Sunday, January 19, 2014

cipro/levaquin awareness

At the risk of sounding like a nutter, I'm going to talk a little (OK, a lot) about a certain antibiotic I was given for a possible UTI. This is pretty off topic, so forgive me, but it's a commonly prescribed drug in the USA and I want as many as possible to be aware so you can avoid what happened to me. If you don't enjoy hearing folks blather on about their medical problems, I suggest skipping the rest of this post. I won't be offended!

Please note: I am not a medical doctor, nor do I play one on TV. This is my personal experience. Ok?

Cipro and Levaquin (and there may be other names/forms) are fluoroquinolone types of antibiotics and are commonly given for bacterial infections like UTIs and sinus infections, among other things. The generic name for Cipro is ciprofloxacin.

So the reason for this post is that I had an adverse reaction to Cipro and, most importantly, I didn't clue in that I was having one right away because the symptoms are not normally associated with antibiotics. I confess I had started the medication without reading the entire paper insert that came from the pharmacist. (Yes, that is dumb.) After two days on Cipro I had:
  • insomnia
  • headaches
  • feelings of depression
  • feelings of anxiety
  • strange/irrational thoughts
  • tremors in my hands
  • charley horses in the night, with sore calf muscle the entire next day
I started to worry about it, especially the tremor in my hands. I decided to put it all down to too much caffeine and my hormone cycle. After another couple of days on Cipro with the same symptoms, I had to get out of the house and get some sunshine to get a handle on my blues. So I took a brisk walk through my neighborhood, about a mile and a half. As soon as I got back, my shoulder started to throb. It was quite painful, and a complete mystery since I had done nothing strenuous.

As I sat on the couch icing my shoulder and feeling a wreck, I read the insert that came with the drug and realized what was going on: not only was I having the adverse neuro side effects, I now had tendinitis in my shoulder. I had already taken the evening dose and felt a little panicked about that, but resolved to call my doctor the next morning and not to take another pill.

I also noticed that suddenly all my joints started to pop and crack with every movement and my muscles felt tight. Shoulders, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. All popping continuously. I thought, 'this can't be good'. 

That night I searched the internet for some advice on how to counteract the adverse reaction I was having to the drug. I read in several places that Cipro can leach away too much magnesium, so I immediately downed two magnesium supplements. I've been taking magnesium every single day since then, and it has helped a lot. My compounding pharmacist also recommended taking Vitamin C, which I did and do. (Now, remember that note about how I'm not a medical doctor? You need to ask yours before taking supplements.)

I called my doc and pharmacist in the morning to let them know about my adverse reaction so that I am never prescribed a fluoroquinolone antibiotic again. My doc told me to definitely quit taking the drug. It took me several weeks to get back to mostly normal. The mental craziness went away pretty quickly. Now, six months later, I'm still dealing with intermittent joint/tendon pain and tightness, and I'm much more prone to injury when I exercise, but it is mostly better overall. I do still have a tremor in both hands, but only when I move them in a certain way. Pretty weird, and may be permanent.

Since then I've spoken with several friends who have all had various adverse reactions to Cipro or Levaquin. Which is why I'm writing this post! Because these rare side effects don't seem to be that rare, nor does it seem to matter if you have taken it before with no problems. My MIL took Cipro for a UTI recently and even though she's taken it many times, this time she developed unexplained shoulder pain.

Even some doctors are not aware of the risks. One friend from church said his knee started killing him after five days on Cipro for a sinus infection and he called his doctor to ask him about it. His doctor told him there was no way it was the antibiotic and advised him to continue taking the full ten-day course. He followed his doctor's advice, and almost had to have knee surgery afterward.

I think in this day and age of overstressed and overloaded doctors it's helpful to be your own best patient advocate. For instance, Cipro has been given not one, but two black box FDA warnings, one of which talks about the risk of tendinitis/tendon rupture. The possibility of tendinitis is not just in the Achilles tendon - it's every tendon in your body. (Late note: I've just read that the FDA is requiring a new warning on the label of fluoroquinolone drugs regarding "possibly permanent nerve damage". Is the risk really worth it?)

Two more notes: even though my doctor never mentioned it, I found out from the insert that while taking Cipro you should stay away from:
  • NSAIDs (including common over-the-counter anti-inflammatory meds like Advil, aspirin and Motrin) Now this seems particularly ironic, since those drugs are the first thing most people reach for when they have tendinitis or joint pain. I took one for the pain in my shoulder before I realized.
  • Caffeine (doh!) as it can make the crazy nervous system side effects even worse. Hello, me and coffee? I wish I had known.
Ok, sorry about the long post that has absolutely nothing to do with crafting. But! If this post saves even one person from suffering all the side effect super-crazified-weirdness that I did, my work here is done. If you start having any adverse reaction, my hope is that you won't wait and wonder, like I did. Call your doctor right away!

