Friday, June 27, 2014

C. Diff!

Every once in a while, the tables are turned and the physician becomes the patient. These times are typically very philosophical, because there is occasion for introspection on the part of the medical professional into medical care, psychology, and doctor-patient relationships.

A common problem on the medicine wards is Clostridium difficile diarrhea. Clostridium difficile ("C. diff") is an opportunistic bug that can colonize the colon without problems in normal people. When these normal people become people on antibiotics and the antibiotics kill the rest of their normal colon flora, C. diff takes over the abandoned real estate and causes a nasty diarrhea. Why am I telling you all this?

Because every once in a while, the tables are turned and the physician becomes the patient.

When my GI doc told me I had C. diff over the phone, I almost burst out laughing. I'm at high-risk because of my work in healthcare fields and my UC, but I had never thought that I would get it. C. diff was for people in bed and super sick, with or without a rectal tube.

But, walking and talking and functioning (and wondering why I was having problems) I had C. diff.

Patients who have C. diff are placed on contact isolation. So, for the duration of my illness I wore reversed contact isolation: I wore gloves everywhere and gowns when visiting patients. It was a nuisance. Happily, several of my patients were on contact isolation anyway, so I didn't feel quite so silly in the buoyant yellow paper things they call "gowns."

I'm a little tired to philosophize. But it's interesting and humbling.

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