LAKE JACKSON — For Glennece Beckett, the nightmare started in June 2014 with a urinary tract infection. She didn’t think much of it, since UTIs are so common, and her doctor was similarly unconcerned.

She received a prescription for ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic often used to treat such infections, and trusted that the seven-day course of pills would clear up her problem.

“You don’t think about it,” she said. “Your doctor gives you a prescription, you go and get it filled, you take it.”

After a week of pills, the infection faded, but other problems soon took its place. Burning pain filled the joints of her hands, arms and elbows. The joints in her feet and ankles began to swell, creating throbbing pain when she tried to walk. Her stride turned into a hobble. For an active woman involved in biking, running and horseback riding, it was a serious liability.

Eventually, Beckett went to a Houston orthopedist to find out what was wrong. He asked if she had taken Cipro, a brand name for ciprofloxacin.

When Beckett said yes, he told her ciprofloxacin can cause tendons to swell or tear, especially the Achilles’ tendon in the heel. It also can cause diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, blurred vision, anxiety, insomnia, nightmares and rash.

Beckett didn’t know it yet, but the rest of the side effects were on their way. By September, she had casts on both legs. By October, she spent most of her time in a wheelchair.

“Things just deteriorated from there. … I went through a year ripping tendons,” she said. “If I sat up for more than 30 minutes, the tendons that hold the muscles to the backbone would shred and rip. I turned over in bed and the tendon ruptured in my right thigh and the muscles ripped off the bone.”

By December, Beckett was bedridden and in constant pain. The slightest movement grated on her swollen joints and tore her damaged tendons.

She couldn’t move from her bed or even sit up. Constant migraines added to her misery, vicious headaches coupled with nausea and dizziness that lasted for days.

“She couldn’t even put a sentence together or communicate her needs, brush her teeth or feed herself,” said Hannah, Beckett’s daughter and caretaker.

“She was in excruciating pain. Muscles were spasming, tendons and muscles were tearing spontaneously, (she had) severe migraine headaches 24/7, intense panic attacks. … This lasted intensely for the next 15 months.”

SEEKING ANSWERS

As her condition deteriorated, Beckett made the round of Houston physicians, looking for a cure.

They found a host of neurocognitive issues and heart damage as well as the tendonitis. As the tests went on, her vision faded until she was legally blind in her right eye. The left eye retained partial vision, but doctors say that will fade within a few months.

Doctors initially diagnosed Beckett with Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia and Huntington’s disease, but ultimately found to have none of them.

When she told doctors her condition was caused by Cipro, many refused to believe her. Cipro is such a common antibiotic, they told her, and they use it for everything. It couldn’t cause these issues.

They branded her a hypochondriac and an exaggerator, telling her she must be making up some of her symptoms.

“How do you fabricate MRIs showing that your tendons are ruptured?” she said. “How do you fabricate the fact that my vision is gone? How do you make these things up?”

By 2015, Beckett still had no answers, and she was nowhere near the road to recovery. She began to experience a feeling she described as waves of boiling water running up and down her body, a sensation of being constantly scalded. Muscles spasms turned into episodes of shaking and twitching, then morphed into seizures that landed her in the emergency room.

Beckett began to have panic attacks and terrifying dreams, catapulting from her troubled sleep into a waking nightmare of shrieking joints, burning skin and tearing tendons.

“There were months and months I basically screamed 24/7,” she said. “It was like a chainsaw peeling the skin and muscles off my feet and legs. It was unbearable, excruciating pain for the sheet to touch them, even the air to touch them.”

In March, Beckett started spending a week out of every month at the Progressive Health Care Center in Austin, where nurses gave her three to four IVs a week.

The other three weeks each month, a nurse came to Beckett’s home in Lake Jackson to administer the IVs.

The IVs contained lutathione, a substance produced naturally by the liver, used to treat drug poisoning, boost damaged immune systems and treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The treatment helped, but she still was in pain.

‘A VERY DARK TIME’

“There was a period last October where my pastor came over. It was a very dark time. I said if I was a dog, you would put me down and call it humane,” Beckett said. “If I was a horse, you’d shoot me in the head and say it was mercy.”

