*The following is an individual’s story of surviving fluoroquinolone toxicity. It is not medical advice. Please see the disclaimer at the bottom of the story. Thank you, and please be cautious with all treatments.
My story revolves around two different sets of antibiotics taken approximately six months apart – November 2014 and April 2015.
The first antibiotic was Clarithromycin which I took for ten days to treat a stomach bacteria called Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori). This antibiotic was prescribed in the form of capsules and tablets.
The second antibiotic was Ciprofloxacin which I took for seven days to treat an ear infection. This antibiotic was prescribed in the form of liquid drops.
Before I share my story, it should be said that prior to these events, I was a completely healthy and active person who enjoyed backpacking, climbing mountains and hiking. I had no prior conditions and was in overall good health.
All that changed when my health, post-antibiotics, suddenly and rapidly began to deteriorate. Since then, I have been on a journey to not only reclaim my health, but also my life which vanished with a couple of bad decisions.
I am not going to sugar coat this. What transpired in the months following the above antibiotics was equivalent to being stuck in a nightmare of unparalleled proportions. It was surreal, to say the least.
Although I have been shaken to my core, I am still standing. My recovery has been slow and gradual but compared to the place I found myself in at the start of this whole ordeal, the difference is night and day.
If you’re reading this and dealing with your own nightmare scenario, know that you will emerge from this. No state is permanent. It may take months or even years but know that, in time, you will recover.
Keep the faith. Don’t give in. This is not the end of your story. Only a dark chapter which will eventually cease to exist.
That being said, here’s my account of events.
How It All Began
At the end of October 2014, upon having a blood test done at a local walk-in clinic, I received news that Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori) was present in my stomach and was told by the attending physician that antibiotics would be needed to eradicate the bacteria. Admittedly, back then I had little knowledge of the delicate intricacies of the human anatomy and in particular, the devastating effects of antibiotics on the stomach, gastrointestinal tract, liver and other vital organs. As such, I made the nearly fatal mistake of putting my trust in the doctor, believing that they have the knowledge and understanding to set me on the right path, in this case, to eradicate the bacteria without due harm. After all, if the antibiotics that were handed to me were not safe, the doctor would surely say something, give me a heads up of some sort. Unfortunately, that warning never came. When I decided to speak up and inquire about the safety of the pills myself, I was briskly and casually told that they were safe. Nor was there any mention of possible side-effects. I was simply sent on my way. As for the final hand-off, there was no warning at the pharmacy counter either. Little did I know that I was about to get myself into a life-threatening situation.
ER Visit On Day 2
Upon starting the antibiotics in November, I started to feel the powerful effects of the pills. I got through the first day but on the second day I could no longer tolerate the pills and felt absolutely brutal. The state of my health was bad enough that I had to be driven to the local hospital and attend ER in the late hours of the day. After spending countless hours in the ER, I was seen by a doctor who dished out three Tylenols for the road and sent me happily on my way. On the advice of the original doctor, I decided to continue with the antibiotic until Day 10. Upon the conclusion of the antibiotic course, I started to feel better with each day. I was certain that the worst was behind me. The worst, however, was yet to come.
