Tag Archives: meditation

Connecting to Self-Care, when your previous self-care practices are out of reach

The following is a guest post written by Sujata Patel. You can read about Sujata’s journey through fluoroquinolone toxicity in her Floxie Hope Story and on her web site, Journey with Sujata. If you would like to write a guest-post for Floxiehope.com, please let me know through THIS LINK

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When it comes to feeling good and regaining your health, self-care is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. I am sure you are thinking, “Yeah right…I barely have the energy to shower in the morning, let alone focus on self-care practices…” I get it. Please keep reading.

Prior to my fluoroquinolone poisoning in July of 2014, my self- care practices kept me fit, healthy, optimistic, peaceful, grounded and vibrant. There was nothing I couldn’t tackle, because my mindset and my physical health were well taken care of.

As a single mother with four teenagers at the time, it was very important that I kept myself in great health. I took that seriously. I did many things to keep myself in optimal health. I slept 8 hours a night. I took basic supplements. I ate very well (aside from the occasional doughnut or ice cream). I worked out five days a week. This included spinning classes, boot camps, yoga, walking, running, cycling and hiking. The endorphins that were released during those activities made me feel amazing. I also meditated 30 minutes twice a day. I meditated first thing in the morning, and in the afternoon before my children would come home from school. This kept me centered throughout the day and fully present for my children in the evenings. I spent a lot of time with friends. We would meet for coffee, hike trails in our local parks, ride bikes, or meet for dinner. We laughed and laughed at anything and everything that came up. My emotional and physical tanks were full. So when a friend in need called me, I could drop everything and be there to help in any way possible. Regardless of what stressors presented themselves…and they did…I was well equipped to handle them and the ups and downs that came along with them. And even if something threw me to the ground, I didn’t stay down very long. I could always connect with my self-care practices and lift my mood in a healthy way.

When I got floxed, everything changed. Almost every single thing that kept me grounded, centered, optimistic, fit, uplifted, and hopeful was taken away from me. I fell into the hole of a victim. My tendons were brittle, my muscles were in immense pain. The nerve pain that shot through my entire body was unbearable at times. My joints hurt so much along with the rest of my body, that it was even difficult to just sit or lie down. Anywhere there was pressure put onto my body sent impulses to my brain that registered as pain. And as many of you know, that pressure doesn’t have to be significant. It could be the soft touch of someone just resting his hand on your thigh in an attempt to reassure you.

Because of the completely debilitating condition, I could not walk to do things for myself, let alone spin, cycle, do yoga, hike, and run. Those endorphins that used to coarse through my veins? Gone. I couldn’t sleep at night because of the incessant pain. Anyone who has experienced chronic pain can understand what that does to someone’s psyche. The pain was so unbearable and my mobility so impaired, that I stopped reaching out to friends to get together. It was impossible to sit on a hard chair at a coffee shop without wanting to ball up and cry…let alone use precious energy to attempt to be there for a friend in need. The friends, the laughter, the social aspects of my life disappeared. Time in nature on trails at our local parks? Well that fell by the wayside also. It was too painful to even think about expending that sort of energy. The prospect of living like this at age 45 with 4 children that I was raising on my own was devastating. Of course major depression set in, and everything I had in my tool box to lift me out of it was inaccessible.

What now? Well I had to think about how I was going to help myself. Clearly, a part of me is always looking for a way to get better and heal. If I didn’t have that deep down badass drive, I would not be here sharing my success story with you.

In my hours of self-pity for no longer being able to do advanced yoga poses, I came across an article written by a monk who had suffered some physical limitations. He spoke about his daily yoga practice and how he adjusted to his situation. The main point that helped me was that even if he could not do asanas (poses), he could still connect to pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation. Breathing exercises are a part of yoga, and when he woke up in the morning, if he couldn’t do poses he would connect with breathing. Day after day, his yoga practice consisted of only breathing and meditation. And he was gentle with himself, knowing that he was still practicing yoga…just not in the way most people view yoga. This article changed a few things in me. It helped me be gentle with myself and release expectations of doing things the way I used to. And not just in my yoga practice, but in my life. There were many things I had to relinquish. If I did it with resistance and self-pity, it was not helpful. But if I did it with compassion and gentleness for myself, I FELT better emotionally.

I started using breathing exercises and meditation to help relieve my pain. Of course, being in incessant pain, any reprieve from it was welcome. My meditation practice during this time was in no way one of those things where you see someone in full lotus position with proper hand positions and crown of the head reaching toward the sky. I was balled up in fetal position on the sofa or in my bed as I was practicing. What a beautiful gift it was to find that I could lessen the pain and even find brief moments of no pain while I was meditating. Finally – I was able to connect with a self-care practice that actually helped! Breathing and Meditation…

The next thing that came to my awareness was Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) baths. Along with being extremely beneficial for drawing toxins out of the body, magnesium baths have so many more benefits (more about this in future blogs). I started taking Epsom salt baths a few times a week as part of my self-care practices. It was something I could totally do, cripple and all. All I had to do was fill up the tub, add some salts and sit there. While I was there, I would light candles, dim the lights, and use this time to connect with silence and softness. This was incredibly nourishing for my body as well as my mind and spirit. Very powerful.

