Losing my Reading Comprehension

I lost a lot of my reading comprehension while I was floxed. I could still officially read – if you gave me a short memo that said, “buy milk,” or something like that, I could read it. But reading a novel or complex materials for work became really difficult. I lost track of the content of the beginning of a paragraph by the time I reached the end of the paragraph. I struggled to understand things that I used to be able to read with ease. I read The Hunger Games series about 2 months after I got floxed. Despite the fact that most 14-year-olds are able to understand those books, and I could have breezed through them before I got floxed (especially when I was 14), I struggled to comprehend them. I remember the basic gist of the books, but the details were lost on me. I read them slowly and without joy or interest (which kind of sucks because I heard that they were fun). My job requires me to read so I had to force myself to read materials for work, but it was difficult to get through them and I had to read everything two or more times in order to understand what I had read. Even after reading work materials a couple of times, I was still unsure about what I had read.

I hated the feeling of not being able to read like I used to be able to. It was horrible. It was scary. I thought that I was stupid and that I would continue to be stupid because I would never be able to comprehend written words again. I doubted my ability to do my job. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to learn about what happened to me because I couldn’t read well enough to research. I was scared that I would never be able to enjoy reading a novel again. I was scared that I was unemployable.

Interestingly though, I could still write. My writing actually improved after getting floxed. Written words could flow out of me, but it was a one-way stream – they couldn’t come back in.

I thought of the loss of reading comprehension as a symptom, but it never occurred to me that my improved writing may be a symptom too until other floxies started to report to me that they experienced the same thing – a loss of reading comprehension along with an improved capacity for writing.

Isn’t that odd? Something similar happened in our brains that made us less capable of reading and more capable of writing. It’s really strange and I’m curious about it. What happened? Why would that be a common set of symptoms for multiple people who are suffering from fluoroquinolone toxicity?

Neither a loss of reading comprehension nor an increased capacity for writing are the most severe symptoms that most floxies experience, so I would guess that most people would want research funds to be focused elsewhere. But I wonder if any neurologists find this curious symptom to be interesting enough to study it. If there are any neurologists who read this who want to hear about my experience, please let me know (but know that my willingness to undergo testing is pretty close to zero).

The most simple explanation for these symptoms is that oxidative stress in the brain is what hurt our reading comprehension, and our writing capacity increased because we had something to say. Also, our brains had to compensate in some way for the loss of reading comprehension and perhaps they did so with an increased capacity for writing. That seems like an overly simplified way of looking at complex processes though, and I’m still quite curious about what happened in my floxed brain.

It’s interesting. At least, I think it is. I think that it should be studied. Maybe along with all of the other deleterious effects on the brain/mind that result from fluoroquinolone use.

Are any researchers, scientists or doctors curious about this?

Sadly and strangely, there seems to be a lack of curiosity about anything related to adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones. Maybe that’s because the symptoms are so broad. How does one even start to examine multi-symptom, chronic illness? It’s too big. Perhaps noting some of the little symptoms will pique some curiosity.

I hope so.

P.S. – I can read again. I feel like some of my writing talent has diminished as my reading capacity has increased. This is probably perception more than objective reality, but I wonder if there is only a certain amount of capacity that I have for written words and as one goes up, it takes from the other. Probably not. 🙂


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12 thoughts on “Losing my Reading Comprehension

  1. Zoletta Strega May 9, 2014 at 4:46 pm Reply

    I remember going into a restaurant a few months after being floxed. I sat down, looked at the menu, and couldn’t understand a single thing. I couldn’t make sense of anything. It was as though trying to read a foreign language. I put it down, and wanted to stand up and start screaming, and breaking glasses and dishes. I was angry and scared and pissed and betrayed – I wanted to warn everybody within earshot – ‘Don’t trust your doctors! Don’t let them give you Levaquin!’ – but, instead, I just sat there, in a stupor, in disbelief, in utter bewilderment, eventually eating the salad my boyfriend had ordered for me, and drinking a glass of water – afraid to touch meat, or anything with dairy, because of the possibility it might be contaminated with trace amounts of FQ.

    About improved writing – I don’t think that’s directly related to being floxed, but perhaps in an indirect way, as when someone suffers something that they don’t understand, something that changes their life, their perspective, their sense of personal security, their dreams of the future, their personal interaction and relationships – it’s a profound soul-shaking event. And such a thing cannot pass without deep reflection and the need to create order out of inner-chaos.