The First Symptoms
It was now February 2015 and exactly three months after I ingested the first pills, the first wave of symptoms hit me. It began with an abrupt wakeup. I woke up at 5:30 am for absolutely no reason at all. The wakeup came in the form of a very sudden jolt and I could not fall asleep afterwards no matter what. I didn’t think much of it until the following night when I could not fall asleep all night. All I was able to do was close my eyes and rest but at no time would I be able to fall asleep. This sudden, inexplicable insomnia came out of nowhere. Prior to this, I had never had any sleeping issues whatsoever. Nor did I experience any abrupt wakeups. Now I was dealing with insomnia issues and the odd time that I did fall asleep for several hours, I would always wakeup abruptly at 5:30 am each and every time. This was beyond normal, yet it was only the start of my symptoms. In the coming weeks, I started to lose all my energy. I became so weak that I could barely get myself out of bed. It was as if my body was running out of fuel, even though I was providing the fuel in the form of food and water on a regular basis. I also started to lose weight very rapidly. Before the end of the month, I started to experience neurological impairments which I first noticed at work. Suddenly, I had trouble coping with my everyday tasks. Tasks that were natural to me before were all of a sudden becoming foreign to me. My concentration levels dipped, I could not focus and the world around me seemed to be closing in on me. People would be talking to me and I could barely make out what they were saying. I started to make a lot of errors at work. Things got so bad that I would exit the elevator on the wrong floor. I also started to lose track of time and could not tell how much time had passed by. It was becoming evident to me that something was very wrong, yet out of fear, I refused to acknowledge that the antibiotics had anything to do with these sudden changes in my daily function. I simply ignored the symptoms to the best of my ability and carried on. When I tried to shake off these symptoms at the gym, I was surprised to find that I could not lift anything remotely heavy. Prior to the antibiotics I could lift all sorts of heavy weights, this was virtually impossible at this point. I had no energy and my muscles felt extremely weak. Seeing as I was doing myself more harm than good, I decided to give the gym a rest for the time being.
The old saying “When it rains, it pours” comes to mind when I reflect back on the six month period that started it all. Upon dealing with the sudden blow to my health, in a cruel twist of fate, I did something that nearly put the final nail in my coffin. In April, I went out and got poisoned a second time. Due to a so called medical professional, and I use the term loosely, I had sustained inner ear damage. This led to an infection and subsequently, a prescription for Ciprofloxacin from another doctor, one I thought would be the answer to my problems. Instead, with my continued lack of knowledge on the subject, I put multiple drops of Ciprofloxacin into my ear each day for seven days straight, in the hopes of healing my damaged ear. The antibiotic not only leaked into my ear but subsequently found its way into my body. At this point in time, I had enough toxicity in my body to create the perfect storm for neurological and physical dysfunction.
Here are just some of the symptoms that presented themselves in the days, weeks and months following the antibiotics:
-Lack of energy
-Burning sensation in the ear
-Sensitivity to light / sunlight
-Stomach / GI issues
-Urinary tract issues
-Loss of appetite
-Major weight loss
-Fear of Dying
-Tinnitus (Ringing in the ears)
-Blurred vision (Double vision)
-Peripheral vision problems
-Back floaters in the field of vision
-Pressure near the frontal lobe
-Difficulty conducting activities
-Memory loss (Short / Long-term)
-Inability to form new memories
-Inability to concentrate / focus
-Inability to process information
-Inability to make a decision
-Inability to learn new tasks
-Inability to feel all emotions
The symptoms listed above occurred during different time periods. Some symptoms were short-lived while others persisted for longer periods of time. *At the height of the toxicity, most were present.*
Adverse Drug Reaction
It’s true that the human body can only take so much toxicity before it begins to shut down. In the weeks and months following the antibiotics, I entered a brand new world, a world filled with unimaginable horror and terror. I could no longer feel my frontal lobe working. It was as if it didn’t exist. For the first time in my life I was dealing with depression and anxiety. Not mild, not moderate, but major depression and anxiety. A blanket of sadness and despair overpowered any emotion I had left in me and drove me to the brink. I began to lose sense of what’s real and found myself battling depersonalization and derealisation. When I found myself outdoors, I felt as if the world was artificial, a 3D model of what I used to know. When around busy public spaces, my anxiety would skyrocket and I would seek to escape my environment as soon as possible. I began to close myself off from society and tried to conceal my degrading condition from my employer, co-workers, family and friends. Deep down inside I knew it wouldn’t be long before the truth would surface and surface it did. At the end of May, after months of agony, I suffered a mental breakdown at work. It was at this point that I knew I needed to leave my job behind and focus my efforts on making a recovery. I went on short-term medical leave and would later revise my leave to long-term status. From here on, all my energy and efforts were dedicated to healing.