I did start to find that I was so focused on researching solutions for this condition, that the other side of my brain was stagnating. I needed to do something to give my analytical brain a break. In an effort to do this, I started doing periodic creative nights. I am by no means an artist, but I would sit down with my girls and create whatever I could. It wasn’t about creating a masterpiece. It was about taking the time to DO it. Taking that paintbrush and dipping it in paint, then doing something…anything…with it on my canvas or paper. It is amazing how focused I could get on my creative project, that I could escape, for some moments, from the reality of my condition.

Massage therapy became a mainstay of my self-care practices, and still is to this day. Before being floxed, I might have had a massage once a year. It was usually on vacation as a well-deserved treat. I highly recommend this to anyone who has been floxed. But be careful. You don’t want anyone to press too hard on brittle tendons and have them rupture. Make sure you communicate clearly with your massage therapist and be selective about where you go! Massage therapy was great. It has helped me to release the trigger points, the constant contraction of the muscles and spasms. And all I had to do was get there, lie down, close my eyes, and breathe.

These few practices were a great start to being able to take care of myself in some way. These basic self-care practices took me from completely and utterly face down in the dirt to offering a little hope for relief, healing, and reclaiming my life.

What can you do, even in your condition, to help your body, mind and spirit?

  • Learn meditation and breathing exercises and practice them DAILY.
  • Take Epsom salt baths.
  • Schedule regular creative nights and do whatever comes naturally to you.
  • Get regular massages.
  • Above all, be gentle with yourself.

In love and healing light,
Sujata

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Cellular Stress, Chronic Stress, and Fluoroquinolone Toxicity


My Healing Journey

Acupuncture helped me immensely in my journey through fluoroquinolone toxicity, and I even credit my acupuncturist with saving my life when I felt like a bomb was going off in my body. Several people have asked me what my acupuncturist did that helped me through fluoroquinolone toxicity. The honest answer is—I’m not sure. I don’t know enough about acupuncture or to tell anyone else how they might be able to replicate his methods or my healing. I do know, however, that I was spiraling when I first saw him. I was anxious, scared, and on the verge of panic because something was wrong with my body, and I had no idea what was going on or how to fix it. My acupuncturist was able to stop my cycle of anxiety, fear, and panic. He was able to calm me down. It helped—immensely—and it saved me from getting worse physically and psychologically.

A lot of the things that helped me to heal from my adverse-reaction to Cipro/ciprofloxacin were things that diminished my anxiety, quelled my fears, and calmed me down. I took a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class (through my health insurer—Kaiser Permanente) within weeks of getting floxed, and it helped a lot (I always felt better the day after the classes). I learned to meditate and I started some spiritual practices, and those were helpful as well. I removed stress and fear inducing things from my life (mainly, I got off the internet), and I found that I felt better when I removed those influences from my life.

I’m not saying that fluoroquinolone toxicity reactions are because of stress or anxiety, or that they’re “all in your head.” I am, however, saying that reducing stress helped me to recover, and that things that increased my stress levels made me feel worse. I also think that we shouldn’t have knee-jerk reactions against hypotheses about fluoroquinolone toxicity that look at how we react to stress—after all, stress affects everything (hormones, mental function, cardiovascular system, digestion, etc.). Additionally, there have recently been some interesting studies and hypotheses about how people respond to stress on a cellular metabolic level that are likely applicable to floxies.

Are Some People Genetically Predisposed Toward Shutting Down in Times of Stress?

On Dr. Sharon Meglathery’s web site, http://www.rccxandillness.com/, she hypothesizes that people who have a variety of multi-symptom, chronic illnesses (including ME/CFS, fibromyalgia, POTS, EDS, autoimmune diseases, psychiatric diseases, etc.) have a common set of gene mutations that make them unable to cope with stress on a cellular/chemical level. She notes that:

Let me illustrate how a clinically “healthy” carrier for a non-functioning CYP21A2 mutation (or a person with 2 mutated copies of partially functioning genes) could possibly develop chronic illness: Cortisol is a hormone needed for a normal stress response. Cortisol is made from 17hydroxyprogesterone by the enzyme called 21hydroxylase. 21hydroxylase is coded for by the CYP21A2 gene in the RCCX module. If a carrier for a CYP21A2 mutation which makes no functioning 21hydroxylase or a homozygote for partially functioning 21hydroxylase has chronic stress and needs to make lots of cortisol all of the time, it is possible that there may not be enough 21hydroxylase available to make the amount of cortisol the body needs. In this case, cortisol levels would be abnormally low for the amount of stress, 17hydroxyprogesterone would be abnormally high causing symptoms and some of the 17hydroxyprogesterone would be used by an enzyme coded for by CYP17 to make an abnormally high amount of androgens (male sex hormones) also causing symptoms. As I will show later, the symptoms caused by these hormonal abnormalities are shockingly familiar to those with chronic illness. Further, high cortisol releasing hormone (CRH), released when cortisol is too low can turn on devastating inflammatory cascades, including mast cell activation. (High CRH has recently been found to be associated with FM).”