    I know, for myself, I found it nearly impossible to explain my newfound sense of turmoil and doom to anyone who didn’t suffer the same, but, yet, had a burning desire to do so. The only way I could accomplish that was to sit down and write everything out; the ending to the chapter of my former life, and the beginning chapter of my new one.

    There is no writing so intense and passionate as when you transform your suffering into words. It’s a natural progression for this to transfer to all things you may write.

    I think, as Floxies, we generally become more contemplative, and the way we see the world around us begins to change. We know nothing is as it appears to be; the false sense of security from the FDA, the additives in our foods, the lack of knowledge by the great majority of doctors – we see everything as multi-layered, and once we see it, we can never go back. Everything takes on a deeper meaning. And we begin to feel our experiences in a richer way.

    I think this is what accounts for improvement in writing.

    • Lisa Bloomquist May 9, 2014 at 5:05 pm Reply

      Beautiful! I’m at a loss for words, Zoletta, so I will simply say thank you – what you said is beautiful.

  2. Mary May 9, 2014 at 10:38 pm Reply

    Zoletta, your words hit me straight through my heart. I too am at a loss for words, like Lisa as I remember the intensity, fear and isolation from the real world when my brain was forever changed in February 1994.

  3. Zoletta Strega May 10, 2014 at 8:02 am Reply

    Thank you, Lisa and Mary. I was floxed by Levaquin on November 28th, 2005. And I bet you remember your exact date, too. The doctor gave it to me with zero warning, accompanied by Ibuprofen. Five days later, after experiencing tremendous eye pain, and the sensation as though my ankle were not so much ‘broken’ as ‘decayed’ – and the suffocating panic-inducing certainty that I was about to die – I rushed back to the local clinic, where I told the doctor on call about what I was experiencing. He dismissed it as part and parcel of the pneumonia. He instructed me to continue taking the Levaquin, and so I went on to take five more pills.

    Back then, there was a Yahoo Group called ‘Quinolone-Victims.’ There were 3,000+ of us, there, from all around the world. I will never forget the words from one woman who wrote to me early on: She said, ‘You’re in for a very long haul.’

    I remember how those words scared me – and continue to haunt me to this day. I couldn’t have imagined, in that moment, the chain of events that would touch every aspect of my being – mind, body, and soul. My very thoughts began to change. My sense of reality. My inner-desires, my fantasies, my dreams – both figuratively and literally. My sense of peace. My sense of security about the medical industry. My appearance and self-identity. There was not one thing left that didn’t suffer a wipeout – that didn’t have the dirty fingerprints of this nightmarish poison all over it – that didn’t have to be rebuilt, reshaped, with weak and trembling hands, with a mind that was exploding in fear and confusion.

    There are moments, sometimes hours, that I ‘get myself back’ – but they’re fleeting, and it’s only an illusion. I’m never getting myself back. I’m never getting the ‘world’ back, as I once knew it. And that’s okay – simply because it MUST be okay, as there is no other choice.

    I have suffered, I have tried to overcome, I have survived. This is the ‘SOS’ of my life.

    • Lisa Bloomquist May 11, 2014 at 3:29 pm Reply

      Zoletta, I keep reading your two beautiful comments and every time I do so I get chills. You express your pain, anger, perseverance, strength and humanity with such poignancy and rawness that I can practically feel it. Thank you again. It is through empathy that is built through people like you who are able to communicate pain through beautiful words, that connections will be made, and maybe even change will come about. I hope that your SOS is heard. Thank you again.

  4. Lisa Bloomquist May 21, 2014 at 10:18 am Reply

    Anyone who is reading this post and the comments will likely find this article to be interesting – http://www.hormonesmatter.com/cognitive-testing-post-adverse-reaction-lost-opportunity/ For more information on thiamine, please do a search on Hormones Matter for “Lonsdale” to get Dr. Lonsdale’s other work. I get my thiamine through raw, crushed garlic – taken straight.

