Part 3 of this series is the final part until I develop new, weird symptoms or I am a few years out, writing a reflection piece.
(Read Part 1 Here)
I neglected to mention something very important even though it happened during Part 2 of this harrowing tale. A week after I came back from New York, I got an email from two of my housemates saying that they were finding a new “permanent resident” to replace me simply because I did not tell them “if I would be back for October.” I had been paying rent a week early and they knew my situation. Regardless, they gave me a month to move out. Thank you, Satan.
Since I was still unable to drive and barely able to walk when I received that message, I understandably freaked out. How the fuck am I going to move all of my belongings out of a house on the other side of the country when I can’t walk? If I didn’t have a subletter staying in my room for September, I would have definitely taken the entire month to move out, sell my things (because fuck carrying them with my damaged tendons). However, since I actually have some moral fiber, I decided not to get rid of my bed and other furniture while my subletter stayed in my room. I flew back during the first week of October and used the entire week to slowly move out.
By that point, I had thankfully gotten much better. I could walk without needing to immediately fall asleep. My tingly head feeling had mostly gone away. Only a few parts of my body were numb rather than the whole thing. My eyes only hurt sometimes.
I flew on a Jet Blue plane back to LAX and ended up sitting next to a super nice woman who happened to have Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disease that attacks your thyroid. I don’t remember how we got to the subject, but we ended up talking about my illness, too, and how we both started a paleo diet to cure our respective things. She said that after 6 years of going gluten-free, her Hashimoto’s is undetectable. I told her about how my symptoms have greatly decreased and how optimistic I was for the future.
I landed feeling pretty good about myself and even better once I found out my friend Ian was on the same plane as I was. He called my name as he ran after me. The funny thing is that this wasn’t the first time we found each other on the same plane. We caught up at the baggage claim and he explained that our mutual friend was actually picking him up from the airport. He offered me a ride with them and as we waited, I bought us both some Starbucks coffee/tea and I bought myself some Mexican jumping beans that were oddly sold at this airport kiosk.
I end up at my soon-to-be former house with Ian and I approach my car, parked in the street, for the first time in a month and a half. The car seemed really odd without its plates – someone had stolen them. This isn’t that big of a deal. It could be worse. I unlocked the door and stepped in, turning my car on. I even drove it a little bit. Whew. The entire time I was gone, I feared someone would steal the hybrid battery or the catalytic converter from my 2010 Toyota Prius. The police in the area had warned me about it before. I thanked Ian a million times and drove over to the police station to file a report.
I ended up finally leaving the police station at about 1AM, waiting hours for anyone to help me. I was already jet-lagged and all I wanted to do was go to sleep. I had been awake for 20 hours before I went to bed that night. When we finally completed the report and the officer gave me two copies as I requested, I drove my car directly to my boyfriend’s apartment, where I would stay that night.
Again, he was gone, but this time visiting family. I had the whole apartment to myself. It was lonely, but I was tired, so I didn’t care.
The next day and many days after that, I worked (at my online job) and worked on cleaning out my room. I took pictures of everything that I needed to sell and put them up on craigslist. Some sold within a few hours, some sold within a few days, and others didn’t sell at all until I put the items up for free and my inbox flooded like the first day of my period.
I had to buy bottled water in LA because of the tap’s fluoride content. I couldn’t work at my former job because it required too much physical labor…and I also hated it. My boyfriend did not want me to temporarily stay at his apartment while I looked for a new place, my friends didn’t have any spare rooms, and I refused to live with strangers or on a month-to-month lease for the rest of my life, so there was only one option: I had to move back to New York.
I only meant to stay for two weeks max so I could vote in the general election early and peace out, but it was so hard to say good-bye that I ended up staying three weeks instead. In that time, I congratulated one of my closest friends on opening a fantastic new store, I rode a haunted hayride with my boyfriend, I went out for “drinks” with some friends from work, I spent quality time with my friend Marissa, I ate a Paleo/AIP lunch with my friend Claire (yes, the same one who brought me flowers in the hospital). I said good-bye to my favorite parks, my favorite restaurants, my favorite grocery stores, my favorite store owners, neighbors, and friends. I had a few good-bye dinners. I had a few good-bye joints (it’s California), many good-bye hugs, and many good-bye tears.
