Lisa’s Story

C. difficile affected my daily life in many ways. I had never heard of C. difficile until I was diagnosed with it. I was scared and stressed out by the unknown of what I was dealing with. I was hesitant to make plans with friends, go to work, or even leave the house. I never knew if I was going to have a good day or a bad one. There were times when the C. difficile would seem to be cured, but just a few months later, my symptoms would return. I never knew when it would come back, and therefore, I felt better just staying home all the time. I was afraid that I would never get better. Would I have to accept that this could be my life forever?

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2010 when I was 20 years old. Although I struggled with the symptoms of UC at first, once I was diagnosed and found the therapy that worked best for me, I have had minimal issues that pertain to the colitis specifically. I was first diagnosed with C. difficile in the fall of 2015 when I was 25 years old. I went on a round of antibiotics and was seemingly cured. A few months later during the spring of 2016, my symptoms returned. I was confused, but figured maybe it takes another round of medicine to rid the C. difficile for good. I was once again prescribed antibiotics to clear up the C. difficile, and again, it seemed to work. However, just a few months later, my symptoms returned. I dealt with this pattern of recurring C. difficile for a year until my doctor referred me to the University of Minnesota to see Dr. Vaughn. I met with Dr. Vaughn and was immediately put at ease. I had been dealing with recurring C. difficile for more than a year, but I was still practically clueless about what I was dealing with exactly. Dr. Vaughn answered all of my questions and provided me with so much information. Although I found the whole process of fecal microbiota transplantation to be completely bizarre, I felt more comfortable with the situation because of Dr. Vaughn. He was enthusiastic when presenting the information to me. He was proud of the strides he and his team had made in fighting C. difficile, and it relieved my stress to work with someone who had so much knowledge and passion to help patients like me. I felt great moving forward with Dr. Vaughn and his team if my symptoms ever came back. Naturally, my C. difficile symptoms returned a few months after meeting with Dr. Vaughn, and that is when I received my first fecal microbiota transplantation.

After having issues of recurrent C. difficile for more than a year, I received my first FMT in the spring of 2017. Although the procedure itself went well, unfortunately, my C. difficile was still present. About a month or two later, I received my second FMT through capsule form. Within days of the treatment, I instantly knew it had worked. For the first time in a year and a half, I felt normal again! Although the second FMT did wonders for me, a little over a year later, the C. difficile returned. As someone who seemed to get spontaneous bouts of C. difficile, this was not too surprising, but it was still upsetting. However, since I had success with FMT, we did another round of the capsules. I had my third FMT in December 2018 and have been free of C. difficile since then! As of now, this is the longest I have gone without the return of C. difficile, and I could not be more grateful!

Since meeting the wonderful doctors and other caregivers at the University of Minnesota (Dr. Vaughn, Dr. Khoruts, Andrea Pitzl, Carolyn Graiziger, and many others) I no longer fear C. difficile as I once did. My life has returned back to normal! I can make plans, go to work, and leave the house without the fear of “what if?” Although I know C. difficile could return whenever (based on my history with the disease), I feel comforted knowing that the doctors, nurses, and other caregivers at the University of Minnesota are there for me. I truly believe intestinal microbiota transplantation, along with the U of M team, saved my life!

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