Healing From Toxicity
The following is a list of items that I have undertaken towards my recovery from both sets of antibiotics. It is of upmost importance that each individual use his or her own discretion when undertaking any sort of treatment and/or supplement. I cannot be held responsible for any injury or mishap that occurs from this list. We are all incredibly unique and no DNA is the same. In other words what works for me may or may not work for you. Having said this, I hope this list will be of some benefit to you, your loved ones or anyone out there who has been injured by antibiotics.
# 1 – Obtain Support
When it comes to personal issues in my life, the last thing I wanted to do was to reach out to anybody during my ordeal. I thought to myself, “I can do this on my own”, “this is my fight, not anyone else’s”. The problem with this logic, as I found out, is that although it is your fight, winning this battle on your own is next to impossible. The reason being is that this is an invisible monster and going at it alone is setting yourself up for trouble. I had no choice but to reach out for support and I’m glad I did. I credit these people with saving my life and the same may hold true for you. Take my advice, reach out to someone, anyone. There are people out there who are willing to listen and help you through the storm. I enrolled myself in several groups such as an insomnia group and depression group. While it’s sad to hear about people’s problems, you will walk away with the sense that it’s not only you who is going through the storm. Countless others are going through the very same storm. This is very empowering.
# 2 – Positive Mindset
I know first-hand how difficult it is to stay positive during a nightmare that unfolds right in front of your eyes, however, I cannot stress the importance of at least attempting to keep as close to a positive mindset as possible. It’s essential to remove the persistent negative thoughts that flood our mind. The reason for this is because our thoughts turn to behaviours and our behaviours turn to actions. It’s a difficult and draining task but training the mind to stay on track is vital to recovery. As hard as it is at the present moment, finding things in your life to be grateful for, even if they are now in the distant past or minimized by your current state, will at least shine some light on the current situation. Afterall, what’s done is done. We cannot undo the past, however, we can write our future. In this future, you may feel like your old self or you may even be a happier you and the only way to get there is to stay in the game.
# 3 – Finding Forgiveness
It’s a major obstacle to overcome since it involves forgiving yourself, even if the effect was accidental, and forgiving those individuals who played a part in the process. Individuals who should have warned you about the possible side-effects but for whatever reason, did not. I believe that those of us who find ourselves in this situation are progressing through the five stages of grief with the end goal being not acceptance, but a feeling of having regained control of our lives. This is where we enter forgiveness. Holding on to the anger won’t solve the problem, it will only agitate it. Therefore, the only sensible act is to forgive yourself and those certain others. Times heals and it is only a matter of time before you feel better. Finding inner peace is part of the recovery process and it starts with us making peace with the situation we find ourselves in. Quite simply, it’s best to view this entire ordeal as another lesson in life.
# 4 – Fitness Club / Sauna
As I mentioned earlier, I had to give up the gym for a while since it was doing me more harm than good. In November 2015, I returned to the gym and this time, I felt different. This time around I could lift more weights and not be as exhausted as before. When I first returned, every single joint in my body started to crack like eggshells. I was concerned that this was going to be a long-term occurrence, however, the cracking of the joints dissipated after about a week or two and after that I no longer heard any cracking. So why should you hit the gym? The answer is simple. It will improve your mood and quite possibly, your overall state. Your brain needs to have its endorphins (hormones) stimulated and working out does the trick. This will reduce the pain and stress associated with the toxicity. You should only consider the gym when you’re ready though. This may take some time depending on when your toxicity took place. Also, what really helped me along was the use of a Swedish-style sauna that is located inside my fitness club. The use of a sauna helps eliminate toxins from your body. The toxins are removed through excessive sweating, as well as urine and stool excretion. You will need to drink a lot of fluids beforehand, during and after the sauna use. Water is best. Also, keep the sauna use to a minimum. 10-15 minutes is more than enough.
