Monthly Archives: April 2016

Floatation Therapy for Fluoroquinolone Toxicity

floatation

From the ages of 12 through 18 (1992-1998) I lived in a big, somewhat ridiculous, but interesting, house. One of the ridiculous but interesting things about it was that there was a sensory deprivation tank in the attic above the master bedroom. We never used the sensory deprivation tank, which we referred to as “the floatarium,” because we had no idea how to hook it up or work it, and because it required that we haul 1,000+ pounds of epsom salt up several flights of stairs and a ladder to the attic where it was stored. To give you an idea of how out-of-the-way the floatarium was within the house, we surmised that either the house was built around it or that a crane was used to put it in through the roof–there was no way anyone could have gotten it through the front door. Anyhow, it was a novelty that I haven’t thought about much since the 1990’s.

I bring up the floatarium because I just got done with a session in a sensory deprivation tank, and I wonder if it would be good for my floxie friends. There are a few components of floatation therapy (apparently “sensory deprivation tank” sounded too severe, so most floatation spas call it floatation therapy or REST–Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) that I think can be beneficial to floxies.

First, it’s a way to deeply meditate, and meditation has many demonstrated health benefits. I found meditation to be immensely helpful in my journey through fluroquinolone toxicity (you can read more about my thoughts on meditation for floxies here, here, and here). As a facilitator for meditation, floatation therapy is wonderful.

Second, floatation tanks are filled with 1,000+ pounds of epsom salt, which is magnesium sulfate. Magnesium has helped to alleviate many symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity for many people. Floatation may be a good way for floxies to soak up a lot of magnesium. It’s significantly more concentrated than any epsom salt bath you’re likely to take at home. It feels like soaking in magnesium “oil” (many floxies have found topical application of magnesium oil to be helpful), and I emerged from the tank with my skin feeling silky, smooth, and as if it was covered in magnesium oil. Magnesium also has many health benefits, and I wonder if many of the health benefits that are attributed to the meditation and sensory deprivation aspects of floating are actually from soaking up a large amount of magnesium. I think that both are generally good. (However, if you have any sort of kidney issues, or sulfur metabolism issues, magnesium sulfate can be harmful, so please be cautious and talk to your doctor about these issues.)

Third, floating is relaxing. When you don’t have any visual, auditory, or tactile sensory input, you are able to rest, relax, and just be. A lot of floxies suffer from anxiety, and floating may be a good way to relax.

Personally, I felt pretty good going into the floatation tank, and I felt even better–with a nice sense of peace and wellbeing–after I emerged from it. I think it was good for me, and it may be good for many of my floxie friends.

Some of the studied benefits of floatation therapy are noted in Discovery Magazine’s article, “Floating Away: The Science of Sensory Deprivation Therapy.

“In the early 1980s, a group of psychologists at the Medical College of Ohio initiated a series of experiments that looked at the physiological responses to REST. Both within and across flotation sessions, blood pressure and levels of stress-related hormones dropped – effects that persisted long after the cessation of the last flotation experience. In 2005, a meta-analysis further confirmed that flotation was more effective at reducing stress than other popular methods such as relaxation exercises, biofeedback or relaxing on the couch.

These results prompted researchers to investigate whether flotation could help patients with stress-related disorders. The treatment was used as a primary intervention for disorders as diverse as hypertension, headaches,insomnia and rheumatoid arthritis; all of these studies showed positive effects in small sample sizes. Those suffering from intractable chronic pain particularly benefited from weekly REST sessions: their level of perceived pain dropped, their sleep improved and they reported feeling happier and less anxious. An ongoing project is investigating the use of flotation for fibromyalgia pain management with positive preliminary results.”

As the author of “Floating Away: The Science of Sensory Deprivation Therapy” notes, the sample sizes for these studies were small, but still, it’s interesting, promising, and worth a try for many people.

It should be noted that if your kidneys aren’t functioning well, or if you don’t respond well to epsom salt baths at home, floatation therapy probably isn’t for you. However, for many floxies, I think that floatation therapy has some interesting benefits that may be helpful.

For floxies and non-floxies alike, rest, relaxation, and even sensory deprivation are healthy and helpful. For those who have access to a floatation spa (they can be found in most big cities), it’s something to look into.

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A Full Recovery

Several of the recovery stories on floxiehope.com describe people who are mostly, but not fully, recovered. A lot of the recovery stories are from people who can see the light at the end of the fluoroquinolone toxicity tunnel, but they’re not completely out of the tunnel yet. Even though these recovery stories are not of complete recoveries, I think that they’re still valuable. The show that life can go on through and after fluoroquinolone toxicity, and they describe the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual journey while it is still vivid and raw. Many of the people with partial recovery stories on floxiehope.com continue to improve. Life goes on–sometimes with bumps in the road/setbacks–but often toward continued recovery.

Some people who have read these partial recovery stories have asked, quite reasonably, if there are any people who FULLY recover, and return to their pre-flox capabilities. To this, I answer, “YES, I have fully recovered.” Me – Lisa – the author of the majority of the posts on this site. I have fully recovered.

When I wrote my recovery story in 2013 I was 90-something-percent recovered. I still had some autonomic nervous system issues and the fear and anger that came with getting poisoned by ciprofloxacin lingered. I wrote an update in 2014 that noted some features of my continued recovery.

