Christina’s Story – Levofloxacin Poisoning

First of all, to anyone who has shared their story or supported another Floxed, I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart. If it wasn’t for this support group and the encouraging stories on FloxieHope.com, I very well may have thrown in the towel.

 On December 23rd 2016 I was given a prescription for a 7 day regiment of 750mg tablets (one a day) of levofloxacin (a generic form of Levaquin). I took one pill. The rabbit hole that this pill descended me into, and the turmoil that followed, would have been unbearable without the encouraging stories on this website, which I read, read again, and re-read (sometimes several times a day) to encourage myself to pull through. In short, you gave me hope. I am finally ready to pass that hope along.

 My name is Christina. I am single mother of a beautiful and tenacious 9 year old daughter, avid horseback rider, road cyclist, college graduate, and financial analyst working a Monday through Friday 9-5’er in the mortgage industry. I’ve always been active and fit and I pride myself on being a self-motivated and independent person.

On December 22nd 2016, while at work, I noticed that I was experiencing the need to use the restroom much more frequently than usual. Having been prone to UTIs in the past (while pregnant with my daughter), I recognized the symptoms almost immediately and knew that I needed to see a doctor. However, it was the Thursday before Christmas and pretty late in the day. By the time I called my regular physician’s office they had closed for the Christmas weekend and I was unable to get an appointment. I tried to wait until after the Holiday however,  by Friday,I knew the infection was worsening and needed to be treated. I called my company’s “Teledoc” line (a phone appointment service provided by our healthcare insurance)and waited for a registered nurse practitioner to call me back. When she did, our five minute conversation gave her cause to prescribe me a seven day regime of 750mg dose tablets of Levofloxacin to cure my ailment. She gave me no warnings. No mention of potential side effects. Nothing to indicate that there was any particular risk with her antibiotic of choice for my infection (I’ll talk more about this in a bit). In fact, her only cause for concern was the typical, “Do you have any known drug allergies?” inquiry, to which I (not having had any prior known drug allergies) of course answered “no”. Three hours later, having picked up my daughter from her nanny’s house we stopped off at our local King Soopers (a grocery store chain here in Colorado) pharmacy to pick up my cure. I waited patiently with my seven year old daughters little hand clasped into mine, in line for my prescription. As it was a Friday before a holiday, you can imagine the pharmacy was packed. When it was my turn at the window the clerk asked me if I wanted a consult. I thought, a consult? For an antibiotic? Nah, and checked the “declined” box on the prescription signature kiosk and proceeded to sign the pad. This is when I should have stopped. Right here, because when the clerk went back to get my script, my confirmed “ready for pick up” prescription was not in the bin with the other same-day pick-ups at the pharmacy. From the counter I watched the confused clerk skim through the basket another time before she walked around the dividing island to talk to the pharmacist sitting behind a computer screen on the other side. He stood up, and peered at me over the rims of his glasses, grabbed the script (which he had sitting next to his keyboard) and walked right past the clerk, straight to my bewildered face in the window (did I mention he was the only Pharmacist there and I had a line of pissed off people waiting behind me?). God bless this wonderful person. I only wish HE had been my doctor that day. He held the bag up in front of me, and pointed at it as he spoke.

“I didn’t want to take the risk of not getting the chance to talk to you. If you have ANY soreness. Joints, muscles, tendons, …. ANYTHING, you stop taking this medication and you call your doctor. You don’t wait until Monday, or that evening, or next morning. You STOP. Got it?”

What the heck? For an antibiotic? I nodded and took the bag. The clerk rung me up and we went on our merry way. At the time I thought it was a bit odd, but I having never had any serious issues as an adult with any antibiotics (or any other medication for that matter) I really didn’t give the warning a second thought.  We stopped off at our local KFC, and then went home to eat.

I took my poison with my dinner. After which I felt a little stomach discomfort so I laid down on my chaise for a nap.

The phone rang. It was my father calling to check on me and see if we were ready for the holiday. I had been napping for only thirty minutes or so when he had called. We spoke for a little bit and then he gave the phone to my step mother for me to talk to. She and I are very close and have been for quite a while. My mother died many years ago before my daughter was even born, and when my father remarried, bringing her into my life, I could have never guessed that she would become my closest friend and damn near favorite person. We talked for a few minutes before I began to become confused. Terribly so. I couldn’t focus on the conversation and kept getting lost mid-sentence. I felt almost drunk. I had to abruptly end the phone call and run to the bathroom where I threw up the entire contents of my stomach (no pill though. Nah that little mofo was already doing it’s work on me). I contemplated taking another dose of medication, rationalizing in my head that I had probably thrown most of it up and it wouldn’t do me any good swirling around my toilet bowl but I was too weak and nauseated to do anything about it at that point so I laid back down on my chaise and fell back asleep. By the time I woke back up (around 10 o’clock that night) my knees hurt so much that I couldn’t walk.