Last December, Beckett’s husband called the Mayo Clinic, a world-renowned nonprofit medical system and research group. When they learned about the seriousness of Beckett’s condition, they invited her to come in immediately.

Since it was two days before Christmas and Mayo locations are Minnesota, Florida and Arizona, it took the family a week to make it.

“During that time I got a horrible, horrible rash,” Beckett said.

“I scratched myself bloody. Doctors said there was no one disease that would cause all this. It’s just been a journey to kind of try and figure out everything.”

HANNAH’S SACRIFICES

On that journey, 19-year-old Hannah has learned to give Beckett her glutathione injections, a series of six to seven each day. The treatments helped Beckett regain limited mobility; she can sit for up to two hours each day now and use a wheelchair during that time instead of staying in bed.

It hasn’t fixed every problem, however. Doctors say Beckett will lose her remaining vision within a few months, and her mobility might never be what it once was.

Hannah has given up a lot to be her mother’s sole caretaker. As an all-day, all-night health assistant, she doesn’t have a lot of time for friends or goofing off, but none of that matters to her as much as her mother’s health.

“Through homeschooling and my dad living out of the state, we’ve developed a very deep friendship,” Hannah said. “Just watching her suffer was painful for me. I’m wanting to do everything I can to help her.”

Hannah and her mother said it is important to them to share her story because many doctors still do not believe fluoroquinolones such as ciprofloxacin are dangerous. Those attitudes are changing in light of an increasing number of reports about similar experiences with the drug as those experienced by Beckett.

MORE STUDY

The Food and Drug Administration in 2013 issued new, mandatory warning labels about the drugs’ risk, including the possibility warnings about permanent nerve damage. There also are several class-action lawsuits in the works against drug manufacturers, alleging they suppressed knowledge of the side effects.

“If we can stop this from happening to another family, we need to,” Beckett said, tears in her eyes. “I don’t want anyone else to go through this.”

Reports like Backett’s have gained attention and brought action by federal regulators.

In July 2008 and August 2013, the FDA added required warnings to the labels of fluoroquinolones, including Cipro, that use could cause tendonitis and nerve damage.

But the problems continued to be reported, and the FDA undertook more study of how fluoroquinolones were being prescribed and their associated risks.

On Nov. 5, officials called a joint meeting of the Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee to discuss fluoroquinolones.

“In the last few years, we have received an increasing number of postmarketing reports from patients describing signs and symptoms involving different body sites that often interfere with activities of daily living and can persist,” the meeting report began.

NEW WARNINGS

FDA data indicated ciprofloxacin was the most commonly used drug of its kind, with 15 million patients in the United States taking ciprofloxacin in 2014 and 22.2 million taking some kind of fluoroquinolone.

As of November, the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System had received 1,112 reports of fluoroquinolone-related disability, or a patient developing problems in two or more of the following systems: musculoskeletal, neuropsychiatric, peripheral nervous system, senses like vision or hearing, skin and cardiovascular.

The report noted this is a low number compared to the millions taking fluoroquinolones, but a very high number of self-reports for any drug.

“The unusually large number of direct reports coming from patients who described similar experiences after taking a FQ was very beneficial in describing these disability cases,” the report said. “Many of the patient’s clinicians were reported to be at a loss as to what was causing these symptoms. Some patients reported extensive medical testing to try to diagnose the cause of their disability symptoms, but test results were frequently negative. Effective treatments were not identified.”

The report included anonymous sample cases, many of whom reported symptoms similar to Beckett’s. One woman said that after 10 days of Cipro, she had to crawl up her stairs because her joint pain was so acute.

The large number of similar cases prompted the FDA to release a safety announcement May 12 warning patients and health-care providers about the dangers of fluoroquinolones and advising them to use alternative treatments for patients with acute sinusitis, acute bronchitis and uncomplicated urinary tract infections, saying the side effects outweigh the benefits.

For some, the warning comes too late.

Beckett still is mostly bedridden, though she can now spend up to two hours a day in her wheelchair.

