The Term “Flox”

When I tell people about this site they often ask me what the terms flox, floxed, and floxie mean. I am not a lexicographer by any stretch, and these are not official definitions, but here are my answers:

Flox (noun): A shorthand term for the multi-symptom, chronic illnesses brought on by fluoroquinolone antibiotics that are referred to as Fluoroquinolone toxicity or Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability (FQAD).

Flox (verb): To be afflicted with fluoroquinolone toxicity or FQAD. The term “flox” is typically used in the past tense as “floxed,” as in, “I was floxed by cipro in 2011.”

Floxie (noun): A person who suffers from fluoroquinolone toxicity or FQAD.

The term “flox” comes from the names of the fluroquinolone antibiotics. All the fluoroquinolones contain “flox” in their names – ciproFLOXacin, levoFLOXacin, moxiFLOXacin, gatiFLOXacin, oFLOXacin, etc. As communities of victims of these drugs formed, people found it easier to say, “I’ve been floxed” or, “I’m a floxie” than to say, “I am going though a multi-symptom illness brought on by fluoroquinolone antibiotics.” Perhaps the term “FQAD” would have been just as easy to say as “flox,” but “flox” preceded “FQAD” by more than a decade and the term has stuck.

The earliest written record of the term “flox” that I can find is in Stephen Fried’s 1998 bestselling book, “Bitter Pills: Inside the Hazardous World of Legal Drugs.” In it, Fried describes his wife’s severe, primarily psychiatric, adverse reaction to ofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. Fried noted that the community of people who had been hurt by this class of drugs referred to themselves as “floxies” and spoke of their condition as being “floxed.” (EDIT/NOTE – Please see Mr. Fried’s comment below for correct information about the early usage of the term “flox.)

Most journal, and even news, articles don’t use the terms “flox” or “floxie.” They typically refer to the constellation of symptoms that “floxies” deal with as “adverse reactions to fluoroquinolone antibiotics” or they don’t refer to the syndrome as a whole at all, rather, they’ll list the symptoms that their featured victim suffers from, and then note that the victim attributes those symptoms to fluoroquinolone antibiotics. A couple news articles have used the term FQAD, as it was coined by the FDA, and is seen as a bit more official than “flox.”

In online communities new terms are often coined, and they gain traction in those communities. “Flox” is one of those terms. The terms “flox” and “floxie” are primarily used on the internet in support groups for victims of fluoroquinolones. The biggest Facebook group for victims of fluoroquinolones is The Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Group, and their url is https://www.facebook.com/groups/floxies/ (note the “floxies” in the url – it’s easier than https://www.facebook.com/groups/FluoroquinoloneToxicityGroup). Additionally, this site is one of the more popular blogs about fluoroquinolones, and it’s called Floxie Hope. The terms “flox” and “floxie” are used throughout blogs and support groups dedicated to fluoroquinolone toxicity.

People within the “floxie” groups and communities know these terms and what they mean and imply. The people in the “floxie” community know when someone says that they are “severely floxed” that it means that person is suffering from more symptoms than they can count or name and that they are likely bed or house bound as a result of their fluoroquinolone-induced injuries. Of course, everyone’s experience is different, and people are encouraged in these communities to further describe their pain and their experience, but it’s far easier to say, “I’m severely floxed” than it is to list dozens of symptoms then say that those symptoms were caused by fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

Some people really hate the terms “flox” and they particularly hate the term “floxie.” They see the terms as silly and flippant, and they see it as disrespectful to those who are suffering from fluoroquinolone toxicity. Fluoroquinolone toxicity IS a serious and severe illness, and it should be taken seriously by doctors, patients, regulators, and everyone else. It is not a joke, or something to be taken lightly. It is a life-altering, often disabling, syndrome. Fluoroquinolones have maimed and killed people, and fluoroquinolone toxicity should be taken as seriously as other multi-symptom, chronic, mysterious illnesses like M.S., Lupus, Lyme Disease, M.E./CFS, etc.

Neither “flox” nor “floxie” are particularly serious terms, and I empathize, and even agree with, those who see it as minimizing the seriousness and severity of fluoroquinolone toxicity.

But… sometimes terms just stick. Both flox and floxie are terms that have resonated with people in the community, and they have stuck. Many people find it easier to describe their illness as being “floxed” than to describe it any other way. It resonates with people more to say, “floxies unite!” than it does to say, “victims of fluoroquinolone antibiotics come together!” For the purposes that the the terms are used, they work well for expressing what people want and need to say. I don’t think that anyone who uses the terms “flox” or “floxie” mean any disrespect to the illness or the people suffering from it. In fact, most of the people using the terms are either victims of fluoroquinolones or those who love a victim of fluoroquinolones.

I am writing this post on a site called Floxie Hope, so I am, of course, somewhat biased. I like the term “floxie” and it has become part of my brand (if you can say that a blog has a brand). I think that the term sticks in people’s minds and it resonates with them. There is an understanding of what it means–at least within our community. The naming of this site was somewhat accidental–I was trying to figure out how to create a web site and this was supposed to be my place-holder site until I figured out the mechanics of blogging, then I was supposed to think of a more well thought out name for the official site, but then this site got rolling while named Floxie Hope, and 5.5 years later, it’s still going and here we are.