Remembering what Mr. Larry at the pharmacy had barked at me I was thankful that I had not taken another pill! I thought to myself, “phew, thank goodness, right? Crisis averted!”…

Ha Ha, NOT.

I called Teledoc back and waited for my return call. Because my new phone appointment was deemed a follow up on my last one (due to my major complaint this time being a “supposed” drug reaction…the verbiage used by the call center agent I spoke with) I had to wait on the same wonderful nurse to call me back. Eventually, she did, although it was closer to one in the morning. And when she did, it wasn’t good. By the time nurse Ratchet called me back my pulse was racing, I had severe anxiety (which at this point I rationalized that I was just panicking from the reaction… little did I know), I was dry heaving, my knees and ankles were so sore and loose that I couldn’t stand let alone walk, and my head was pounding with the worse cluster headache you could imagine. Our conversation this time was just as brief, only not nearly as smooth as the last time we had spoken. She advised me that my reaction was rare, but that she couldn’t help me anymore and I needed to go to the hospital. Thanks Ratchet. I crawled on all fours up the stairs and awoke my seven year old daughter, who I had put into bed while waiting up for my reconciliation call, and then scooted down the stairs on my bum. With the help of my now terribly frightened child I managed to get to my car and we drove to the hospital, both of us still in our pajamas. Explaining the situation via cell phone to the emergency department they sent a wheelchair to get us from the car and we wound up getting to spend the night at our local ER. My pulse was 145 over 105. It was normally 90 over 70.  When I finally stopped throwing up the doctors put me on amoxicillin. They were alarmed that I was put on “levo” without a urine analysis (she told me that this drug shouldn’t have been prescribed in an “in-case” situation due to my “rare but potential side effects” and usually a milder antibiotic is used first) so while I was there, they performed one and found out that I not only had a UTI, but that my infection had actually already spread to my kidneys and needed a ten day course of antibiotics, not a seven day one. The doctor at the ER advised me to follow up with my normal doctor post antibiotics for another UA just to ensure the infection was completely gone and to add fluoride antibiotics to my allergy list to avoid any future reactions. She assured me that my side effects were probably temporary in nature. Then she sent me home.

Over the course of the following two weeks my whole body began to change. My legs, my ankles, my elbows, my wrists ached. If I typed at work my fingers hurt. If I drove my car the arm I used to steer the steering wheel hurt. I panicked.  My muscles would just spasm, out of nowhere and for no reason, visibly so. I hurt and was exhausted. I was so anxious and didn’t know why. I couldn’t reason any longer and my focus had gone out the window ruining my work performance. I couldn’t sleep at night regardless of whether I had taken sleep aids or not. And that’s when I googled levofloxacin and potential adverse reactions. Page after page after page, nightmare after nightmare; it was all there! My story, right there! The stories I read would have sounded so off the wall to me only two weeks before that I wouldn’t have believed them. My analytic nature would have dismissed them as hypochondria laced rants from the attention seeking and desperate except for one fact; this was now my own reality.

I cried for a few weeks and then became incredibly angry. I blamed everyone from my doctor’s office for not being open, to the nurse for being negligent to any warnings of side effects, to my own bladder for developing an infection in the first place. However, this pity party that I had dived into started to become almost as large as the weight of my newly developed illness. I realized this  while sitting in my primary care’s doctor’s office one morning, crying my eyes out and demanding a magic wand that would make the “old Christina return”. I realized that this was never going to happen. Never. And I had two choices. I could give up, and just quit. Be done with it. Beg for disability, move to a shoe box, sell my horses, or I could fight it. It was that simple. Figure out a way, stop skulking and blaming. Live, learn, rise, and change. So through my tears I looked my doctor straight in the eyes, squared my shoulders…. and asked for an antidepressant.

I stocked up on ace bandages.

