Tao Te KaChing
Workin' the cash register of the Great Tao

FYI on Probiotics and Antibiotics…And Me

NOTE: I still have to fix links, tags, and all kinds of stuff the Subtext engine butchered, so be patient.

Today’s lesson: probiotics.  Do a cycle of them periodically, especially after you’ve taken antibiotics.

So, for some time now, I’d been very fatigued much of the time and had a rather tumultuous gastrointestinal system.  Actually, let’s back up.

As of January 2015, I was a regular smoker.  About one pack-a-day, give or take a few cigs.  I tried quitting a few times in the past for various reasons.  I quit for two years in my mid-30’s (I believe 2005?) when they found a skin tag on the back of my throat.  That scared the bukarkus out of me.  I threw out my pack and started hitting the gym.  This was back in Portland, Oregon.  It lasted two years before one day, just mindlessly driving home back from work, I spotted a hipster puffing on a cig on a porch.  In hindsight 20/20 I was already slipping, allowing a pipe bowl on the way home from work a day*, but after seeing the complete contentment of a slacking hipster combined with (what I immediately imagined) a nice Marlboro red, it ate at me for days before I stormed from my house screaming “FUARK IT!” to the world and buying a delicious pack of reds.

Fast forward to 2009.  Both of my feet had severe over-pronation (collapsed arches) and I decided to have surgery since I couldn’t walk more than a quarter-mile without shin pain so bad I’d start crying.  I started with my right foot.  For that first surgery, I opted for general anesthesia instead of a nerve block.  This, by the ways, was the right decision, as the pain when the nerve block wore off with the other foot was so unbearable I would simply pass out after a few minutes, just to awake and try to drag myself away from my foot until I passed out again.  The operation required they break my heel in two places and bolt it in a slight curve, and fuse my metatarsus up in an angle or something…  It was a lot, and a lot of pain, so I had plenty of oxycodone and vicodin to make it through.  Needless to say, the general anesthesia left me very loopy and combined with the other pain killers, made any of my uncomfortableness seem about four feet away from me.  I decided to just quit, since I wouldn’t be able to go outside to smoke for a few weeks until I could start hobbling around on my own.  Quitting was relatively easy this time and again lasted about two years until at a later job, I would hang out with my manager who was also a professional comedian and who smoked heavily.  This was I believe approximately 2012 some time.

Fast forward to January 2015, the last day of my father visiting from New York.  We took him to a diner in the morning, where I had a sloppy steak-and-eggs breakfast.  Delicious.  I went outside to enjoy a post-breakfast smoke, and, while smoking, all of the sudden could not breathe.  My throat just closed up.  No, not my throat.  Inside there, my bronchial tubes.  I had to force the breaths.  I was gonna die, and BOY did I wig out.  When my family came out, I’d fallen against the van trying to pull each breath.  My wife was a little more level-headed and was pretty sure I wasn’t dying.  She took me immediately home to lie down while she took my dad to the airport.  My breathing returned to normal about two hours after the episode started while I was waiting in the emergency room at the hospital.  It was ruled to be “obviously” asthma and I went home with an inhaler and instructions to make an appointment with a cardiovascular specialist.  To make what was supposed to be a short story longer, it does not seem to have been asthma per se.  I saw the specialist several times, went in for two asthma tests, both of which determined I did not have asthma, and was scheduled for a nuclear stress test.  I have not smoked since.

In the meantime, I began going to my wife’s gym.  I did very minor cardio and the Stronglifts program.  The breathing constriction would come and go, for shorter periods of time and less and less “stronger”, pretty much always when I’d start rough housing with the children.  It’s like I told myself to hold my breath when I’d get ramped up.  Very odd (and for another post).  I also had quite a bit of acid reflux and gas, and man was it uncomfortable.  Just prior to the diner incident, I’d been going through the many small child illnesses of winter.  This last season just before my windpipes froze up, I’d had three separate bouts of (what was diagnosed as) bronchitis, with the final one leading to walking pneumonia.  Each time I took a 10-day plus dose of antibiotics.

About two months ago at the gym, I had a sudden gas bloating that was extremely uncomfortable and inconvenient, as I needed to do squats that day.  I would do a set, run to the bathroom, and explode like a balloon.  After my 10th run to the john and the other patrons looking at me like a disgusting freak (I was gonna finish my damn workout, damn it), I had a sudden insight as to what might be the problem: perhaps all the antibiotics may have messed up my digestive system.  When I got home, I did some internet research which (as the internet always does) validated my hypothesis and found a brand to try.  I’ve done my cycle.  My gas is gone.  My reflux for the most part gone.

So, especially for parents of little ones who get frequent colds from them, after you have recovered from an illness where you’d been prescribed antibiotics, I’d do a “cycle” of probiotics.  Get a 30-pill container (for men, I got this one), taking a plll-a-day for three weeks and doing two pills every 3rd day so that you finish the container at the end of the 3rd week.  It can’t hurt and I believe should pretty much be a requirement after taking antibiotics.


*Unlike hipsters, I did not see pipes as a sign of being super cool.  I’d tried it to avoid having a cigarette during the winter and really liked the warm bowl in my hand.  You kinda have to learn to smoke a pipe, and once I’d gotten the basics down, I really enjoyed the ritual.