My name is Elizabeth (Betsy) Hamill. I was an active healthy mother of 3 who exercised regularly. Then I took 4 pills of Ciprofloxacin in Feb. of 2007 for sinusitis. I had a severe reaction. I had pressure in my head, couldn’t walk without holding onto something, was disoriented, and was extremely tired but couldn’t sleep. I thought that once I stopped taking the medication that made me sick I’d be fine as long as I didn’t take it again. I was wrong.
I felt better after I stopped taking Cipro but then I began having chills so bad I couldn’t get warm. I went skiing and had much less endurance. I developed sore knees and quit jogging. I was losing pilates holds I’d done for years. As time went on the weakness got worse and new symptoms developed. I had strange burnt orange colored urine which I later learned is a sign of rhabdomyolisis and would explain why I was losing muscular strength. I developed right foot drop, right leg weakness, and my eyes became highly sensitive to sunlight. The next winter I could barely ski 3 hours before my legs would shake so badly I had to stop. My skin aged seemingly overnight and I developed IBS and other digestive track issues. I had trouble holding a glass or utensils, had muscle twitches, difficulty sleeping, vertigo, extreme pain/temperature sensitivity, tinnitus, blurred/smokey vision, memory loss, overwhelming fatigue, difficulty speaking, random shooting pains, cramping/muscle spasms, and sensations of chills or vibrations running up and down my legs. It was all I could do to get through a day at work. The cold caused me to stiffen up severely and I developed tremors that would come and go and I had no idea why.
Two years after the Cipro I went to a neurosurgeon thinking I had a back problem. Next came a neurologist. All my tests came back normal or negative; MRI’s, blood work, spinal tap, emg, etc. I was told when I got worse they could diagnose me but I had a degenerative neurological disorder. I was desperate so I tried acupuncture and regained some motor function. But the fatigue and leg cramps got worse and I had anxiety and mild depression. I went to an orthopedic next for my right hip. He took x rays and told me to see a neurologist. So I saw a specialist in multiple sclerosis who told me that I did not have MS but a neurological disorder and gave me names of other neurologists to see. At two and a half years out my acupuncturist suggested I take vitamin B12 and calcium with magnesium and within a couple days I felt considerably better. Previously I had asked doctors if I could be nutritionally deficient. The response was always “no” even though my primary diagnosed me as severely vitamin D deficient. Over the next few months I gradually added other nutritional supplements and my symptoms improved. I then went to a hip specialist who ordered an MRI and discovered a labral tear. The tear occurred during a non weight bearing movement without any traumatic event. Shortly after this a friend told me they ripped a calf muscle and had nervous system damage 6 months after taking Avelox. That was when I discovered the cause of my health problems. It was 3 years since I’d taken Cipro. A year after hip surgery (4 yrs post flox) I had a limp and arthritis in the hip. My ortho told me he wanted me reevaluated for MS because of my gait. Retesting proved I didn’t have MS.
It’s now July of 2014. I’m 53, have a handicap placard. I’m on disability and haven’t worked in almost 3 yrs. Always an outdoors person I can’t even walk down my driveway without help. My hips and ankles do not work properly primarily because of tendon/ligament damage. I see a neurologist as I have issues similar to Primary Lateral Sclerosis. I have occasional chills/vibrations in the nerves of the legs but they are mild. I have random nerve pains that come and go, joint pain/popping, spasticity, ataxia, and I remain sensitive to cold. I also still have tremors, speech and balance problems. I have recovered largely from the brain fog, memory loss, anxiety, tinnitus, and depression. I am still trying to regain muscular strength, balance and flexibility. I followed the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) for a full yr because although I was sugar, gluten, and processed food free for over a year I had worsening digestive issues, I began essential oils 8 months into SCD and they helped significantly also. Two months ago I began taking a product called lunasin. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on alternative therapies, supplements/vitamins, and traditional medicine. The alternative therapies have helped far more than traditional. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about what I’ve been through. I was always a glass is half full person so I still hope that I will improve. On my more realistic days I know that this is my life now – permanently physically damaged from 4 antibiotic pills.