My name is Helen Russell, and my daughter’s life was destroyed for months (at the very least) after taking Cipro twice in late January and early May of 2010. Heather was a HEALTHY, ACTIVE, 16-year-old before taking Cipro. Knowing what I know now and looking back on the situation, she began experiencing insomnia after the first round (750 mg. X 2 for 10 days) in January. The first pill she took in May, however, was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. About 5 hours after this first pill, she suddenly jumped up off the couch in a panic–her chest hurt, her neck hurt, her heart was racing, her back hurt, and the list goes on and on. She thought she was dying, and we rushed her back to the E.R. that gave her the Cipro. They clearly thought she was crazy, and that her dad and I were as well. After about four E.R. visits in as many days, we finally came to realize this was anxiety. (I will not use the term “attacks”, because this was a constant state for her at this point.) In spite of telling all the doctors what the others had given her, she ended up on Hydrocodone, beta blockers, and Atarax. We finished out the remainder of the Cipro (3 days total), because we had not made the connection at this point. She slept constantly for a week, and I could barely wake her up.
Heather’s severe anxiety continued throughout the summer, as did numerous bouts of illnesses with sore throats and swollen lymph nodes/salivary glands. At one point, she was given a steroid pack for swelling, and soon thereafter, developed tendonitis in her wrist. By this time, we had made the connection, and refused to give her the NSAID that was prescribed. For the most part, this issue resolved itself in a few weeks with the help of a brace. It will still flare up, though, if she does a lot of writing in school. By August, the anxiety was somewhat better, but she started having SEVERE abdominal pain. Originally, this was thought to be kidney stones. When it flared up a second time, she was admitted to the hospital for tests, and kept on IV pain medication for 2 days, and oral pain medication for 10 days after that. This time, it was determined that Heather had complicated ovarian cysts, which apparently eventually ruptured. After coming off the pain medication, the other CNS problems set in–tingling and twitching in limbs, ringing in ears, a “clicking” noise in sinuses, painful muscles and joints, severe muscle spasms (especially neck), feeling that her throat was closing, and trouble swallowing. Even in the hot weather, her feet felt like ice to the touch, and she was always either too hot or too cold. Her body temperature was significantly lower than normal–oftentimes 96.0 degrees or lower. Her heart rate continued to be somewhat elevated. Needless to say, I could not keep her in school. Fortunately after a few weeks of this, we found a website of 400+ others who had suffered the same symptoms and more. We were able to pick up some tips that would prove very useful in managing Heather’s condition. (Four months later, that 400+ has almost doubled.)
Heather still has symptoms, but they are coming further apart now and not lasting as long. While we are very relieved, we still feel like we are “waiting for the other shoe to drop”. We try to avoid any reminders for her of what she has been through, and even though she knows she has come a long way, she often has periods of depression now.
The doctors do not necessarily agree Cipro caused her problem, but they DO agree she should not have been given Cipro at the age of 16 for a SUSPECTED UTI.