Friday, October 5, 2012

Its the things you don't know that can kill you

Completely off the topic of energy, but very much worth your time.

Watch this incredible video on Bacteria. As it turns out, we really do need certain bacteria. Others can kill you.

Many of you have noticed that the blogging has been a bit light the last couple of years. That's because I have been quite under the weather. Thankfully, or hopefully, we have an answer to what has been making me so ill, off and on, for the past 3+ years.

I say this here so that others this will have a heads up about a Superbug that takes no prisoners.

Several years ago I went to the hospital. It was the Summer of 2006. I was dizzy and stumbling and suffering from gastric distress from I knew not what. At the local emergency room the Docs asked me what I thought might be the cause. I said I wasn't sure but that I belonged to a grappling club and some of the guys had come down with the super bug MRSA. So the staff stripped me down and examined me. I had what appeared to be a bug bite on my arm. The doctor said that he thought I had been bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider. I had just moved to the area and had never heard of this indigenous spider that sends lots of locals to this hospital.

I accepted the Doc's diagnosis and went home with some powerful anti-biotics and an anti-leprosy drug that they were experimenting with for spider venom. (I doubt it was a Brown Recluse Bite. I never lost any flesh or had any of the usual necrotic effects of that spider's powerful venom, but you never know.)

I spent the next several years with intermittent gastric distress, fatigue, low grade fevers. I went to different Docs, wound up back at that ER in 2008 and again in 2011, and several visits to the local walk-in-clinic, and was sent off with a series of different anti-biotics. You name it, I had taken it.

And I never got better. Somewhere, I had picked up a super bug alright - but not MRSA. I had picked up a nasty stomach-resident super bug called Chlostridium Difficile - also known as C Diff - only none of my healthcare providers figured it out until recently.

C Diff sickens hundreds of thousands of people per year in the U.S., and kills an estimated 15,000 to 30,000 of them. It is a really nasty bug. The primary means of infection is in people taking broad spectrum antibiotics. There are only a couple of drugs that can "treat" C Diff. Most people eventually get better as their guts are recolonized by "good" bugs. Others have a chronic issue and many of these eventually succumb to the infection.

While I have a great family Doctor who eventually figured it out, I can't say too much that is positive for the Hospital that I went to on 3 different occasions or the other Healthcare professionals I have seen. These folks handed out anti-biotics without a second thought - and they damn near killed me.

In doing my research on C Diff I came across Dr. Bonnie Bassler's work on bacteria and eventually found the above video. Also Jini Patel's book and web site "Listen to your Gut". And a guy with the creatively named "" website. The treatment modality for C Diff is a couple powerful anti-biotics, the very things that gave it to me in the first place (and nearly killed me), and if they don't work you are SOL. In truth, these medications do not kill all of the C Diff in your body. They do reduce the population concentration of the bacteria below the level at which the bacteria will launch a virulent attack with which to kill your ass - and at that moment you might well hope they succeed.

Guess how many "specialists" understood the implications of Dr. Bassler's assertions on bacteria in general and C Diff in particular? Not a freaking one. Know what every one of them wants to do? They want to "scope" you - and run the bill up. Scopes don't cure. Good bacteria cures. There is no money in that for these "specialists". They prescribe and they scope.

I did take the antibiotic prescribed for C-Diff, but I did not rely on it. I relied on good bacteria which I pumped into my body with great enthusiasm. I fermented everything. No kidding. Yogurt, Kefir, Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Pickles and more I fermented at home and ate raw and UN-pasteurized. I also followed Dr. John Harvey Kellog's treatment regimen from over 100 years ago - read into that what you like.

I am coming back to life, though not out of the woods just yet. No matter what, the changes I have made to my diet and lifestyle will remain. I spent a lifetime as a career road-warrior - there will be no more of that. Wining and dining prospective clients and traveling do not mix well with gastro-intestinal distress. I publish this here to tell others about the dangers of anti-biotics, the dangers of uninformed medical practitioners, and the dangers of an industrial diet completely lacking in sufficiently fermented foods. I used to role my eyes at those "health food wackos" and their pro-biotics. Turns out I was the knucklehead. Of course, the stuff you buy in the store? Commercial yogurt with "live cultures"? Or those over-the-counter pills? They do not have enough of the "stuff" you need, and not by a long shot. You gotta do it at home. Every one of us is susceptible to this new Super Bug. Chlorinated water, anti-biotics in industrial-farmed meats, anti-biotic medications and other inputs have been implicated. Who knows? I have been ill with the recurrent attacks for several years - its just that neither I nor my doctors knew what it was - thankfully, I was strong and healthy when I got this or I might have wound up on the wrong side of the grass. In my opinion, what nearly killed me, and brought this to a head after years of symptoms, was Clindamycin (prescribed due to oral surgery) followed by Cipro (prescribed for, in retrospect and in my opinion, a misdiagnosis).

So I got that going for me.

If you come down with gastro-intestinal distress, don't assume its just something you ate. The earlier you get on this the less damage will be done to your epithelial tissues lining your intestines. Chronic infections can take years to recover from. If you must take anti-biotics, make sure you have plenty of home fermented foods ready and waiting. They could save your life.