# 5 – Supplementation
Like most people on this website, I have gone out of my way to try and heal myself with supplements. It seemed like the easiest solution. The problem with supplementation is that you don’t know which ones work, if any. I bought my fair share of supplements, but in the end, I settled on only a few which may or may not be making me feel better. Again, it’s hard to say if these supplements work or if we are feeling better naturally with time. Perhaps both. The only supplements I continue to take are the ones I started off with which are:
Omega-3 (Heart/Brain/Mood) (NutraSea+D 1250mg liquid – 1 tsp daily)
Greens+ Original (Nourishing Superfood) (Genuine Health powder – 1.5 tsp daily)
Also, although this is not a supplement, I have been consuming Golden Flaxseed on a nightly basis to repair the stomach damage caused by the antibiotics. As I found out after the fact, antibiotics knock off both the good and bad gut flora / microflora. It does not discriminate. Seeing as the gut is considered a second brain with some in the field arguing that the state of your gut is more important than your brain itself, this means repairing your gut is critical to your overall health. In other words your gut health has great influence on how you feel. Consuming the flaxseed immediately before bedtime will kick start the repair process. It’s best to boil the flaxseed until it becomes a gel, let it cool slightly, and then drink it. It’s not the best tasting beverage in the world but it’s meant to help repair your stomach lining which may be damaged. The flaxseed is also high in fibre, iron and calcium so it has multiple benefits to it.
# 5 – Other Therapies
The only other therapy I sought out was Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD). MLD is conducted by a licensed therapist who specializes in this type of massage. This massage is meant to get the toxins moving away from their storage areas such as fatty tissue, organs and bloodstream. By moving toxins along, you are bound to remove/excrete them, a process similar to that of using a sauna. The price of these massages isn’t cheap ($70 CDN for 45 min session) however if you have coverage from your employer, it should help dampen the cost. It’s very relaxing and there is no pain involved whatsoever.
# 6 – Rebuilding Yourself
Let’s be honest with ourselves. This is a complete rebuild. Our house has been burned to the ground and we are being forced to start over. It’s a scary thought but it’s reality. How we emerge from this is up to us and our willingness to fight. There will be doubts, there will be setbacks, but in the end, one can only be victorious if he/she stands the test of time. Am I the same person I was before the poisoning? No. Do I hope to get there one day? Absolutely. I know it will take time and I also know I will need to exercise patience if I am to succeed. As difficult as it is, I urge you to do the same. Rediscover your old hobbies or find some new ones. I’ve started on some new projects. There is no better way to shelter from the storm than to keep yourself busy with hobbies/projects that you enjoy. I know the enjoyment is not the same as it used to be but in time, it will be. Believe me, you will be happier doing something than doing nothing at all.
One Year Update (February 2016)
It has now been one year from the start of the symptoms and I am feeling generally good. There are times when I still stumble along, however, when I think back to 2015 and the darkness that engulfed me, I can safely say that I have made huge strides in my recovery. Of all the symptoms that plagued me in 2015, the ones that remain are as follows:
Abrupt wakeup (No longer 5:30am! I usually wake up around 8:00am these days which has helped a lot)
Insomnia (There are nights that I sleep well and there are nights which I don’t but there is improvement)
Depression & anxiety (I have downgraded myself from major to moderate with mild being my next goal)
Lack of energy (I continue to have problems with energy but it has gone up substantially since last year)
Sensitivity to light / sunlight (On-going issue which I hope will resolve itself with time)
Dry heaving (On-going issue that has improved substantially; my guess is that it is connected to anxiety)
Muscle spasms (Major improvement in this department; I barely get spasms anymore)
Post-nasal drip (Still some excessive mucus forming in the lungs but it has gone down drastically of late)
Weight loss (Continues to be a problem as I have a difficult time putting on any weight)
Neurological issues (The brain fog is gone and I am able to make decisions quite well again; the biggest problem is my short and long term memory impairment – this really bothers me as my memories are extremely important to me; I am hoping that with the passing of time these memory issues will resolve)
Vision issues (Continues to be a big problem as my vision is still somewhat blurry; black floaters persist although they are mostly visible when looking at a screen or wall; peripheral vision has improved but is still obstructive; bright conditions are especially difficult to deal with but I’m hoping all this will vanish)
Concentration and focus issues (Improving steadily; I can concentrate and focus much better as of late)
Emotions (I’m still awaiting for my emotions to return; the numbness has gone down quite a few levels)
These days, I’m keeping busy with all sorts of projects and trying to put this whole nightmare behind me. A complete recovery is still a long way away but the thought of getting there has me excited and looking towards the future, with cautious optimism of course. I am incredibly thankful for the big improvements in my recovery but also know that I am not out of the woods yet.
