Following is Madeline’s story of her journey through ciprofloxacin and metronidazole toxicity. As you will see, her story is not a complete recovery story. She is approximately 75% recovered. I (Lisa) have asked Madeline to provide updates as her journey continues. Thank you for reading Madeline’s story and spreading the word about these dangerous pharmaceuticals!
December 7, 2018 I was prescribed 2 antibiotics (ciprofloxacin and metronidazole) for an undiagnosed gastrointestinal issue. I’ve never been the type to seek medical attention, but I was in the midst of exams and getting desperate. It will forever be the biggest regret of my life.
The first night on the antibiotics was hell, I was up every hour puking..so no sleep. The next day I felt as if I had been hit by a truck. Unfortunately for me, the pharmacist “reassured” me that that reaction was normal and to continue the antibiotics. I spent the next 24 hours puking, and once again, not sleeping. By mid morning of the following day (36hrs after taking the first dose of antibiotics), I was unable to think, unable to walk, unable to focus, unable to speak. I felt drugged. 7 hours in emerg later I was advised to stop the antibiotics. So I did. I thought “everything will be fine now”. But I was so wrong.
For the next 3ish months, my life was a living hell. Severe anxiety and severe depression. I’ve always dealt with both but this was my normal level amplified by 20. Not a day went by that I didn’t fantasize about how to kill myself. Over that period of time, I had written multiple suicide notes, begging my family to understand how much I craved freedom from my personal hell. I was in a constant state of extreme anxiety. I had multiple anxiety attacks everyday. I developed horrible paranoia, to the point where I’d have an anxiety attack anytime I tried a new food, supplement, or beauty product.
My body at times forgot to breathe on its own. I would be sitting there and clue in that I wasn’t breathing. I lost the ability to yawn. I could have someone right in my face yawning, and it produced 0 reaction from me. I later learned the breathing and yawning issues stemmed from damage to my vagus nerve.
I dealt with a variety of digestive issues – lack of hunger, unable to feel full, unable to digest food. Through bloodwork, it was determined my body was in “anorexic mode”, due to my inability to digest and absorb nutrients. I’ve been trying to combat borderline anemia, among other nutritional deficiencies.
My thyroid, liver, kidneys, and adrenal glands began malfunctioning. My sex hormones (estrodiol and progesterone) are basically non-existent.
I developed memory loss. I used to pride myself on how well I was able to remember things, and now I struggle to remember what I’ve done 5 minutes earlier. With this and the brain fog, I feel like I’m permanently dazed.
I’ve developed muscle twitches and random bouts of numbness in extremities. Upon research I learned I’m lucky in that area, as many people suffer with tendon ruptures.
And my worst symptoms: insomnia and brain fog. I’m not talking about not sleeping every couple nights. I’m talking about going to bed at 10pm, and not falling asleep until 5am, and then waking up by 7am. Every single night. Whenever I felt tired enough to fall asleep, my body went into fight/flight mode. My heart felt like it was trying to flutter outside of my chest. My body refused to let me sleep. I was permanently tired but never sleepy. I’ve spent countless nights breaking down, begging for sleep. At 23, I spend at least 1 night/week sleeping in my parents bed with my mom because I’m scared to be alone.
Brain fog developed at the same time as the insomnia, something my doctor refuses to understand. It’s the scariest symptom for me. I’ve always considered myself a very intelligent, academically driven person. Ever since taking the antibiotics I feel as if I’ve lost brain cells. I no longer have the mental clarity I once had. I’m unable to focus for a long period of time. My brain sometimes “shuts off” and I’m unable to think or speak. Nothing feels real anymore. It’s as if I’m in a dreamland constantly. I’m never sure of what I’ve said or done. For a long time I stopped looking at myself in mirrors. I couldn’t stand to see the eyes staring back at me. I didn’t recognize myself. I didn’t see “me” in my eyes anymore. It felt as if the essence of who I was had been removed from me.
Seeking help from my family doctor was a joke. He recommended I see a therapist, as he assumed it was just severe depression. He would not accept that yes, I was dealing with depression, but it stemmed from something much bigger. He prescribed 2 antidepressants (for mood and sleep – clonazepam, paroxetine) and within 24hours I was describing to my mom how I wanted to hang myself from the tree out front. I stopped them immediately. He then referred me to an internal medicine doctor who was as helpful as my family doctor. I was also referred to a sleep specialist, who was able to determine through a sleep test that yes, my sleep was crap and my breathing stopped at various times throughout the night. All 3 doctors refused to acknowledge that my issues stemmed from the antibiotics, and the only treatment any of them could offer was prescription drugs to manage individual symptoms. Being who I am, who I was, it’s been the most frustrating journey trying to get someone from the health care system to listen. I know I’m intelligent, I know I’m self aware, and I’ve never been the type to seek help from doctors. I have given up trying to convince my doctor that I’m not crazy, that I’m not “just depressed”. It’s insulting they ways I’ve been dismissed by the health care community.
I met with a couple naturopathic doctors. They took a very different approach to health care. While I can’t say that anything they did helped, they listened. They didn’t dismiss me. They understood that sometimes the answer isn’t found in a standard medical textbook. With their help, I began an extremely strict diet (only specific vegetables, fruits, and meats). They monitored me via bloodwork while I tried a countless supply of different supplements. I’m not sure what helps and what doesn’t or if it’ll just take time.
