My father’s C Diff is back. He had some stomach “issues” last week (yes, that’s a euphemism for problems that require bleach to fix), and after 2 days had pased, he finally let me know about them. To be honest, I think the main reason he confessed is that I was standing in his apartment, and the signs are impossible to miss even with your eyes shut tight. So, confronted with my presence in the living room, he decided to fill me in. Such is the advantage of having him close by and visiting regularly, I suppose.
Anyway – the tests confirmed what we’d suspected after last week’s incidents. Getting the results, as you might imagine, required several phone calls to chase them down since, as I now know, doctor’s offices labs don’t perform stool samples; they send them out.
So now we are moving on to treatment. This starts with another round of antiobiotics that’s going to run “only” $800 – luckily, we are into a new calendar year so that takes us out of the coverage donut hole as described here in my earlier post on Medicare Part D.
When you get C Diff 6 times, it’s pretty obvious that drugs alone can’t kill these bacteria, so alongside that, the accompanying protocol is what’s known as a fecal transplant. Yes, it is what it sounds like.
But augmenting your weakened stomach flora with healthy ones from another person’s gut is remarkably effective and, fortunately, not as yucky as you think. Generally, it can be a non-surgical outpatient procedure using a GI tube. Plus, we connected with the rocket scientist gastro-enterologist at Mass General Hospital during a time of my father’s seemingly perfect health back in December, so we are prepared. And he’s generally feeling fine, with his symptoms under control and a high energy level despite not having Dificid yet. So, all in all, I have great cause for optimism.
And yet — I’m experiencing a palpable sense of what I can only define as “bummed-out-ed-ness.” (soon to be a trending hashtag on Twitter). I am. I honestly expected to be past this thing. I had repurposed the brain cells I’d targeted at C-Diff-related-thinking into more productive purposes. I had mentally said goodbye and good luck to Dr. Jenny Sauk, the aforementioned rocket scientist gastro-enterologist at Mass General Hospital. I allowed myself to luxuriate in the thought of a future free of conjuring the emotional energy required to demonstrate a can-do spirit, even though down deep lives the nagging feeling that this particular disease (a) wants to kill him and (b) isn’t going to take no for an answer.
In a strange way, I am relying on him for some degree of emotional sustenance. After all, this is a man who survived the Nazis, the Communists, colon cancer, and so far, this thing. I suppose as caregivers, we have to acknowledge a symbiotic relationship; our parent’s willingness to fight on reinforces our strength to help them fight on. The sandwich generation piece of this is that our children’s willingness to learn reinforces our strength to teach them. In either case, if either side withdraws their energy, we need to be ready to feed it from our own reserves. My reserves are high right now. But I must confess that I had let down my guard against having to tap them again so soon.
In other words – I’m experiencing #bummedoutedness. Look for it on a Twitter feed near you.