This particular antibiotic has a black box warning in the USA, and Health Canada has had a Safety Warning on it - due to these adverse reactions - since at least 2017.
It should never have been prescribed as a first-line drug to me in the first place, and it DEFINITELY shouldn't have been given to me without a warning about the dangers associated with it.
When I asked about side effects, he told me that I could expect some gastro upset, "same as any other antibiotic". He denied me the chance to provide actual INFORMED consent, and crippled me for more than two years, in doing so.
I was training for a skating competition at the time he did this to me, and the next day I was living an entirely new reality - one that involved having to crawl on my hands and knees to get around, eventually having to relearn to walk - on more than one occasion, at that!
I don't want anyone to go through the hell that I have for the past 2+ years, so I started this blog as a public record of what I went through.
How it happened, how the floxing manifested, how the damage progressed, and what seems to be leading to my ongoing floxie recovery.
This page will serve as a kind of table of contents for my journey. I have 2 years worth of notes to publish here, so it may take a while.
My Current Prognosis
Right now, things are good.
I’m trying not to get my hopes up TOO much, as I’ve had good periods before, earlier on in my floxxing journey.
I’ve learned that any progress - no matter how hard I worked to earn it - can be stolen back in an instant.
I have more good days than not, at this point, and the bad days are decreasing in intensity.
As of writing this page - Late April, 2022 - I’ve been seeing wild improvement in the past couple of weeks. Last week, I decided it was time to start making my diaries public.
Maybe now I’m far enough along to help others, whether that be preventing someone from being a victim of the same kind of negligence / the aforementioned antibiotics that disabled me, to help someone know what is going on once it’s happened, or just provide a bit of hope to someone going through it.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be back to my old self - how life was before being floxed -but at least things are looking up. More on that in a bit, though!
What Are Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics?
Ciprofloxacin - or “Cipro” is the drug that disabled me, but there are several other drugs like it, that carry an awful risk of serious side effects.
This is the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics, and includes Ciprofloxacin, Levofloxacin, Moxifloxacin. Gemifloxacin, Norfloxacin, and Ofloxacin. Fluoroquinolines are often referred to as “FQs”, btw.
This class of drugs consists of several popular antibiotics, commonly prescribed by a medical professional to treat bacterial infections, such as sinus infection, urinary tract infections, and - in my case - they're a common treatment option for diverticulitis.
This class of drugs received a Black Box Warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration back in 2008, due to the risk of adverse side effects, including permanent damage.
As a result, these drugs are really only supposed to be prescribed when it’s a matter of life and death - they’re used for Anthrax and other serious infections - or if a first round of alternative antibiotics failed to take care of the problem.
They shouldn’t be prescribed without careful consideration of the risks, and - IMHO - without informed consent, with the patient being told about the actual risks.
The Importance of Knowledge
As I learned - the hard way - 2 pills can have a devastating effect on a human body.
I frequently wonder if I would have had a shorter / easier recovery, had I been warned in the first place. It took just 2 pills to damage the tendons in my feet.
Had I been warned, I would have stopped the antibiotics immediately.
When I woke up with foot pain the next day, I assumed I had slept in a weird position or something - not knowing that antibiotics could cause this kind of damage.
So, I took two more, as the pills continued to wreak havok in my body. It was only when it got bad enough to go back to the ER, that I Googled and learned of the problem.
Many people have no idea that they’ve been floxed, until after they’ve undergone a full round or even multiple rounds of FQs.
Some don’t even learn until months - or years - later, when their own research into their “mystery” ailments point them in the right direction.
I will never forgive Dr Fawad Khan for neglecting to warn me.
How many of the days where I had to CRAWL to the washroom, how many of times have I screamed in pain, how many tears that I’ve shed could have been prevented by taking HALF the number of pills that I did?
This didn’t need to happen in the first place, and it definitely didn’t need to be as bad as it’s been.
Had I been warned first, I wouldn’t have even taken them.
Had he warned me when he gave me the prescription and I ASKED about side effects (which was after I was given the first dose in the ER), I would have stopped at the FIRST sign of tendon problems.
Symptoms of Being Floxed
So, let me give you the warning that I was denied, that could have saved me 2+ years of hell.
Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics can cause all kinds of damage to human cells- apparently they were initially supposed to be a chemotherapy drug, and they’re STILL being studied for that usage.
They can cause a host of potential side effects, such as:
- On the most basic and normal level - and like most antibiotics - fluoroquinolones kill good bacteria along with the bad bacteria, and harm your gut microbiome. This can cause all kinds of health problems, itself.
- Damage to the musculoskeletal system, including muscle pains, chronic pain, etc.
- Central nervous system disturbances.
- Cardiovascular system issues, including tachycardia, aortic aneurysms, and more.
- Panic attacks
- Brain fog
- Eye issues
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Achilles tendon rupture
- Symptoms of extreme fatigue
- Autoimmune disease.
If any of these - or anything weird in general - happen to you after taking one of these drugs, discontinue them immediately and talk to your Dr about changing to a different, non-FQ antibiotic.