Could the people who get “floxed” have CYP21A2 mutations that make them unable to cope with stress on a cellular level? Might the multi-symptom, chronic illness and disability that many floxies suffer from start with improper cortisol synthesis? It certainly sounds like a reasonable hypothesis to me.

Of course, the hypothesis that Dr. Meglathery is putting forth needs to be studied in order to be verified, and then further studies would need to be done to see if people suffering from fluoroquinolone toxicity have these genetic mutations, in order to verify that hypothesis. We are in the very early stages of figuring out what is going on in the bodies of everyone suffering from multi-symptom, chronic, illnesses—especially those caused by pharmaceuticals.

The Stress and Chronic Illness Cycle

Dr. Meglathery also explains how chronic stress could lead to the following ailments in people who are genetically predisposed to being unable to produce sufficient levels of cortisol:

At this point, if you are aware, you usually see some mild MCAS symptoms (allergy symptoms: hives, migraines, food intolerances, asthma, diarrhea, irritability, brain fog, increased distractibility and escalating sensory issues). CRH, the hormone released by the hypothalamus telling the body (via the pituitary) to make cortisol when cortisol is inappropriately low, is released in a pulsatile fashion. CRH is the most potent activator of mast cells in the body and found to be high in FM (Published by Dr. Theoharides, 1/16). It also decreases stomach acid, possibly contributing to dysbiosis and malabsorption; it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system causing the release of even more adrenaline and nor-adrenaline (norepinephrine) and it directly turns on the immune system. CRH release may be the master switch which propels a person with CYP21A2 mutations into irreversible chronic illness by effecting downstream changes which place an insurmountable and persistent stress load on the body. The demand for 21hydroxylase can now never be sated. I believe that people with CYP21A2 mutations who are exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogen in Lyme Disease (which directly activates mast cells) and other strong infectious stressors, like EBV, jump straight to immune system activation, flipping the switch by bypassing CRH initially, but CRH rises later in response to the chronic stress of infection, locking them into chronic illness. Low blood volume/orthostatic challenges worsen (POTS), pain syndromes develop (via low cortisol, increased subluxations/injuries, inflammatory mediators affecting nerves, high 17hydroxyprogesterone), raised intracranial pressure/acquired chiari malformation can occur (via progesterone, low magnesium, brain inflammation from MCAS, etc.) and MCAS is present consistently.

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With the immune system dysregulated, dysbiosis becomes fully established with gut inflammation and malabsorption. The body becomes colonized with new pathogens (through the porous gut and other pathways) and SIBO can occur. Pathogens already present start to cause problems (fungus-athlete’s foot, herpes virus-cold sores, low virulence bacteria and viruses like mycoplasma, etc), the ability to fight serious infection drops and in many, the ability to fight the viruses which cause colds increases. The body is now under tremendous physical stress and the person is under tremendous negative emotional stress, both of which increase the cortisol deficit and sustain the growing list of medical issues. If brain inflammation is part of the picture (likely as part of MCAS), we get psychosis and severe mood disorders plus or minus the physical issues. This is a downward spiral which few escape.”

Many of the symptoms that Dr. Meglathery mentions in the above paragraphs are too familiar to people who are floxed. Mast cell activation (MCAS), and the symptoms that come along with it—hives, migraines, food intolerances, asthma, diarrhea, irritability, brain fog, increased distractibility and escalating sensory issues—are common among those who are floxed. Low stomach acid, dysbiosis and malabsorption are also common among those who are floxed. Many people with fluoroquinolone toxicity also suffer from symptoms of POTS/dysautonomia. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) has occurred in those suffering from fluoroquinolone toxicity as well. Symptoms of brain inflammation, sometimes including psychosis and other severe mood disorders, can also occur in those with fluoroquinolone toxicity.

As you can see from Dr. Meglathery’s connections above, stress, especially chronic stress, can start a cycle of chronic illness in those who are genetically predisposed, and the chronic illness cycle includes many of the symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity.

Cellular Stress and Chronic Illness

The tendency for chronic illness to be self-perpetuating on a cellular level is also demonstrated in Dr. Robert K. Naviaux’s acclaimed 2016 study, “Metabolic Features of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,” which finds that, in ME/CFS patients, mitochondria respond to stressors by decreasing oxygen consumption and the transfer of cellular energy production—ATP—from inside the cell (where it belongs), to outside of cells (“Finding ATP outside a cell is a sign that something major has gone wrong.”). People with ME/CFS get “stuck” in a state of “hypometabolic response to environmental stress similar to dauer” – a cellular state that is similar to hibernation. This hypometabolic/dauer state is triggered by mitochondrial stressors (mitochondrial stressors can include emotional and psychological stress, as well as things like viruses, toxins—including many pharmaceuticals, malnutrition, etc.). It is noted in “The Core Problem in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Identified? Naviaux’s Metabolomics Study Breaks Fresh Ground” that:

Naviaux believes the mitochondria are able to sense every kind of danger – from pathogens to pH changes to toxic elements from pesticides, heavy metals, etc. to inflammation. They sense trouble in the form of an infection when they detect a drop in voltage caused by the diversion of electrons (NADH / NADPH) to make viral components or respond to a broad variety of toxins.

