One day I was doing Crossfit and the next I could barely walk. The flox bomb went off in me quickly. I had a slightly delayed reaction – my body exploded 2 weeks after I finished taking ciprofloxacin (when I started taking ibuprofen and when I got my period – both the contraindicated NSAID and the hormonal shifts probably played a role) – but once the fuse was lit, the bomb detonated quickly. Suddenly I was unable to do the things I used to do with ease. I was barely able to walk, much less hike up a mountain. I was barely able to think, much less go to school while working full-time.
In some ways I’m grateful that I didn’t fall apart gradually. If my health had declined slowly I may have thought that I was just getting old, or I may have thought that I was coming down with one of the named mysterious diseases like fibromyalgia or CFS/ME. I did think I had an autoimmune disease, not knowing whether or not they could strike a person suddenly. All of the tests for autoimmune diseases came back negative though, and it wasn’t long before I realized that my symptoms were those of fluoroquinolone toxicity. Because I went from well to sick so suddenly, it was not only plausible, it was clear that I was poisoned.
But having my health suddenly stolen from me was terrifying, traumatic and, frankly, it felt unfair. I had worked out regularly. I had always eaten decently. I was only 32. I was healthy and strong. How could I get poisoned?
The thing that felt most unfair about the situation was that there was no magic pill to put me back together again. A pill could mess me up, but there wasn’t a pill to heal me. I could suddenly be sickened, but I couldn’t suddenly get well. Doctors could prescribe pills that could tear apart my cells, but they didn’t seem to have any advice for how to put my cells back together.
It sucks, and is unfair, that there isn’t a pill (whether it be a pharmaceutical or a supplement) that can reverse the damage done by fluoroquinolones. It sucks, and is unfair, that the damage can be done suddenly, but the repair – the healing – takes time.
As unfair and sucky as it is, the process of healing is not instantaneous – it takes time. Healing is a process that requires patience, compassion, forgiveness, surrender, hard work, luck, nutrition, movement, tenacity, support, and love, among other things. Perhaps the time healing takes is an opportunity to gain those things. We all need more patience, compassion, forgiveness, surrender, hard work, luck, nutrition, movement, tenacity, support, and love in our lives. Getting poisoned is a lousy way to come by those things. But while you’re going through the trenches of fluoroquinolone toxicity, I encourage you to look around for those silver linings.
It took me a long time to get over anger about my health being stolen from me by Bayer/Cipro. I’m still not completely over it and maybe I never will be. But finding some appreciation for the journey has been helpful. It has been healing.
Healing is a journey, and the journey is healing. They go hand in hand.
I have learned that lesson. Perhaps it’s what the storm is about.
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” -Haruki Murakami