Today, he lives day to day and rarely leaves his house in Ottawa. Most of his time is spent managing a range of chronic health problems that zap his energy and drag him down.
Girard’s troubles began back in Colorado with a broken ankle that required a set of pins and screws to hold it all together. When a hospital-acquired infection set in (Staphylococcus Aureus), doctors hooked him up to a Kleflex antibiotic drip and prescribed him massive oral quantities of Levaquin, one of the group of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones or FQs.
“I had a reaction immediately. I knew something was horribly wrong right away,” says Girard, recalling those first days in the hospital.
“I started complaining,” says Girard. “Day ten I lost control of my bladder. I was sitting there p*****g myself. I told them, ‘hey, I’ve never done this before.’ They give more pills. By day 17, I had blood clots in my chest and arms and I was back in the hospital for the third time in a month.”
Everything was unraveling. Within three weeks Girard says he was as “sick as a dog.” I had a headache, nausea, I had diarrhea, I was confused and disorientated, I had insomnia, the muscles in my eyes and my cheeks were twitching, and the veins were bulging.”
He was trying to literally get back on his feet when a physiotherapist discovered that the tendons around his ankle area were mush.
Within 18 months he’d lost his emotional and physical health. His job was gone and he was homeless and feeling suicidal. Friends even raised money for him to limp home to Canada.
In the months and years ahead, he began to hear about Levaquin and hundreds perhaps thousands of people whose adverse events have been reported to the FDA after being prescribed fluoroquinolones for everything from bladder to respiratory infections.
As Girard says, “I’d been floxed.”
In 2008, the FDA requested that fluoroquinolones carry a boxed warning that the antibacterials could cause tendonitis or tendon ruptures. In 2013, the FDA required that drug labels and medication guides carry warnings of peripheral neuropathy, or serious and potential permanent nerve damage.
Commonly used FQs include levofloxacin (Levaquin), ciprofloxacin (Cipro), moxifloxacin (Avelox), norfloxacin (Noroxin), ofloxacin (Floxin) and gemifloxacin (Factive).
Soft-spoken, serious and knowledgeable, Girard has become the “official unofficial” leader of a worldwide group of people living with health effects attributed to use of FQs. They refer to themselves as “Floxies.”
“I am pretty much the leader of the Facebook community,” says Girard. “I am the senior administrator of the largest and busiest of the support groups. I have also generated and started filling in all kinds of specialized groups like Christian Floxies, and there’s a group for research, where all we deal with is new scientific research.
“The biggest group is the Fluoroquinolones Toxicity Group,” says Girard. “We are at about 2,150 members. There have been as many as three or four thousand members of this group. People heal up and get on with their lives or they just need to not be there and exposed to the negativity. We are as positive as we can be about it but the subject matter is just horrible.”
For many people, the concept of being “floxed” is difficult to comprehend. “The reaction is mostly disbelief,” says Girard. “They have been taking antibiotics their whole life and never had anything like that. Or they have taken Cipro and they have arthritis or depression but don’t understand it could be from the Cipro. But the reaction is mostly disbelief - until it happens to you.”
Fluoroquinolones, or more accurately their precursors, were developed as a chemotherapy drug. When it was discovered that the compound could actually kill bacteria, they were reformulated and marketed as antibiotics. However, they are far from penicillin.
Simply put, fluoroquinolones work by entering the bacteria’s DNA and preventing it from reproducing. However, they do not work only on bacterial DNA. They actually penetrate all the cells in the body. It’s believed that the tendons rupture because the FQs confuse the DNA, and the cells literally get mixed up.
“Tendons will be rebuilding wrong, and rebuilding wrong until one day you overextend them and they snap. People get it in their shoulder, rotator cuff, hands, wrist,” adds Girard.
READ MORE FLUOROQUINOLONES LEGAL NEWS
Interestingly, Girard makes something very clear.
“Despite all the crap I have gone through, these drugs probably saved my life,” notes Girard. “If I had not been given an FQ, the infection could easily have killed me so I am grateful. I was just prescribed them for far too long and in conjunction with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) and proton pump inhibitors, both of which are contraindicated.”
