From Medical Wreckage to Greater Wellness

( - “I just want my life back!” That was my favorite phrase almost 10 years ago. I said it when I was having one of my many panic attacks. I said it in between panic attacks, when my body wouldn’t cooperate with me and the pain was at its height. I whispered it when my heart was racing and I felt terrified it would burst. I whispered it when I was so weak I couldn’t raise my voice.

Many times when I said it I felt hopeless and helpless to change what was happening to me. I was suffering from a severe reaction to a drug that was supposed to heal me, but had instead created such a multilayered storm in my body that I ended up bedridden for almost five months. In all, I faced a total of two and a half years recovering.

Not Surgery!

In October 2006, I was referred to an endodontist for treatment of an old root canal that had become infected. By the time I got to my appointment with the specialist I was experiencing fevers, fatique, nausea, and headaches. I had ignored the little lump in my gums above the infected tooth for almost a year, and now I just wanted the work done and the symptoms gone.

Upon the doctor’s exam he felt I’d benefit from a course of antibiotics, but the first script did absolutely nothing, so he gave me a high-powered antibiotic called Levaquin. I’m not a big fan of taking medication, as I’m quite sensitive even to some supplements. But the only alternative was possible surgery, and I didn’t want that. So, even though the list of possible side effects was horrifying, I took the drug, thinking the risk was worth it.

Frustrated and Sick

I felt so nauseated the day after the first pill, I didn’t want to eat. But I thought, “Well, antibiotics can have that effect. I’ll just tough it out and it’ll get better.” Except it didn’t.

I kept taking the one pill a day and soon everything I attempted to eat made me gassy, bloated, and sick to my stomach. To top it off, the infection in my gum was still present. It might have been a little better, but not much. So, I called the doctor’s office and spoke to his nurse. My options were to take another round of Levaquin or have the surgery.

So, again, even though my body was now warning me to stop the medicine, I got another prescription. A few days later, I still was no better and my digestion was still a mess. An added issue was that for some reason my hair had started falling out. This disturbed me because I could think of no reason why this would be happening.

I had hypothyroidism, but it had been controlled for some time with natural thryoid medication and an excellent diet. But I tucked that concern away because now it was clear I would need the surgery after all. Frustrated and sick, I made the appointment.

On the day of the procedure while in the endodontist’s chair, and after the numbing agent was given, my heart suddenly started pounding so fast I felt faint. After several minutes of this, I got up to get the nurse and ask for my husband. I thought I might need to go to the emergency room, but after some deep breathing and a bit more time, my heart calmed down and the doctor felt we could proceed.

He did tell me to stop taking the Levaquin, “If that’s what it’s doing to you.” I didn’t understand how an antibiotic could cause such a thing, but I didn’t question him further at the time. I just agreed to stop the medicine.

New Complications

After the surgery my tooth did feel better, for which I was grateful, but my digestion continued to be problematic even though I had stopped the Levaquin. Over a period of months I awoke at night bloated and gassy, my heart rate skyrocketting, along with my blood pressure. I also felt very panicky and would groan or cry out, as if I was letting off a lot of emotional pressure. This happened several times before I decided to see a chiropractor and nutritionist, who had treated me before, for help.

It was June of 2007, and I was to go on a special weekend with my husband for our anniversary. The doctor gave me supplements to address the gas and digestion issues. They reduced my discomfort a bit, but the heart racing continued, and even when I wasn’t in an acute episode, I noticed that my heart rate never went below 94 to 100 beats per minute anymore. I felt breathless and hyper all the time. I was terribly constipated, too. But I went on the vacation hoping for the best.

During this time I noticed that my heart felt as though it was skipping beats at times. I had suffered this before, 20 years prior. Our family doctor had called this issue premature ventricular contractions, or PVCs. I hadn’t had them for years. I knew PVCs could be linked to my thyroid, but I still believed that to be under control, so it wasn’t a consideration at that point.


After the weekend away, I felt better. I was tired and still had the digestive issues, but I felt better mentally and emotionally. When I got home I cleaned the house and did the laundry. I hugged my kids and laughed, and felt like everything would be alright. I remember distinctly feeling very positive when I went to bed that night. I thought that even if the Levaquin had caused all these issues, they would eventually wear off, right? Antibiotics aren’t known for permanently damaging people, right?