In the cell danger response (CDR) the mitochondria respond instantaneously to that loss by decreasing their oxygen consumption – thus thwarting pathogens from using the building blocks of the cell to replicate. Because the oxygen is no longer being used, it builds up in the cells causing a oxidatively charged environment which interrupts viral synthesis. The CDR also stiffens the membrane of the cell to stop pathogens from exiting it, warns other cells of the danger, and emits ATP in order to warn other cells to get their defenses up.”

Fluoroquinolones can cause mitochondrial damage, and may trigger the CDR, by depleting mitochondrial DNA. Fluoroquinolones have been shown to “cause mitochondrial dysfunction and ROS overproduction in mammalian cells.” For many people, the cycle of stress, chronic illness, hypometabolism, and dauer, starts with an assault on mitochondria from fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

Concluding Thoughts on Stress and Fluoroquinolone Toxicity

Again, I want to emphasize that these connections are hypotheses, not proven facts. However, as the fields of metabolomics and genetics progress, I suspect that we will find answers to fluoroquinolone toxicity, and all other multi-symptom, chronic illnesses.

You may be wondering, how does one get out of the stress/chronic illness cycle? As anyone who has researched or experienced a chronic illness knows, that question is much easier asked than answered. The fluoroquinolone toxicity recovery stories on this site give some valuable suggestions for those dealing with fluoroquinolone toxicity, as does the post “I’m Floxed, Now What?” Before getting too overwhelmed with advice though, a first-step in the right direction may be to reduce stress. We all have stress in our lives—but if there are things that you can do to avoid it (staying away from people and information that give you anxiety, and also avoiding mitochondrial toxins), or that help you to cope with it (meditation, mindfulness, etc.), those things may be helpful in starting your fluoroquinolone toxicity (or other chronic illness) recovery journey. It is difficult to reverse the cellular cycles of chronic illness, and reducing stress is not a quick-fix or easy answer, it is more like a starting point.

I know that it sounds simplistic and dismissive to tell you to “reduce stress,” but hopefully the information above demonstrates that stress is related to every bodily function, and it is intimately connected to chronic illness. Neither chronic illness nor stress, nor their connections, are trivial or to be dismissed in any way. If Dr. Meglathery is right, and there are some people who are genetically predisposed toward an inability to handle stress on a cellular level, avoiding stress (including toxins, viruses, etc.) may be key for avoiding chronic illness for those people. I suspect that everyone who is “floxed” falls into the category of “those people” who are more succeptible to harm from stressors than others. It isn’t easy to avoid stress (or stressors like toxins and viruses), but doing so may be necessary for your health, and it also may be a key to your healing. Most stress-reduction exercises and tools are inexpensive and easy to access, so they’re almost certainly worth a try.

 

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Floatation Therapy for Fluoroquinolone Toxicity

From the ages of 12 through 18 (1992-1998) I lived in a big, somewhat ridiculous, but interesting, house. One of the ridiculous but interesting things about it was that there was a sensory deprivation tank in the attic above the master bedroom. We never used the sensory deprivation tank, which we referred to as “the floatarium,” because we had no idea how to hook it up or work it, and because it required that we haul 1,000+ pounds of epsom salt up several flights of stairs and a ladder to the attic where it was stored. To give you an idea of how out-of-the-way the floatarium was within the house, we surmised that either the house was built around it or that a crane was used to put it in through the roof–there was no way anyone could have gotten it through the front door. Anyhow, it was a novelty that I haven’t thought about much since the 1990’s.

I bring up the floatarium because I just got done with a session in a sensory deprivation tank, and I wonder if it would be good for my floxie friends. There are a few components of floatation therapy (apparently “sensory deprivation tank” sounded too severe, so most floatation spas call it floatation therapy or REST–Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) that I think can be beneficial to floxies.

First, it’s a way to deeply meditate, and meditation has many demonstrated health benefits. I found meditation to be immensely helpful in my journey through fluroquinolone toxicity (you can read more about my thoughts on meditation for floxies here, here, and here). As a facilitator for meditation, floatation therapy is wonderful.

Second, floatation tanks are filled with 1,000+ pounds of epsom salt, which is magnesium sulfate. Magnesium has helped to alleviate many symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity for many people. Floatation may be a good way for floxies to soak up a lot of magnesium. It’s significantly more concentrated than any epsom salt bath you’re likely to take at home. It feels like soaking in magnesium “oil” (many floxies have found topical application of magnesium oil to be helpful), and I emerged from the tank with my skin feeling silky, smooth, and as if it was covered in magnesium oil. Magnesium also has many health benefits, and I wonder if many of the health benefits that are attributed to the meditation and sensory deprivation aspects of floating are actually from soaking up a large amount of magnesium. I think that both are generally good. (However, if you have any sort of kidney issues, or sulfur metabolism issues, magnesium sulfate can be harmful, so please be cautious and talk to your doctor about these issues.)

