As soon as I realized that a pharmaceutical had hurt me and that there was nothing that doctors could do to cure or fix me, I stopped going to doctors. I figured that they could hurt me and they couldn’t help me, so I wasn’t going to consult with them any more. I was angry with the system that hurt me. I was angry with the doctors that prescribed these drugs. I was angry with the doctors who told me that my symptoms couldn’t possibly be from the Cipro that I took. I figured that they were wrong (they were, the Cipro caused all of my problems), that they didn’t know anything useful (I don’t know because I didn’t ask), and I opted out of the system.
I don’t think that my reaction was entirely unreasonable. The anger and bitterness probably weren’t helpful, but I don’t think that they were unwarranted. It made me pretty angry to get seriously damaged by a pharmaceutical then dismissed by doctors when I asked about the possibility that the Cipro was what was making my body go hay-wire (it was). Opting out of the system that caused me harm seemed like a fairly reasonable and rational decision, especially since alternative medicine, acupuncture and supplements, were helping me.
But now I’m starting to see that I didn’t help the system at all by opting out of it. None of my doctors have any clue what Cipro did to me. They have no idea that it caused me to barely be able to walk for several months. They have no idea that it sucked out all my energy so that I could barely stay awake through the day. They have no idea that it caused me to lose important parts of my mind – my memory, my reading comprehension, my ability to connect with other people, my ability to communicate verbally, etc. They have no idea that Cipro caused a syndrome in me that did severe damage to all systems of my body. They have no idea because I didn’t tell them.
So I can’t really blame them for not knowing, for not noticing my pain. I can’t blame them for not doing something about the travesty that is the system that let fluoroquinolones be a first line of defense for minor infections, if they don’t know about the consequences of their actions. I can’t blame them for incorrectly assessing the frequency and severity of adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones if a sizable portion of the population who has an adverse reaction to a fluoroquinolone does exactly what I did, opt out of the system and fail to communicate with them. They have no idea. And that’s partly my fault.
Even if I had felt inclined to continue to go to M.D.s for treatment, I suspect that it would have been an uphill battle. The system isn’t set up to recognize, or to treat, issues like Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome / Floxing. First off, “Floxing,” or even Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome, isn’t even in the doctors’ handbook of recognized diseases/syndromes/things. So, if it doesn’t have a NAME, it’s not going to be recognized. Second, it would have been a waste of everyone’s time and energy for me to keep going back to the doctor with each new symptom, and new ones kept popping up for a few months, just to let them know, when there is nothing that they could do about any of them. The Western medical system is set up to name and fix things. Naming diseases and fixing people is important, and I want both, but when neither are available really bad things tend to be done – labeling patients as difficult or crazy, or, worse, throwing random treatments at them with the hope that they’ll get better – though sometimes they get worse as a result of the treatments. I didn’t want either of those things so I didn’t go back to my doctor. Seeing as I’m largely recovered, I think that my strategy was a good one for my health. However, it kept doctors from noting what was going on with me and thus, it didn’t get put on their radar that change is necessary.
I should tell them. I should tell them my story. We should all tell our doctors our stories. Not to get an answer from them. They don’t have the answers. We should tell them just so they know. So that they can know about the devastating effects of the drugs that they prescribe. If they know, maybe they’ll change their actions. Maybe they won’t prescribe fluoroquinolones in inappropriate situations. Maybe they’ll recognize the symptoms of Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome / Floxing in someone else so they will at least know how to avoid doing more harm to that person (they can avoid NSAIDs, steroids and, of course, other fluorouqinolones in the future for that person).
As for how to do this, I think that Dr. Rob has some valuable advice in this post – http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=18247 . Approach the good ones like they’re humans, they are, and leave the jerks behind (they’re humans too, just not humans that you should deal with).
So, it’s now on my to-do list to respectfully and kindly talk to my doctor about what I went through and how she may avoid putting another person through similar pain. I wonder if Kaiser will waive the co-pay for an informational session where the information goes from patient to doctor. I doubt it. It’s worth asking though.