I’ve also been seeing an acupuncturist/Chinese medicine guy. It took me a while to accept this form of treatment, as to me it seemed like a lot of mumbo jumbo but I truly believe acupuncture is helping heal me.
I’ve joined various online communities for people who are going through the same thing I am. It’s where I have received the most support and information as these people know exactly what I’m dealing with. It’s where I learned that my reaction to the antibiotics is called a “toxic adverse reaction”, and that the health care system considers it extremely rare. So “rare”, yet in my home town of 1000 people, I now know of 3 individuals who have gone through this. It’s rare because the pharmaceutical companies don’t want to admit that their drugs can and are doing this to people. There’s not enough proof because there’s not enough research and not enough people are listening.
I’ve had to quit school, which was one of the hardest things for me to deal with. I had 4 months left of my MRI program, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish. It would prevent healing and I knew someone else could get unintentionally hurt by me. I don’t know if I’ll ever want to, or be able to, finish my program.
The strain this has put on not only me, but my parents, and my boyfriend is indescribable. In half a year, we’ve spent at least $8000 trying to figure out what’s going on. My parents took so many days off work to be with me, because we were all scared of leaving me alone. The patience and support I’ve received from my parents and my boyfriend has saved me time and time again. I can say, without a doubt, if it weren’t for them, I would have ended my fight a long time ago. They keep me fighting and I’m so grateful for them.
This has changed me in so many ways. I have lost all trust in our health care system. I have completely changed my lifestyle – the foods I eat, the products I use, the way I care for myself. I’ve become more empathetic, because I now understand while you can look “fine” on the outside, you can be living in your own personal hell on the inside. I’ve also become less timid, I’ve learned life is way too short to deal with shit that makes you unhappy.
I now have Ciprofloxacin and Metronidazole (as well as any others in their drug families) listed as a medication allergy. They are some of the strongest antibiotics created, they state to “only use as last resort” and I was prescribed them as a precaution, as are millions of other people.
None of my words come close to describing the hell I’ve been living since taking those antibiotics. I don’t think there’s any way to truly describe what it’s like. I’m not posting this for pity, it’s not some sob story. I’m posting this because I’m so angry that not enough people are speaking up and even less are listening. I’m posting this because it angers me to know there are children, elderly, and disabled people out there going through this, and that if I’m not being listened to, they’re sure as hell not. This is a post that I hope prevents even just 1 person from going through this. Next time you, your child, your loved one, needs any kind of prescription medication, not just antibiotics, take the extra 30 minutes and research. Don’t just look at the “info sheet” sometimes provided. Research ratings and reviews, see what real people are saying. The info sheets I got stated “side effects may include nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, headache, tendon issues”. No where did they state the symptoms I’ve experienced, the symptoms thousands of people experience, the fact that people are ending their lives because of what these drugs have done to them.
7 months out and a lot of my symptoms seem to be fading. The severe depression, anxiety, paranoia have all decreased significantly. I haven’t caught myself not breathing in a long time and most times yawns are contagious to me. Healing my digestive system is taking time and although I sometimes falter, sticking to a strict diet helps a lot. My thyroid seems to be normalizing itself. Healing my adrenals and liver will take time, as will fixing my sex hormones. I still have horrible brain fog, memory loss, and insomnia. I think they’ve improved a bit, but I’m no where near the old me. It still scares me. I’m still scared I’m going to give up my fight someday. I’ve come so far, but I’m so tired. But at 23, there’s still so much I want to experience in life.
- Insomnia-tired but never sleepy
- Brain fog/depersonalization/disassociation
- Depression/suicidal thoughts
- Anxiety (anxiety attacks)
- Digestive issues (low acid, pressure/tightness in stomach, inability to digest/absorb nutrients)
- Muscle twitches/numbness in extremities
- Black squiggles in eyes/vision changes
- Memory loss
- Mood swings/extreme emotional breakdowns
- Lost ability to yawn
- Stopped breathing at times throughout days/nights
- Head pressure
- Ear ache/pressure
- Sinus pressure
- Chest pressure
- Hair/nails stopped growing
- Bruising easily
Chronic Symptoms (7 months later)
- Insomnia (slightly improved)
- Depression/anxiety (improved significantly)
- Memory loss
- Brain fog/depersonalization/disassociation
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Hormone imbalances
- Digestive issues (improved significantly)
Supplements/Medications Tried (I have no idea which supplements have helped because I’ve tried so many at the same time, but I also believe time really did help)
- Sandoz rabeprazole (for undiagnosed stomach pressure/tightness/pain-took for a couple days-should not have taken as it reduces stomach acid and I later learned I have low acid)
- Vitamin b1 (hcl), allithiamine (up to 250mg)
- Vitamin b12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Acetyl L Carnitine
- Magnesium Bis Glycinate and threonate (chronically low in mag)
- Deep Sleep herbal gel capsules
- Adreno Calm
- 5 htp
- Digestive Enzymes (definitely needed/helped)
- Ultra MFP forte
- Iron supplements (spa tone)
- Collagen powder
- Diatomaceous earth
- Co Q 10
- Herbal teas
Compared to December 2018, I would say I’m 75% better. If the sleep, brain fog, and memory issues cleared I would put it at 95%, so I’m hoping I get there soon. This is the hardest thing I have, and hopefully ever will, go through. Having a strong support system is huge. No, they don’t understand what’s going on, but they believe me, and they know I’m worth the fight, and that for me has been the most important and beneficial treatment.
Please don’t ever give up, you’re worth the fight.
*****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, affect 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.