This week I am in antibiotic prison. Here’s what happened. I have been struggling with a health issue that ultimately required treatment with antibiotics. Unfortunately, I have a body that interprets antibiotics as the nectar of the anti-Christ. My body gets a whiff of antibiotics and starts screaming its head off and running around in circles yelling “Earthquake! Fire! Avalanche!” Although normal people usually take antibiotics for ten days, I have never succeeded in making it to Day Ten. By Day Two my digestive tract has packed its bags and hopped the Space Shuttle for planets yet to be discovered. By Day Six I am as dizzy as if I just stepped off the G-Force Fireball Swing-Coaster Anti-Gravity amusement park ride. By Day Seven I break out in an impressive display of bright red hives that cover my entire body. That’s when the doctor and the pharmacist announce “game over.” I have been lucky in the past that somehow those scant miserable days on antibiotics managed to kill off whatever infection they were battling, even though I fell short of making it to the magical ten.
When I picked up my antibiotics at the pharmacy, the pharmacist told me not to read the warnings about side effects. But, but, but, I sputtered, knowing that I am the reason they have to put all those warnings on medications. He said they would just scare me and that they are extreme. Then he told me that while I am on the antibiotics I should stay out of sunlight, not drink anything alcoholic, avoid dairy products, not operate a submarine, and refrain from putting stress on my tendons. I asked him what would happen if I was exposed to sunlight and he said my skin would fall off. I asked him what about the submarine and he said I would cause an international incident. I asked him about my tendons and he told me not to ask about that. He told me to think positive.
The thing about my tendons just left me so curious that I had to read the warning label. I then discovered that I was taking a drug that could “cause permanent damage to tendons or the nervous system resulting in disability.” (You can’t make this stuff up, this is really what it said.) How can big pharma get permission to put this stuff on the market? Does it absolve them of all responsibility because they put the thing about the tendons in the warnings? So I can’t sue if my tendons are damaged? I don’t have choices here. I have to take this horrible stuff to get well. As I continued to read the warning label, I realized that I am doomed. My antibiotics could cause dizziness, hallucinations, tinnitus, depression, suicidal ideation, insomnia, twitching, speaking in tongues, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, hives, an obsession with Bob Dylan, yeast infection, electrical outages, drought, famine, and nuclear war. Yet the FDA approved this stuff. Perhaps they think that someone like me who is hyper-sensitive to antibiotics will transform into a viable weapon of mass destruction. They must be in cahoots with the Dept. of Defense.
Antibiotics are powerful substances. They are programmed to kill and they don’t understand the meaning of collateral damage. These antibiotics are annihilating every bacteria, every hint of bacteria, in my entire body. Both the bad stuff and the good stuff. They are murdering every microorganism within a fifty-mile radius of my person. They are making the pictures fall off my walls and have turned my cats practically transparent. (Those are cats, aren’t they? I’m not sure because of the hallucinations. I mean they could be dancing asparagus.)
I recently read the side effects warnings on a medication my father was taking for asthma. I read the warnings out loud. One of the potential side effects was “sudden death.” When my father heard that one he said, “That’s my least favorite side effect.” How can big pharma get away with this kind of stuff?
I so wish I didn’t have to put these horrible drugs into my body. I have spent years cultivating a beautifully balanced digestive tract that keeps me immune to disease. It had the most lovely flora in it. Sometimes I would lie in bed at night and imagine it radiating vitality. Gone. All gone. Feel free to cry for me. I needed to take these antibiotics, they were my only recourse. I can’t begin to rebalance my complex delicate beautiful body ecology until I finish putting this toxic stuff into it. My digestive tract is a wasteland right now and I can’t rebuild until I get out of antibiotic prison. Today is my last day. After this I’m throwing in the towel. Tomorrow I will begin rebuilding my digestive tract from scratch. Pass the sauerkraut.