Meditation and Mindfulness to get through FQ Toxicity

Meditation and mindfulness were incredibly helpful in my journey through fluoroquinolone toxicity.

The benefits of mindfulness and meditation are often downplayed in recovery stories–and supplements, diet and exercise are focused on instead.  Supplements, diet and exercise certainly helped me, and many others, to get through fluoroquinolone toxicity.  But meditation helped me too, and I think that the roles of spiritual and emotional health in physical health and healing are under-recognized in our society; and that is reflected in many of the recovery stories.  Or… maybe I’m projecting and meditation and spirituality were important to me but they aren’t to everyone… that’s totally possible.  Still, I want to focus this post on the role that meditation and mindfulness played in getting me through fluoroquinolone toxicity because they were important parts of my journey.

Early in my floxing I took a class called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction through my health insurer, Kaiser Permanente.  Kaiser Permanente wouldn’t offer a class like this unless it had health benefits, and meditation and mindfulness have been found to have amazing, unexpected, physical health benefits (including increased immunity – isn’t that crazy/interesting?).

The things that mindfulness and meditation helped me with were:

  1. It helped to get my anxiety under control. I can’t begin to tell you how important this was.  Anxiety can make everything worse and it’s easy to get into a destructive anxiety/stress/tension spiral when a bomb has just gone off in your body.
  2. Meditation helped me to be more kind and patient toward myself.
  3. Meditation helped me to forgive myself for what I was going through. I felt guilt and shame over being sick.  Neither guilt nor shame are useful in the least, and meditation/mindfulness helped me to get rid of both.
  4. Meditating brought home the point that everything passes. Even thoughts and emotions pass.  Pain passes.  Nothing is permanent.
  5. It helped with dysautonomia. My sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems were out of balance after I got floxed.  Meditating helped to get my cortisol levels down and my sympathetic nervous system back in line.
  6. I found courage, bravery and strength, which I badly needed, through meditation.
  7. I could see beauty and good in the world when I meditated. I felt like beauty and good in the world were stolen from me when I got floxed – meditation/mindfulness helped me to get them back.

I recently listened to a wonderful talk by Pema Chodron in which she was going over ways to overcome fear.  She noted that being mindful about fear was a way to get past it.  She advised that we examine and look at the things that make us uncomfortable–like fear, pain, and other “negative” feelings.  Even though all of us want to get away from pain, fear, discomfort, distress, etc., running from those things doesn’t seem to be near as effective as facing them, for getting over, through and past them.  In a mindfulness or meditation practice, you can sit with your fears and pain and face them.  Pema Chodron advises that you be kind and patient toward your fear and pain, and that its power will dissipate with the more loving kindness you give it.

It’s a bit hippy-dippy, and even counter-intuitive, I know.  But I love this stuff and it truly helped me immensely.

In her talk, Pema Chodron told a story of when she was going through a tough time and she approached her teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, for advice.  Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said that her life/problems were like she was standing in the ocean, and a big wave came by and knocked her in the sand.  After some struggling, the wave went back out and she was able to stand again.  Then, another wave came and knocked her down again.  But, the second time, she know that the wave will go back out and that she would be able to stand again.  It keeps happening like that.  Life is a series of waves that will knock your face into the sand.  BUT, after a while, the waves appear to be getting much smaller.

The waves of life–fear, uncertainty, pain, suffering, illness and everything else–will be much easier to overcome if you look at them.  If you face the waves you can decide if you’re going to jump over them, dive under them, plan for a place to land when they push you down, or some other plan of action.  Or, you can just know that waves will hit you and knock you around at times, but they will recede and you’ll be able to stand again.  Just having that realization/mindset is helpful.

I was playing around in a pretty wave-less bay when I got knocked down by Cipro.  I had no idea what hit me.  My face was in the sand and I was convinced that I was choking to death on the sea-water.  Meditating and mindfulness helped me to face the waves, and when I faced them, I could see ways to overcome them.  And, as Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said they would, the waves got smaller.

I truly think that the shifts in perception that I went through, largely as a result of mindfulness and meditation practices (with some other spiritual and religious things too), helped me to get through fluoroquinolone toxicity as much as anything.

It’s interesting that sitting still, observing your breath and attempting to overcome your ego, can be a tool for wellness.  It’s been a tool for health and wellness for centuries, but it doesn’t fit well within the Western Medicine paradigm for health or healing.  It is helpful though.  It’s a great and powerful tool that helped me immensely.  I hope that it works well for you too!

