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C. diff survivor and advocate shares her story

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog
Nancy Caralla
Nancy Caralla

Guest Author: Nancy C Caralla
Founding Executive Director,
President of the C Diff Foundation.

My name is Nancy Caralla, and I know all too much about Clostridium difficile (C. diff).  I am a nurse and contracted C. diff while caring for patients suffering from this horrible infection. Now, I am a C. diff survivor. Tragically, our family lost my father from C. diff, too. I know how fighting a C. diff infection can be exhausting on so many levels. It is a physically, mentally, and financially debilitating infection. It has the ability to steal away a loved one, tear away dreams, create added stress on families, diminish financial nest eggs, eliminate employment opportunities, build geographic mobility limitations, and create tears in even the strongest individuals. All aspects of one’s being are involved in fighting a C. diff infection. This is why I have dedicated myself to “Raising C. diff Awareness” worldwide.

The C diff Foundation was brought to fruition in 2012 with a mission to provide education and advocate for C. diff infection prevention, treatment, and environmental safety worldwide. It provides Antibiotic News, Nutrition Support, Government and private Scientific Research and Development Studies, and a CDF Volunteer program. The C diff Foundation hosts a 24-hour hotline to support patients, families, and health care providers through the difficulties of a C. diff infection (1-844-FOR-CDIF).

Our hotline now gets 20-30 calls a day from individuals impacted by this germ. These are some of the most common questions we get asked: 

How do antibiotics cause C. diff?

The antibiotics cause a disruption in the normal intestinal flora which leads to an over growth of Clostridium difficile bacteria in the colon. In November 2012, CDC shared a public announcement regarding antibiotic use: colds and many ear and sinus infections are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Taking antibiotics to treat a “virus” can make those drugs less-effective when you and your family really need them. Limiting the usage of antibiotics will also help limit new cases of C. diff infections. Always discuss the symptoms and medications with the treating physician. Get smart about antibiotics by looking at CDC’s materials online. 

What can we do to stop C. diff?

We can all fight acquiring a C. diff infection beginning with prevention, and C. diff is a preventable infection.

Hand-washing (aka hand-hygiene) practiced and repeated frequently with correct technique aids removes harmful germs, provides patient safety, and adheres to infection control policies.

Environmental safety: Utilizing EPA registered products with “C. diff kill” claim will aid in eradicating Clostridium difficile Gram-positive, anaerobic spores, found to be capable of surviving outside of the body for long periods of time.

As a healthcare professional, how do I protect myself from C. diff?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): During the care of a patient diagnosed with a C. diff infection, following infection-control policies, healthcare and environmental service professionals are to wear PPE to minimize exposure to serious workplace illnesses (acute care, long-term care, and home care environments). PPE may include items such as gloves, shoe coverings, and gowns.

Communication:  Contacting and alerting other healthcare facilities, prior to transferring a patient, to report an active C. diff infection to implement and follow contact precautions and isolation policies.

C. diff Foundation
C. diff Foundation

We can all fight acquiring a C. diff infection. C. diff is preventable, and together we can stop its spread.

For more information please visit the Foundation’s website: www.cdifffoundation.org.

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

56 comments on “C. diff survivor and advocate shares her story”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    I am a cdiff survivor! Tested positive after taking Clyndomyacin for dental work two years ago exactly , this infection gave me paralyzing anxiety…Insomnia, and truly destroyed my life. After seeing (exhausting) my doctor, GI doctor, therapist, psychologist, Gynecologist, eventually rheumatologist, I finally healed my body and mind. I am young, now 36, almost got divorced, scared my children, was relieved from my teaching job temporarily, and was completely alone. I was thankful for these feeds, greatly and wanted desperately to meet someone also recovering. Here’s what I know now, to those looking for support, you’re okay! You’re not going to die, you’re scared and that is a symptom. You will be fine in time, be patient….time heals all wounds, even cdiff.

    Yes, I feel the same way on the 2nd round of antibiotics and I feel very isolated and paranoid . I also can’t do social events worried that I can make things worse . I also feel very alone and scared.

    July 2019, in I.C.U., for this C Diff. ( first week in July & last week ). Been hospitalized, twice, since then. I’m, truly, frightened by these, life threatening, spores . One of the meds I had was Cipro. I BLEW up like a Pillsburry Doe Girl. Back into I.C.U. I went. Im petrified to touch anything (regardless of good hygiene ), or be around others; Family, Children, Babies, etc. – for their safety sake. Very sad ,and paranoid. Tessy 🙁

    My name is Mare and like I posted before on the c diff this is now my 4th bout with this. I went to a new gastro doctor and he was frank with me and said, it is only considered an infection, no big deal…… Please somebody tell me what’s wrong with these doctors, no big deal when you can die from it, he said you can die from heart problems.
    I got this again the same time of year, so these doctors consider this nothing and just go and die and don’t worry about infecting family members, if this is you way to die in this life just accept it. I just finished Vancomycin from Sept 2019 to Nov. 30, 2019, now in Dec 24,2019 got c diff again and he said I’ve never done fecal transplant and would have to have my fellow doctor help me, no way, sorry I won’t do it. He even told me the hospitals don’t consider this an emergency either, and as all my fellow c diff suffers know this is horrible. Unless these hospitals and doctors recognize what a horrible sickness caused by THEM, nothing is going to be done, and we just die off the planet thanks to doctors who don’t care, and gave this to us.

    Hi my name is Shelby, I also have c diff and on the second round of antibiotics. I’m 20 years old and I think the youngest from what I read. I first want to say I feel really really relieved that I’m not the only one suffering from depression from this illness. It’s exhausting, draining, and makes me feel embarrassed most of the time. I feel left out at my age especially, my friends invite me every weekend asking if I’m “ better” or able to grab sushi and drinks or go to a party. I don’t want to risk anything I’m stuck in a confined food zone, I know I should be introducing foods but the thought of that scares me. To panic, and anxiety. I don’t want to have to have a fecal transplant or visit the hospital another time for this. I spent enough time there alone from my kidney stone and kidney infection, stent placement and removal. (Where this all stemmed ). I’m not much of a partier but I like to be social this time of the year especially, and I feel hopeless and that my own body that I’ve worked hard to make healthy has disowned me. It’s sad. Does anyone else feel like that?

    I have the dreaded c-diff since Sept. 2019 it is dec. 2019. I hate this , running to the bathroom. I am 63 years old. I got c-diff while I was in rehab. I had my left kidney removed and the Dr.s put me on so many antibiotics. I have grandchildren and three sons. I am terrified of passing this dreadful c-diff on to my family. I am at my waist and with all of this. I have to wear depends all the time. I am taking vancomth I know I misspell that word. I am taking a probiotic supplement every day. I can’t stand this . It’s been almost 4 months. Only 2 of sisters know I have this. Will it ever go away. My name is Helen and I live in a n apt. Does anyone know when this will be over. Thank you for allowing me to share.

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