I cried on the way home and wrote about it. It was so hard to feel the sky falling and to kick through the pieces of shattered clouds gathered around my feet.
A few days after I landed, I had a follow-up appointment with my new functional doctor. This visit was two hours long, too. We went over my frozen pee test results and my extensive, hardcore blood test. Nothing was normal this time. From the pee test, we found out that I had difficulty with methylation and that everything that could possibly be wrong with my mitochondria was wrong. We found out from the blood test that I most likely had mold toxicity as well. That could be where the head tingles came from! No shit!
My doctor recommended I keep taking what I’m taking, but he added some more. NT Factor, folic acid (for my Depression), an extended release form of ALA, and a better form of synthetic CoQ10: Mito-Q. He even gave me specific brands that were of highest quality.
I continued taking these and started making bone broth that I drank every day. My family kept hunting, so I kept receiving free organic organ meats. My strength came back and I could finally carry stuff again. I shipped my car back and we took it to the DMV to get new plates. I continued to use infrared saunas and continued to write as much as possible, finally labeling days as “good” again rather than just “meh.”
It’s been a little over a month now since I moved back to New York and I had noticed my ring that I’ve worn for years growing looser and looser on my finger. You see, I only gained back about 5 pounds since I got sick and my ring – that was originally my great-grandmother’s – fell off my hand somewhere in some parking lot while I was doing errands.
This moment made me realize that Cipro has taken so much from me. It has dismantled my entire life that I built for myself: taking away my health, my job, my friends, my house, my boyfriend, a ton of my money, and now my great-grandmother’s ring. But here’s the thing: I refuse to spend too much time on silly material things now. I refuse to waste moments with people by spending so much time on my phone or on my computer instead. I won’t bother with people who disrespect me much longer. I have rediscovered spirituality and the parts of myself that were passionate, that were strong and real. Still, I don’t thank Cipro for anything it has helped me realize. I would have come to these realizations myself in due time.
The worst horror that came out of this experience was hearing others’ stories. So many have had far worse reactions than I. People have lost their ability to walk, their ability to feel anything – including temperature. People have died from the drug reactions. People have killed themselves from the neurotoxicity and slew of other symptoms they just couldn’t escape.
Now Bayer, the makers of Cipro, have partnered with Monsanto, the largest genetically-modified seed distributor and pesticide-maker in the world. Scientists are experimenting with using Cipro as an herbicide, perhaps the first of many experiments in the Bayer-Monsanto partnership. This means that Cipro could be in your food. This drug and other fluoroquinolones like it (Levaquin, Avelox, etc.) are extremely dangerous. They are nothing to mess around with. Their reactions are not rare (I could provide you a list with thousands of people suffering from reactions to this drug, a handful of whom are people I know personally). The drug has two black box warnings, which happens to every drug before it is pulled off the market.
The only thing I can do right now to make sure this never happens to anyone ever again is to educate others about the horrifying effects of this drug. Please, if you have to take an antibiotic, do not take a fluoroquinolone. Don’t take them even if you’ve taken them before and did not have a reaction. The drug can build up in your body and maybe after your fifth dosage you’ll have the same reaction that I did. Look them up. Remember their names. Tell your doctor that you are allergic to them. Protect yourself, I beg of you.
On Sunday, I grabbed my skis and at the suggestion of my boss, tried skiing for the first time since I got sick. I was terrified that the act of putting on my boots would rip my achilles tendons. I was scared that moving around on skis themselves would be too much for my damaged body. There was no way to tell how much my body had healed.
As it turns out, putting on the stiff ski boots I knew so well didn’t hurt my heels at all. Clicking my plastic boots into my Griffin bindings didn’t break my bones. Winding my hips to make perfect “S” turns down an imperfect, beginning-of-the-season trail (sorry guys) didn’t kill me. As I gained more and more confidence doing the sport I had perfected and loved since I turned four-years-old, I gained speed, carving into the slushy, wet, clumpy snow as though doing so with perfection would fix everything that had crumbled around me.
When I reached the bottom of the hill and the ski village came into view, with familiar adrenaline rushing through my veins, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was finally home and finally back to normal.
For those who are still wondering, My remaining symptoms are dull temporary peripheral neuropathy, damaged tendons, and joint pain. I take 9 pills compared to the previous 23. All symptoms keep improving day-by-day and I expect a full recovery (cross your fingers!)