Much of Girard’s available energy is spent online, gathering and sharing information about FQs and talking to people with adverse reactions they believe are connected to FQs. “I do a lot of counseling. Talking to people who are not doing well at all.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Rusty glynn goodrich
Drug companies are wicked, but so are all of the big industries - mining, petroleum oil, nuclear, military.. ..all cause terrible suffering and destruction. Where there's muck, there's brass.
Prior to 1991, I was healthy, fit, athletic. I loved the sun and the outdoors. I worked the night shift summers, so I could water ski every day, rain or shine. I was a happy.Then one fate-changing day in 1991, I was prescribed Cipro. Thus began a slow slide of debilitating symptoms multiplied time and time again by repeated prescriptions of Cipro and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Levaquin, Avelox).
It took me 20 years to finally discover what was happening to me – with no help from my doctor, the medical community at large, the drug companies, the FDA – not any single person or organization whose purpose it is to protect patients like me.
How could my doctor harm me this way, never connect the dots, never realize he was poisoning my body over and over again? It was one thing after another: Coughing spells, allergic reactions, eye problems, debilitating joint pain. Is it not the doctor’s job to consider the side effect of what he prescribes? Is it not the responsibility of drug companies to clearly state warnings? Is it not the role of the FDA to make sure drugs capable of such irreversible damage are more closely regulated for the protection of citizens?
My doctor shrugged and kept prescribing. The corporations continued marketing these dangerous antibiotics for routine infections. Over time, the FDA issued not just one, but two so-called black box warnings. They were too little, too late for most people, and continue to be useless protection against what pharmaceutical reps say a drug is good for over dinner and drinks (or worse, when doctors have a financial stake is the success of the drug company).
Meanwhile, me? I have become completely disabled. It’s a crime. My life was hijacked-- stolen from me. I’ve worked hard all my life. I made sure I could wear many hats to keep myself employed. I earned licenses in cosmetology, CDL class A, phlebotomy, bartending. FQs took me down, I was a rare thing: a lady truck driver. I was a car hauler, driving and loading tractor trailers with brand new cars to the dealerships. I was a strong, self-sufficient woman . . . until I couldn’t read the VIN numbers anymore, and the chronic pain and muscle weakness made it unsafe for me to keep driving. My trucking career ended, and wasted was the $5,000 spent on driver school. Now I am a welfare recipient, and can barley care for myself. Keeping my house on $730.00 per month is impossible. Food sensitivities are caused by fluoroquinolone toxicity. I have a specialized, very limited diet because I am now allergic to so many things. Simply getting proper nourishment on $165.00 in food stamps is a constant struggle.
I lost my family because of my illness. Not even my own mother would look beyond the false sense of security the FDA gives to read or understand that my illness is real, and devastating. What could make this terrible illness worse? The shame we face as our doctors, employers, friends and family don’t believe us, because it is too hard to imagine such a thing could happen in America in the 21st century.
In 1991, prior to starting a new job, I was prescribed Cipro. I soon complained to my doctor about a painful burning sensation in my feet. He said it was fatigue from standing on my feet all day. I complained about cracking and popping joints, dry, swollen eyes, back pain. He said I was “getting old.” I was in my early 30s. I was prescribed Ambien for insomnia. I complained repeatedly of not feeling well. Dr. Hyle never took a culture of any kind, but insisted I had infections, and continued prescribing me Cipro time and again. In 1994, he diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue, and prescribed Cipro. He told me I was depressed. I was not. My body was being poisoned. Still, I managed to work through the pain.
In 2003, I was prescribed Avelox. I returned to Dr. Hyle complaining about the increasing pain and eye problems. The sicker I got, the more I was prescribed the very fluoroquinolones that were harming me. After Cipro, it was Levaquin. Then he sent me to a pain clinic where I was given steroid injections known to dramatically raise the risk of adverse effects of FQs. But I didn’t know that then, and no one who should have known bothered asking about other medications. Dentist Richard Jaffe totaled me by mixing the Cipro and Levaquin with steroids, lidocaine and nitrous oxide. Not one doctor would help me with what was clearly an adverse reaction to mega doses of fluoroqinolones. I even went to Johns Hopkins only to be prescribed more Levaquin!
