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David L.

I was a healthy, 39 year old man who was loving life, traveling the world and working my dream job until a trip to China started a downhill spiral that continues today. In 2004, on a business trip in China when I developed abdominal cramping and diarrhea. Thinking it was a traveler’s illness, I took some Cipro and continued my work. I had been teaching a course for physicians in a Shanghai hospital, nowhere near any patient treatment areas.

The following day, I awoke with increased abdominal cramping, a slightly distended abdomen, non-stop diarrhea and a fever. Still thinking it was caused by something I had eaten, I continued teaching. Since this was my last day in China, I struggled through the day with my fever rising, chills, increased distention, frequent diarrhea and worsening dehydration. The 13 hour plane ride back to the USA was awful, I was shivering and sweating, I couldn’t stay out of the lavatory, the odor was nauseating and my abdomen looked like I was pregnant. I told the flight attendant that I was sick and to keep the one lavatory closed off for me only. I was one of 3 in First Class and there were 2 lavatories).

Once back in the United States, I went to my Family Practitioner who directly admitted me to the hospital and started me on Vancomycin and Flagyl. Despite treatment, throughout the night my abdominal pain became unbearable. I looked 9 months pregnant. My fever was dangerously high and I was having diarrhea everywhere. I was transferred to the ICU where I was told that I was suffering from a severe case of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and had toxic megacolon. The C. diff was resistant to the antibiotic therapy and surgery was imminent!

It seemed like only a few minutes had passed since being taken to the ICU but in reality, when I awoke and was gathering my faculties, I had tubes and wires coming out of everywhere, my abdomen had a very long incision with a lot of staples and I had an illeostomy bag high up in the right side of my abdomen.

After several recurrences of C. diff over the next 4 years, I ended up with a total colectomy, several inches of my small intestine removed as that had become infected as well and I now have a permanent high-output illeostomy. It is estimated that I have between 14″ and 20″ of my small intestine left and my transit time from eating to illeostomy is a little over 30 minutes.

I struggle to maintain my weight and I cannot use TPN due to severe bacterimia (blood infections) caused by the sugars in the TPN. Even today, almost 9 years after first contracting C. diff, I still battle many challenges resulting from this superbug. I have had my gallbladder removed due to an infection caused by the TPN. I developed severe Torticollis (cervical dystonia) which causes Parkinsonian-type tremors of my head and neck from being on Reglan; a medication commonly used following abdominal or intestinal issues. I recently had two brain operations to implant a Deep Brain Stimulator (DBS) to help control the tremors and my weight is down significantly due to my body’s poor ability to absorb nutrients, fats and calories due to my fast transit time when I eat.

People commonly ask me how I keep getting up every day; most days with a smile on my face! It is through my deep faith, incredible support from family and friends from all over the world that I push on! I owe a debt of gratitude to my God, my mother, daughter and fiancée, Diane; all who have helped me through some extremely difficult times including helping me make my own funeral arrangements. They are true champions! Look, there are over 28,000 people who pass away each year from C. diff and I wasn’t one of them!

There is comfort in connecting with others who unfortunately are dealing with the same issues I’m dealing with and we talk with one another, motivating each other to stay positive! I also find comfort in knowledge. I face my fears by learning more about them. Does having all these health issues scare me? Of course! But, I won’t let them control my life to the best extent I can. No self-pity here, just happiness to still be here to share my story!








Hospital Acquired

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