If you have a family member that has reacted to this class of drugs, you’re more likely than the general population to react, so I would definitely recommend avoiding them altogether - unless it’s literally a matter of life and death.
(I am not a Doctor, but I sure as hell wouldn’t risk it!!)
My Floxed Symptoms
In my case, unwanted side effects started as tendon issues in one foot, and quickly progressed to peripheral neuropathy. I felt like cold water was being dripped on my legs, and like pins were being dragged against the palms of my hands.
From here, it progressed to attacking all of the tendons in both feet, kind of moving around and hitting different areas at different points over the past 2 years.
I had a high heart rate for months, and - several months after the fact - and had a spontaneous partial tear of my achilles tendon, at the insertion site. I think that this was - on paper - my most severe side effect.
I have “floaters” in my eyes, which I’m assuming are permanent at this point. INCREDIBLY annoying, and a constant reminder that Dr Fawad Khan RUINED my body.
I didn’t know anything about mitochondrial damage or oxidative stress, and learned about THAT the hard way, when a single Ibuprofen sent me right back to square one.
I had been doing a bit better, and that one pill - something that had never bothered me before - made several toes snap backward and just STAND UP. It was ridiculously painful - toes were not meant to do that, and it lasted for days.
SO there’s another piece of advice that I learned along the way - NSAIDS and Steroids can cause massive flares. Apparently there’s some evidence that taking either/both with your round of FQs can increase your risk of being floxed.
Anyway, it’s been a learning process, seeing what things are newly off limits. Drugs or supplements that used to be completely innocuous, and now cripple me.
I’ll get more into this later, as I post my diaries... but as some examples:
- My period seemed to cause flares. Those flares got weaker over time and are mostly gone now, but it was REALLY bad and obvious a while back.
- The Covid vaccine caused minor flares each time. (TOTALLY manageable and worth it for the protection!).
- A couple of glucosamine pills (which I’d taken without any issue, many times before being floxed) swelled one foot up like a balloon and completely crippled me for months - AFTER I’d made a ton of progress.
Anyway, more on that in the diaries...
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Floxed?
Again, I am NOT a doctor, and I can’t give you medical advice. I can definitely say what I would have done, if I had my time back.
I would have stopped taking the antibiotic at the first hint of an issue, and I would have taken activated charcoal in the hopes of it absorbing any remaining antibiotic, possibly preventing further damage. I have no idea if that would have done anything.
I’d have immediately stopped taking Ibuprofen for the diverticulitis pain, even though it’s what they TOLD me to take.
I would immediately have discontinued taking any kind of nutritional supplements, only reintroducing them one at a time to see which would or would not cause problems.
I’d have tried to come to terms with the fact that this wasn’t like any normal injury, it wasn’t anything I would think or therapy my way out of.
It took me a long time to realize that what I really needed was TIME. Recovery is ridiculously slow, and trying to rush it just prolongs it.
Update: I've since written a post on what helped me heal from fluoroquinolone toxicity.
First and foremost, know that there is a lot of ignorance about FQ toxicity in the medical field, and most of us that have been crippled by them have gone through a lot of abject gaslighting when trying to seek answers.
If you can find a medical professional willing to listen - or, better yet, research - you're one of the lucky ones!
As far as non-medical support, I would avoid looking at pretty much any Facebook page or group for floxxies. That’s a big one. I’m used to Facebook being a go-to for things like a support group, but for some reason.. The FB options are bad.
I saw a lot of bad news, a lot of doom, and a LOT of woo. I’m not anti pharm, anti-doctors in general (Though I do hope that Dr Fawad Khan gets a HEFTY dose of karma), etc... but there’s a lot of that in those groups, and I don’t find it helpful.
There are also a lot of people looking to make a buck off people who are desperate for answers, hope, and recovery... and I found those kind of opportunists running rampant in every FB group I looked at.
I was shocked to find my safe haven on Reddit, of all places. I’ve long been aware of Reddit’s reputation of a cesspool, but the r/floxies subbreddit has been an AMAZING help, this entire time.
Honest reports from people who are going through being floxed, and hope from those who have seen improvement and recovery.
It’s light on the anti-pharm stuff, heavy on the science. A+, highly recommend.
I don’t think I would have been able to keep it together - and keep fighting for recovery - without the help of that group.
DrHungryTheChemist, in particular, has been instrumental in my recovery, as a source of info, an “ear” for my rants, and as a cheerleader. Thank you, Dr Hungry!
My Floxed Timeline
For the first year and a half or so, I kept a regular diary of symptoms and improvements. Here are the links to those posts:
The First 24 Hours
The First Month
The Second Month
Month 5 Check-in
...After the 20th month, things started to turn a corner. I stopped writing in my Cipro diary, and started blogging about my recovery - and I DO seem to be in actual recovery, now. (After month 28, I started compiling Facebook posts into timeline updates, here.)
You can see more recent updates under my Cipro category, and under my Walking, Hiking, & Scenery category.
A lot of my "therapy" after the 20th month has been just walking and hiking, and I've been making HUGE progress! I also wrote a post on what helped me heal from fluoroquinolone toxicity.
Also, you can see how I'm doing in general by seeing the All Blog Posts category.