I hear the people who think that “flox” and “floxie” aren’t serious enough terms to connote the severity of fluoroquinolone toxicity. In a lot of ways, I think they’re right. BUT, I don’t think that the term has held this community back. We have made a lot of progress over the last decade. We still have a lot of work to do, but millions of people have become aware of fluoroquinolone toxicity and fluoroquinolone dangers over the last decade, and part of the momentum of this community is our shared language and our shared understanding of terms like “flox.”

The terms “flox” and “floxie” are ingrained in our community, and they are likely here to stay as long as fluoroquinolones are hurting people (I hope for the extinction of the term through the strict limiting of the drugs – but we’re a long way from that and it’s certainly a matter for another post). I think that the terms are doing more good (through ease of communication, bringing people together, and having terms that resonate with many) than harm.

I am hopeful that the terms “flox” and “floxie” will someday be so well understood and accepted that they make it into the dictionary. The only criteria for words making it into the dictionary is that they appear in edited text, so I actually hope that more journalists start using the terms “flox” and “floxie” in their articles. Having the terms “flox” and “floxie” in the dictionary would be wonderfully validating, and it would help to increase awareness of fluoroquinolone toxicity.

When I describe this site, I often try to tell the back-story and give the long explanation of how I was hurt by ciprofloxacin. Sometimes the person who I’m talking to says something like, “Oh, you’ve been floxed – that happened to my sister-in-law.” The word is getting out, and the terms “flox” and “floxie” are spreading. It’s a good thing. Awareness is one of the most important steps toward change, and short, easy-to-remember terms like “flox” and “floxie” help people to become aware of the dangers of fluoroquinolones.

*****

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12 thoughts on “The Term “Flox”

  1. L January 13, 2019 at 10:58 am Reply

    I have no problem with the word floxie. It’s shorthand. I don’t want to continually say “a fluoroquinolone victim” or ” a victim of cipro.” Not quite sure why anyone would have an issue with it, other than perhaps the spelling (maybe floxee instead of floxie) Then it would be no different than say assignee, payee, muggee, etc

  2. Steve W. January 13, 2019 at 3:57 pm Reply

    Thank You Thank You Thank You our Great Lady. Kudos again from here.

  3. Patrick Jordan January 13, 2019 at 4:25 pm Reply

    I thought “Floxie Lady” was a song by Jimmie Hendrix…
    Please don’t tell me to sit at the back of the Flox Bus, but I came here due to listmembers who were floxed, yet I was given some pretty nasty anti-malaria medication that was the parent of the drugs we focus on here. It has always been my intent to cross over the damage done by malarial drugs with Flox since I see everything in a Continuum.

    • Daniela January 14, 2019 at 6:02 pm Reply

      There are FQ floxies who take issue with others using the term who have actually been injured by different medications. Though I am the quintessential, obviously floxed person, I have no problem with other kinds of floxies, because I believe them when they say they are suffering from this same constellation of symptoms. It is absolutely crazy that not just fluoroquinolones but other medications are also giving people similar if not the same kind of disability and suffering.

      I think unity is much more important. We’ve all been hurt by pharmaceuticals that were developed and employed incorrectly, and maybe should not have been made at all. And I don’t see any problem with someone calling themselves a floxie even if they took plaquenil or what have you. Maybe the term started with FQs but I welcome everyone who is having these problems. We are more similar than we are different!

      • L January 14, 2019 at 6:31 pm Reply

        well it really only applies to fluorquinolone drugs, so that could get confusing. the floxie comes from the “flox” in the drug name eg ciproFLOXacin. So while they may also suffer similar side effects from a non-fluoroquinolone drug, the mechanics of how may or may not be the same. By the same token, many people with lyme disease suffer the same side effects. I would not call them floxies either.

      • Patrick Jordan January 14, 2019 at 8:03 pm Reply

        To the very point you are raising:
        https://www.hopkinslupus.org/lupus-treatment/lupus-medications/antimalarial-drugs/
        “Anti-malarials are particularly useful in treating discoid lupus, subacute cutaneous lupus, and mouth sores associated with lupus; they are also effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome. However, anti-malarials are not a sufficient treatment for more severe lupus symptoms such as kidney disease and nervous system or blood vessel involvement. When lupus spreads to these organs, immunosuppressive medications are usually added to help minimize irreversible injury.”
        As I said: my flock were floxed so we have a direct connection to the drug for them, but the sentinel person that led us here is a woman who was diagnosed with Lupus and when we looked into it we found that there can be a false-positive test for SYPHILIS that led us to LYME that then swallows its own tail with the citation above since Lyme is a useless word that is falsely hammered onto borelliosis but ignores the BABESIA (northern malaria) that would explain the half-usefulness of anti-malarials in that context and would then swing us back around to the fact that the FQs had their origins in malarial compounds. Full Circle. What I call: Continuum. Without continuum thinking the world will go round in circles with a mouthful of fur from their own tails and get nothing done. Expanding the scope of this FAMILY of compounds (so as to not be denominational and say: “I’m an FQ!” “I’m a CQ!” “Begone, thou infidel!”) we can actually spread out the net to see that the absolutely meltdown behavior and health of military from the wanton excess of anti-malarials now has an explanation due to the chemistry of a Family of drugs:
        “mefloquine and post traumatic stress.pdf”
        I won’t provide the direct link in case people want to avoid cookies from the US Army on their computers, but you can access the material easily enough from a search.

