting places I had never seen. By this time I began taking hydrocodone to keep the pain at bay, which had been prescribed to me for my back aches. This seemed to work and I could make it through the day pretty good without much pain.
At the end of July, a co-worker and I went on a weekend camping trip up to the mountains. It was not the best of times because even with the painkillers I was getting worse. I spent the weekend feeling like crap and sleeping most of the time. The cramping would come and go, some days I’d feel good while on other days the pain would be too much to bear. Other things were happening to my body as well during this time that made things even worse. My “cycle” was irregular which I could live with, as inconvenient as it was, and I swore this wasn’t causing all my problems, or was it?
One weekend in early August while up with the “Man”, the pain became so bad he took me to the ER. You could tell the doctor was not all that concerned about what was making me hurt, but he went about taking blood samples to have analyzed. After about an eternity he came back with the results stating that my white blood cell count was very high and I most definitely had some infection going on. I was wheeled off to get a CT scan and given a high dose of pain meds. Then I felt good. We waited for the doc return and after a zillion years passed he returned with not so good news.
It appeared that I had contracted Clostridium-difficile or what the medical community call C. Diff. (A c. diff infection occurs when the c. diff micro-organism grows out of control in the gastrointestinal tract). The doc asks “Have you taken any antibiotics recently?” Well after telling him what I had taken and what for he concluded that the antibiotic had robbed my intestines of all the good bacteria my body needed and therefore opened me up for infections.
So why did this antibiotic do this to me? I was very healthy individual, never got sick other than a head cold. It seems that if you prescribe an antibiotic you should ask your patient “have you taken any antibiotics before? “ And if they answer NO, don’t give them the strongest antibiotic you can prescribe. I had never taken antibiotics so by the dentist giving me the strongest one available he set me up for an infection. By taking this antibiotic as prescribed my body was robbed of the entire good flora in my intestines that my body needs to help protect this very important structure. Here is a tip I learned after the fact, when taking antibiotics always eat yogurt, this will help keep the good stuff where it belongs.
The ER doc prescribed me the typical medication Flagyl for the infection and sent me on my way with a release date to return to work after 4 days. I was out for a week but the medicine, although nasty as hell, did seem to work… Walla I was healed!
Well I hadn’t been healed; otherwise there would be no point in writing this story. Two weeks after the initial dosage I ended up taking another round of the medication because the symptoms were not entirely gone. My doctor said that sometimes this can happen and some people need to be on the medication longer. That made sense, and by the end of the second dose I did begin to feel somewhat normal again, but it didn’t last. The symptoms returned again; gut pain, low-grade fever, and constipation. And when the beast came back, it came with a vengeance.
I managed to get through the rest of 06 barely surviving. The beast had taken over my life and it was in control of everything including my job. My co-worker and I took several trips; September to camp; October to Arkansas to see my son’s football game; November to AZ to the Grand Canyon all the while my pain remained. These trips were meant to be relaxing and enjoyable, but I didn’t have the strength or the fortitude to enjoy them like I wanted.
Working with my doctor to find some answers, around the middle of December, she referred me to a gynecologist who did his “little exam” and stated there was nothing wrong with my “insides” and I was just beginning to go through the “changes”; honestly I think he was a quack and was on his way out, out-of-town that is and did not want to be bothered. So I went about thinking “at least some of my parts are normal” but the beast was still lurking and just waiting to wreak havoc at the beginning of the year.
Next week…. Hell in a handbasket