I looked like a mummy for months, wrapped from the balls of my feet to my upper thighs (I found out the hard way that if I only wrapped my joins the other parts of my muscles and tendons would start to hurt. One set to sleep in, one set to shower in, one set for work, and one set for home. Then I bought few extra to keep in my purse for the random loose joints and aches that came throughout the days, and some more for when the others got dirty or wore out. The clerk at Walgreens and I got to know each other well. That was step one. Oh, and I took the anti-depressant. One nasty little side effect of being floxed that people don’t tell you is the anxiety. No, this isn’t you just panicking from the reality of the situation, (though you’ll do that too) it’s actually a drug induced side effect of being floxed. It does something to your chemistry that throws off your serotonin and causes severe anxiety. So much so that when experiencing it you can’t focus on anything else; this includes your own recovery. Within a few weeks the medication began to help and I was able to sleep again with the assistance of Mr. Benadryl. I joined a couple of support groups on Facebook and found Floxie Hope online. When the panic attacks would hit, I’d pull up the screenshots that I had taken of the recovery stories on Floxie Hope from people who got better. That was key. I was able to read and re-read and rationalize. Ok… They got better. It wasn’t in three weeks. Nope. So, I’m not better, but it’s only been three weeks. I made allies with other people who had similar experiences and learned more about my own body than I ever knew I hadn’t known. I detoxed every night in Epsom salt baths. I began to take magnesium to help purge the poison from my body. Slowly I began to forgive but not forget and everyone I meet that will listen, I share my story with. I brought Pharmacist Larry a fruit basket and a tearful hug. And I set goals. Not timelines but goals.

  1. Walk without ace bandages.
  2. Get back on the horse. Literally.
  3. Sleep through the night without Benadryl.
  4. Be strong enough to pick up my daughter again
  5. Stairs without ace bandages
  6. A day without a panic attack
  7. Wear high heals

I made a resolve to stop reading hopeless posts about being floxed. Now, there is a difference between hopeless and negative, a huge difference. For instance, this doesn’t mean I can’t vent or read someone else’s vents. It means that there should be an end resolve and a focus to recover somewhere within though, or I need to move on. For instance, at month two I was feeling a bit better and relapsed back two day one symptoms. It was through reading posts from other “floxies” that I discovered the connection to my relapse and the two ibuprofen I had taken the day prior. So if you’re reading this take note, floxies and ibuprofen do not mix. Sorry. You can’t have that anymore. Might I suggest a Tylenol instead? Or even better, just a hot bath and a nap because some of us have issues with that one too. Se la vi. Six months in, I could drive my car home from work without an ace bandage on my arm, though I’d still have random stabbing pains. I could shower without my wrappings but my joints would still rotate in pain so I didn’t feel comfortable walking without them. Nine months after being Floxed I could ride my bike again. Not the 30 miles I used to, but for five. A year later I was riding the 30 without leg wrappings and back on my horse.

My recovery is still in process. I still have panic attacks on occasion. Since my floxing I have found that I am losing bone density at a much more rapid rate than your average 36 year old woman, despite my calcium intake being high and my active lifestyle. I’ve broken a wrist, a rib, a shoulder, and an ankle in the past two years since being floxed. Before that I had only broken two bones in my life. One skiing and the other in fall onto a cement floor. I still get stabbing pains in my joints, particularly my wrists after a long day of work or my knees after a ride. Sometimes my eye-sight will become blurry for a day or two or the “brain fog” will come back for a week but with each time it’s just a bit less. My blood pressure is more normal now, but not back to pre-floxed yet. I’m averaging 120-125 over 94ish. I went through a period of about 9 months where I couldn’t maintain a healthy weight and I threw up everything I ate (I was down to a skeleton 105lbs) but that too has slowly diminished and I’m now a much healthier 128lbs. Life continues. I’ve grown to accept what happened to me and have realized several truths about my life and my own reality since. The first being I was fortunate that this happened to me. Yep. I said that.

I have a daughter and she will NEVER be given fluorine antibiotics. She has not only held my hand and given me hope in my recovery but she has been witness to it as well and has a firsthand education of what these drugs can do.

I was floxed while healthy. Seemingly devastatingly so, but I was healthy enough before that my body was able to recover. What if I had been floxed as small child? What if I was critically ill and this did me in? If I hadn’t been floxed now, there is a strong likelihood that I would be at somepoint in my life later on as I didn’t know anyone who had been through this before this happened to me. So I tell EVERYONE.

And last….

Larry chose to be a pharmacist and not a financial analyst. God bless Larry.

So that’s it. It’s April of 2018 and I’m still recovering. I’m not the old me, but I’m not the devastated Floxed me either. Somewhere in-between but living life to the fullest. I have hope. And I fully intend to share it.

** The story above is truthful, accurate and told to the best of the ability of the writer. It is not intended as medical advice. No person who submits his or her story, nor the people associated with Floxie Hope, diagnoses or treats any illness. The story above should not be substituted for professionally provided medical advice. Please consult your doctor before trying anything that has been mentioned in this story, or in any other story on this site. Please also note that people have varying responses to the treatments mentioned in each story. What helps one person may not help, and may even hurt, another person. It is important that you understand that supplements, IVs, essential oils, and all other treatments, effect people differently depending on the millions of variables that make each of us unique. Please use appropriate caution and prudence, and get professional medical advice.

