This is my Cipro story, I am 14 months out. I’m writing some personal history, Cipro effects, and recovery..
History: I’m a 34 year old male, previously very healthy. I played football in high school, and was relatively active in my 30’s (weight training, skiing, etc). My only known allergy was penicillin. I probably took a prescription antibiotic once every couple years, (I don’t have a good medical history of prescriptions recorded, but the last antibiotic I’m sure I took was a one week course of Avelox in 2007, with no known side effects). I’m married, and have a three year old son (2 at the time I took Cipro). I have worked in the aviation field for the last 15 years, and have had no major medical problems. I consider myself independent in most of my philosophies, and probably “old school” when it comes to matters of health. One thing I find very ironic, is the amount of “illegal drugs” I consumed in my youth with no permanent side effects, and now I’m faced with life altering side effects from a prescription antibiotic. I have found my life has permanently changed from taking Cipro, some for the worst, and some for the better. You see, in the past I was running through life on autopilot, I had no patience for anything, work, money, and insignificant problems consumed my life, and in basic terms you could have called me an a$$h*le.
Cipro effects: In August of 2010, I visited a “family doctor” for a lower abdominal pain. I was concerned as it had lasted a couple weeks, and my profession involves exposure to high intensity radiation such as aircraft weather radar systems. The physician immediately prescribed two weeks of Cipro (500 mg per day, X2) for two weeks, suspecting a UTI. He also scheduled tests to confirm testicular cancer. I started the Cipro on 8/31/10. By the 3rd day I started experiencing side effects from the Cipro, severe anxiety, paranoia, brain fog, loss of appetite, fluctuating body temperature, and a general feeling my body was being poisoned. I was unable to contact my physician (as it was a holiday weekend), and because of my lack of judgment, and ability to reason, continued to take the prescription for another four days. I stopped seven days into the two week prescription, met with another doctor who confirmed I did not have testicular cancer, and told this doctor of my new symptoms. He said my original abdominal pains (which were now gone), were probably caused by a “tweaked back” and was “glad I had stopped taking the Cipro on my own, because it was poison”. I contacted my original physician back about the side effects, and he basically blew them off, and as you all have heard, said “Cipro could not cause them”. After 8 days (one day being off Cipro), all of my joints were extremely inflamed, cracking/popping, I had severe shooting/stabbing/pinching pains throughout my legs and arms, my ribs felt like they were being ripped apart by hot fish hooks, severe brain fog, anxiety, numb hands/feet, severe muscle aches, “electric shock” feeling in my legs, burning hands, stiffness, tendon pain, tinnitus, and was not able to walk without help. I missed the rest of the week of work, and when I went back, wasn’t much better. I would say my initial symptoms had me at about a “2”. (On a scale I use, 1 is your at the emergency room, 5 is severe symptoms effecting every part of your life, and 10 normal health). The first couple weeks were a complete blur. I am fortunate to have a lot of say in my daily work schedule, which afforded me the ability to keep my job. My severe symptoms lasted four months, and were a complete hell that only the people reading this can understand. I found myself unable to do common household chores, or pick up my 2 year old son. The mental effects of knowing your body is destroyed may be harder than the physical effects themselves. I am a very intense, and “hard nosed” person, and these side effects were destroying my life, my marriage, and my mind. I am not an “internet person”, (the only reason I have a facebook page is because of this), but thank god (and I’m not a religious person, but very spiritual) there is now information out there about these side effects. I spent countless hours researching everything that was ever written or put online about this. At first it scared the hell out of me, and I thought I would never recover. I do suggest to the newly “floxed”, research a ton, get all the info you can, make a plan, then turn your computer off. Four months in I actually talked to my wife about our future. One of my thoughts was to do something so drastic, that it would force the press to cover my story, and at the very least bring attention to this, as I seriously thought my life was over, (and I if I couldn’t raise my son, what is the point). Thankfully, I have the greatest wife that has