Norah’s Story – Cipro Poisoning

Norah FQwall

I have had a blood condition that leaves me susceptible to many bacterial infections, and have had since I was 19. I have had many, many runs of antibiotics for many many reasons. I have no medical records to look at, but I believe I may have been poisoned as many as 5 separate times before this year. Here is the story of my poisoning.
In spring 2011, I separated from a long and soul killing 8 year marriage, took a job in Alberta and moved to Edmonton from BC. I was determined to go into my 45th year healthy and happy, and started a fitness routine and healthy eating plan of salmon, chicken, brown rice, veggies and fruit. No processed sugar, no gluten (been off that for years).

In October of 2011, I was jogging to work as usual. It is about 5 k, and I noticed a hip pain. Within 3 days, I was unable to walk on my hip, and had to cease jogging. I continued to walk, but the pain intensified and within a week or two, I was unable to walk to work as well. I simply stopped the exercise believing it was an exercise related injury, and as I sat all day at work, things settled down. In January of 21012, I went to the gym (gained weight sitting around doing nothing), and the pain was instantaneously back.

In January 2012, I started a new job. I was on my feet all day, and my hip progressively got so bad, that the knee and ankle became involved. I was also exhausted, suffering from multiple mouth sores, skin infections and I couldn’t eat due to nausea. I went to a walk in clinic (new to province, no doctor), I saw a doctor who ran blood work as a matter of course. My white cells were low (normal for me), and I had an enzyme in my pancreas that was acting up.

I went back to the doctor for a follow up, and of course couldn’t see my doctor because it is a walk in clinic. The Doctor I saw there started to talk to me like I was stupid, so I left.

I went to another walk- in clinic; saw another doctor who immediately took me on as his patient. Thank God. This was in February. We started with more intensive blood work, and found that my neutrophils (part of the white blood cells) were critically low, which has never happened before. I went through a lot of appointments, continued to feel sick with a lot of hip pain. I continued to work, but I was getting sicker. Finally, the week before Easter, I was sent to the U of A E.R., due to the fact that I was running a low grade fever off and on, and that it could mean there was infection present which was dangerous in my condition. The doctors ran tests – A lot of them – and came up with simply that I had a really low Absolute White Count (0.3 when normal is above 2.0, and my normal is around 1.5). They had no idea why, so they put me on 30 days of Cipro 500mg x2/ day, as a preventative measure and sent me on my way with a promise of a Hematologist appointment in the near future.

I went home and took the Cipro. Within 24 hours I had a ‘fuzzy spell’ (half blackout – that is what it feels like!), but I was told it was the drugs or isolation and I was still trying to work, so I took the drugs. Within 2 days, I had completely lost the desire to eat, I was having uncontrollable shaking spells, and I was feeling like crying most of the time. My work put my on light duties, giving me jobs to do in the HR office so I could work.

I went on for another week at work, and finally I had to take a Short Term Disability claim. In the meantime, I saw my doctor weekly, told him how I was feeling, he discounted it, took my blood work again and I went on my way. 3 week into the 30 day run, I completely blacked out. I went to the doctor, he sent me for an ECG immediately, which was normal. He recorded it my file as: “patient spoke of blackout-like experiences, sent her for ECG”. I had told him of completely blacking out.

28 days into the Cipro, and I have heard nothing from the Hematologist. I have days of suicidal thoughts because I feel so horrible. I have pain in my hip, knee, ankle, shoulder. Blackouts every time I stand up, cough, blow my nose or try to be active. Shakiness that makes me sit down. I can only walk as far as the car, and then I rest. I have memory issues, twitching in my left arm, my right kidney swells badly sometimes.

I see my doctor; tell him I am wondering if the drugs are a problem, and what the options are as my white count is still low. He puts me on a further 15 days with the warning to stay out of the sun, and no jumping or running due to the risk of tendon damage. He says the risk of infection is worse than the drug. That is the first warning I had from any doctor regarding this drug. It is also the last.
I continued to take the poison. I had ongoing symptoms, but I am still trusting my doctor is right, and that this will stop when the drugs stop. At day 45, I have had blood work done, and heard nothing from my doctor, so I take my last dose and say Yay! I am recovering! Nope.

I am off the Cipro now 15 days. My symptoms, all of them (I haven’t mentioned everything, but there are so many things going on!), are still here in varying degrees and days they appear. I am still off work (thankfully it is the neutropenia that I have a claim for, so there is no fighting for benefits), I have worsening pain in my shoulder, arm and neck. My knee and foot swell due to the tendonitis. I have twitching in my right thigh, right arm. Still no real interest in most food, and when I eat I feel full really fast. I have sore eyes, and my ears are dry and itchy. Most scary do the neurological symptoms – the not being able to find the right word for an object and calling it something different, know it is wrong. Seeing a green light while driving and not being sure whether it means go or not (I stopped driving all together for now – that scared me). Blackouts and fuzzy spells are now daily. Tinnitus is sometimes horrendously loud. I can’t do anything for longer than about 15 minutes or my limbs shake – try shaving your legs in the shower with that going on! LOLOL I have no idea what I will do for work when my insurance claim runs out. I can’t predict what I will be like moment to moment any more. I have lost 21 pounds since Easter, and in total since this all started back in February, I have lost 40 pounds.

I asked my doctor at my last appointment if this was due to the drugs. He backed out of that conversation so fast, he literally back up as he was talking. Then he distanced our professional relationship by referring to me as a patient of the walk-in clinic instead of him. He also told me he thought all my symptoms were due to depression. Then he referred me to an internal specialist, told me to go the E.R. I declined his offer of antidepressants and more Cipro. He says if I start to run a fever or show other signs of infection I have to go back on the drugs. Not a chance Hell.

So that is it – newly floxed and trying to find my way.

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