Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hate This/Love That: Bacteria Edition

Hate This:

Bacteria and I are not friends. Well, some bacteria. I have had a few nasty run-ins with some BAMF strains (Mom, don't Google BAMF), like Clostridium difficile, and Whatevertheheck causesUTIs. I highly recommend hand washing, food safety techniques, and using alcohol and/or bleach to sanitize stuff. Of course, I'll also tell you to skip antibacterial soaps containing triclosan, since that stuff will mess you up (and by you I mean your hormones).

So when I had two nasty colds in a row, and my sinuses were reaching critical mass after 3 solid weeks of abuse, I finally was diagnosed with a sinus infection and got those cool antibiotics that work in 5 days and are equivalent to 30 doses of regular antibiotics. Yay!

And naturally, since these things come in threes (note: most things don't come in threes), I was also recently diagnosed (today) with a UTI (yes, this is a third thing, because each of those colds counted as one thing). And I picked up even more antibiotics! A three-day course, this time.

As the infection slowly dies within me and those tiny, dead bacterial bodies are expelled from my vessel, all I can think of are the casualties of war on my side. You know, that other bacteria. The ones that are my friends. The ones in my colon. All they're trying to do is protect me from baddies like C. difficile and other nasty gut bugs, but they take it in the rear when antibiotics enter the scene (ya see what I did there?). That's why "diarrhea" (I am so, so sorry for using that word in this safe place) is almost always on the side effects list for antibiotics. Those good guys in your colon are keepin' you regular . . . and occasionally giving you gas, but you can't be too picky here.

With every one of those tiny deaths in my colon, I am more sensitive to evils that might attack, you know, my colon. Which brings me to the second half of this entry:

Love That:

Probiotics. I don't know why doctors don't prescribe them every time anyone has gut issues or takes antibiotics. I'm not sure how much they help during antibiotic treatment, but at least afterward they essentially repopulate your desolate colon after Hurricane Poopsalot or the Antibiotic Tsunami wreak death and destruction. Acidophilus and Bifidus are probably the most popular ones, but you can get all kinds of blends, and they are the good bacteria Red Cross. My favorites are (1) these chewables that taste like powdered yogurt, and (2) actual yogurt. A nurse once recommended Florastor, so sure, I'll plug that too. Just not with a link, because it's expensive. If you need me to help you click to it, you probably can't afford it.

Anyway, if you love your guts—and trust me, you LOVE your guts—you'll keep some of these around to keep them populated with a massive army of tiny protectors.

Oh, and today I also love my AZO at home UTI test strips. I'm not a huge fan of nonessential doctor's office visits, and I am a huge fan of knowing what I need to do and taking care of myself. It's an independence that comes once you get over giving yourself shots and start to think, "What do they even do at these checkups, anyway?" (Okay, they do plenty, but I can at least avoid anything unnecessary with a few tricks and a 24/7 nurse hotline.)

Anyway, I had some flipping awful back pain the other day. With no other symptoms for the pain, I decided to use a strip. Peeing on strips in a clinically appropriate situation is a hobby of mine. I got the high score for white blood cells! That's exactly what Charlie Sheen means by winning, I think. But at my OB appointment, my doctor said the pain sounded more pregnancy related, and my test there came back normal. They sent it off for a culture, and thank goodness, because apparently I am an infection machine. I wouldn't have questioned it if they said it came back with nothing (the back pain went away), but thanks to a penchant for pee sticks, I'm not letting an asymptomatic UTI turn into pyelophrenitis or pyelonephritis or whatever. Boo yah. Take that, UTI bacteria, I WIN!

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