This story has been a long time coming. It was over three years ago that I became the victim of Cipro, and my healing has taken a long time. I didn’t want to tell my story until I was what I considered healed.
I’m a 39 year old husband and father of two. I’m also a Toronto wedding photographer, and was one of the top in Toronto before becoming floxed. If anyone’s interested, you can see what I do here: www.jamiesondean.com. If you do check it out, you’ll notice a period where I wasn’t very active from 2014 until just this year…
Back in February of 2012 I had developed prostate inflammation directly following a vasectomy. The urologist who performed the procedure gave me Cipro. During a visit to my family doctor a few days later for some strange new pains, I was taken off of Cipro and put of a different antibiotic for the prostatitis. I didn’t think much of it, and moved-on with my life. A year and a half later, 2014 I was dealing with the return of a stubborn bout of prostatitis. I saw a specialist who put me back on Cipro; 500mg, twice a day for two weeks. I didn’t realize at the time, but this prescription was about to change my life.
I was about four days into the prescription when I noticed that I was having a hard time seeing. I was seeing blurry, slightly doubled vision with the sudden development of an overwhelming amount of eye floaters in both eyes. I barely had time to come to terms with this before what called the great three day headache from hell hit me.
This was not a normal headache. As someone who has dealt with migraines most of my life, something was wrong and I knew it. It felt like my brain was being boiled in battery acid. I took Advil, and more Advil, to no affect (and later realizing that was possibly as big a mistake as taking the Cipro in the first place).
At the end of three days with this unfathomable headache, I was left with the feeling that I was damaged. The back of my head was numb and I felt like I was wearing a hat at all times. I was extremely dizzy. I could barely see though blurred vision and heavy floaters. I had a loud never ending ringing in my left ear… I felt like I was in a bubble, with a new layer in-between me and reality.
I went to the ER, and after a 7 hour wait was told that everything is fine. I went to my doctor and was told that I will be okay in a week. Unfortunately, not only would I not recover in a week, but the worst was still to come. A dark, heavy blanket of persisting, extreme fatigue would make soldering-on with life and work impossible.
In the months following, I developed the following symptoms:
-Blurry vision with lots of eye floaters
-Ringing in my ears
-Deep aching in both legs, especially the backs of my ankles
-Anxiety and depression (though possibly the consequence of the other plethora of symptoms)
-Memory loss/inability to think clearly
By May of 2014 I was down to 138lbs. I am 6’1, and was 160lbs before being poisoned. I had new symptoms showing up every week. I was being sent from one specialist to the next, and the next. Doctors, Neurologists, Thyroid Specialists, Opthamologists, Infectious Disease Specialists, and eventually Phycologists. None would admit that Cipro could cause what I was experiencing, and therefore, I really got nowhere with any of them. The only common recommendation between them was that I take antidepressants, which I refused.
I spent the next two and a half years of my life trying various diets, supplements, avoidances, and lifestyle changes. I experienced symptoms cycling, waxing and waning. I saw improvements and relapses. I gained hope, lost hope, and gained it again, over and over. I pressed on though, and feel like I’m finally at a place where I know what has helped, what hasn’t, and what I can expect. I’d like to share these things here, as I know that reading about what others experienced and did to improve was monumental in my own process. Sometimes even just reading the stories of others and knowing that I wasn’t alone was more help than anything.
What didn’t help
We all know that no doctor was able to help in any way. Against what many here have had luck with, I didn’t find that any supplements or medications helped me in any regard.
I also found that chasing diagnosis led to needless stress and frustration. Thinking that it could be something identifiable and treatable, or that maybe the doctors are correct, and that it was not the Cipro but rather something else was just a wild goose chase. They ran tests for Thyroid function, testosterone levels, anaemia, lyme disease, MS, diabetes, and anything else that could make sense. My doctor believed that I have a “non-specific auto immune disease”.
I tried seeing a naturopath who immediately “diagnosed” me with Candida and put me on a ridiculous diet. I gave it the benefit of the doubt, but after sticking to it for a very long six weeks, I felt much worse. She decided it couldn’t be Candida if six weeks on this extremely strict diet had no positive impact.
What did help
Now for the good stuff! My first big breakthough came from quitting coffee. Although I was dealing with extreme fatigue, coffee just fuelled anxiety and put unneeded stress on my nervous system. I switched from coffee to green tea, which is loaded with antioxidants and the difference was instant. At first I felt even more fatigued, but this allowed me to truly rest, and calm down.
Meditation was another help. Just learning to recenter myself and breathe.
A HUGE jump in my recovery came after watching Dr Terry Wahls Ted Talk on Minding Your Mitochondria. This made so much sense to me; getting vitamins from food instead of supplements. I learned that produce consumes its own nutrients after being pick and transported, so I decided to build a garden and grow my own. I did my own research into what the brain and body need, and created a super-food smoothie that gave me every vitamin, mineral and nutrient that I could need without any supplements in pill form. I did take Greens+, as I just can’t ignore the amount of antioxidants that is provides and the independent studies that have concluded it’s effectiveness. Taking fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden and making smoothies everyday, I saw more stable returns in my recovery. Here’s the smoothie I have had almost every day for the past 10 months: banana, kale, mixed berries, greens+, coconut oil, avocado oil, orange juice, chia seeds.
Finally, I kept the fake it ’till you make it attitude. I noticed that when I sat around, feeling my symptoms, I would feed them. If I was out shooting a wedding, I would at times forget about my symptoms for short periods. You know how you can sometimes have a cut and won’t know it until you see it? Sometime’s you have to just forget about the issues and distract yourself by fully engaging in activities. Doing this brought hope. I knew that even if I didn’t feel 100%, I could at least fake it. I could work. I could still provide for my family.
Exercise and exertion, as well as ample rest vs too much rest, are a bit of a game you play with your recovery. In the beginning, it was rest that I needed more than anything. Any exercise would basically have me blacked-out on the floor. After the first year, I learned that exertion will cause a negative cycle, but with plenty of rest I would get back to positive cycles. It’s a fact that flouroquinolones damage your mitochondrial DNA. This destroys your energy levels, making exercise very difficult. The catch is that in order to repair our mitochondrial DNA, we need mitochondrial biogenesis, and one of the best ways to stimulate this is through exercise.
What has healed, and what hasn’t
At this point, over three years after taking Cipro, I tell people that I’m 99% recovered. That 1% that I still deal with is the fact that I do still experience mild cycles if I neglect my good habits and let negative habits trickle in. I was able to drink alcohol again after a couple of years. This was something that I approached with caution, as it could set me back on a negative cycle. Eventually, I embraced the cycles. They are shorter and less intense each time. Cycles are a part of the recovery, and although they can be disappointing, it’s important not to be discouraged.
My vision still suffers, which really sucks as a photographer. I still have lots of annoying eye floaters, but my double vision has improved somewhat.
I still get dizzy from time to time, but it’s not like it was at it’s worst. At it’s worst, I couldn’t drive, as it felt like I was on a roller coaster in the middle of a stormy sea. Nowadays it’s more like the feeing that I just spun around three times and can manage.
Chatting with Lisa a couple of times really pulled me out of a dark place. I don’t know how I would have gotten through this without this site. This is why I feel like I owe it to this site to share my story. I know it’s difficult. I know it’s not fair. You did nothing wrong, and you don’t deserve this. I sometimes felt guilty that I couldn’t function, or that I should have known better. That’s rubbish. You were the victim, and unless you were taking flouroquinolones for a life-threatening infection, this should never have happened to you.
** 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.