Her condition is slowly improving in most areas, though it could be years before she gains the ability to walk again or even sit upright without assistance.

The only condition still deteriorating is her eyesight, and Beckett will have surgery this month to try to save the remaining vision in her left eye.

Despite her condition, she is determined to spread the news.

“People need to know about the dangers,” she said. “People need to know about this.”

Mary Newport is a features writer for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0149.

Recommended for you

(25) entries

Tonggie

Please have Glendece Beckett join us on in a close Facebook group . Many of us testified at the FDA hearing on Nov 5, 2015. 24/7 was the group that went to Washington D.C. to be heard... on how our lives were destroyed by Fluoroquinolones.

Carolynk413

I too took Levequin for UTI and continue to have side effects from it. I missed a week of work the first week I started taking it. I stopped taking it on my own after the side effect started 3 pills in.

Tonggie

https://www.facebook.com/groups/191063714251094/

Mark A Girard

Thank you so much for doing this story! I too had my life destroyed by these drugs and we are not alone. There are over 5,500 members in Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Group, the largest and busiest of many different support groups for victims of FQ toxicity, and there are many more members in those other groups as well, with perhaps 10,000 people in our rapidly growing community overall. Sadly, we are just the tip of the iceberg. This article touched on a very telling bit of information, that patients self report harm from these drugs far far more often than they do for most other drugs because doctors are oblivious to the harm they are causing with these drugs. Even when we go to them with letters from injured doctors and peer reviewed research and recent FDA warnings they still refuse to believe us in most cases. The truth is that there are millions upon millions of people who have been "floxed" in America but 99.9% of them have no clue what happened, or if they do they have been told by one doctor after another that it's all in their head. Slowly but surely, with the help of conscientious reporters, we have been raising awareness and we will continue to do so until these drugs are restricted to life-or-death situations. I urge everyone to look into this further by googling some of the key words in this post and this article. Best wishes to all!

Doodaa

For all those people that think this is impossible. Think again. This is real, I would most definitely compare it to death while awake. Your life is over. no one will ever understand the pain, the confusion. It is like plucking pedals from a flower. eventually there are no more pedals. The agonizing pain. Fluoroquinolones not only kill bacteria but may eventually destroy you. Please pay attention and research these drugs

Pam K

I know how true this is. I took Levaquin in November and continue to have issues. I am currently in therapy for the tendons in the leg. I also believe it may have caused the tinnitus that I am dealing with in my ears.

NOFX25

It's sad in America, that corporations can do this type of thing to unexpecting citizens and get away with it. This drug ruined my life as well. It's been an uphill battle just to find out what's wrong with me, then when I found out all my problems were associated with this drug, I was FURIOUS at the US FDA for allowing this drug to be so loosely prescribed. Especially since 56 out of the 58 trials and tests that were done had PROVEN to have negative results more so than positive ones. There needs to be SERIOUS reform in the way the FDA conducts business. No one should have to deal with the pain and suffering we do on a daily basis, it's inhumane that these drug companies get away with poisoning and murdering ppl for a profit!

mooma6546

I also went to the doctor for a minor thing and was given meds I was allergic to or I had side effects. The doctor said I shouldn't be feeling the way I was feeling from them but I was. I had to go on a very strict detox and get that stuff out of my body. It was horrible! Thank God most of the symptoms are gone. These new medicines are not good. I hope I can stay well enough that I don't have to get any more drugs and hope they work. I am trying to stay healthy by eating a very good diet (plant based) and getting enough sunshine, good thoughts and exercise. Mind body and spirit need to be taken care of.

Nmay95

I am so very sorry this has happened to her. But most seem to forget that drugs are not natural to our bodies. I am highly, deathly allergic to Penicillin. I stop breathing with it. Many people have allergies to this drug. But there are many that these drugs do help. When I worked ICU, Cipro was given to many patients with serious infections. They miraculously went home at some point infection free. Many of these patients would have died. I received Cipro after an infection in my heart. I luckily did fine. But knew to look out for adverse reactions. I would hate for Penicillin or Cipro to be removed. People need to make themselves more away about what they are being prescribed and way the benefits of taking it. I am allergic to many pain drugs that hugely benefit others. The only ine I can tolerate is tough to get when needed, such as a surgery. Not everyone will tolerate every drug. Be Blessed.