        Regarding “L’s” comment about Lyme: I would be extremely curious as to why Flox Folks went to the doctor in the first place to be poisoned with a chemical of last resort. We have blown the cover off of Lyme and its constellation of tickspit diseases, where Lyme (implying JUST Borellia) is a Great Imitator like they used to label Syphilis, but what they are really covering up is the horrors of Bartonella and the connective tissue meltdown; Babesia; Anaplasma, and Filarial worms at the very least that cause frank disease that have names but are falsely labeled: Etiology Uknown. This is why Continuum will save us where all other efforts have failed. Could it be that the thing that drove many people in to a doctor to get floxed might not have originated from the constellation of organisms and the diseases that come with them to meet with the drug in a perfect storm of disaster? Lettuce not forget that once you have hit a bug with antibiotics it goes stealth as a Cell Wall Deficient form and will still eat you alive but the immune system cannot see it so there may be ‘remission’ of the gross symptoms while the slow etching is being done. My people and I have been working on this for three months non-stop.

        • L January 14, 2019 at 10:43 pm

          Ok Patrick, gotta say, you lost me. I am not quite sure of the point you were making but this was my point (or part of it,) by way of example. If you go to an ND or an integrative doctor, or some other enlightened medical practitioner who is aware of flq toxity, and you say that you were “floxed,” but in fact you were injured by a different drug, which has different mechanisms of damaging the body, that would not really be in your best interest. That is why I say that term is peculiar (even though others may experience similar side effects from other drugs) to the fluoroquinolone family.

        • Patrick Jordan January 15, 2019 at 1:43 am

          None of what I say will be critical of you or our conversation. Let me begin by saying that I have the greatest disrespect for ‘doctors’ of any variety. Nearly all of them attempt to inflict the knowledge that they paid to gain, and even the ones who might have good intentions are so mired in memes that they have no touch with reality. So I would expect none of them to have an approach that is based on synthesis rather than the tired old idea of one labeled problem due to one labeled cause. Within the scope of what we are talking about there is consensus that Bartonella alone can destroy connective tissue as does autoimmune scurvy from vaccines and FQ and I hope to demonstrate CQs. That gives three different but CONCURRENT reasons for people’s connective tissue to melt down because ‘Lyme’ is pandemic, there is no way to avoid cats or people with cats (even horses carry bartonella and humans are petri dishes of fully contagious lyme), autoimmune scurvy can come from any vaccine and no one born after the 1970s is exempt from getting a vaccine at a hospital birth whether anyone knew it or not; THEN you add the FQ poisoning and there is no peculiarity to any of it. It is total tissue meltdown from a minimum of three causative agents and my personal experience is clear that NO AlterNOTive practitioner has the capacity to understand what I just said let alone has in place or can formulate a response to deal with it. Dot-starers as a dear friend calls them. My point is that nothing happens in isolation so it will never just be FQ toxicity at issue. This is why I was curious about what brought people into the loving arms of the poisoners to begin with. If there was an infectious disease (and I just labeled the falsely labeled Lyme as a pandemic) then Flox was the icing on a cake that was made out of gasoline and the candles are being blown out with a flamethrower.

  4. Stephen Fried January 15, 2019 at 5:35 am Reply

    Actually, the term originally appeared in my first magazine story on quinolones and antibiotic safety, “Less than One Percent,” in Philadelphia magazine in April 1993. (Ironically, that is the same month my first book “Thing of Beauty” was published–and that book injected another word I made up into the English language: “fashionista.” It was a good month for word creation in the Fried/Ayres household.) Diane and I and other floxies were on Oprah in 1994–after one of her producers had a reaction to floxin–and they used the word on the air. By the time my book came out in 1998, people who had these reactions were using it: one had “floxed” put on her license plate for 1997 (I know this because her kids later asked her to get rid of the plate because her illness affected her driving, and she sent it to me.)

    • L January 15, 2019 at 9:19 am Reply

      Well hello! Your name has come up often here. (I personally contacted you about co-authoring a book on my journey through this hell, and you very graciously declined.) Thank you so much for your input. And thank you for perhaps being the first to shed a light on these toxins.

    • Lisa January 15, 2019 at 9:08 pm Reply

      Thank you so much for your input, Mr. Fried! I edited the post to refer people to your comment for the correct information. I’m glad that I credited the right person, if not the right publication. I hope that referring people to your comment is sufficient as a correction. And, of course, thank you for Bitter Pills and all you have done for the “floxie” community!

      • L January 15, 2019 at 9:25 pm Reply

        I second that!!! Thank you Mr. Fried!

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