In July of 2014, I took a course of Cipro – a drug that belongs to the class known as fluoroquinolones. I knew I had sensitivities to medications in the past like complete fatigue and muscle pain from Metformin, and various allergies to other medications. Cipro was one I could tolerate in the past for a UTI. I am a pharmacist. I had been led to believe, by the warnings on fluoroquinolones, that the risk of toxicity was reserved for those over the age of 65 with impaired kidney function. That wasn’t me. I would be safe….So I thought…
Backing up a little – prior to this course of antibiotics, I was teaching 5 power spinning classes a week, boot camps and yoga. I had run the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, and the Big Sur Marathon 6 months later. I had run several half marathons and little races just for the heck of it. I had just gotten back from a trip out West where my four children and I climbed mountains, and rocks, and ran and hiked – I was at the top of the world and on top of my game.
So by day 5 of this antibiotic, I started feeling a twinge of something in my right elbow. It seemed peculiar because I was very conditioned and very strong. Over the course of the next week or so, all the other tendons, muscles, joints, vision, hearing and nerves became involved. Slowly but surely, whatever was happening was progressing to the point that I was in immense pain. I could not walk, I could not lay down, I could not sit without pain. My brain function started declining. I was adding up my Pharmacist Continuing Education credits to turn in that year, and I could not add 1 plus 1.5. I was adding out loud, so when my daughter heard me and I could not put this together, she had to help guide me through what the answer might be. My heart sank – how could I possibly be a functioning adult, single mom, and competent pharmacist if I couldn’t add 1 plus 1.5? I could not walk up the stairs. I crawled. I could not squeeze a sponge or open the top of a milk jug. I couldn’t unscrew the tops of my supplements. I ended up in a wheelchair, basically requiring the assistance of someone all the time.
I had to quit working as a pharmacist because 1. I couldn’t stand. And 2. I couldn’t think. I found myself looking at medications, numbers, prescriptions, and not knowing what I was looking at. Prior to this, I was a whiz at math. All of a sudden, numbers confused me. It was like all of them were being thrown at me all at once and I couldn’t make sense of them. It was completely overwhelming. I didn’t hesitate to stop working because I did not want to harm anyone. At that point, in addition to all the other stress, financial stress set in as well.
I became severely sensitive to light and sound. If there was too much of anything around, my brain couldn’t process it. It would make me want to crawl out of my skin.
I wore wrist and ankle braces day and night, I slept with pillows propping me up and taking pressure off of certain sensitive parts of my body – which of course migrated all night and day. That didn’t make for restful sleep. I might have had 10 or 15 minutes in between sleep episodes which were interrupted by immense nerve pain. I remember one night thinking I was going to die. All of my muscles were cramping up, including my chest and back and fingers and legs and arms – I thought for sure my heart would be the next thing to go.
As I researched online for reversal of Cipro toxicity, all I found were countless recollections of people’s stories about devastation because of their reactions to fluoroquinolones. I read about people who had committed suicide because they couldn’t bear the pain. I read about people who had endured pain for the last 10 years and still had no hope. Back then, there wasn’t as much information as there is now.
I was 45 and had 4 children, for whom I am their only parent. I could not believe my life was going to transform from the most fit and active and strong I had ever been to being crippled, in a wheelchair and in chronic pain. Not only could I not believe it, but after a complete breakdown, I could not accept it. And this is where I began to rise.
