A Farm Built from Illness

Reader Contribution by Carrie Miller and Miller Micro Farm
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How it all began

September 2014 was a time in my life when I learned one of life’s hardest lessons of my life. This lesson came with consequences that I continue to live with even to this very day. I woke up one fall morning with a horrendous sore throat plaguing me. I quickly called my physician to setup an appointment to rule out strep throat, which I typically caught a few times a year. The test was gratefully negative but the Doctor decided it was tonsillitis and required a prescription for Amoxicillin. Oh – If I only knew then what I know now, I would have done things so differently.

Within three days of beginning on those antibiotics, my life changed forever. Antibiotics changed my life? Yes, they did! We live in a society where we expect easy fast solutions to just about everything. A sore throat that likely only required a few days of rest and maybe the addition of some soup, popsicles, and Advil was instead treated with Dexamethasone and Amoxicillin. My stomach began to ache on day three of the 10-day course. By day five I could no longer keep food in, within seconds of eating, the food and it’s nutrition was lost down the drain. As day seven rolled around I stopped taking the prescription, I could not take it anymore! Now everything should have gotten better right? Not even close!

Round One

I downed Imodium (anti-diarrhea medication) as if it were candy, taking the maximum allowed dosage for weeks, hoping my body would return to normal. Leaving the house was no longer an option, a five-minute trip to town could end in embarrassment and anguish. After a month of dealing with the extreme diarrhea it was time to call in the cavalry. It took only one phone call to the doctor to prompt a bit of panic. I left a message for the doctor who quickly returned my call instructing me to do a fecal sample that day. She had a bit of urgency in her voice, which scared me a little. She stated the results would be back within forty-eight hours. The sample was taken to the hospital on Friday at four and I received a call Saturday at nine in the morning. The nice doctor on the other end explained she was the on-call emergency doctor for the weekend and she needed me to listen very well. That I had contracted C-diff (Clostridium difficile) and was terribly infectious…..what?I had never heard of C-diff up until this point. She called in some medications and nicely told me to stay home and follow up with my family doctor Monday morning. Ok let me get this right, an illness brought on by antibiotics required more antibiotics?

Round Two

This should have been the end of it right? Take fourteen days of antibiotics and all would be quickly healed? Nope not even close! I finished the first round and within three days of completion all the signs began to comeback. Are you kidding me? With another call to the doctor another sample was taken in. This one came back clear? Ok, it must all be in my head? After a month with no resolution to be spoken of, I called an old-friend who worked for a gastroenterologist. With her connection I was able to see the specialist in just a few weeks. We were well into November at this point, Thanksgiving was right around the corner. The appointment was quick and another sample was ordered. In less than 12 hours that dreaded phone call came once again. C-diff Positive-ugghhhh, I just wanted my life back. This time 30 days of the terrible antibiotics. By day15 the antibiotic treatment began to leave me sad, depressed, even a little suicidal at times. I survived round two! But by this point I was becoming frail and lifeless.

Round Three

Life was finally back to normal, well so I thought. Fast forward a couple of weeks and the diarrhea returned. Once again, another sample was done and came back clear. I was now down around 20 pounds but looked bloated and heavier than ever. I hid how bad I really felt from everyone; placing a smile on my face and going about life. The house was cleaned, dinner was prepared, and laundry folded and neatly put away each day. When weeks once again passed and no resolve came I called up the specialist once again. Test number four and it was positive again. More antibiotics and for even longer this time. I truly wanted to die at points through this round. I laid upon the couch contemplating life almost daily. The house a mess, dinner uncooked, and laundry piled up, my amazing husband stepped up. He knew I was tired and losing hope, my stomach hurt so bad for so long, I began to forget what normal felt like.

This time my husband changed up the regiment. He did research and added probiotics, kefir, prebiotics, herbs, teas, essential oils, anything he thought may help. I took it all everything he could throw at me. I became gluten intolerant, dairy intolerant, and pretty much food intolerant throughout the C-diff debacle. Everything gave me diarrhea even the antibiotics that were supposed to be making me feel better. After the third round of treatment nothing had changed. I was taken in for a colonoscopy to see what was going on. The C-diff was finally gone! However, the extensive battle had left my insides irreparably damaged. My life was at home unable to even make it grocery store most weeks. We began to raise our own vegetables, eggs, and meat in hopes that removing the unnatural food components would help. While it helped it did not heal all the damage.

Where am I now in recovery?

Not as far as I hoped. However, a few months ago my gallbladder had to be removed, “gallstones”, which set off a whole new furry of diarrhea. After tons of research I asked my doctor to prescribe me Cholestyramine Powder it showed promise with diarrhea caused by gallbladder removal. You know what? I can now leave the house 80% of the time! It did not just fix the new problem it kicked the old problems ass too! While I still have bad days and food is challenging, I am getting stronger each day. Throughout the adventure we realized while I could no longer tolerate cow’s milk yet I could easily digest goat’s milk. So, we got some goats, and some more, and then a few more. We had so much milk we began to produce a natural goat milk bath and body line, which is doing great. My writing career also started on the back of the C-diff monster, unable to leave the house for years it left me craving an outlet to the “real world”.

Lessons learned

Something else huge came out of this situation. I have not taken an antibiotic since the C-diff fiasco was over. My body’s immune system has fought off every virus, cold, and infection all on its own. I use natural products and solutions to help fight against all the bad germs and I wash my hands A LOT! I take hot showers as soon as I arrive home from being out with the public. I no longer depend on anti-bacterial soaps or hand sanitizers. C. difficile spores can survive routine cleaning products that do not contain bleach or chlorine, for months. At the first sign of a cold I use my homemade Vapor Rub Cream, teas, and herbs to fight it off. After almost five years of this battle I feel strong for the first time, my strength both mentally and physically have returned. I am a better person for it! It showed me to slow down and enjoy the little things. And through it all, an amazing writing career bloomed and a farm full of incredible animals arrived. Milking and other chores kept me busy when I was feeling so lost. The daily routine brought peace to my chaotic world. And I can share the amazing goat milk products that took my husband a lot of time to perfect. While I know someday I may have the need for antibiotics again there better be “A LOT” of proof there is no other options.

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