The themes of hopelessness, injustice, anger, hatred, and unbelievable pain in the personal accounts of the floxed will, hopefully, never lose their impact to redundancy. These drugs cause unbelievable pain. Tendons turn into suicidal knives intent on stabbing themselves and surrounding tissues. The nerve pain can reach even teeth, to the point where (in my experience) closing your mouth feels like chewing on a lit light bulb. The full body stinging I can only describe as acid. Thinking is clogged shut, higher thought becomes sporadic, and remembering the first pill becomes a traumatic experience. These drugs steal lives without warning. These drugs changed me. These drugs, it seems, will never lose their impact to redundancy.
In February of 2010, I was diagnosed with non bacterial epididymitis. But just to be absolutely sure that no further complications would present themselves, Doctor wanted to prescribe Ciprofloxacin, a powerful fluoroquinolone antibiotic. “Sure, sounds good,” I did not know what a fluoroquinolone was. I did not care. I was already in pain, and if germs were the cause, the germs must go. This is what antibiotics do, right?
Doctor dropped his tone, “It’s a very powerful antibiotic.” That statement keeps replaying in my head day after day. Each time I say, “No. I don’t want it.” At the time, all I could think was:
Uh, Okay, This hurts so bad you don’t even know. Give me the pills! GIVE ME THE CURE.
Within hours of the first pill, the way I reacted to this drug became too overpowering to ignore. The nervous tingling I had noticed around the back of my thighs and back had bloomed into the sensation of ghosts pouring pots of acid down my body. It is not something a human mind is equipped to deal with, as evidenced by how my head fell into my hands chanting, “Why is this happening to me, god? This isn’t fair? What did I do!?!?!?” The anxiety, panic, and pain worsened to the point where they were the whole of my thoughts. I tried to go on walks to clear my head, only to find that the pain in my legs and ankles multiplied. On the second day, I wobbled awkwardly out of my house past the stabbing sensations in my legs. Within thirty minutes I could no longer extend my legs in front of me. I almost fell face first; Both Achilles, both hamstrings, both patellar tendons felt like they were undergoing surgery without anesthesia. The walk back home was the most painful thing I have ever done.
Upon getting home, the pain in my arms had grown so intense I could barely open my door to let myself in. I went into my room, cried to myself and the ghosts even more, and stayed there. “We should see if this goes away,” I was thinking. Surely, it must be a short term side effect. The bacteria must go.
The next morning, the sensation of acid being poured down and in my body grew so intense I fell down in the shower. My right arm felt like it was being rejected by my body, like my shoulder was ready to launch it away and be done with it. Mentally, physically, I was disconnecting. The plugs were being ripped from every socket. I barely knew where I was. I had managed to age 100 unkind years in a manner of six pills.
Somehow, I managed to figure out a way to drive myself to a different doctor, I received what I learned was the proper treatment for epididymitis should it even be bacterial. “No more cipro!” she told me. Gee, I had not thought of that advice myself. I am thankful that health professionals are capable of making such useful observations.
I waited for my symptoms to recede. They worsened. A week later, I went to the ER because I still could not walk. I was looked at like an offensive idiot when I mentioned Cipro and tendon issues, was given Hydrocodone for the pain, and went sent away with a leg brace. As you can imagine, this did absolutely nothing for the tendinopathy in my wrists, biceps, hamstrings, patella’s, and achilles. I lost my ability to move my body in any meaningful way, even for such sedentary acts as typing, for the period of about a month and a half. Looking back at my thought processes and interactions with others, I wonder if there was any legitimate brain damage from taking these pills. I still do not feel the same.
The first doctor I saw after the ER berated me for “reacting to Cipro like a child,” denied the validity of peer reviewed published research regarding fluoroquinolones and tendon/nerve issues repeatedly, and generally did much discourage me from ever finding help. A second doctor didn’t believe me at all, until after 5 visits in his office for the same problem, he sent me to a sports med doc who had given this a diagnosis; Fluoroquinolone Induced Tendinopathy.
“HE KNOWS!” I screamed joyfully, in my head of course.
Tens months out, I’m still forced into a sedentary lifestyle (the bane of my existence) because of the pain. Every time I try to push myself to walk like a normal person, the sensation of a tendon ripping sets me back for days, and sometimes weeks. Both semitendinosus and semimembranosus junctions, both achilles tendons, and both underarms are still affected. I am hopeful physical therapy will be rehabilitative. To become something like this after extreme athleticism is simply derogatory.
Hill repeats and 50 milers on my bicycle were the norm before riding into work. Lifting weights in between kept me busy. I was awaiting the arrival of a custom steel bicycle I had dropped a year’s savings for (I have super long legs, most factory bicycles don’t fit well). I had a lot to look forward to this year, and, in short, absolutely no reason to expect any downtime from my lifestyle or my life.
Being mentally able to finish my novel was stolen, being able to do the only thing that gave me lasting pleasure (cycling) was stolen from me. I am hopeful, when the day comes, that I will be able to run. I pray that I will be able to use my bicycle. It stands by my front door, waiting.
All we can do is hope that we heal. Faith healing, it seems, is all we have until Doctors and PT’s get over the fear of being berated during peer review in the case studies they should be performing regarding this toxicity.
I suppose my purpose, for now, is to warn others. Although not optimal, it is fair enough.
It’s better than giving up.