dozen patients were infected with C. difficile in a Toronto-area hospital

TORONTO — When Sarah heard last week that more than a dozen patients were infected with C. difficile in a Toronto-area hospital — and four had died — she knew more than most the suffering caused by this all-too-common bug.Her independent, 84-year-old mother went into a Hamilton hospital last fall for treatment of a bladder infection and contracted Clostridium difficile, said Sarah, who asked that her full name not be used.

The C. diff wasn’t detected until after her mother was discharged for the bladder infection, which was treated with antibiotics. (The drugs kill off so-called good bacteria in the large intestine, allowing C. difficile to flourish.)

But within a week, her once-vibrant mother was “so incredibly ill,” she had to be readmitted, said Sarah. “She wasn’t eating, she was sleeping a lot, she was in pain in her lower abdomen and she was having very bad diarrhea.”

“The whole time she was at home, she just kept saying: `I want to die, I want to die.’ And this is quite unlike my mother. My mother is a very sociable, outgoing person who had a great zest for life.”

Her mother’s apparent “death wish” led doctors to admit her to the psychiatric ward, where she continued to decline — until they realized her problem was not mental but physical.

“But when you saw her in this place, she was like a skeleton with skin,” Sarah recalled. “Her eyes were sunken and she had this pallor of death about her.”

Her mother had lost 25 pounds from her under five-foot frame and had to spend weeks in rehab regaining her strength.

In all, she was in hospital for more than three months, and by the time she had recovered from the ravages of C. diff, she could no longer manage living alone in her condo and had to go into a nursing home.

“The change that has come over her is devastating,” said Sarah, fighting back tears. “It’s heartbreaking.”  Read More….

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