Antibiotics: an equal opportunity medication

Cartoon bacteria of different colours, "Bacteria are my friends."

My moulting is complete, my energy is returning, my appetite is, sadly, back to normal (after a few days of eating everything in sight), and my red blood cell count is up. Everything is moving in the right direction. I don’t even look like I have leukemia today, if my opinion counts.

Those antibiotics did quite a number on me. I was on a combination drug containing an antibiotic and another special something to potentiate the antibiotic’s effects. Double whammy. No wonder I felt so crummy while I was getting well.

Antibiotics have their place. My infection was running rampant through my body and it needed to die. Those very effective drugs killed it, but they didn’t stop there. Antibiotics target all bacteria, good and bad, indiscriminately, but we need our good bacteria to keep us well. (You’d think some rich drug company might have solved this problem by now.) That’s why people often come down with other infections after their antibiotic-targeted infection is gone: their good bacteria are no longer there to fight off the bad ones.

I cannot say I have succumbed to any other infections since my cellulitis has run scared, or at least none that I know of. But I have been working diligently to replenish my good bacteria, especially those in my vulnerable gut.

All bacteria-healing roads lead to probiotics, which include foods with active bacterial cultures. Think gross fermented gloop like sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso, for example, as well as yogurt and kefir. I could also take a probiotic supplement, but what’s the fun in that?

You may be wondering what kefir is. If you have not had the pleasure, kefir tastes like a cross between yogurt and buttermilk. C’mon over and I’ll share my stash with you. I’ve been choking down a small amount every day. This was easier when I was off food altogether but it’s a little harder with my newfound appetite, since I’d now rather be consuming foods I like.

But there’s more. To keep my good bacteria thriving, I need some prebiotics, which include bananas, garlic, and artichokes, among other fruits and veggies, as well as whole grains and roots. Prebiotics feed probiotics, keeping them healthy. Good thing I had artichokes on the pizza J. made me last night.

Tragically, sugar is an enemy of good bacteria. Need I quit the sweets because they’ll feed my bad bacteria? What if my cellulitis was the result of sugar overload? I did have a few too many wine gums in the week prior to my admission. Banish that thought.

In a moment of weakness, I wondered how kefir might taste with a wee bit of chocolate syrup mixed in, so I added a scant teaspoon or three. I almost liked it. J. took a sip of my new creation and said: “Yum-O!” She fears I’m on a slippery sugar-laden slope, and she’s probably right.

Life is full of compromises, don’t you think? Surely I’ve suffered enough this past while. Pass the chocolate syrup, would you? I’m sure my good bacteria won’t mind, and I’ll follow the drink with artichoke chaser.


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