I took meditation and mindfulness classes which cost a little money, but were worth every penny.  You don’t have to take meditation or mindfulness classes though.  Meditating is FREE.

If you want some guidance, here are some links to guided meditations:

http://beyondmeds.com/2014/10/03/mindfulness-meditation/

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/mindfulness-meditation

And here is Jon Kabat-Zinn discussing mindfulness:

 

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8 thoughts on “Meditation and Mindfulness to get through FQ Toxicity

  1. Suzanne May 15, 2015 at 12:27 pm Reply

    What a great post, Lisa. It is so true about the mind-body connection and mindfulness makes such a huge difference. It has helped me in so many ways before being floxed and I lost my way since being floxed with levofloxacin and need to find it again. It has been 4 long tortuous months since this journey began for me. I just purchased a course on line a few days ago from Udemy called, “Body and mind are one” by Thich Nhat Hahn. I haven’t started it yet but am looking forward to beginning. I have had such a wave of emotions, thoughts, neg feelings etc and it is not helpful in the healing process. Wishing you and all fellow floxies healing and recovery.

    • Lisa Bloomquist May 15, 2015 at 1:03 pm Reply

      Thank you for the lovely comment, Suzanne! I hope that the “Body and Mind are One” class is helpful! It’s not easy to turn negativity around, but it’s helpful to try. Wishing you recovery and healing as well!

  2. Linda May 15, 2015 at 1:45 pm Reply

    What a lovely insightful post, Lisa…..This one really resonated with me, thank you for expressing it all so beautifully…not “hippy-dippy” at all -at least in my opinion…Meditation and mindfulness have always helped me immensely through even the toughest of times. I love the wisdom of Pema Chodron. So true what you said about shifts of perception taking place through mindfulness and meditation…You learn to see life differently, in a more positive light…”Once your perspective changes, everything changes”…Wishing all Foxies on their journey, love, light, peace, and healing!

    • Lisa Bloomquist May 15, 2015 at 2:43 pm Reply

      Thanks, Linda! And I’m glad that it resonated with you! Pema Chodron is, indeed, wise and wonderful. 🙂

  3. Rose Casanova May 16, 2015 at 7:00 pm Reply

    Hi lisa, I totally agree that meditation, even a little can be beneficial. I was just thinking about this very topic while on a walk today. I was thinking that a lot of times when I have pain, whether it is emotional or physical, there is a lot of tension or anxiety around the pain. When I separate the nervousness from the actual pain through meditation it seems to become less of a stress which makes the pain ease. Maybe it doesn’t ease, but my anxiety surrounding it eases. I think it changes the way I react to the things happening in my body or the outside world. Anyway, it’s really difficult to explain what exactly happens, I just meditate mostly everyday. It’s probably the number one suggestion I would make to anyone suffering from this illness, although meditation was nearly impossible at the onset of being floxed, even though I had been practicing it already for a quite a few years. Thanks for a great post.

  4. Lynda Smith May 17, 2015 at 12:01 am Reply

    Your post resonated with me as well, Lisa; I could not have expressed my reply more precisely or succinctly than Suzanne or Linda. I believe that mindfulness and meditation go a long way toward healing and recovery. As I took just 5 of the 10 ciprofloxacin pills prescribed to me, I have placed the other 5 pills in a tiny dish clearly visible to me as I pass by. What I say to those 5 pills is, ‘You don’t have the power to harm me any longer. I am much stronger than you will ever be.’ This site is about optimism and support and hopefulness. As the little train said huffing and puffing as he was going up the hill, “I think I can, I think I can.”

  5. Jeannie October 22, 2015 at 8:32 am Reply

    I just got John Kabat-Zin”s books and Cd’s they are fabulous. Anxiety has been a huge hurdle for me after 8 years of being floxed. I am two weeks into practicing Mindfulness and it has made a huge difference in my anxiety. Thank you so much for sharing!!!!

    • Lisa Bloomquist October 22, 2015 at 8:58 am Reply

      I’m glad the CDs are helping you, Jeannie! Meditation helped me immensely. I am incredibly grateful for Jon Kabat-Zin’s work. I hope the CDs work wonders for you!

      Hugs,
      Lisa

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