Hurt By Levaquin

My life did not need saving and I did not need Levaquin! Levaquin has ruined my life! Don't blame the patient when they are not given any warnings!!! I was given the drug in the hospital and when you are in the hospital you get NO warnings.
One would think that medical professionals would pay attention to repeated health complaints from patients and then be able to put two and two together to figure out that these drugs are dangerous! What I have found since being hurt is that 99% of doctors won't even LISTEN! Perhaps, if they checked their ego at the door and actually listened to their patients, they might learn something!

Lbanski

Did your follow your patients for six months after their icu recovery? Often levaquine and other of the same class have delayed side effects that can happen weeks or months later? If you dug in and checked your past patients and how they were doing six months later, I'm sure you would find not all were fine. I'm sure that a certain percentage suffered the collateral damage and may still be suffering. Saved their lives, yes, but at what cost. If your patients suffered any immediate side effect, you may not have recognized it, blaming the pain on the infection. Also if they were on pain meds too........how could they even tell if they started reacting. Sometimes the pain starts very small, and travels, never staying in one spot. Miner pain, but as weeks and months go by the damage done escalates slowly and four months out you discover you have tendonopathy and burning nerve damage. You discover you have lost hair on your legs and your skin has lost collagen. Also your knees are giving you problems. How many of your patients suffered from bad morbid nightmares, or insomnia, or depression or severe anxiety several weeks after they left the hospital.how many suddenly had multi-symptom on going mysterious issues after leaving your care. Go back and check their records six months after leaving the Icu and you might find a different story.

Mark A Girard

Sadly, fluoroquinolones (FQs) are over-prescribed by a factor of thousands. I don't think anyone is denying that these drugs can and do save lives but they are literally killing more people than they are saving. In this video, renowned pharmacological expert Dr. Charles Bennett of the University of South Carolina clearly states that these drugs have KILLED 300,000 Americans and actually, I would bet the true number is even higher. Doctors are simply not looking for or catching the horrific and even deadly adverse reactions these drugs routinely cause. The medical community exists in a bubble, convinced it is doing a darn good job, when the truth is that they are failing miserably, killing and maiming people left and right all day, oblivious to the trail of carnage and misery in their wake. Doctors are now the leading cause of death in America, Canada and other Western countries and yet, if you try to tell a doctor anything whatsoever they will almost always put up a wall of denial as if they had their fingers in their ears saing "blah blah blah, I can't hear you...". We have letters from damaged doctors, tons of peer-reviewed research and statements from the FDA to bring to our doctors to explain our problems but they will refuse to even acknowledge the possibility and will waste precious time and resources ordering all sorts of useless tests trying to find the "real causes" of all the things we have have going wrong, things that started right when we started the drugs and which all happen to be listed in the product literature. The truth is that modern doctors are only a little bit better than the barbers of the dark ages. The medical community needs to STFU and listen to their patients for a change and maybe, just maybe, they will start performing at an acceptable level again. Until then, the average doctor will continue to be a delusional menace to his or her patients. Here's the video I mentioned.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3LlLHpgrbc

Hurt By Levaquin

I took Levaquin (another fluoroquinolone drug) over 2 1/2 years ago and I have been suffering in pain ever since. Patients do not always receive warnings- I was in the hospital and was given the drug with no verbal or written warnings. I later found out that these drugs are chemotherapeutic so it is not surprising that they do so much damage to the body. Doctors are quick to prescribe these drugs yet have absolutely no answers when you are hurt by them.
The medical system in this country is a nightmare! I no longer have any trust in doctors or prescription drugs. :(

