Yes, I had a Fecal Transplant – and it was the Best Decision I’ve Made
August 5, 2019 3 CommentsCategory: MS, My Story
Tags: C-Diff, Clostridium Difficile, FMT, Fecal Microbiota Transplant, Gut Health, OpenBiome, Stool Transfer Therapy, multiple sclerosis
There are certain things that you never thought you’d write about publicly, let alone even talk about with your closest friends, but here we are…. talking about shit.
Yes, that kind… poop… stool… fecal matter.
After my recent MS relapse (post here) and months of suffering from a bacterial infection that my immune-suppressed system couldn’t fight, I took my doctor’s advice and got a Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) – AKA a stool transfer – to heal my gut…and guess what, I haven’t looked back since.
And yes, before I get into this, let’s all agree that this is super awkward to talk about…. It’s personal, private but super common so someone has to talk about it, right?! My hope is that my experience can help others in the same boat.
Fecal Microbiota Treatment
After knowing what I know now, I can say with full confidence that FMTs are the future of gut therapy and rejuvenation and yes, the cure to C-Diff. I had NO idea how much of our system banked on a healthy flora and how much everything can be turned upside down by an override of bad bacteria but here I am telling you – God forbid you or someone you know should even need it. OK, let’s back up for a second…
So I know you’re wondering – what the hell happened?! Well, I contracted a serious gut bacteria infection, called C Difficile Colitis, while in the hospital delivering Jack. “C-Diff” gives you non-stop diarreah, fevers, shooting pain and is as painful and gross as you’d think.. It is actually more common than you’d think too – it’s in 80% of kids under 5 and most adults – but typically it’s dormant and asymptotic. In most cases, one’s body has enough “good” bacteria to fight it but due to my super weakened immune system and the fact that I took antibiotics for a C-section infection, I had no ability to fight it and it overtook my body. After 2.5 months of antibiotics (with terrible side effects no less), I had to take my treatment to the next level and do a stool transfer. And guess what – it was SO worth it.
Yes. The thought of a fecal transplant is horrible and flat out gross but it was actually quick, easy and within a week I was feeling back to normal again. When your gut flora is back on track, you literally feel like yourself and that alone makes it worth it.
I’ve always been transparent on this blog – even when it’s a bit embarrassing like this – because I think others can learn and benefit from my experiences. There is a lot of research linking gut health to MS (my neurologist believes it’s all part of the reason I relapsed so quickly) so informing others of this alternative treatment may be helpful. I’m also now planning to take my diet to the next level and am working with an integrative doctor to do so.
Q&A: Fecal Microbiota Transplants
What exactly is a fecal transfer?
A fecal transfer is when you transfer stool from one person to another in the hopes that the healthy person’s “good” bacteria would override the bad. This is a funny video that actually captures it perfectly.
How does a fecal transfer help?
FMT puts good, healthy bacteria into a sick person to restore their flora.
How do you qualify for a fecal transfer?
You must have had re-occurrent infection that hasn’t been cured with 2-3 rounds of antibiotics.
How is the fecal transplant administered?
Three ways you can transfer the fecal matter: consume frozen pills (this is the newest way), insert a tube from your nose to your colon or through colonoscopy. I did it through colonoscopy which seemed like a no-brainer. You’re knocked out and when you wake up and it’s done.
Where do you get the stool?
There is a nonprofit stool bank called OpenBiome that has safe and well-vetted stool. There is a long criteria of how the stool is vetted and stored so you know it’s “clean”. A lot of the problems with stool transfers that you’re likely hearing about on the news are from untested stool.
Was it covered by insurance?
Since I actually did a colonoscopy during the procedure, it was covered by insurance, yes.
How do you prepare your body for a fecal transfer?It’s essentially the same prep as you’d do for a colonoscopy. You drink a laxative-like liquid that makes you clear out your system the day prior. It really wasn’t bad.
What’s the success rate of a fecal transfer?
Anywhere between 85-90% on the first try. If you have to do it a second time, the success rate is 95%.
Why is the fecal transplant successful?
Essentially you’re adding in TONS of healthy bacteria that will override the C-diff
When do you start feeling back to normal?
Well, I’m sure this is different for everyone but it took me close to a week. In fact 3 days in (while I was on vacation no less) I had to call my doctor almost in tears that I didn’t think it worked but he assured me that I needed to give it time and thankfully it resolved itself.
Does every hospital or doctor’s office do fecal transfers?
No – this is a newer treatment that’s not universally accepted. It is, however, available at some leading research hospitals with excellent success rates. I went to University of Chicago, but I know that other hospitals in Chicago like Northwestern Memorial Hospital and North Shore administer them.
Let me know if you have other questions.