My pharmacy records show I have been prescribed 250 pills of Fluoroquinolones.
It is a wonder I am even alive.
Not once was I suffering from a life-threatening infection that required such a potent drug.
I paid Dr. Hyle to take care of my health, and he destroyed my body. He prescribed an obscene amount of Levaquin to me – harming me – while simultaneously being paid handsomely for “research” by the makers of Levaquin, Johnson and Johnson (Source: Dollars for Doctors, ProPublica).
Today I am now pretty much house bound and disabled. I became active in Facebook forums, searching for answers, and found thousands of people who share my story, people who exchange information, ideas, and emotional support.
The drug companies may tell you this affects 1% of patients, but anecdotally, it is more like 1 in 4 will have some severe reaction. Our numbers are growing every day. We are organized, and working together to seek action.
Fluoroquinolone Toxicity MUST be stopped. It is time for our government to stand up on behalf of the PEOPLE being harmed by these medications.
We’re asking you to call on the FDA to recall or reclassify Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics so they are never used for suspected or routine infections again. We’re asking you to help us secure funding for independent research on treatment plans for victims. And we’re asking for standardized diagnostic codes that recognize our illness and its cause, to manage insurance benefits as well as track the true impact of FQ toxicity, which is frequently misdiagnosed as one of many autoimmune disorders of unknown cause. The cause is known. It’s time to take a stand.
You can join us on Facebook “Fluoroquinolone Toxicty 24/7 Live Chat”
Bobby L Severn
After five days at home, drove him 6 hours to Duke Medical Where was admitted via ER, and he was a patient for 5 fays. Doctor at Duke said it was S.S. Discharged to return to Charleston with tests still pending.
Duke called and said to get get him immediately to a Rheumatologist as he he was off the charts for a Dx. Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus.
One year later he is taking multiple drugs for Lupus, Prednisone, Plaquinel, and max. dose of Cellcept, an anti rejection drug that disables the immune system. He now has to take 16 pills per day and may be on them the rest of his now shortened life. I believe he was poisoned with Avelox which was supposed to be drug of last resort and a drug he never even needed.
Mrs. L. Kader
I was floxed almost three years ago. Although I had been prescribed Cipro many times for supposed attacks of diverticulitis, but eventually it was discovered that I was misdiagnosed. But before that happened, while on Cipro, a doctor in an emergency room switched me off Cipro and put me on Levaquin. That's the one that got me.
After taking only five doses, I was hardly able to walk. I could feel that it was the connective tissue around my knees that was causing the problem, and a surgeon with his intern both looked at each other and said "Levaquin," then the surgeon told me to stop taking it immediately. Interestingly, I didn't need the colon surgery, and I never saw this doctor again. I've been to several other doctors since, but none of them takes me seriously when I tell them I was poisoned by Levaquin!
I immediately stopped taking the Levaquin. The pains eased a bit, but I have few days when I don't have residual tendon pain in my knees, shoulders, and forearms, not to mention a serious sensitivity in my Achilles tendon. I am afraid to walk because it hurts so much.
Both of my parents died within the last few months, and as I tended to my father, I had to give him Levaquin (which broke my heart further) through a feeding tube. I forgot to crush the large pill to dissolve it in water before putting it into his feeding tube, so I picked up the wet pill to start again. Within an hour or so, I had very sharp pain in an inside tendon of my left forearm, which moved into my shoulder, my heart area, and eventually the tendons behind my left knee -- just from touching the "medicine."
I still work full time as a 911 dispatcher, but moving getting in and out of the building, sitting with my knees bent for long periods of time, and moving around the radio room as needed are agony. I can't stand up long enough to do anything meaningful as far as taking care of my house. I wonder if I will ever be healed, and the fear of being an invalid and a drain on my husband jolts me all the time.
Thanks again for a good article. And thank you so much to Mr. Girard for the help and support he provides so many of us floxies.
MARY PATRICE KINNAVANE