K Red

It is definitely disheartening to hear so many that a suffering. I am glad you all are choosing to take action. However, I do find some of the comments about the medical system false. The FDA is set up so that drugs have to go through rigorous trials before they can market their medications. Doctors only know about the medications what the manufacturer and studies have stated about it. So why are physicians 'crazy' for prescribing prescription that they have seen work and current information says is relatively safe? All medications have possible side effects. It is a risk you and every patient should consider, doctors are going to tell you that these medications are relatively safe...because that is what they know them to be. Going after the manufacturer to amke them aware of a side effect they didn't have on the lable is wise, but modern medicine is not awful just because your situation is an outlier from the average. People do need to ask more questions of their health care providers, but in these cases more education would have not changed the outcome. Most physicians would have probably felt the chosen therapy was still the best course of action based on what they knew of the drugg and I really don't see how anyone can blame 'the medical field' for that or for taking so long to figure out what the problem was. The only thing I can say is that anyone who said you were lying about your symptoms was in the wrong. They should have said that the testing hasn't led them to any clues and they are not sure of what should be done next. That is a frustrating answer, but honest and something patients should be able tolerating their physician saying. You may very well have to go to several physicians to get a lead on your problem, not because your physician is an idiot but because their expierences are different.

Hurt By Levaquin

The FDA gets 2/3 of its funding from the drug companies. Those "rigorous trials" you wrote about are trials done by the drug companies. The FDA does no drug testing of its own. Do some research and you will be shocked to see just how very UNSAFE our prescription drugs are today.

Lbanski

Many number of problems exist with in our present medical system from how doctors and nurses are trained to how much control and influence the pharmaceutical companies have within this system. Where do doctors and pharmacists get their information from about the drugs they use. All the studies and information comes from the pharmaceutical companies. Go ahead and research just how honest companies, like Bayer and Johnson and Johnson, are . There is a lot of corruption all for the name of profit going on. A lot of times doctors rely on drug representative s for info. Sometimes doctors get kickbacks for using a certain drug. Then there is the FDA. 30 years after the fact, are people FINALLY being warned about the disabling,long lasting, multi symptomatic reaction that people can get from as much as 1 pill of levaquine,cipro or avolox. These reactions have been happening for 30 year! Victims have been effected and crying out for thirty years and it is only now that the FDA recognizes it? And subsequently, reluctantly, doctors too? The drug companies knew and had clues as to the extensive damage these drugs caused, but conveniently hid it. Now the FDA is currently negotiating with the drug companies as to how to word it in the warnings. REALLY????? They are negotiating? Something is very, very wrong with our current system. It's ingrained in our society to trust the doctors, yet the patient is often blamed when things go wrong. And it's the patient that suffers from the broken system.

doxie9

this is horrible. I too was given Levaquin but it was for Ecoli . A few hours after i took it, i could hardly move. My physician claimed that was not an effect of this drug. BS. I did not finish the RX. Later i began to experience terrible things. When I looked in the mirror I saw a woman 20 years older than I was. I could not step up steps, I was in excruciating pain when I would sit down. I could not even raise my arms to do my hair. So I was given steroids and immune suppressants. I gained my life back. The rheumy determined that i had Dermatomyositis which is inflammation of muscles and skin. There is no history of this autoimmune condition in my family. I blame the Levaquin. I have bad days and worse days. Thankfully i did regain my mobility.

Tracy Jean

What a sad but true story. I too have had my life ruined by cipro however, I feel BLESSED it ONLY wrecked most of my tendons. I have my vision. Two years this month I took the poison without warning. Yep, the government lost a diligent taxpayer and productive member of society and my family lost the person I was. Its tough to ask for assistance all day and all night at the ripe old age of 54. Any physician who doubts the side effects is a FOOL. Even the slow to act FDA has acknowledged the long lasting and permanent adverse effects of this class of drugs.

