8 Kooky Money-saving, Time-saving, and Health-saving Tips

health, Jan O'Hara, Tartitude, C. difficileYou are not to cross-examine me and pry into my psyche. I don’t understand the reason for this post myself, other than perhaps I’m seeing my daughter at the hospital and feeling a minor sense of nostalgia and once-firm purpose slipped from my grasp. Anyway…

1. A giant salad of fresh cucumber, red pepper, sugar snap peas and diced pickled onions is an excellent way to empty the crisper and use up several vinaigrette salad dressings at once.

2. A brown lentil soup with sweet onion tomatoes, parboiled brown rice and garden vegetables is a delicious way to use up freezer supplies and the last ounce of condiments.

3. We are a pro-condiment family and I will staunchly defend that position until I shuffle from this mortal coil.

4. If you’re plagued with C. difficile and have access to an enema tube, a blender, and a non-infectious-but-slightly-crazy relative or friend, just one fecal transplant might do what months of Vancomycin couldn’t.

5. Next weekend if you’re hosting a dinner, and at a lull in the conversation some inconvenient guest asks, “How does one get C. difficile, anyway?” you will be prepared if you read this brief summary:

  • Our bowels are populated with approximately 1000 trillion bacteria, most of which are benign, some of which have crueller intentions. Clostridium difficile falls in the latter category.
  • When we take antibiotics, which we tend to do for the most minor of excuses in this society, that antibiotic kills both good and troublesome bacteria.
  • Before antibiotics, our gut is like a neighborhood in which criminals or Neo-Nazi elements exist, but are constrained or marginalized by policing and sheer dilution. After antibiotics, they have a proportionately larger share of the streets. They terrorize the good citizens, who eventually walk with their chins tucked to their chests, seeing nothing, hearing nothing, hoping to escape notice.
  • A fecal transplant would be like inviting a vast sea of buddies to arrive in a locked-down town. They arrive with determined joviality. They throw their arms over one another’s shoulders and sing as they advance, so that all appears friendly.  While their laughter rings out, the “bad” element shrink off to the sidelines.

6. #5 would be true whether your dinner consisted of clean-the-fridge salad and clear-the-freezer soup or something more spendy.

7. That #4 is interesting to me because it’s similar to the modern notion of colic.

  • During labor and delivery, infants are supposed to swallow and breath in a quantity of maternal bacteria. They gain even more during breastfeeding, which is far and away better than formula at maintaining gut flora.
  • But with high c-section rates and many mothers receiving preventive antibiotics, the transfer is altered. It’s theorized that colic is the result, and that it lasts until finally the gut is colonized by friendly bacteria. In some mothers’ cases, taking an oral probiotic gets the job done faster.

8. My children both had colic. They screamed and arched every night for 4+ hours until they hit 4 months of age. Suddenly, poof! No more issues.

At any point in those 4 months I would have killed for a probiotic if I’d known about them.

Therefor, if I ever get C. difficile, I will be first in line for a poop smoothie.

Just doing my bit to keep you informed, me Zesties. ;) How has your week been? Can you handle the odd health-related post, or does this bore you? 

Think carefully before you answer. This kind of stuff is our family-bonding small talk, so I have a lengthy repertoire…

18 thoughts on “8 Kooky Money-saving, Time-saving, and Health-saving Tips

  1. Thanks for spreading the word. After my massive over-exposure during childhood, I’m always talking against antibiotics, not just for people, but the wide-spread use in food animals. Gee, are we surprised we’ve got so many problems with intestinal flora and drug-resistant disease? Oy. Naturally, the pharma industry won’t like the notion of fecal transplant, since there’s no money to be made from it. Yet. But it has good anecdotal support for a number of ailments.

    • This is where our cynicism is a perfect match, Bryn. I don’t know if you read that article, but both the information and the low-tech cure are simple, but the one physician in Canada who’s in that article is overwhelmed.

      And absolutely to the culpability of antibiotics in animal husbandry. What we do to ourselves for profit.

  2. The last time I ingested an antibiotic, I was 25. Don’t miss them, haven’t needed them since. My children didn’t grow up taking them, thank goodness, and I believe our whole family is healthier for avoiding them. :)

  3. I am not usually one to be bored by health-related posts, especially one from a former doctor. But, I wonder, is it possible that you do not want us to delve into your psyche for fear that we will recommend some sort of professional intervention? I’m just saying…. :)

  4. Jan,
    This semester I am immersed in science because of my day job, and I was recently exposed to the 1000 trillion bacteria and antibiotic dilemma. However, that professor’s explanation wasn’t half as interesting or entertaining as yours. My goodness, what a good laugh does for one’s day.

    Thanks!

  5. It all sounds very gross. I had to take a poop sample into a lab for testing and the staff there treated like the sample like they might get leprosy from it.

    I like like the health post and also the recipes. I will try the lentil one tomorrow.

    This is my question. How long do you think it will take until poop transfer becomes the standard of care for people suffering with C. difficile?

    Amy Jo

    • It’s a good question, Amy Jo. The first thing is to prove it actually works in good quality studies. I’m not privy to most medical research these days, but I’m thrilled to see the Cochrane Collaboration is about to launch a review of fecal transplants: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD009295/pdf

      In case you don’t know, they are an autonomous, world-renowned research site known for their methodology and independence.

      So first the studies need to come and establish evidence. Then, with the drain C. difficile imposes on the healthcare system, not to mention peoples’ lives, I expect drug companies will try to come up with a non-fecal source. (Otherwise, desperate patients will start doing it on their own.) .

  6. My son suffered from a stomach ailment that the doctors wanted to call Crohns, though they could find no direct link (even with a colonoscopy.) He had limited medication because that only made him feel worse, not beter. One doctor from world renowned Johns Hopkins wanted to put him on 3 months worth of steroids at ten years old! Oy, what that would have done to him if I didn’t do some research. I found a better doctor and we decided together to feed him well, give him lots of vitamins and *pro-biotics* and sure enough in a month he healed. That was a year ago and he has gained 20 lbs. and 4 inches! Why do doctors always turn to the pharmacy or the knife for solutions…the money of course…but sometimes the answers are so simple it’s rediculous! Thank-you for your “nurturing” post. The world should get this point of view more often! :)

    • So glad to hear your son is better, Kellee, and kudos to you for persisting until you found an answer that restored his health.

      As to the why, as a former family doctor I can offer a few ideas. Doctors do not get a kick back for prescriptions, so in many cases, it’s what they know, what patients demand, and what’s approved for on-label use. Especially in the States, where doctors have to guard against lawsuits and practice defensive medicine, you’ll see super cautious or traditional approaches most of the time.

      In the case of the C. difficile patients who are trying these alternative treatments, they’re desperate and have failed conventional options. The risks of trying and possibly doing harm diminish, so the ethical issues become tipped in favor of non-proven treatments.

      Obviously that’s only a tiny exploration of a huge issue. :)

  7. When the doctor’s advice differs from your own instinct, remember that you have the right to refuse treatment. The medical profession is made up of human beings who don’t always get it right, have their own personal points of view and are capable of error. They’re also still learning, which is to their credit. Today’s ‘scifi treatment’ might become tomorrow’s standard medical practice. Trust your guts–they’ve got more than bacteria.

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