Third, floating is relaxing. When you don’t have any visual, auditory, or tactile sensory input, you are able to rest, relax, and just be. A lot of floxies suffer from anxiety, and floating may be a good way to relax.

Personally, I felt pretty good going into the floatation tank, and I felt even better–with a nice sense of peace and wellbeing–after I emerged from it. I think it was good for me, and it may be good for many of my floxie friends.

Some of the studied benefits of floatation therapy are noted in Discovery Magazine’s article, “Floating Away: The Science of Sensory Deprivation Therapy.

“In the early 1980s, a group of psychologists at the Medical College of Ohio initiated a series of experiments that looked at the physiological responses to REST. Both within and across flotation sessions, blood pressure and levels of stress-related hormones dropped – effects that persisted long after the cessation of the last flotation experience. In 2005, a meta-analysis further confirmed that flotation was more effective at reducing stress than other popular methods such as relaxation exercises, biofeedback or relaxing on the couch.

These results prompted researchers to investigate whether flotation could help patients with stress-related disorders. The treatment was used as a primary intervention for disorders as diverse as hypertension, headaches,insomnia and rheumatoid arthritis; all of these studies showed positive effects in small sample sizes. Those suffering from intractable chronic pain particularly benefited from weekly REST sessions: their level of perceived pain dropped, their sleep improved and they reported feeling happier and less anxious. An ongoing project is investigating the use of flotation for fibromyalgia pain management with positive preliminary results.”

As the author of “Floating Away: The Science of Sensory Deprivation Therapy” notes, the sample sizes for these studies were small, but still, it’s interesting, promising, and worth a try for many people.

It should be noted that if your kidneys aren’t functioning well, or if you don’t respond well to epsom salt baths at home, floatation therapy probably isn’t for you. However, for many floxies, I think that floatation therapy has some interesting benefits that may be helpful.

For floxies and non-floxies alike, rest, relaxation, and even sensory deprivation are healthy and helpful. For those who have access to a floatation spa (they can be found in most big cities), it’s something to look into.

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Antibiotic Brain Fog – Some Possible Solutions

I experienced memory loss, disconnectedness, loss of reading comprehension, and slow-thinking while I was going through fluoroquinolone toxicity. Losing my ability to think, and feeling as if I had lost my ability to do my job (I held onto my job and my employer was kind and patient through the whole ordeal), were truly terrifying. I felt stupid. I was scared that I was stupid, or worse–that I had some sort of permanent brain damage.

Thankfully, those symptoms subsided, and my mind has recovered along with the rest of me. I describe the things I did to heal my brain after fluoroquinolone toxicity in the post, “Healing my Brain After Cipro.” The things that helped my brain to heal are:

  1. Time
  2. Meditation
  3. Sudoku Puzzles
  4. Reading
  5. Writing
  6. Researching

All of those things truly did help me. Each one is a process, not a quick-fix. Being patient and letting the healing hands of time do their magic helped my brain to heal. Meditating every day for a minimum of 20 minutes helped to calm my mind, increase my confidence, give me patience, increase my concentration, and enable me to feel more connected to the world and the people in it. Sudoku puzzles, reading, writing, and researching all helped in that using my brain seemed to make it stronger and more capable.

I wholeheartedly recommend each of those things to everyone who is struggling with brain-fog. They’re helpful, empowering, and they can’t hurt.

I want people to realize that their brains can heal without doing anything drastic, and that with time and use, your floxed mind can heal along with the rest of you.

However, many people look at that list and say, “Those things aren’t going to work for my SEVERE brain fog. I need something more drastic than sudoku puzzles.” Fair enough.

I am risk-averse and, frankly, I’m not a very good biohacker because I’m risk-averse. Therefore, I tend toward gentle, non-invasive, healing methods.

Many of you are willing to take more risks than I am though, and for you, I think that the advice of Dave Asprey (“the world’s most famous biohacker” according to Men’s Fitness Magazine) in his post, “13 Nootropics to Unlock Your True Brain” may be helpful. I highly recommend that each of you read the article because Dave has a lot of excellent insight in it. I’m going to go over some of his recommendations and how they relate to “floxies” in this post.

Dave’s nootropic recommendations:

