I was right, and I forgive you.

When I was 20, I developed a permanent, stationary blind spot in my field of vision, so I had to get one of those scans where they inject your blood with dye and examine your eyes. (Which was not fun, BTW.) They determined I had something called Central Serous Retinopathy, and that the spot was permanent. It sucks, but thankfully it’s off to the side a little and not directly in my center of vision, otherwise the last 17 or so years would have been significantly more problematic.

ANYWAY, that’s not the point. The point is, I developed this spot while taking Prednisone for the flu. During the last 17 years I have asked at least 3 doctors (including eye doctors) whether Prednisone could have caused my little blind spot, letting them know the drug insert even warned of potential eye problems. Well, I KNEW it caused it so I TOLD doctors rather than asked, and every single one of them dismissed me with “That’s not possible.” Actually, I wasn’t quite so shitty about it – I told doctors when they questioned why I won’t take steroids anymore. (Of course, telling them this made me seem crazy, a concept which even pre-dates my FQ experience.)

Well, I had to go to the eye doctor today for blepharitis that will not seem to heal, and he rattled off a handful of possible causes of Central Serous Retinopathy. Guess what? Steroids was one of them.

I almost shouted, “I was taking steroids when it happened, and every doctor I’ve talked to said there’s no way steroids could cause it!” I practically jumped out of my chair. I’m slightly proud of myself, because I wanted to say “Those fucking pricks!”, but instead said, “I guess they’ve learned some new information, huh?” And he said that yes, they have, and that kind of thing happens often.

Then I imagined myself in a doctor’s office as a 70+ year old, listening to someone tell me how Fluoroquinolones can cause chronic, multi-system illnesses in addition to peripheral neuropathy and tendon damage – basically telling me what I obviously already know, just like what happened today. Only if that happens, I won’t be so nice about it. I’ll say in a curt, crotchety old lady way, “I’ve been telling you fucking assholes that since back in 2008.” I think it’s going to happen someday. (I’m going to guess around 2053, LOL.)

Okay…it’s possible I’ll be polite rather than crotchety, but I can definitely picture a scenario like my steroid eye spot story happening with FQ Toxicity eventually. (And maybe even MCS.) They won’t be able to ignore this problem forever.

It goes back to this concept, which is totally foreign to some people: when presented with unfamiliar information, be curious and open-minded rather than dismissive. (Which could apply to any topic, not just medicine.) I’ll bet that those doctors could have searched and found SOMETHING about steroids causing my eye condition if they had tried, even way back in 1998. Instead, they dismissed me.

The moral is: stop dismissing patients like me. Listen to us. Study us. Our adverse experiences are mirrors showing the world that something is terribly wrong and needs to be fixed.

Having said that, I do actually understand why doctors dismiss us. Can you imagine learning you prescribed a dangerous drug to hundreds of thousands of people, likely ruining the health of who knows how many in the process? Learning you were misled by pharmaceutical companies, and that the whole modern medical paradigm into which you’ve invested your life, your time, and your trust is deeply flawed? That you’ve been unwittingly violating your Hippocratic Oath for years and years on end? I, personally, would be devastated to learn this. I almost can’t blame a person for clinging so tightly to their belief systems that they’re blinded to the truth.

Almost. But not fully. Because while I have compassion and empathy for doctors in this situation, the need for change trumps their need to stay nestled within blissful ignorance – the safety nets of their lives – while people continue to suffer at their hands. People are being harmed every single day by what medical science has gotten wrong, and it’s time for acknowledgement, change, and healing to occur.

Also, they’re shams, anyway, these safety nets. They don’t exist. The rug can be pulled out from any one of us at any given time, no matter how secure we think we are. (This applies to any aspect of life, including our beliefs.)

I forgive them, though. There’s something beautiful, in a strange way, of someone saying “I thought I was right, but I wasn’t. I’m so sorry I hurt you.”

Even the ones who can’t say this, who can never admit the truth – I forgive them because they’re human, and flawed. Just like myself, and just like everyone else. The difference is, the harm most of us inflict on others does not occur on such a grand scale as when doctors prescribe poison masquerading as medicine. But I still forgive the ones who don’t acknowledge me, if only because of this saying, which I’m sure many of you have heard before:

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

God knows I don’t need anymore poison in my life.

To those unwilling to acknowledge Fluoroquinolones harmed me…okay. You’re not ready – I get it. But someday you’ll have to be. Your time is limited. The world doesn’t need anymore poison, either, and someday you’ll be forced to stop giving it out like candy and glossing over people’s suffering.

