It has been a while since I have posted and article and I apologize for that. I am still searching for the perfect balance that allows me to work, head up FQ issues, work on the creation of a national non-profit, deal with medical issues, and get the necessary rest. So far I have not found it.
I recently received an email from a fluoroquinolone (FQ) sufferer who asked if he could share his story with me without fearing reprisal for his opinions. He said that after reading my writing he felt as though he could approach me with what is, in his opinion, a very controversial and taboo subject in the FQ community. His views, which were formed, based a personal health crisis a few years ago, have left him feeling a bit ostracized. After listening to his story, I asked him if I could use it for the basis of an article. He agreed, as long as I would change his name.
Frank, as I will call him, was your average a middle age blue collar man who worked at a local industrial factory. One day Frank injured his arm on a piece of machinery. Frank recalls that the injury was moderate in severity and resulted in some pretty serious scrapes and a few deep slices to his forearm. Even though the injury was treated promptly, which included washing, disinfecting, stitches and bandaging, he developed an infection in the injury area. At first, he thought nothing of the infection and was prescribed a course of antibiotics, but soon after things began to change. He thought something was not quite right about his immune system. The infection did not clear up and on top of the infection he developed what he described as cold and flu like symptoms.
Frank was given course after course of various antibiotics with the exception of the FQ’s and the infection did not improve. As his physical state slowly weakened he was admitted to the hospital with an aggressive tissue infection in his arm. According to Frank tests revealed that he a contracted a form of MRSA. Within days of being admitted his health slowly deteriorated to the point where he had pneumonia and the doctors were worried that his life could be in jeopardy. At this point, Frank’s doctor, who has been resistant to the idea of using a FQ, due to some issues with FQ resistant MRSA, decided to go ahead and try an FQ since Frank was in the ICU and was, for the most part, dying.
Within a few days of starting the FQ, Frank’s infection began to improve. Frank’s doctor credited the fact that evidently the strain of MRSA that Frank had contracted was still responsive to the FQ’s. Slowly over the next few weeks Frank’s health began to improve and within a month he was back at work on a limited basis. Within the next few months Frank’s started noticing some tendon issues in his shoulders and knees and some neurological issues. After searching the internet about the FQ’s he was obviously surprised about what he uncovered. Although the doctor blamed Frank’s symptoms on what he described as lingering effects from the severe infection, Frank had absolutely no doubt that the symptoms he had were from the FQ IV he received.
It has been a little over two years since Frank’s infection and he describes his reaction to the FQ as an ongoing intermediate reaction. In his words the reaction is “chronic but not debilitating.” Frank has read the horror stories suffered by many victims of the FQs. Although, Frank himself is damaged from the FQ he received, he also is the delicate position of being convinced that the same FQ saved his life. Because of this, Frank desires for the removal of FQ’s from everyday use and wants them to be used in a hospital setting for life and death infections, where the collateral damage maybe more acceptable (benefit vs. risk).
Over the last few years Frank has made several attempts to relate his opinion to some members of the FQ community only to get replies that ranged from slight rebuffs to outright hostile criticism. In one setting he was accused of being a pharmaceutical shill. Frank realizes that those permanently disabled by these drugs, especially those whose doctors used them for routine, non life threatening, infections, have an understandable rage but he hopes some common ground could be reached. Frank believes that by focusing on common goals as opposed to our differences we can get something accomplished as an FQ community. When I asked him what he thought some of those goals should be, he stated “more black box warnings for neurological reactions, education of medical professionals, and require doctors to discuss and sign off with patients about the adverse reactions.” These are a good start, he said.
My conversation with Frank brought me back to my own internal psychological struggles about what constitutes acceptable use of these drugs, if any. If Frank approached you, what would your response to him be?