Rozi

Not as badly damaged as she but I, too, was harmed by Levaquin, in the same family as Cipro. Why do we blame the medical field? For the simple reason that for monetary reasons, or ego, we are disbelieved, ridiculed, denied. We are not outliers; we are unfortunate collateral damage. Consider us the civilians killed while bombing the 'bad guys' where the bombing itself is questionable. Then consider all the other victims who have been damaged and don't even know what caused it. Then consider that if this were an epidemuc, how the CDC would be scrambling to find a cure or at least prevention. I guarantee you that more lives by far have been damaged than will ever be by Zika, yet all I hear about are conferences, budgets, handwringing over this 'coming' scourge. Many floxies have lost the ability to walk, to work, to take care of families, to an extent they may as well have microencephaly themselves. At least those poor children are believed; we are not. We cannot get treatment, we cannot get assistance, we cannot get disability. But let's keep handing out like candy the hollow tip bullet that explodes in your body, shredding tendons, joints, muscles, not to mention the panic attacks, brain fog, tremors and insomnia. By all means, let's keep that stuff on the market to be used indiscriminately, for minor sinus and bladder infections, instead of hold it in reserve for life or death situations. And especially, let's turn a blind eye to those who have been killed or damaged, shrug and go on, while those of us left behind in the dust mourn our former healthy, productive lives and learn to live as invalids, a drag on society and our families, knowing this is a lifelong sentence.

Lbanski

More than three years after I took cipro ( it does the same damage as Levaquine, because it from the same class) I am one of those morning my former self. More then 3 years and my leg tendons still do not work right. I can no longer freely jump on a bike and go for miles. I no longer can jump in a pool and freely swim my heart out. I can no longer freely go dancing. No matter what I do, be it housework, or a walk to the store, or shopping, no matter what it is, if it's physical, I am limited. It's summer.....I'm mourning that loss. I was hoping to have healed enough to not be so limited......I'm mourning as the sun shines and here I sit with tight tendons and legs that hurt. Close to 4years out. The warnings downplay the collateral damage. Gait changes. Translation from one who is living it; changes your tendons and other connective tissue on a cellular level so your body cannot move right or work right. Screws up you hips, back, legs, arms. You can no longer stand correctly.......I'm still struggling with my posture. My hips are tight and have rotated.Not to mention the tendonopathy in my legs. I was not adequately warned. My doctor and pharmacist down played all the warnings and said I would have nothing to worry about. Years later I am bumping into too many other people who have been harmed for this to be rare. It not as rare as it is made out to be!

Debbi

Tragic story and one of so many, so many... I too was given Cipro for a minor UTI. 5 days worth. 4 years of ongoing symptoms for me... Untold suffering and misery. This drug poisons people, not just a few but lot - Enough to cause the FDA to act!

Elizabeth Lo

Thank you for this unbelievably horrific story of what a fluoroquinolone antibiotic can do. As I read it, and the comments, and the stories of floxies in the Fb fluoroquinolone toxicity groups, it sounds too horrific to be real, worse than a bad nightmare. But it IS real and happening to so many. Most of whom don't know they were poisoned by these chemotherapeutic drugs disguised as antibiotics. They are in IV bags, eardrops and eyedrops, as well as in pill form. These drugs are only to be taken in a life threatening situation and only as a last resort.

Jane Crosby

The late Dr. Jay Cohen called this" the worst medical disaster in the history of the United States". Before taking any fluoroquinolone antibiotic please read this book. "How We Can Halt the Cipro, and Levaquin Catastrophe".

glb

In addition to what these drugs can do and have done to so many, doctors do not acknowledge the damage or recognize the permanent pain and struggles. Doctor's medical records are what qualifies you for disability compensation. The above story is my mom's. She has not been able to work for two years and medical expenses have been extreme. In the past year she has been denied disability 4 times??? It's all a broken system. It's been a very rough road for us. Trusting God, because He's all we have on our side!

Susan Rose-Trussux

Both Levaquin and Cipro have permanently disabled me. They're chemo drugs posing as antibiotics yet they are prescribed for minor problems such as UTIs. I, too, have struggled with torn tendons, gastrointestinal problems, crashed immune system, total inability to sleep, inability to take any drugs now. When you consider the range of problems from hearing and vision loss, constant pain, inability to think, psychiatric problems such as hallucinations, destroyed central nervous system, the cost of trying to find solutions, the loss of a social life...who would knowingly take this class of drugs? The FDA didn't do its job to protect us. Too many younger people have committed suicide and the rest of us are living out our lives in isolation. This is a cruel way to live and die. Thank you for getting the word out there to protect others.

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