Wrong. That night I had the most severe episode of racing heart, panic, and digestive disturbance to date. I was screaming from the extreme pressure in my belly and my panic was off the charts. My husband called his mother, a nurse, to come check me over. My blood pressure was at about 150/90, which was very high for me, and my heart rate was at about 150 beats per minute as well. The PVCs were back and I was terrified.

The episode went on for several hours, and when it stopped it was over abruptly. I fell asleep and the house settled down. But from that point until nearly five months later I couldn’t leave my bed unless it was to use the portable potty that was stationed nearby, or to go see the nutritionist/chiropractor.

On My Own Here

At this point I began to have further issues on top of the digestive and cardiac symptoms. My hair was still falling out, the constipation had become almost like digestive shut down, and I could eat almost nothing without acute digestive distress.

My diet was reduced to baked, skinless chicken, canned green beans, applesauce, and soft boiled eggs. I had begun to lose weight very quickly. In fact, in six weeks’ time I ended up losing over 40 pounds. I was deathly pale and panicky all the time. I was unable to control my emotions. I cried at the drop of a hat.

My husband took me to the emergency room because of the heart racing and PVCs. They tested my blood and found I was slightly low on potassium. And my BUN score showed my kidneys might have been struggling a bit. But my thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) was normal, and my EKG showed only that my heart rate was too high, even at rest. The doctor, who admitted he didn’t really know what to do for me, offered me a beta blocker to control the heart rate, but I refused it. So we went home with no answers, and no treatment. We were on our own.

Finally Some Answers

Around this time I decided to turn to my Higher Power for answers. I kept hearing within, “Get on the internet and search Levaquin.” I ignored the Voice for three days because I knew it would be hard news. When I finally gave in and searched the drug, the very first thing I noticed was a website about “Floxies,” or people who’d had a reaction to fluoroquinolones. It had articles on signs and symptoms of the reaction, and I found my symptoms easily.

The web managers were two people who’d not only had reactions, but were still recovering from them, years later. They’d done a lot of research and talked to a lot of others who’d had these drug reactions. There was an 800 number people could call if they thought they’d been “hit” by the drugs on the list provided. So, I called the number and spoke to Bob and John.

They asked how many months it’d been since the last pill, and gave me an idea of what I might be facing futuristically, based on experience and observation, number of pills taken, and my overall health before the Levaquin. I began to realize this would be a long recovery. These drugs were so dangerous they had maimed and killed thousands. They didn’t bind with just the fat or water content of the body, but the DNA. They were not only antibiotics, but chemotherapuetics as well.

Choosing to Live

At this point I knew I had two choices. I could remain terrified and hopeless, making it very possible I would be permenantly disabled or could die. Or, I could take control of my situation and look for alternative ways to heal myself. I had five kids. I needed to live.

By this time, I was very, very sick, with multi-system involvement. My blood sugar was constantly falling too low, my digestion had all but shut down, and I was so thin my clothes were falling off of me. I was toxic psychotic, meaning the detox of the drug in my system was causing psychosis-like symptoms. I talked “out of my head.” I felt fear and paranoia so strongly that I would scream and rave several times a day. I had what seemed like mini seizures which resulted in jerking and twitching movements of my arms, legs, and neck. I had insomnia caused by my body jolting me awake over and over until I couldn’t help crying in frustration.

The panic attacks took on even greater ferocity, sometimes happening seven or eight times a day. I had such horrible dizziness even in my bed, and it was this symptom, believe it or not, that sent me to the chiropractor and nutritionist once again.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

My husband took me to see Dr. L. when I was just about out of hope. I was barely mentally present when he told me he’d been learning a new technique called Nutrition Response Testing, which was a form of muscle testing that allowed him to test me on a cellular level. He believed this technique would help him discover the root cause of my extreme dizziness and “fix it” with proper supplementation and diet changes. He asked if I understood. I answered hollowly, “Sure.” I didn’t really believe he could fix me.

He used my arm to test, and announced that I needed blood sugar support. I was skeptical to say the least. But he gave me the appropriate supplements and left me to rest on the examining table for 15 minutes. Suddenly the dizziness disappeared! Dr. L. further prescribed a twice a week schedule of chiropractic ajustments, a fruit smoothy mixed with food enzymes twice a day, and adjusted my diet again. I had to have a cooler by the bed at night so I could eat and keep my blood sugar level. To address the extreme constipation, he prescribed daily enemas to clear my bowel and stimulate it. I did those for four weeks, and then Dr. L. put me on a supplement meant to tone and heal my bowel. In a month, I was digesting well and was regular again.