6 thoughts on “Christina’s Story – Levofloxacin Poisoning

  1. Kathy Edds April 25, 2018 at 7:02 am Reply

    Congratulations on your recovery and a great description of your experience. Attitude and persistence are so important.

    • Christina April 25, 2018 at 7:42 am Reply

      Awe thank you! it’s been a long road but looking back there’s really not much I could have done to change my exposure nor render a better result. Attitude and understanding are key. My hope at this point is prevention for others and education.

      • Tricia April 25, 2018 at 8:21 pm Reply

        Hi Christina

        Thanks so much for sharing your story. I was also floxed in Oct of 2014….for a uti as well. I had alternated between cipro and levaquin, my final blow was levaquin w an extra strength NSAID. I had severe anxiety and insomnia in the weeks that followed, along with horrendous side effects and excruciating pain i had never known before. My daughter was only 4 at the time, but looking back now she was my saving grace, as well as this sight . I remember reading Lisa’s recovery story and many others over and over again. It truly gave me hope. Eventually i did get better….and i did recover….fully.
        What saved me most was continuing to work and live my life despite all the pain, anxiety, and uncertainty. Above all, i had to be strong for my daughter too .
        The scariest thing for me , however, was that i had very delayed reactions. My biggest was peripheal neuropathy, which i had initially in my first few weeks, but went away. It returned one year later, slowly, worsening over time for a few months. I took a ton of supplements which i cant say helped or not, but eventually , and thankfully, my neuropathy went away entirely. I have been symptom free now for 18 months!
        My only remaining symptom is occasional eye floaters, and even that is occurring less and less.
        I wish you the best in your continued recovery….for you and your daughter 🙂

  2. Dee April 25, 2018 at 8:24 am Reply

    Christina, congrats on your recovery!!! So glad you are back engaging in life again!! Did you take supplements? What do you think contributed most to you recovering?? When were you able to really get back to serious bike riding and exercise? Do you feel you are back to your preflox days physically?? I am about 11 months out and improving slow but sure but mainly fighting CNS issues…..insomnia, tinnitus and anxiety and still some GI problems. I can’t believe ONE pill did all that damage to you!!?? Thank God for your pharmacist warning you before you took more!!! 🙏🏻. Are you still taking the antidepressant or did you wean off? I am afraid to take one but it sounds like it really helped you? Any advice on what you did to recover would be appreciated!! I wish you continued healing!! I hope your bones get stronger again!! Does your Doc feel they will improve again in strength??
    Blessings!

  3. Maureen Halliday April 25, 2018 at 8:26 am Reply

    We share almost the same date for being floxed. I was given Cipro on December 30th 2016 for an attack of diverticulitis. You were young and I was 71 years old and healthy and not at all an old 71. After five days of Cipro I too had the pain in my limbs until it got so bad I could barely walk to the bathroom. What followed is pretty close to everything you experienced and I thought my life was pretty much over. It’s been over a year now and I am getting back to some kind of normal but am left with damaged eyesight and still shooting electrical like pains in my feet and various other things I never felt before. I am grateful for a supportive husband and good friends and family who helped me through and I will forever shout from the rooftops the dangers of these drugs, my doctor doesn’t believe they are harmful at all!
    Thank God you are also healing but I feel that I and you and all the others damaged have been robbed of a big part of our lives all for the profits of the big pharm companies. God bless your continuing healing.

  4. Connie Ortiz April 25, 2018 at 11:09 am Reply

    Thanks. For sharing your story sweeties. I was floxed in 2012 for a UTI. I took Cipro for a whole year! I had no idea that these symptoms were because I was being poisoned! The infection went into my kidneys.i was so misserable. Body aches insomnia muscle tears tendons my vision was getting bad chills even in hot showers vetdigo nausea I had lost 65 lbs. Dry mouth depression anxiety Bradycardia. Heart was beating only 42 BPM.i go on and on! I’m.surprised im still alive! In 2015 I started searching on the Webb about my symptoms because the symptoms were getting dangerous. Of course Drs never said it was Cipro causing it. They just kept saying u need to keep taking it u still have a dangerous infection . They even said it was becoming fatal! That’s when I started looking up Cipro poisoning anfdyre enough there it was my symptoms all 50 of them!!! I’m.been they so much! I’m praising God I’m doing alot better not 100 percent . No thanks to the Drs. I healed myself by educating my self .I have to thank Willows Webb on Utub Dr.Axe. they saved my life!! All Vet floxxies testimonials saved me! I had to change my life totally. What I eat how I slept. What I smelled . As long as im careful what I eat and breath . I’m.ok. I have relapsed because I had to take Clendamiacin for a tooth infection . Im having same symptoms but not as fearce. It really has changed my life my mental state .

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