Instead of searching for reversal of Cipro toxicity, I started thinking biochemistry and how things work at a cellular level. Thank goodness biochemistry and medicinal chemistry were my strong subjects in pharmacy school. And thank goodness I have a strong understanding of holistic healing. Everything was slightly slower because of my cognitive decline, but I was motivated. I couldn’t let this be the life my children grew up with. Through my research, I started finding basic things I thought would help – my focus was
How do I get rid of the poison in my body
How do I prevent further damage
How do I heal the damage that has been done
As I dove in, I got deeper and deeper into the toxicity of this medication – the mitochondrial damage that takes place, the neurotoxicity, the muscle damage, tendon ruptures, brain fog…everything. And slowly but surely I started finding solutions and healing myself. Not with the help of western medicine who denied anything was happening to me because the blood work didn’t show abnormalities. And for some reason, the three doctors I went to did not know enough about fluoroquinolone toxicity so they had to deny this was a case of it. According to them, it was so rare and only affected one tendon at a time. They put the label of fibromyalgia on it because they couldn’t come up with a better diagnosis code. However, they were quick to offer antidepressants, pain meds, and anything else to attempt to appease me. I declined. I couldn’t fathom the thought of putting another medication into my body to supposedly counter the damage another medication created. With chronic pain and stress, I developed adrenal fatigue – or HPA axis dysfunction, diabetes and migraines through this journey, but I still relied on getting to the cause of these as opposed to Western Medicine to mask what was happening at a cellular level. Even with cognitive impairment, I knew better and I trusted my intuition. I knew I was in charge of healing myself. Thank goodness.
It became my full time job to heal myself. I went from a wheelchair to finally being able to walk down the stairs. I started walking – to the end of the driveway and back. Then to the first driveway over and back. Eventually, I walked all the way around the block. Of course with repercussions, but I did it. And I gained hope.
I did panchakarma, a detoxification process using Ayurvedic practices. I started massage therapy – where the therapist was initially afraid to even touch my tendons because they were so brittle. I did massage therapy 4 times a week. I bought an Infrared (IR) sauna to help me make more mitochondria, since I couldn’t get to aerobic activity to replenish my damaged mitochondria. I did countless detoxes and purifications to clear the poisons out of my liver and body. I changed my diet completely to minimize inflammation throughout my body. I meditated. I meditated. I meditated. It was one of the only things that would give me a reprieve from the immense pain for about 30 minutes. Many, many other things I did…
Along with the alternative practices I used to heal myself, therapeutic doses of supplements played a large role. Had it not been for knowing how my body was damaged, by what chemical components of the medication and probable scenarios of what was going on – I would not have been able to supplement with the things I needed to heal. Healing has been consistently assessing, fine tuning, figuring out what works and what doesn’t work, adjusting to my body’s changing status, and being patient.
I am still healing. I don’t think I will ever be back to 100%. I can go two weeks between massages now. I think it is becoming more of a relaxation and pampering activity for me more than therapy. I’ll keep up with that. I can propel my body and still have energy at the end of the day. I sometimes outlast my loved ones that haven’t been afflicted with this poisoning. I am also able to eat with a little more flexibility and enjoy some of the things I love to eat. In moderation of course. I was recently out of the country and walked 13 miles a day for 7 days straight. I still had energy at the end of the day. I am thankful when I can get out and mow my own lawn. Or hike. Or bike. Or carry groceries in from the car. A few weeks ago I completed the Akron Half Marathon – whether I ran or walked it did not matter – it is something I never thought I would be able to do again.
Also through the healing process, I have brought my fasting sugars down from 200 to low 100’s. It is amazing how the body handles itself when it is not in chronic pain. I am now able to navigate my day with great energy levels and don’t feel so anxious and depressed. My brain works. I feel smart again. Numbers still sometimes confuse me, but I have accepted that not everything is going to be as it was. There are many new normals. But those normals do not include my children having a crippled mom or me being in a wheelchair and for that I am ever so grateful.
Through my experience and research…and most importantly, my recovery…I simply cannot stand by and watch others live with no hope of a better life. I am more excited than ever to reach however many people I can and help them live again. I still read countless stories of pure and utter devastation. It is heartbreaking. If anything in life has pushed me to how I can use my unique gifts, talents, and experiences to serve others, then this is it.
It is a rough hand we’ve been dealt. But you have the ability to heal yourself, given the right tools. I have taken my practice and devoted it to helping those afflicted with fluoroquinolone toxicity or fibromyalgia reclaim their health, their lives, and their hope. Journeywithsujata.com will launch by November of 2017, using my experience and research to find solutions for all of our unique needs. I look forward to helping to be a part of the solution. I’m here. There is hope. Always hold on to that.
Sujata Patel, RPh, RYT
Certified Menopause Educator
Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher
Chopra Center Certified Meditation Instructor
** 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.