This "when in doubt, antibiotics" approach to medicine has a number of nasty side effects, and Nicole ran into a particularly fun one. "My digestive system has always been a bit messed up, so when I told my surgeon about my stomach pain and foul-smelling -- like wish-you-were-dead-smelling -- diarrhea, I didn't expect much of a response," she says. "Instead, I got sent into isolation. This is how I met C. diff."
Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, is a bacterium you always have in your butt, and it generally won't bother you because there are other bacteria in there that keep it in check, like the parent of a bunch of unruly toddlers. Antibiotics can take that good bacteria out of commission, however, leaving C. diff to go crazy. Since harried hospital workers often forgo washing their hands in favor of a quick antibacterial rubdown, it spreads around hospitals like wild butt-fire. The result: "It was a miserable experience -- I didn't want to eat anything," Nicole says. "I lived on Saltines, ginger ale, and broth. The smell of food made me sick. I lost 15 pounds over the course of three weeks (the only good thing to come from C. diff)."
You will also form some very definite opinions about the softness of toilet paper.
After several more rounds of antibiotics shockingly failed to kill the antibiotic-resistant infection, "it was time to bring in the big guns: the fecal matter transplant," Nicole says. It may sound like a cruel prank, but it's actually perfectly logical: just take the bacteria from a healthy person's colon, stick it into the colon of the person who's missing it, and boom, you're back on the solid poop train. The method has been around since the days of ancient China, but it's only been recently studied by people in lab coats, who have found it to be effective against C. diff 85-90 percent of the time. It's also much cheaper than antibiotics, the current standard for treating C. diff, which only works about 30 percent of the time.
"Well, there is a procedure where we transplant p ... poo ... sh ... actually, let's just try antibiotics."