What isn't the moral of this story: to avoid antibiotics altogether. I'm not anti-antibiotic. There are other classes of antibiotics that do not have these types of risks. Also, I'm sure that many folks do take Cipro and Levaquin with no adverse least I hope that is true! The moral of this story is to be properly informed before you start taking any Rx meds, including Cipro/Levaquin! Read your drug inserts! Be your own best patient advocate.

The end!

Friday, January 17, 2014

tiny things making me happy, part four million and one

This is Mr Owl and Mr Bear. They fit nicely in your pocketses. Mr Owl is 3 1/4 inches tall and Mr Bear is an inch taller. They were designed by Ingela Arrhenius, whose happy, vintage-style illustrations I admire a lot. Let's see what's inside.

 Mr Lion.

Mr Green Owl. I wonder if you know the other Mr Owl?

Mr Tiger.

 There you are, Mr Otter.

 Don't be shy, Mr Penguin.

 Wait a minute, you open too?

 Hmm. You are empty. It's a mystery. No matter. Nice place to hide a jelly bean.

 The whole zoo family.

 Now for Mr Owl. What's inside?

 His brother, Mr Owl.

 And his brother, Mr Owl.

 And his other brother, Mr Owl.

 and his other other brother, Mr Owl.

 And his littlest brother, Steve.

 Hey, Steve. You do not open. I've tried.

All the Brothers Owl together.

These are made of sturdy plastic instead of painted wood so they are kid friendly, but I'm having a problem sharing my toys. You can see more nesting dolls Ingela has designed (and other cool stuff -- the plates!) right here.

You may have noticed I have a little fixation on matryoshkas. I have a board dedicated to them, if you would like to look!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

handmade gifts 2013, part 3

I hosted a mommy's night out craft party for my local friends in December and we made these paper stars while chatting, laughing, and eating lots of things that were bad for us. We'll have to do that again soon! You can spy mine hanging up as part of my Christmas decor in this post. It was really satisfying to put them together once I got the hang of it, so I made a bunch of them to give to my extended family at our Christmas gathering.

If you would like to make some of your own, I used this Finnish Star tutorial at A Cherry On Top. Modification: I used 1/2 inch x 12 inch strips for my largest stars and loved how airy they looked. I also used this Simple Paper Stars tutorial at Merry Brides. She uses pretty origami paper, and so did I, but I also tried scrapbooking paper (shown above) and it worked great too. I used 6 inch, 4 inch and 3 inch squares for the stars you see above. The 3 inch squares make a nice ornament-sized star.

That sums up the handmade parade for Christmas this year, because you've already seen the Wee Princess Pea ornaments I made for my girls and all the color samples of Snow Birds, which I gave to my mom and sisters at our family Christmas gathering.

What? Oh, yes. Did you think I'd forgotten about the Twelve Days of Christmas ornaments I'm supposed to be making for my dear friend? Due to a creative block and overscheduling I owe her numbers 5, 6 and now 7 and 8. Three of those are sitting in various states of doneness in my sewing box. But I have until April to get those together, so no sweat. Right, Bob? April. EEEEEEEE!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

handmade gifts 2013, part 2

This year I gave the girls two ginormous craft organizer thingies to keep all their stuff in, and more importantly, keep them from borrowing my stuff. Who knew glorified tackle boxes could be so pricey? I'm glad I had a coupon plus a sale.

Anyhoo, to go along with all their spiffy new color coded sewing and crafting supplies (Thing 1 =  pink, Thing 2 = purple), I made them each a T.O.U.C. pincushion with a tiny attached strawberry cushion for needle parking.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

handmade gifts 2013, part 1

Two pinecone elf ornaments for Tucker and Darcy. Haha, Robyn, yes, I copied you! We really love the pinecone elf ornament you made for us, so when I was trying to think of something sweet to make for the girls' little cousins, I kept going back to this.

I've wanted to try it for ever so long, and I even had all the materials in my stash. You can follow Martha's tutorial to make your own, although I should mention that I made some modifications. I made the hat larger to fit further over the bead, and I made the mittens and shoes smaller. I also widened the top of the shoe pattern so it would not be as flat after it's sewn together. And I added some floss hair because it's cute.

I'm glad to say that I didn't burn myself even once with the hot glue gun this time! Almost.