Since 2014, I have continued to improve. I was physically completely healed in 2014, but the emotional journey has continued. I have worked through a lot of fear and anger since 2014. Both the fear, and most of the anger, have largely gone away.

I have healed.

I write this not to brag, or to diminish the experiences of those who don’t recover (there are some people who don’t recover, and they deserve our sympathy and support), but, as always, to give others hope. A full recovery is possible. I have fully recovered. I hope for the same for all who read this.

I recently (I got home day before yesterday at the time of writing this) visited Australia on vacation and was able to do all the things that I wanted to with ease. I went on a tour of Tasmania with a bunch of 20-something year olds and was able to keep up with them. We hiked to waterfalls and jumped off sand-dunes. It was fun! My feet didn’t hurt and I had plenty of energy to keep up with them. I was able to eat whatever I wanted. I slept decently–even on couches and in hostels. It was a good vacation. It was exactly what it would have been if I had never gotten floxed. I have recovered.

I hope that my recovery, and these pics of my vacation, give you hope that recovery, and a life that is full of activity and adventure, are possible. I posted these pictures, and others, on my facebook wall as I was touring Sydney, Melbourne and Tasmania. Several people thanked me for sharing the photos because they gave them hope that this type of travel is possible post-flox. It is possible. I had a fantastic time, and I hope that you are each able to take a similar journey, or whatever else you desire that indicates a full recovery.

All aspects of my journey through fluoroquinolone toxicity took time. I encourage you all to be patient with yourselves. I couldn’t have traveled through Australia like I did earlier this month when I was first floxed. I can do it now though, and that feels really, really, really good.

Cradle Mountain Tasmania Harbor Bridge Sydney Melbourne Montezuma Falls Tasmaia Sand Dunes Tasmania

 

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Hyperparathyroidism

parathyroid-gland-drawing

Illustration of the parathyroid glands from http://www.parathyroid.com/

Several floxies have reported that they have been diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism.

Though I think that fluoroquinolones can cause hyperparathyroidism, I am not going to go into that right now – I hope to explore the connections in future posts.

For right now, I want to encourage all floxies to get tested for hyperparathyroidism.

The parathyroid gland controls the amount of calcium in the body. Calcium homeostasis (which helps set the stage for magnesium homeostasis as well) is so important, it has its own entire little endocrine system to control it – the parathyroid glands.

Hyperparathyroidism is caused by a non-cancerous tumor on one (or more) of the four parathyroid glands. This tumor causes the parathyroid glad to release too much parathyroid hormone (PTH), which causes high blood calcium. Though parathyroid tumors are not cancerous, they are dangerous because high blood calcium can cause “osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, kidney stones, stroke, high blood pressure and increased cancer risks (a partial list).” Additionally, hyperparathyroidism is linked to tendon ruptures and many of the other symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity.

In a recent article in The Atlantic, “Garry Shandling and the Disease You Didn’t Know About: The comedian suffered from hyperparathyroidism, a rare and under-publicized condition that can sometimes be fatal, James Fallows notes that his doctor stated:

“a parathyroid disorder was about as damaging as smoking a pack of cigarettes per day. It weakened the bones; it raised the risk of heart attacks and some cancers, and kidney stones too; it caused mood disorders; and—I’ll confess the most alarming—it led to memory lapses, attention failures, and dementia. The bone-weakening is because the hyperactive gland continually draws calcium out of the bones and into the blood serum. Most of the other problems are because of disturbances in calcium’s role as a neurotransmitter. My wife later told me that she thought I was getting dumber by the day in the year before the operation.”

The initial tests for hyperparathyroidism involve testing levels of calcium and PTH in the blood. Getting your calcium and PTH levels tested is relatively easy, non-invasive, and inexpensive. Your doctor should be able to test your levels of both calcium and PTH (note that calcium and PTH should be tested simultaneously). High, or even high-normal levels of calcium and PTH are red flags, and test results should be paid very close attention to.

It should be noted that PTH has a very short half-life (about five minutes), and that multiple tests may need to be run in order to get an accurate reading on your calcium/PTH levels. If both calcium and PTH are way out of range, you have your diagnosis of hyperparathyroidism. If both calcium and PTH are high normal – you test again – and maybe a third time – to see if this is consistent, getting worse, or if you just happened to “catch a high” one time.  If you are getting consistently higher results on both – that’s a problem.

Unfortunately, I’ve also heard from some floxie friends whose doctors weren’t concerned about very high calcium levels. Please be aware that excess calcium is a VERY big deal – it’s not bonus good calcium making your bones stronger – it’s calcium being stolen from your bones that is now circulating through your body. If your calcium tests come back high, or even high-normal, I encourage you to chat with your doctor about the possibility of you suffering from hyperparathyroidism. If your doctor isn’t concerned about this possibility, I suggest finding another doctor.

This video is an excellent overview of hyperparathyroidism:

The solution for hyperparathyroidism is surgical removal of the parathyroid gland that has the tumor (the tumor is called an adenoma). Luckily, we don’t need all four of our parathyroid glands to live a healthy and full life – people do just fine with as few as one parathyroid gland. I certainly don’t take surgery lightly, but it is a solid solution to the problem of hyperparathyroidism.

A lot of good information about hyperparathyroidism can be found on http://www.parathyroid.com/.

 

 

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