Prior to this incident, traveling was my biggest passion in life. It was what I lived for. Unfortunately, this incident has robbed me of this passion and countless others. I will say this though. It is my goal to one day be able to set out into the world again. To one day, reclaim that ultimate feeling known as euphoria. It’s a work-in-progress but I am determined to get there at some point.
I hope the information contained here has been useful to you or your loved one. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.
I wish you all a speedy recovery.
Two Year Update (February 2017)
Hi, folks. Two years have now passed since the onset of a myriad of symptoms from Clarithromycin and subsequently, Ciprofloxacin. It’s been another tough year filled with successes and downfalls. Truthfully, I was hoping to be more or less recovered from this whole ordeal but it seems there is a lot of work left. Having said that, I do have to count my blessings as to where I stand currently. I’m sure things could be far worse than they are. As it stands, I have good days alternating with bad days. I’m hopeful that down the road more good days will follow but there are some things that have helped me along over the past year and I’m happy to share these with you in the hope that they may help you in some way or another.
Since my one year update, there’s been some minor changes in my life, both good and bad. For starters, in May of 2016, after missing a year of work due to my failing heath, I returned to my job and resumed full-time work. Originally, this seemed like the right move since I needed to keep myself busy and distracted from what was unfolding in front of me but as of late I’m beginning to question whether work is helping or hurting me. The problem is that I’ve been encountering some stress there lately and it has been taking a toll on me. My ability to handle stress has been greatly diminished since this whole ordeal began and along with the flu, it’s the easiest path towards experiencing my worst symptoms. This probably has something to do with a compromised immune system and/or damaged CNS. Avoiding stress and the flu isn’t an easy task. I was hit hard with the flu last winter (it was so bad that I had to be rushed to the ER) and this winter I’m undergoing a similar kind of battle but on a smaller scale (perhaps my immune system is slightly stronger this time around). As for the stress, my body and mind have endured so much of it over the past 2 years, that I’ve basically forgotten what it feels like to be free of it.
The aches and pain in my body are more or less under control at this point. Since I stopped going to the gym, there’s been little to no pain in my tendons, muscles and joints. Though I suggested exercise as a treatment in last year’s update, I’m not sure it’s a good idea for those that are newly floxed. In retrospect, I wish I had waited for some time as it’s clear to me now that a person who has been floxed has some significant damage to his/her tendons, muscles and joints and that these aspects of the body require lots of time and rest in order to heal. Perhaps undertaking lighter exercises is the best compromise. I have also been taking some oils so it’s quite possible that these oils have helped relieve the inflammation (I’ve been taking one full tablespoon of olive oil daily since the beginning of this year).
In regards to my symptoms, over the course of the past year, I have won more battles than I have lost. The psychosis, depersonalization and derealisation that these pills triggered in me back in 2015 are no more. Along with the frequent panic attacks, they were by far the worst and scariest symptoms I have experienced in my life. Not only did they inhibit my judgement and reason, but they also drove me to the brink of committing suicide. With the exception of the past couple weeks, I was able to downgrade myself from major depression to minor depression. Unfortunately, something has changed in the past couple of weeks and I’ve been attempting to right the ship ever since. It may be that I’m experiencing the Herxheimer Reaction. It’s hard to tell if that’s what’s happening or the usual relapses that seem to have no end. Presently, my most debilitating symptom is one that has been with me since pretty much the beginning – cluster headaches aka central pain syndrome. This condition can best be described as constant burning/melting of the brain. Currently it’s centred in the middle of my scalp but it does shift with time. The pain/pressure can sometimes be unbearable. Ironically, one of the very first symptoms that I complained about upon my November 2014 ER visit was an unbelievably painful pressure in the head. The ER doctor dismissed it as nothing and gave me three Tylenols for the road. There have been periods this past year whereby this issue seemed to be resolved only to come back later on. It’s almost always accompanied by concentration issues, short-term memory loss and blocked/burning ear canals.
