Shared by her daughter, Evelyn Adams, R.N.
Arlene M. Stone, who we lovingly called “Arnie”, was a spunky, 87 year old great-grandmother. She was widowed at age 34 and was left to raise a four year old daughter alone. She returned to teaching elementary school for nearly thirty-five years and then enjoyed retirement helping to raise her 3 grandchildren. She loved to travel, was active in her church and taught Sunday school with her oldest grandchild, Vicki. She was in good health until July 13, 2010, when she developed severe abdominal pain and was rushed to the emergency room of the local hospital.
After many tests, they determined she had an intestinal blockage and emergency surgery was performed. She spent a few days in intensive care and then transferred to the surgical floor. Her recovery was remarkable and they chose her for an aggressive in-hospital rehab to avoid a trip to the local nursing home for the needed recovery. She was discharged on August 9th in excellent spirits and good physical condition.
She insisted on stopping at the diner on the way home from the hospital to get a good meat loaf sandwich! On August 20, she returned to the Emergency Room with abdominal pain and the CT scan showed inflammation near her surgical site. The ER doctor treated her with IV antibiotics and some oral antibiotics for take home use.
Her appetite became poor and she began to suffer from severe diarrhea. Her primary doctor feared the antibiotics might be the cause and after more tests, she was found to have C. diff.
The doctor wasn’t willing to risk her having home treatment since she was frail and having just had surgery so she was readmitted. Her care was excellent.
She was on strict isolation in a private room and seemingly, every rule was followed. Her status deteriorated, she couldn’t eat and she decided she would have a PEG tube placed because she” just didn’t want to die!”
She choked down what seemed to be gallons of barium and underwent NG tube placement to finish the rest. The next day they did the xray to determine placement and it was found her GI system, had in fact, totally shut down from the C. diff infection despite their use of flagyl and vancomycin. The barium had not moved. There would be no PEG tube. They explained to her, that there were no more options and she accepted the fact that she would die. We offered to take her home but she opted to “just stay there”. She passed away on September 24th, 2010, just 2 days after the attempt to place the tube.
C. diff robbed us of a beautiful soul who had many more quality years ahead.
Those “helpful IV antibiotics” from the ER visit followed by more oral antibiotics were most likely the cause of this voracious infection that claimed her. Those antibiotics seemed like such a good idea at the time. As a nurse, I was taught to jump on any sign of a post-op infection. I don’t blame the doctors since I was in total agreement.
I am hoping that we, as nurses and doctors can be re-educated as more of these stories come to light. Since Arnie was a teacher, she would love to have her story told in hopes of that re-education becoming a reality.
At the start of 2018 I was diagnosed with C. diff. I never really heard much about C. diff outside of people acquiring it in a hospital setting or people of advanced age contracting it. Oh, was I wrong. After being sick for about 8 weeks with w…