  1. Modafinil (Provigil), armodafinil (Nuvigil), and adrafinil. I have heard of anyone suffering from antibiotic brain-fog trying these nootropics. If you have something to report about them, please let me know and I’ll add it to this post.
  2. Racetams. Look at the comments on the bottom of the post, “The Mitochondrial Link – Fearless Parent Podcast #81.” The person commenting as “Your Future” gives a lot of interesting information about racetams and mitochondria.
  3. Nicotine. Yes, seriously, nicotine. More information about nicotine can be found HERE. For floxies, it should be noted that fluoroquinolones inhibit CYP1A2 enzymes. Nicotine induces CYP1A2 enzymes. There are significantly safer ways to try nicotine than through smoking or chewing tobacco products and some of those options can be found in “Is Nicotine the Next Big Smart Drug?” It should also be noted that broccoli also induces CYP1A2 enzymes, and it has none of the drawbacks that nicotine has. However, this post is about things that can perk-up your brain, and nicotine can do that while broccoli, unfortunately, can’t.
  4. Amphetamine (Adderall). A floxie friend told me that Adderall helped him immensely. Be careful. Adderall, of course, is not without consequences. Here is the warning label for Adderall – http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/021303s015lbl.pdf. Here are patient reviews of Adderall – http://www.askapatient.com/viewrating.asp?drug=11522&name=ADDERALL+10. I wouldn’t take it, but that’s just my extremely biased opinion.
  5. L-theanine. From Ruth’s recovery story on Floxie Hope, “L-Theanine helps my brain to be a less noisy place—it ‘cuts the chatter’ as Dr. Whitcomb says.” More information about Ruth’s experience with L-theanine can be found in the comments on her story.
  6. Bacopa monnieri. Here are some Floxie Hope comments that note how people dealing with FQ toxicity responded to bacopa monnieri. https://floxiehope.com/comment-page-30/#comment-27587https://floxiehope.com/comment-page-46/#comment-37325https://floxiehope.com/ruths-story-cipro-toxicity/comment-page-6/#comment-35332.
  7. LSD. I haven’t heard from anyone who has tried LSD post-flox. If anyone has anything that they’d like to share with me and/or the Floxie Hope audience, please contact me. I find the stories of healings that occur post hallucinogenic drug use to be interesting. As I said though, I’m risk-averse and not eager to try things like LSD.
  8. Unfair Advantage. Unfair Advantage is a Bulletproof product that contains Bio-identical ActivePQQ™ and CoQ10. It enhances mitochondrial function. There is evidence that fluoroquinolones damage mitochondria, and mitochondrial support supplements such as Unfair Advantage may help floxies in multiple ways. I tried Unfair Advantage just before I was on Bulletproof Radio discussing fluoroquinolone toxicity. I was fully healed at the time that I tried it, so my experience may not be as dramatic as the experience of someone who is recently floxed, but I did find that it improved my energy level and concentration.
  9. Bulletproof Upgraded Aging Formula. I don’t know of any floxies who have tried the Bulletproof Upgraded Aging Formula. If you have an experience with it, please contact me.
  10. Forskolin & artichoke extract. I haven’t heard from anyone who has tried Forskolin & artichoke extract. Please contact me if you have an experience with it. As with all of the things mentioned in this section of this post, more information about them can be found on 13 Nootropics to Unlock Your True Brain. “Forskolin” is a very fun word though. Say it ’til you giggle, ’cause laughter really is good medicine. :p

Please do plenty of independent research before you try any of these. They all have their pros and cons and informed consent really is important.

Things like a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, minimizing anxiety, and healing the gut can also be helpful for getting through fluoroquinolone-induced brain-fog. Those things have no negative side-effects, so concentrating on them is highly recommended.

I hope that the things mentioned in this post help you to get your mental capacity back! Please be patient and kind to yourself as you go through the healing process. Healing takes time, and it may take trying a variety of different things before you find things that heal your mind and body. Patience and kindness toward yourself as you go through the healing process certainly can’t hurt, and they will probably even help.

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Overcoming the Fear that Comes with Fluoroquinolone Toxicity

Having your body fall apart is terrifying. Losing your mental capacity is even scarier. Hearing stories of people who have had their lives devastated by Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox or Floxin, when you are experiencing an adverse reaction to one of them, can be devastatingly frightening. Delayed reactions are scary. The connections between fluoroquionolone toxicity and autoimmune diseases are scary. This whole mess is scary and it’s completely understandable and normal for you to be afraid.

Try not to be though.

I know that it’s easier said than done to not be terrified, to calm down, and to know that you will be okay, and I’m not trying to minimize the legitimate fear at all, but, unfortunately, fear isn’t helpful–it’s actually harmful, and it needs to be nipped in the bud as quickly as possible.

Your symptoms are real, and they’re not in your head. But fear and anxiety can amplify all of your fluoroquinolone toxicity symptoms and make them worse. You want to get better, not worse, and I wholeheartedly believe that getting fear and anxiety under control are necessary for healing.

It’s okay to have a freak-out period. Most of us do. Forgive yourself for freaking out, but move on to less fear-based reactions as quickly as possible.

Tell yourself that you will be okay. Try to believe it. Try to believe that you will recover. Full recoveries are possible. I have fully recovered, and so have many others. Your body will heal. It will. I don’t know what your timeline will be, or whether or not you will make a full recovery, but I do know that each of us has a huge amount of resiliency and strength and that healing and recovery are both possible.

Take some deep breaths. Feel the air go in and out of your body and try to appreciate the beauty of being alive–it’s pretty amazing when you think about it. These horrible drugs knocked you down and hurt you, but they didn’t kill you. You’re still alive and breathing. With every breath comes healing. Breathe deeply–it helps, it really does.

I took a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class early in my floxing. It helped immensely and I recommend it to everyone. It helped to calm me down and dissipate some of the fear I was experiencing.