Aside from this, insomnia and abrupt wakeups continue to be a problem for me. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in 2 years and it doesn’t look like there is any end in sight. As a result of waking abruptly, I’m forced to sleep (I use the word loosely) in otherwise I’m extremely tired all day long. The ringing in the ears (tinnitus) only adds to the burden. This symptom ranges from mild to severe and seems to be worst when the cluster headaches occur. On the visual side of things, floaters continue to exist though I’ve somewhat become accustomed to them now. My throat issues have improved quite a bit but that too isn’t fully resolved. As for the nerves, I can sometimes feel myself shaking for no reason at all. My guess is that this has something to do with a damaged CNS and/or damaged nerve(s) within the body.
In addition to all this, I seem to be in worse shape when consuming wheat, dairy and recently, seafood. I’ve never had a problem consuming these types of foods in the past but since the ADRs I’ve developed some kind of allergy to them. Both wheat and milk seem to trigger either constipation or diarrhea. Fish, on the other hand, such as salmon, can set off multiple symptoms. Even beef can have this same effect. The only form of meat that seems to have no negative impact on my health is poultry (chicken, turkey). Needless to say this type of limited selection when it comes to food intake doesn’t make life any easier.
Speaking of digestion, I’ve found some interesting books that delve deeper into ADRs and our gut flora:
“Bitter Pills: Inside the Hazardous World of Legal Drugs” by Stephen Fried (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
“This Is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society” by Kathleen McAuliffe (YET TO READ)
“I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life” by Ed Yong (YET TO READ)
To end things off, the best advice I can give anyone who has been recently poisoned or at their wit’s end is to find something that makes you happy, even semi-happy, and stick with it. Anything from the arts to zip-lining and everything in-between, just do it and do it often. It’s these kinds of undertakings that have kept me alive and they might just do the same for you.
Remember, one day when you’re least expecting it, you’ll be feeling like your old familiar self and you’ll have these distractions to thank for getting you there.
List of things that have helped me along in 2016:
- Coconut Water [Contains Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Manganese]
I believe drinking 500 mL of this water has helped with the inflammation in my body.
- Natural Spring Water [No Fluoride]
I’ve been using this water since the ADRs. I usually drink between 2L & 3L. I also drink tea.
- Fruits [Various]
I’ve been eating various seasonal fruits ranging from berries to melons and others.
- Vegetables [Various]
I’ve been eating various seasonal vegetables ranging from broccoli to spinach and others.
- Nuts [Various]
Mainly almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts. For enhanced/improved cognitive function.
- Carrots [Organic]
For the vision issues and antioxidant properties. High concentrations of Vitamin C in them.
- Avocados [Organic]
For cognitive function and inflammation management. Various other benefits as well.
- Vitamin C [Powder]
I tried Vitamin C in powder form for a while and it seemed to help a lot, albeit temporarily.
- Spirituality / Mythology / Philosophy
I’ve been reading books about the above topics and they’ve helped me cope better.
- Coconut Oil Pulling [Daily – Swish the oil around for your mouth for 10 mins then spit]
This helps remove harmful bacteria from the mouth. Thanks to Ger for the suggestion.
Last but not least, an unrelenting will to live. The ONLY way to beat depression is to OUTLAST IT.
The hard truth is that the road to recovery is a long and painful one…. but it’s there nevertheless.
I hope that you are all obtaining progress in your recovery.
I wish you days filled with peace, serenity, and tranquillity.
** 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.