  5. Lisa Zimmer June 5, 2014 at 7:35 pm Reply

    I can’t stop crying! I took Levaquin August 23, 2011 and the way you describe your experience takes me back to a place I never want to be again. It has taken me close to 3 years to get a life back to something that even remotely resembles a normal person. I will never get to be “normal” ever again, but I continue to fight every day for it. Levaquin stole that from me. They stole my ability to trust anyone in the medical field…ever. It is impossible to imagine that taking a drug for sinus infection can destroy your whole life in an instant. The one thing I have gained that they will never be able to take from me is perspective. I would have given up in 2011 if it had not been for my husband. To see your life partner stand up to Dr’s and fight for you is amazing. To have him hold me every night, stroke my hair and shush me like an infant as I screamed out in pain and begged to die is a moment in time that brought us so close together that no one can ever tear us apart. To have him dress me because I could not even lift my own arms. To have him carry me on his back all through the town so we could trick or treat with our 7 year old. I will never for a moment doubt the love of my husband.

    • Lisa Bloomquist June 5, 2014 at 7:58 pm Reply

      And now I’m sobbing. Thank you so much for sharing, Lisa! Your husband is an amazing man and I’m so glad that his love carried you through. Words cannot express how moved I am…. thank you.

  6. Ms. A January 19, 2015 at 5:56 pm Reply

    Lisa, since this just popped up, I thought it was ironic that I just read something else today about reading comprehension. http://www.people.com/article/yolanda-foster-lyme-disease-blog-real-housewives-beverly-hills

    (By the way, I do not think I suffer from Lyme, but I have no doubt I suffer from Fluoroquinolone Toxicity)

    • Lisa Bloomquist January 19, 2015 at 6:13 pm Reply

      Yup, I tweeted this post to her and made a few comments about FQ toxicity causing a loss of reading comprehension on articles about her. The more the merrier in spreading the word about this strange effect, if you feel so inclined. 🙂

  7. Gurleen May 23, 2018 at 11:46 pm Reply

    Can you please write about how you got your reading comprehension back? And how long did it take?

    • Zoletta Strega May 24, 2018 at 1:25 pm Reply

      Hi Gurleen, from what I remember all those years ago, the phase of difficulty I passed in not being able to read in the way I was accustomed to, without strain and confusion, thankfully did not last long. Perhaps two or three weeks, at the most. However, there were other short-lived occurrences that would accompany flare-ups, from time to time.

      What I came to notice most about my condition, after the first 4-6 months, was that almost every symptom had a trigger. Strange and peculiar triggers, at that. My body became super sensitive to chemicals. For example:

      If I stood next to the copy machine while it was in operation for too long, my vision would become blurry in one eye, as though I were looking through a glass-block window. That could last anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours.

      If I eat Doritos, I quickly start ‘buzzing’ all over my body. Electrical zings and zaps that cause minor explosions to the ends of my nerves, and cause my fingernails to hurt as though they’ve been cut too short.

      I don’t know what kind of artificial food additives were in it, but I once had to use a walker and was limping for about five days after drinking some sort of a rice-milk from a Mexican restaurant.

      I live in Chicago, and am surrounded by ‘Italian Beef Sandwich’ stands in every direction. If I eat a beef sandwich from Bueno Beef, each and every single time I make it to the half-way point, my lower back pain will flare so that I’m seeing stars. But if I eat the exact same type of sandwich from Marco’s Beef, nothing will happen. It must be something in their preservatives or flavoring.

      I’ve also noticed an increase in neck and shoulder pain after switching to Nexus shampoo and condition. As soon as I stopped it, the increased pain began to go away.

      It could be ANYTHING, including exhaust fumes in the air from the traffic outside, or the neighbor’s dryer vent filling my house up with the scent of their fabric softener.

      Each different thing will produce a different kind of result, or trigger a different type of reaction in me. Sometimes it can be a series of reactions, and, in the worst case, like when I was exposed to propane fumes from a leak inside the house I used to live in, it rendered me virtually bed-ridden for nearly five months. That time of my life was even worse than my initial floxing.

      So the best advice I can give you is to pay attention to what you’ve been exposed to just before you experience one or more of your pain symptoms. Chances are it may have been triggered by something you encountered earlier in the day, or even a few days prior.

      I’ve also noticed, quite by accident, while trying to lose weight, that if I put myself into ‘nutritional ketosis’ on the Keto Diet, after two weeks or so, I have more energy, a clearer mind, it’s easier to go up and down the stairs, and I feel a worthwhile reduction in my daily pains. When I’m in nutritional ketosis, there are moments when I can almost feel ‘normal,’ again. However, it’s not easy to stay on it for very long. It takes a great deal of impulse control and a willingness to sacrifice a majority of comfort foods.

      I sure hope this helps!

      Take Care,

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