I encourage you to get away from anything that increases your fear. The information about fluoroquinolone toxicity that you can find on the internet is incredibly valuable, but reading about the horrible things that fluoroquinolones can do can induce fear and anxiety. I encourage you to get off the internet (including this site). Do something that is enjoyable that takes your mind off of fluoroquinolone toxicity – take a bath, or a walk, or watch a funny movie, or hug a loved one, or meditate, or anything else that is enjoyable and anxiety-reducing. See if you feel better after doing an anxiety-reducing activity, and if you do, stick with it.

Have hope, my friends. You can get through this. You WILL get through this. It’s a difficult hurdle, and a horrible time in your life. I understand and appreciate that. But it will change, it will get better. Try to believe it. Try to have hope.

Hang in there.

I wrote these “attitude tips” when I wrote my recovery story. I still think they’re helpful:

Try not to compare yourself to how you used to be.  I used to hike 20 miles in a day.  I can’t do that anymore, but I can hike 3 miles today and I couldn’t do that when I first got floxed. Compare yourself to how you were yesterday, not to how you were before you got floxed.

Do something – anything – to work toward healing, every day.  Walk a little further than you did yesterday.  Meditate.  Take an Epsom Salt bath.  Get an acupuncture treatment.  Do a puzzle.  Whatever makes you feel good – do it.  Every little step helps.

Don’t kill yourself.  Have hope.  You will get better.

You’re not crazy.  You’re sick.  Have hope.  You will get better.

You’re not stupid.  You’re sick.  Have hope.  You will get better.

Try not to identify yourself as sick.  The mind is a powerful thing so try to stay positive. It’s hard, I know.  But try, because it’s worth it.

You will have bad days.  They will pass.  This all will pass.  It is not permanent.  You are strong –  present tense.  You were knocked down, but you weren’t killed.  You will get better.

Don’t quit your job.  Try to maintain as much normalcy in your life as you can.

It is not your fault.  Even if you knew better, even if you demanded the most powerful drug possible from your doctor, even if you self-medicated, even if you coerced your doctor into giving you the fluoroquinolone antibiotic, even if the infection that you were treating was something that you got because of doing something stupid, or from sex, even if you continued to take it after you started to get sick, even if you floxed your child/parent or other loved one – IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.  You are sick.  You are poisoned.  You are not to blame for your sickness or for the fact that you are poisoned.  Who to blame is a discussion that I don’t want to get into because I want this to be positive, but it is not you.  You are not to blame.  You are a victim.  It is not your fault.

Please don’t fall too deeply into the pit of fear and despair. Being scared and angry and anxious are all normal and appropriate reactions, but they’re destructive, so the sooner you can get past them, the better.

Know that the fear will pass. Know that everything you are going through right now will pass. Each breath is a new one–a new beginning. Breathe deeply, and try to breathe out some of the fear.

You will be okay. Try to believe it.

Hugs,

Lisa

 

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Meditation Retreat

I spent last weekend at the Shambhala Mountain Center doing a meditation retreat. It was a lovely get-away and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in that sort of thing.

As those who have read my story know, meditation was a key part of my healing process. Meditation helped me to heal from both the mental and physical aspects of fluoroquinolone toxicity. It helped to relieve my anxiety, and stopping the cycle of anxiety was necessary for me to heal. When I meditate my digestion is better, and I can even feel my GI tract operate more efficiently. (Maybe that’s just a feeling and not objective reality, but it is possible that meditation is helping to tone my vagus nerve and support my autonomic nervous system, and thus actually improving my digestion.) I sleep better when I meditate. My concentration and creativity improve when I meditate. Meditation also helped me to emotionally and spiritually come to terms with getting sick. It helped me recognize my strength and resilience so that I could get through the fluoroquinolone toxicity journey.

Meditation is simultaneously simple and difficult. On the surface, it’s just sitting and being. But when you do it, it’s actually quite difficult. It’s difficult to just BE, without the distractions that are constantly bombarding us.

The retreat that I just returned from focused on loving kindness. We all need loving kindness in our lives. Floxies are especially in need of loving kindness as many things that they value–health, relationships, a pain-free life, sleep, money, etc.–are stolen from them by fluoroquinolone toxicity. When those things disappear (or seem to disappear), it is easy to let shame, fear, anger and meanness build up. Meditation helps to dissipate shame, fear, anger and meanness–and focuses energy back on patience, love, kindness, forgiveness, etc.

My favorite advice from the retreat included:

  • If gentleness and loving kindness don’t work, try more gentleness and loving kindness.
  • Try not to be too focused on / attached to outcomes.
  • There is grace in every moment–even the horrible ones.

They’re important, and valuable, things to remember.

For those who aren’t able to do a retreat away from home, The Urban Monk is offering a free 7-day Reboot Program.

UrbanMonk7DayReboot

According to The Urban Monk, Pedram Shojai,

Over the next 7 days you will:

  • Get more energy from your food and burn fat all day…
  • Generate 10X more power in your body…
  • Create a ‘force field’ shielding you from stress…
  • Learn to stop time and drink from infinity…
  • Detox your body and soothe away anxiety with high quality sleep…
  • Tap into an unlimited source of hidden energy available to each one of us…
  • Gain extra clarity, focus and powerful intention…

Hopefully it can help you to heal physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually from aspects of fluoroquinolone toxicity too.

