My sister and I lost our mother, Teresa Mustain, on March 7th, 2013. She was 57 and had been battling C. diff since October 2011. We were not surprised when she finally passed away, but shocked nonetheless. Her health continuously declined from that first bout.
Mom was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia back in 1992. She was also diabetic.
My mother was in and out of the hospital several times in the last 18 months. They’d rehydrate her, give her an antibiotic, and send her home. I think she started with the basic Metronidazole and that was repeated between October 2011 and May 2012. May 2012 found her hospitalized again. This time, they started her on Vancomycin. She was on this for 7 months straight – and she said she almost felt normal. Within a month of being off of it, she was back in the hospital for C. diff. They put her back on the Vancomycin. She finished that round and within a few weeks was yet again back in the hospital – this puts us at February 2013 – 3 days before her first of 3 surgeries. The surgery got postponed. This round of C. diff caused her kidneys and liver to begin failing.
In 2012 – she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. We were never told if this was a result of the C. diff or if she’d had this all along – we suspect it was due to C. diff. She had a fistula rupture from her colon wall to her vaginal wall. They tried a ‘button’ surgery but she wasn’t exactly a model patient and didn’t follow the precautions – it failed – maybe it would have failed if she’d tried every precaution. Instead, the decided on 3 to 4 separate surgeries. The first surgery was to put in a colostomy bag. This was February 25th. The surgery went well, but she was in a great deal of pain. They sent her home with a home health nurse 2 times per week.
I spoke to her 8 days after her surgery – she sounded terrible and was in so much pain. The next morning – March 6th, she went by ambulance to the hospital – her blood sugar was over 1,000, her electrolytes were completely messed up, she had fallen 3 times, and she was delirious. Mom was put on life support that evening – the doctors had no idea if she would have any chance at fighting the infection.
By 6am on March 7th, we knew there was no hope. She passed peacefully surrounded by family – finally having relief from all the pain.
Now I want people to know – she wasn’t that great at following doctor’s orders – but I also want it know that NO ONE except myself told her just how serious C. diff was. I pushed and pushed her to find a doctor to do a fecal transplant. Mom was on Medicaid – she just assumed there was no way she could have it done.
In the end, she had C. diff, a urinary tract infection that had been unresponsive to antibiotics for over a month, and staph (unknown but likely MRSA) – all of which were suspected to be resistant to the antibiotics she was on in the hospital – Vancomycin and Flagyl.
It seemed every time she went to a hospital for the C. diff it was a different one. I don’t know how much communication was done about just how severe it was. Mom was secretive – I think she was ashamed and miserable. She wasn’t prepared to advocate for herself. Her final night in the hospital, I asked the doctor there if anyone around did fecal transplants. He said, “Yes, there is a couple nearby.” In fact, he said it’s a simple process that he could perform, if she survived. All she had to do was ASK.
Mom is survived by her siblings, her mother, and her children. None of us wanted to have to say goodbye.
Hindsight is always 20/20 – we cannot go back and change the way things happened, but we can help educate others so they do not have to watch their loved ones decline in front of their eyes.
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…