There nothing like starting out with a hard and sensitive subject. This pitfall is one of the most difficult pitfalls for many people and a subject that I could write volumes on: The sorting of facts from opinions and personal belief.
For some, this pitfall arises because of the ambiguity between real medical research and personal opinion. These opinions, which are often well-meaning, can range all over the place from the practical to the downright bizarre, and they can come from various sources, some of them seemingly quite credible. These sources encompass countless floxed ‘experts’ that you find populating online forums and groups (myself included) to doctors who, although they have the moniker of M.D. by their name, wouldn’t know a floxed person if the surgeon general himself came up and put their arm around them.
Bottom line, the task of discerning good data from bad data can be overwhelming.
If you are a data driven person, the ugly truth is, when it comes to Fluoroquinolone toxicity, there are actually very few officially documented facts. Some folks, especially those with a science background, are often shocked by the paucity of research that has been done, despite the many years that have gone by and the sheer amount of people affected. Many times these well-meaning newcomers will march off, disgusted that I and others haven’t done more, hoping to change the world, that is, until they run into the FDA, AMA, and the whole “for-profit” medical industry.
In a nutshell, there are many reasons that explain the lack of robust medical research that has gone into Fluoroquinolone toxicity, but the nitty-gritty is that the drug companies control our “for profit” medical industry through funding and data. Even now, in many medical circles, Fluoroquinolone toxicity, is much like the Bermuda Triangle or Bigfoot, completely relegated to the lunatic fringe.
Getting back to facts. There are good facts that bolster our case against the Fluoroquinolones. Much of it is spread out across a large playing field and it is not connected together and this can be a daunting task that requires hours of research. Also, of the existing Fluoroquinolone facts that are available, we do have some good facts, but conversely we also have questionable facts despite having authors with seemingly impeccable credentials.
An example of a good simple documented fact about Fluoroquinolones is that they are Topoisomerase 2 Inhibitors. Again, this is a known and documented fact. Another fact is that they are chemotherapeutic agents that exhibit anti-cancer or anti-tumor tendencies. Again, both of these facts have been documented well in research.
However, just because the research has a supposed authoritative source, doesn’t mean the facts are actually good facts. An example of a questionable fact is that Fluoroquinolones have a good safety record. Although the science that proves that Fluoroquinolones are safe is readily accepted by doctors, much of it is fraught with tacit drug company interference and author bias. These supposedly documented safety facts, are also contradicted by the lived experience of thousands of individuals who have become disabled over the last several decades and it is backed up by the FDA’s own data.
Tip: Always look at author bias or author motives in the data that is being presented. Is the author representing the pharmaceutical industry? Or, is the author selling something? (Hint: I am not in this for the notoriety, fame or money).
So how do I filter out truth? I look at the data (medical science, research, current medical practices) and then compare it with the truckload of anecdotal information and form my opinions. I have to admit that I am in the unique position of having access to a lot of anecdotal information. But let me say one more thing about this point.
Many, many people in the floxed community, who are mostly well-meaning, incorporate other personal opinions about the Fluoroquinolones into their personal belief system and these belief systems exist at the sub-conscious level. Again, although well meaning, these beliefs can be incorrect but because of lived experiences or other influences this erroneous data is often believed to be correct. Let me give you an example:
There is a belief that circulates around the Fluoroquinolones community that NSAIDS are bad for floxed people, despite the paucity of data that backs up the belief. While it is true that NSAIDS are contraindicated and should not be taken WHILE a person is currently taking an Fluoroquinolones, there really is no hard science to show that they cannot be taken later, after an adverse event. The truth is, some people find out they can take them with no problem, while others cannot. Still, you have die-hard individuals telling the newly floxed, “You can never take another NSAID again!” or “NSAIDS will always cause a bad reaction post floxing.” These statements are coming from a belief system, albeit an erroneous one.
On a side note, do you know what happens when you question a belief system? You usually get anger as a response. If you question a person and get anger in response, you have tapped into their belief system. Social media is fraught with belief centered confrontations, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bottom line: Always be proactive and question medical knowledge that will be applied to your personal situation, regardless of the source. It doesn’t matter if it is safe for others, the question is, is it safe for you?