By the ninth month I was still in bed, but I was feeling a lot more hopeful. My hair was still falling out and Dr. L. was still stumped by it. Then he went to a conference for more training and came back on fire. “Thyroid. It’s your thyroid. You need iodine.” So he tested me on iodine and it came up that I needed quite a lot. I took what he prescribed, and in a few weeks my hair stopped falling out in clumps.

Scary Downturn

But this was a poisoning, not a pathological illness, and so I had ups and downs – what Bob called cycles when symptoms were heightened. And month 11, after having had several weeks of what seemed like marked improvement, brought me more or less crashing down to a depth I had not yet known.

I was so weak I couldn’t even bathe myself. When Bob called at night I could barely hold the phone, and it hurt my head to talk, so I didn’t talk much. He told me that very often at around the 11th month post-fluoroquinolones, the cycling was more severe. He insisted I was still going to get well.

Out of Bed

And he was right. Month 12 saw me on the upswing again. My energy improved more and more, and I began to feel less anxious. My color was back. I felt stronger. When I had to go to my GP to get my medication refilled, I was still largely bedridden, but I went, and told him a bit about what I’d been through.

He couldn’t speak to what had caused my condition, but after checking my blood pressure, pulse, and lungs, he told me I needed to get up and around more so my heart wouldn’t weaken. I felt he was right, and from that point on I got out of bed several times a day and walked around my room a few minutes at a time. I felt weak and my heart pounded, but as a result, within another month, I was able to attend Thansgiving dinner at my mother’s home.

Something More

A year after that found me much improved, and even working for Dr. L. as his assistant, but I was still having panic attacks and cycles, and I felt there was something more I should do. At this time a friend of mine asked me if I’d be interested in trying Reiki, a form of energy work. I felt an immediate interest, but wondered where I’d find a practitioner.

Our area was pretty closed up to such things. I didn’t feel I could take a drive to a bigger city for a session, so I applied to Spirit. And one day while I was visiting my mother, and looking through her picture boxes, a small card fell into my lap.

It was a business card. I turned it over and saw a Yin Yang symbol and was instantly excited! The owner of the card was a Reiki Master and teacher and she lived just 20 minutes from me! I called her and we immediately connected on the phone. I made an appointment and had my first session a week later.

I told Marnie only that I had been very ill and had only been able to achieve partial recovery. She was immediately all business. She laid me on the massage bed and began working. At one point, when Marnie was working at the lower half of my body she stopped and said, “Did you know your root chakra is blocked?”

I knew nothing about chakras, but I had learned to pass energy through my body and I’d noticed that it wouldn’t pass all the way through. I always came to a stop in the area of my lower body. I hadn’t known what to do about it, but apparently Marnie did. She worked there for some time, and when I got off the table I knew something had definitely happened. I went home and had a healing crisis which compelled me to sit on my couch all wrapped up, drinking tea for a few hours.

A Whole New Life

Two months later, I was so much stronger and healthier I was able to go to a conference hundreds of miles away to train as a Nutrition Response Tester, so I could work with Dr. L..

I was eating normally, short of grains and sugar. I was doing yoga and aerobic exercise. I could climb stairs without incident. I was happier and healthier than I’d been in years. And, best of all, the panic attacks were very greatly reduced.

I knew what had brought me full circle – Reiki, the beautiful, gentle healing art! I was so convinced of its healing power that I took classes from Marnie and became a Reiki 2 practitioner. Eight months later, I became a Reiki Master and teacher and began a whole new career integrating Reiki with Nutrition Response Testing!

My story is, in my humble opinion, nothing short of miraculous. It shows what can happen when we listen to ourselves and give our bodies the tools needed to heal themselves. I shudder to think what might have happened to me if I hadn’t been guided to use alternative methods of healing. And I’m blessed that because of what I learned through my experiences, I’ve been able to help my clients find healing within themselves as well. One thing I learned in that decidedly dark season of my life, and now teach, is that no matter what challenge we’re facing, the answer to that challenge is within. There is no higher authority than inner authority. If we just listen, we may not only help ourselves, but also those with whom we are destined to meet on our path.

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