I recommend meditation to all my Floxie friends. If you can go on a retreat, please do. If you can do the 7-day Reboot, it’s a great place to start too.

I can’t guarantee healing from meditation, but it’s certainly a good thing to try.

 

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Meditation and Mindfulness to get through FQ Toxicity

Meditation and mindfulness were incredibly helpful in my journey through fluoroquinolone toxicity.

The benefits of mindfulness and meditation are often downplayed in recovery stories–and supplements, diet and exercise are focused on instead.  Supplements, diet and exercise certainly helped me, and many others, to get through fluoroquinolone toxicity.  But meditation helped me too, and I think that the roles of spiritual and emotional health in physical health and healing are under-recognized in our society; and that is reflected in many of the recovery stories.  Or… maybe I’m projecting and meditation and spirituality were important to me but they aren’t to everyone… that’s totally possible.  Still, I want to focus this post on the role that meditation and mindfulness played in getting me through fluoroquinolone toxicity because they were important parts of my journey.

Early in my floxing I took a class called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction through my health insurer, Kaiser Permanente.  Kaiser Permanente wouldn’t offer a class like this unless it had health benefits, and meditation and mindfulness have been found to have amazing, unexpected, physical health benefits (including increased immunity – isn’t that crazy/interesting?).

The things that mindfulness and meditation helped me with were:

  1. It helped to get my anxiety under control. I can’t begin to tell you how important this was.  Anxiety can make everything worse and it’s easy to get into a destructive anxiety/stress/tension spiral when a bomb has just gone off in your body.
  2. Meditation helped me to be more kind and patient toward myself.
  3. Meditation helped me to forgive myself for what I was going through. I felt guilt and shame over being sick.  Neither guilt nor shame are useful in the least, and meditation/mindfulness helped me to get rid of both.
  4. Meditating brought home the point that everything passes. Even thoughts and emotions pass.  Pain passes.  Nothing is permanent.
  5. It helped with dysautonomia. My sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems were out of balance after I got floxed.  Meditating helped to get my cortisol levels down and my sympathetic nervous system back in line.
  6. I found courage, bravery and strength, which I badly needed, through meditation.
  7. I could see beauty and good in the world when I meditated. I felt like beauty and good in the world were stolen from me when I got floxed – meditation/mindfulness helped me to get them back.

I recently listened to a wonderful talk by Pema Chodron in which she was going over ways to overcome fear.  She noted that being mindful about fear was a way to get past it.  She advised that we examine and look at the things that make us uncomfortable–like fear, pain, and other “negative” feelings.  Even though all of us want to get away from pain, fear, discomfort, distress, etc., running from those things doesn’t seem to be near as effective as facing them, for getting over, through and past them.  In a mindfulness or meditation practice, you can sit with your fears and pain and face them.  Pema Chodron advises that you be kind and patient toward your fear and pain, and that its power will dissipate with the more loving kindness you give it.

It’s a bit hippy-dippy, and even counter-intuitive, I know.  But I love this stuff and it truly helped me immensely.

In her talk, Pema Chodron told a story of when she was going through a tough time and she approached her teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, for advice.  Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said that her life/problems were like she was standing in the ocean, and a big wave came by and knocked her in the sand.  After some struggling, the wave went back out and she was able to stand again.  Then, another wave came and knocked her down again.  But, the second time, she know that the wave will go back out and that she would be able to stand again.  It keeps happening like that.  Life is a series of waves that will knock your face into the sand.  BUT, after a while, the waves appear to be getting much smaller.

The waves of life–fear, uncertainty, pain, suffering, illness and everything else–will be much easier to overcome if you look at them.  If you face the waves you can decide if you’re going to jump over them, dive under them, plan for a place to land when they push you down, or some other plan of action.  Or, you can just know that waves will hit you and knock you around at times, but they will recede and you’ll be able to stand again.  Just having that realization/mindset is helpful.

I was playing around in a pretty wave-less bay when I got knocked down by Cipro.  I had no idea what hit me.  My face was in the sand and I was convinced that I was choking to death on the sea-water.  Meditating and mindfulness helped me to face the waves, and when I faced them, I could see ways to overcome them.  And, as Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said they would, the waves got smaller.

I truly think that the shifts in perception that I went through, largely as a result of mindfulness and meditation practices (with some other spiritual and religious things too), helped me to get through fluoroquinolone toxicity as much as anything.

It’s interesting that sitting still, observing your breath and attempting to overcome your ego, can be a tool for wellness.  It’s been a tool for health and wellness for centuries, but it doesn’t fit well within the Western Medicine paradigm for health or healing.  It is helpful though.  It’s a great and powerful tool that helped me immensely.  I hope that it works well for you too!

I took meditation and mindfulness classes which cost a little money, but were worth every penny.  You don’t have to take meditation or mindfulness classes though.  Meditating is FREE.

If you want some guidance, here are some links to guided meditations:

http://beyondmeds.com/2014/10/03/mindfulness-meditation/

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/mindfulness-meditation

And here is Jon Kabat-Zinn discussing mindfulness:

 

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