In December 2016 I fell from a ladder and fractured my Coccyx, one of the complications that came on about 2 weeks after the impact were symptoms of a non-specific urinary tract infection and blood in my semen. I was prescribed by my doctor a 1 week course of Ciprofloxacin, 2 tablets a day. I’m usually reluctant to take antibiotics but due to the worrying nature of the symptoms I started the course in good faith.
Mid way into the course of treatment (having taken 9 out of 14 tablets), I returned home from work that day feeling dizzy and unwell and went to bed at 9pm. At about midnight I woke with the most alarming ringing in my ears, completely deafening in volume that made me leap from the bed and shout to my wife in a highly stressed state. The ringing subsided slightly over about 15 minutes so I tried to calm down and return to sleep. As soon as I started to fall into a light sleep the ringing would return to maximum intensity and wake me with a fright. This was the start of an alarming cycle which meant I was getting no more than about 30 minutes light sleep before waking up due to the tinnitus.
I called my doctor the next day and as my infection symptoms has subsided he agreed I should stop taking the Ciprofloxacin and that my tinnitus should disappear as the medicine left my body. However this was not to be the case, during that first day I was aware of a constant hissing in my left ear and a higher pitch whistle in my right ear. That night when I tried to sleep the same cycle continued, on falling asleep the tinnitus would ‘spike’ and wake me a short time later at such a loud volume if felt like a pressure valve going off in my head. It would subside over several minutes, I’d fall back asleep but the same pattern would continue. After a few days I became increasingly exhausted and distressed, the hissing ‘soundstage’ would remain during the day and at night the spikes continued I’d have the most terrible time sleeping. I couldn’t work and returned to the doctor several times in those first couple of weeks who said I was experiencing an acute stress reaction to the sudden onset tinnitus. I returned to work after about 3 weeks but had never felt so broken and at a low ebb.
The months that have followed have been tough. The tinnitus is always there during the day and still very loud during the night, I’ve found that it is quieter in the morning and builds throughout the day in volume. It also varies in intensity in each ear day to day and this changeability makes it very hard to habituate. I’ve been seeing an ENT consultant who reported my reaction to the drug and carried out an MRI scan to check if there was anything underlying that could have caused the problem – there wasn’t. He confirmed that my hearing has been affected and I’ve experienced moderate high frequency hearing loss in both ears.
I’ve had some cognitive therapy treatment from a hearing specialist working with tinnitus sufferers which has helped a little. I’ve found coping techniques such as playing ocean noises at night have helped improve my ability to sleep which has meant life has returned more or less to normal. I do however feel my tinnitus symptoms are gradually worsening over time, I seem to have more bad days and nights than I used to in the early months. Recently I’ve had a head cold and that seems to have worsened them still and at times i struggle with daily life and feeling positive. My ears are very sensitive to loud noises now. My wife and I sleep in separate rooms because of the sleeping issues, this has impacted on our relationship and the ease of doing things we used to enjoy such as nights away. What saddens me most is that my life feels compromised, my wife see less of my fun side and not able to be the strong one in our relationship any more.
My wife recently became pregnant for the third time and we were concerned that my health issues along with some other significant pregnancy health risk factors affecting my wife that a third child (3 under 3 years) would put both too much risk and pressure on our family. We made the unbelievably difficult decision in December 2017 for an early termination of the pregnancy to ensure we can focus our love and attention on our 2 young boys already here. Whether we would have made the same decision if I’d never taken Cipro and the challenges that this has brought into our lives is something that will haunt me to the grave.
My wife and I both felt something positive needed to come from our sad decision so this year I’m committed to getting the support i need to help me with my tinnitus starting with a local tinnitus support group and audiology assessment later this month. I’m focusing on the loved ones in my life and being thankful every day for what i have. I’m making sleeping separately the exception rather than the norm (trialling a sleep headband that plays sound). I’m eating healthily, drinking in moderation, going to bed earlier and doing more structured fitness all which helps with my mood and general well being. I’m determined to live life to the full and bring happiness to those i love despite what has happened to me.
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