Dear <<First Name>>,
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics have multiple black box warnings. Depending on the specific antibiotic, they can have somewhere between 4-6 black box warnings, which, if you're unfamiliar, are very dangerous potential side effects.
One of these side effects is possibly permanent peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral, in this context, means your hands and feet. Neuropathy, in most/any context, means nerve damage that results in particular symptoms such as numbness, tingling, the inability to properly recognize temperature, etc.
I think that the peripheral part isn't fair because part of my floxing experience was having my entire body go numb for 4 months straight. That's clearly possible and it's clearly not just the hands and feet. Luckily for me, the numbness was not permanent, but some of the nerve damage was permanent (or at least, lingering still today). Other floxies have definitely had it worse. Regardless, the warning seems a bit misleading.
Neuropathy, especially when combined with neurotoxicity, is not just about numbness and tingling. For some floxies it means that your skin becomes too sensitive to wear clothing. Maybe it hurts to sit down. Maybe you feel like your skin is crawling, so you start hallucinating things.
The weirdest thing for me was how connected my emotions were to my floxing. As I started to recover and feel my legs once more, if I ever felt nervous, anxious, very sad, very happy, or even very angry, they started to go numb again. My legs began to tingle. My hands would go numb and sometimes my face would go numb again, too. Which, in turn, of course, made me even more anxious.
In modern society, sometimes also the medical field, people frequently discount how important regulating your emotions are to your wellbeing. The will also discount any symptom as "anxiety," especially as a woman (this is my own experience, not everyone's), but fail to mention that anxiety can also create symptoms or that symptoms can create anxiety.
For floxies, it's necessary. Somehow figuring out a way to keep calm through it all can help you heal faster, according to a few studies I read. Also, it was really creepy to have my limbs go back to being numb and all I could think about were those two words I read on the black box label: "possibly permanent."
As part of my healing process, I began to incorporate relaxation methods, meditation, and a bit of thought regulation. I would try to calm myself down with deep breaths, peaceful thoughts and reassuring myself that freaking out would not help me. I carried lavender essential oil with me in my purse to smell in doctor's offices and whenever I felt stressed. I took a homeopathic tincture (Bach's rescue remedy) to ease my anxiety and it actually worked. Part of these methods I used to heal myself when at my worst are methods I use to calm myself down now, for whatever reason, even unrelated to floxing.
Many studies show that anxiety can lead to increased oxidative stress in the body which can lead to mitochondria damage, which in turn can cause autoimmune disorders, heart attack, hair loss, or early death.
Decreasing anxiety on your own is possible. Meditation, yoga, essential oils, hot tea, taking a day off from work, and reading a nice book are all ways you can calm yourself down.
The point is that your nerves are important and that you can protect them by taking care of your mental health just as well as your physical health. Working on yourself helps not just floxies, but literally everyone, prevent further pain and disease.
Have a great weekend!
Floxie, Director, and Producer of 'Floxed'