Anonymous said...

Wow!!!! I was wondering if things were ok. I will check out the site you mentioned. It seems a perfect storm is brewing for us if we dont get ahead of our issues. Thanks and good luck!


tweell said...

My uncle picked up C-diff from the hospital that fixed his heart. Luckily the recovery center he went to figured it out quickly and took care of the problem.
They had to use commercial products to repopulate his good bacteria, so fed him Greek Gods yogurt at every opportunity. I doubt it's as good as homemade kimchi or yogurt, but it did do the job eventually.

kathy said...

My youngest got c-diff after major gastro surgery. Nasty stuff. We pickle just about everything here and I swear it's the reason we never get sick. The one thing you might consider stockpiling is salt. I have 300 pounds stored and just the kind I can ferment with. 300 pounds is a lot of salt. I swear it weighs more than 300pounds of anything else. Glad you figured this out. We would hate to lose you.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Thanks Kathy, I would hate to lose me, too. I am relieved to finally get a diagnosis and a path back.

Roughly 2 out of 3 people get better simply by stopping the ingestion of antibiotics. I was not so lucky.

C diff reacts differently in different people, especially those with recurrent C-Diff.

I wouldn't with this on the worst human being I know.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

"Wish this"

Stephen B. said...

I don't know if I mentioned it last fall, but in November I was bitten by a client during a restraint in which my hand was pierced. I was put on Clindamycin because this population is always a health scare. The doctor cautioned me to load up on yogurt and other probiotic sources, but just the same I came down with C. Diff symptoms. I started in on the corring antibiotic and kept going on it even after the lab test for C. Diff came back negative. From what I quickly learned on the Internet, such tests are fairly inaccurate ans I didn't want C. Diff infection to survive. I got really concerned researching C. Diff as I learned how chronic it is for many people. I kept up with the probiotics and raw milk from a local dairy that I had been buying from and shook the C. Diff in a couple of weeks. Score 1 for real food.

Stephen B. said...

"correcting" not "corring" Also "and" rather than "ans". Stupid phone.

Anonymous said...

It's kind of gross to think about but look at doctors curing this with fecal enemas. I think it started in Canada.

westexas said...

C diff is a nasty bug. Any time you take an antibiotic, it's a good idea to eat yogurt (if it doesn't conflict with the antibiotic) and take probiotics.

Also, your immune system is not fully functional without adequate levels of Vitamin D, and most people are deficient.

Bill said...

Any good books or sites on making your own fermented foods?

I posted earlier about the enemas. My wife has had two bouts with C. Diff. Bad stuff. We have been blessed that she's been able to knock it twice but I do worry. Didn't have to go the fecal enema route but it's still a scary infection.

Would love to find some good resources on how we can improve our diets.

Dan said...

Wow, that is crazy. I never even bothered to ask why, but whenever I take antibiotics, whitch isn't often, the Ms. Makes me take drink acidophilus amongst other home remedies. Anyway, glad to heat you are better.

Take care,

Anonymous said...

Best wishes Greg! It's amazing what the doc's miss. My wife's been fooling around with a chronic skin rash for a year now. No help in site...

If you keep eating that sauerkraut and kimchee you might be cured and never know it! (Hope you laugh) I'm a huge kraut lover.

Best Regards and Best of Health to you,

Coal Guy

tweell said...

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (Katz), Real Food Fermentation: Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen (Lewin) and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods (Harmon) will give you lots of information and recipes. I'd check in that order, as the Idiot's Guide does a LOT of milk products, and uses whey in most of the vegetable recipes.

Anonymous said...

Greg - Very happy you discovered the source of the problem and were not (eventually) satisfied treating the symptoms. That's all today's MDs are trained to do--treat the symptoms. No thought outside the box required. Getting to the source of the problem requires a thought process.

The lack of connection between food and health has best been expressed by Wendell Berry: "People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and cared for by the health industry, which pays no attention to food."

Gut health is of utmost importance. Without it the rest of your body suffers more than we understand.

I can second the recommendation of S.E. Katz's book on fermentation. He lives in TN, too.

Happy fermenting...

JC said...

You have a incredible heart. I can sense your good persona.

kathy said...

Can't help but worry a bit withthe silence. Hope you are well.

Anonymous said...

Also for me.


Coal Guy

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Anonymous said...


Had the same type of problem last year. Prescribed clyndamycin for a sinus problem, wound up with chocolate milk coming out of my bowels. As you said, not at all conducive to traveling. I suspected c-diff, read up on WebMD about killing the good bacteria in the gut which made room for the c-diff to run rampant. I actually used over the counter bacteria pills to try and crowd out the c-diff which only masked the problem, so I doubled down and bought the $60 refrigerated pills and 3 days later things settled down. I had turned down the prednizone pills because of the potential diabetes side effects, after the gut side effects, darn glad I did.

This had gone on for about 3 months so I'm glad to hear you've got it under control.