My name is James and I wanted to share my the experiences that I’ve had over the past two years and eight months, since taking 5 simple doses of levofloxacin 500mg pills.
If I wrote a story of my life prior to January 7, 2014 it would look like this:
I am 34 years old. I have a busy life. I’m married to my wonderful wife of 12 years and have a 9 year old daughter and a 5 year old daughter. Between working full time as a construction engineer, running my girls to girl scouts and dance, playing on a men’s softball team from May through September, being a volunteer firefighter, and being active in my community, I leave little time for myself. However, I have the energy and mental awareness to pull this all off and live a happy life. I don’t eat the very best diet, but I try to balance it out. I ride my bike as often as I can – usually for 18 to 20 miles every other day. I do situps, pushups, jumping jacks, and stretches every day. I have toned muscles, and am fortunate that I have been able to be in decent shape without really having to work out aggressively like others that I know. I like to go out with friends. I enjoy spending time with my family. We go camping and take family “mini” vacations a few times a year. Life is good for me. I have always had asthma, but it’s controlled with daily maintenance inhalers and has never prevented me from exerting myself.
I could go on and on about how great it was because it’s true. I was happy and healthy, and enjoying life.
The only major medical issue that I had in my entire life, aside from asthma, was that I was diagnosed with papillary micro carcinoma of the right lobe in my thyroid. This was found during a routine annual physical, which I always have done just to be sure that I am in good shape. I felt a little dizzy when taking the deep breaths while the doctor was listening to my lungs. As a result, he decided to to an EKG that was normal. He also felt my lymph nodes and there was nothing wrong there either, but he did notice a small lump in the right lobe of my thyroid. I had no history of thyroid cancer in my family, but he wanted to have an ultrasound done to check it out further. This happened in August of 2012. Between that time and December 2012, I had three repeat ultrasounds and two fine needle aspirations (biopsies where they stick a needle into your neck to collect a sample of the growths to be tested for cancer). Results were in, positive for cancer, and I had surgery on December 30, 2012 to remove the right lobe of my thyroid as well as the isthmus (the center connective tissue that joins the left and right lobes). The surgeon didn’t notice and other lumps and tested what was removed to triple check that it was, in fact, cancer.
Good news for me! Cancer was gone and my thyroid levels were not affected enough to warrant supplements. I was healthy again. I weighed about 235 pounds and it was mostly muscle with minimal fat.
Back to my current reality:
I experience confusion or clouded thoughts. I forget things a lot. My joints ache and pop all the time. I have flushed skin and rashes all over. I have IBS with diarrhea. My muscles ache. I am not social. I do not enjoy volunteering in the fire company, and have not been active with them for about a year and a half. I quit softball. I don’t have energy to play with my girls, who are now 12 and 8 years old and need a dad that can be active. My wife and I argue due to the fact that I just don’t have the will, strength, or energy to do just about anything. I’m not doing well at work, and most coworkers and supervisors notice it. I used to supervise a staff of my own and had that taken away from me due to my inattentiveness and disorganization.
I have low self esteem. I know who I used to be, and I am no longer that person. At least physically, and I a somewhat bitter about that.
How did this happen?
On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2013, I was enjoying watching the New Year’s festivities on TV with my wife and daughters. We even stayed up until the ball dropped to watch the fireworks from our back kitchen window. It was a lot of fun, and we all went to bed feeling a little tired but happy.
The next morning I woke up to complete body aches and what I figured was the flu or maybe bronchitis. I spent the next 5 days laying in bed or on the couch before I started to feel better. I had a little difficulty breathing still and I figured that it was due to my asthma, which never bothered me before. Since it was a little concerning that my breathing felt a little labored, I went to an urgent care center (my doctor’s office was closed and the on call suggested that I go there if this was really bothering me).
At urgent care, after checking everything else out, they thought that my breathing sounded a little raspy when listening to my chest. They did an x-ray and found a small amount of fluid in my right lung. They said that it was pneumonia and that I needed an antibiotic.
I’ve heard of many different types of antibiotics before, and even had taken some for infections in the past. It was always septra, amoxicillin, or penicillin. When they told me that they were prescribing Levaquin (I got the generic version – levofloxacin), I had never heard of it. They told me that it was the “big gun” of the antibiotics and that I’d be feeling great in a few days. I was prescribed 7 pills of 500mg to be taken once daily, starting that night.
After three days I was already feeling great. My breathing was normal again and the other symptoms of the flu or whatever it was that I had were gone. I took the fourth pill and later that day I noticed that my head felt like I was in the “fog” so to speak. I took the fifth pill and that feeling intensified later that day and I also started feeling very weak. I decided that I was over the pneumonia and threw the remaining two pills out.
From that point forward, I began to have all of the feelings that I mentioned above: dizziness, confusion, pain all over, popping joints in my hands and feet, brittle fingernails and toenails, weight loss, rashes all over my body, irritability, mood swings, lack of interest in things that I normally enjoyed doing, etc. My wife and I would argue a lot due to this. I felt like I was becoming useless. I felt horrible and knew how it felt to feel good, but I didn’t feel good.
I went to see my primary doctor in mid February after these issues got worse. I weighed 204 pounds – which I hadn’t weighed in almost 20 years. I had diarrhea daily since taking the pills. I was weak and my doctor was suspecting that maybe I had some form of cancer or infection that was causing all of this. He sent me for every blood test known to man, and it all came back normal.
I went to see him about every other month, not feeling any better, but put weight back on and was up near 250 by July 2014. It was mostly fat now, not really any muscle tone. The repeated blood tests kept coming back normal.
Frustrated, I insisted that it was hypothyroidism since all of the symptoms seemed to fit and I did have half of my thyroid removed when I had cancer. Those tests also kept coming back normal.
Over the next two years, I insisted to him that I had never felt this bad until I took the levofloxacin prescription that was was given at the urgent care center. He dismissed it each time that I complained about it. Almost like I was insulting his family member.
It wasn’t until this past July, when I told him that I wanted another doctor to look over my history, that he sent me for a blood test for low testosterone. I was now 37 years old and low testosterone wasn’t even on my radar. How could I have low testosterone??
Surprise, my levels were as low as an 80 year old man. Another surprise, he now told me that he is suspicious that my low testosterone might be caused by damage to my pituitary glad and that the levofloxacin may have caused the damage. He apologized for not looking into this sooner, and also for dismissing my idea that it was an antibiotic that caused this. He is now looking into this with other patients who have taken similar drugs and have mystery diagnoses.
A lot of the symptoms of low testosterone parallel the symptoms of hypothyroidism as well as those that I’ve read that are caused by being poisoned by levofloxacin.
Today is August 31, 2016 and I am due to see my primary again on Friday September 2 to get my prescription for a testosterone supplement. If all goes as I’ve read, I should begin feeling better within a week or two. I’m really hoping that’s the case. I’m tired of being tired all the time. I want to feel like I used to. My family needs be back. My employer needs me to perform.
While I don’t definitively know if levofloxacin caused my testosterone to drop so low and make me feel like I do, I suspect that it did. I had never felt as bad as I do now until I took it and have no other risk factors that could contribute to this.
It’s been a physical and mental struggle for me and my family during the ordeal. I feel like they sometimes resent me, but I know that they love me and want me to get better.
I will keep you updated.
Sorry for the novel!!
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