ever lived, and she convinced me to keep fighting. If anyone gets to this point, and doesn’t have family to turn to, please call someone, anyone, me @ 303-956-7520. There is always something left, and something you can do, even if you are one of the people that has the most drastic side effects. I then reported my side effects to the FDA (Medwatch) which I recommend everyone do. I got a medical I.D. dogtag (stating severe “allergy” to fluoroquinolones). I’ve read the “Flox Report” too many times (which has very good info, but remember, all cases are different). I bought the Levaquin Tendonitis Solution book, and every other thing most of you have probably done. I did start taking Magnesium, and protein, one month in also. One of the best things I remember reading in my first three months of research was someone posted online, “If you can’t walk, roll out of bed, and crawl”. After talking to my wife at the end of month 4, I started a rehab workout. When I first started, I would do a few minutes on the treadmill, and my knees were so hot you could fry an egg on them, all of my muscles and joints hurt. I actually started working out with the bar with no weight, (which is a major blow to your mind). I worked out slowly, and carefully, with wrist supports, knee braces, shoe insoles, and anything else that would help my joints not come unglued. Within 8 weeks I noted a major improvement (60 or 70% recovery). In the middle, I did have a one week severe relapse of symptoms, but worked through it. Five months in I noticed my eyelids started uncontrollably twitching. They still do on and off to this day, not very noticeable, but very annoying. At 8 months I had a major 2 month relapse brought on by a cold?, which dropped me back down to about 50%. (I have had two colds in the last year, and both brought about a severe relapse of symptoms). Note* I have not been back to a tradition M.D. since the symptoms started, and have not even taken an aspirin, (just my philosophy now). I had seen a naturalist doctor about four months in, but they really weren’t much help, (they did confirm good liver and kidney function, and did a complete metabolic panel, which I do recommend doing at least once). After a year of hell, I now consider myself about 75% recovered on a good day (about 50% on a bad day or relapse). I have been fortunate to not have the complete laundry list of symptoms, but it is still a living hell. The brain fog and anxiety are a lot less, though my memory isn’t what it was. Most of the neuropathic pains are gone, and the muscle aches are a bit better. Still have the occasional numbness in my arms/hands. I still have the popping, cracking, sore, and weak joints, inflammation, twitching eyelids, and those occasional random pains. I still plan to try acupuncture, possibly ozone therapy, and plan to find a good homeopath. I consider myself fortunate. I have made a “to do” list for the future. I am still working out, and plan on running the Bolder Boulder (10K) next spring. I am not fully recovered, but am a little better, and know someday, I’ll be better than before.
Some of the things that may have helped my recovery: tanning bed (if your not having skin issues), eat organic meat (not treated with antibiotics), only drink organic milk, juice, and natural spring water, drink Muscle Milk protein, drink plenty of Probiotics (Good Belly), stretch @ least once a day, work out (carefully), get a massage, meditate (positive thoughts)…. I never thought I would say that. Some of the supplements I have taken: (disclaimer, I’m not a physician, so I can’t recommend you take anything, also I have a soul). GABA, Cell Food, Magnesium, Vit D, Osteo Bioflex, Cherry (inflammation), Fish Oil, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Cinnamon, (helps w/ circulation), Theanine, Cayenne, Bilberry, Garlic, COQ10, Lutein, Cranberry, Ginko, Amino Acids, Protein (lots), milk thistle, Topical Magnesium, copper, Biosil, Wobenzym N, Tumeric & (valerian, melatonin, and St. Johns, for rest).
I would like to thank countless people that I don’t even know for your support. Even if you haven’t had much recovery yourself, know that you are saving lives, take solace in that. Thank you Nikki (Surviving Cipro), Jen, David, Lori, Bob, Dr. Cohen, Bill, John, and others, I don’t know you, but I thank you, my wife, son, and soon to be 2nd son thanks you.
Other than the supplements, workouts, and things I have mentioned above, the most important thing I can suggest is patience, recovery is very slow, and there will be “cycles”. Also, take this horrific experience, and better yourself, in any way you can. Believe me, if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger. Take me… I’m not fully recovered yet, but I’m not such an a$$h*le anymore. Good luck, and God bless.