Bringing Home the Bacon
Child's Play

Gut Check

As a life-long journalist, the troubled state of the newspaper business has given me serious concern recently. I love reading the paper and I've written for it from time to time. The paper I'm talking about, of course, is the New York Times


I didn't know how important the paper was to me until just the other day. Wednesday, in particular, I realized that it might just save my life.
Let me explain. One of the dastardly microbes that caused the kids trouble this winter is a bacteria called Clostridium difficile. Nina tested positive for it, which sent us scrambling in multiple directions one night a few months ago. First to try and find the antibiotic that the on-call doctor wanted to prescribe, and then to the Internet to find out just what this thing was. Nina's diagnosis didn't make sense. C. difficile, as it's called, is one of the more-or-less regularly occurring bacteria in the gut. It only becomes a problem if an antibiotic taken for some other infection disrupts the balance of bacteria in the intestinal tract. Nina had not been taking an antibiotic, so it didn't make sense that she had it. The cure the doctor prescribed was so hard to find that we waited until the morning to talk to Nina's regular pediatrician. By that time, her symptoms had abated and the doctor agreed to a wait-and-see approach, combined with a probiotic called Florastor. I had thought of things like probiotics as expensive placebos until this experience. She hasn't been troubled since. 

On Tuesday, the science section of the times ran a detailed article on the increased prevalence of C. dif. It seems to be striking all kinds of normal people who take antibiotics for legitimate reasons. I'm pretty sure I will need to take some kind of antibiotic at sometime over the rest of my life, and I'd like to avoid this unpleasant and potentially deadly side effect. So I've been thinking I should start taking a probiotic. 

The following day, the food section ran a fascinating piece by Harold McGee about making your own yogurt, which is, of course, full of probiotics. I love this idea, and can't wait to try it out. Who knows, maybe it will be my salvation. I hope something or someone can figure out a way to save the newspaper business.
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