I look forward to that day.

And even if you don’t want or need it, I still forgive you for being human, and for doing your best – even if the best you could do was calling your patient crazy and insisting their symptoms were all in their heads. I haven’t always treated people well, either, or been eager to accept another person’s perception of a truth I wasn’t ready to hear. Because I’m only human, too. Just like you.

I hope the people I’ve hurt can forgive me as well.

Life Can Go Fuck Itself

Sometimes I’m grateful for the lessons my hardships have brought. I’m grateful for the inner strength I was shown I possess, and for the self-awareness my suffering has helped me develop. If you look hard enough, you can usually find something positive born from tragedy, however small. And gratitude for life’s blessings is important in this tumultuous world.

Other times, however, I want to say “fuck all that” and tell life to go fuck itself.

Let me clarify that I am EVER SO GRATEFUL I’m no longer in the throes of acute flox symptoms like near-constant neuropathy, brain fog, headaches, and excessive food and chemical sensitivities. That was the worst experience of my life, and the very definition of hell on earth. I’m glad it appears to be over.

However, life, can you please fuck off with the random ailments, already? Besides the intermittent facial pain I described here, I also have varying degrees of nasal allergies/sinus problems, mild insomnia, joint pain, blepharitis, dry eyes, and sometimes my glands swell up for no apparent fucking reason. (But they always go back to normal, so I guess I’m not going to die from whatever is causing it.) I also have some random ass problem, possible TMJ disorder, malocclusion, and other dental issues. I’m sure there are more ailments I’m forgetting at the moment.

Besides health, here are some other reasons life can go fuck itself – that it’s nothing more than an exercise in irony and psychological torture. Such as:

I love cats and have had cats for almost my entire life. Now I’m allergic to cats and can’t enjoy their company anymore.

I am quiet and peaceful, but surrounded by noise at work and at home. I just cannot get away from it. Adding insult to injury, when I wear earplugs to block out my neighbors noise so I can fucking sleep (when I don’t have insomnia, that is), I am then made keenly aware of my tinnitus, which is mostly in my left ear for some unknown goddamn reason. Yes, I’ve been to the doctor. The answer to my ear woes is “maybe allergies”. Because they itch, too, just like my eyes.

Next up: food. No, I don’t get intense migraines, brain fog, neuropathy, or body pain after eating certain foods anymore. Thank god. That was another version of hell – the lack of ability to feed myself without becoming acutely ill. But sometimes I still get mild versions of those ailments, or I get things like sneezing episodes after eating. I still have to be careful.

Sick of the constant food diligence bullshit, I recently told my gluten issue to go fuck itself. I then discovered that sometimes I feel fine eating gluten, while other times I pay with diarrhea and stomach pain. And I think it might play a role in those ass woes I mentioned earlier…but I’m not sure. So I’m not debilitated by food sensitivities anymore, but they still bother me to a degree.

My point? Before Cipro fucked me up, I was adventurous with food. I would eat almost anything. I loved tasting different foods and drinks, and would get so excited browsing grocery aisles or restaurant menus for something exotic to try as a little treat for myself. Now, even though I can tolerate more than I could 5 years ago, I can’t eat or drink anything I want with wild abandon without fear of health repercussions. I can’t just relax and enjoy food and drink…or any fucking thing, it seems. This is yet another instance, besides the cat thing, of life limiting or taking away what I love.

(Also, I’m sick of merely TOLERATING things. I want to ENJOY them without worry like many lucky people get to do in their lives – people who have no idea how lucky they actually are.)

Now I’m thinking of this brain meme I found a couple years ago. (Is that what these things are called? God, I feel old.)

This one:

That’s what it feels like life is doing to me sometimes.

Love cats? Become allergic in adulthood and never have a cat again.

Love silence? Forced to live and work with excessive noise.

Finally (mostly) overcome floxing and MCS? Can’t enjoy it because of lingering, apparently untreatable ailments.

And I can’t throw money at these problems to, for instance, find a new place to live or go to doctors for allergy testing & treatment, because my job doesn’t pay enough.

Oh, that reminds me:

Hate your job? Steadily become more and more busy until you feel like that frog who has no idea he’s slowly boiling to death in that pot of water, then have no energy to seek additional skills during nights and weekends to find another job.

Yeah…Fuck you, life.

That wasn’t even all of it. Here are a couple more:

Acquire health problems? Get the ones no one has heard of or believes in so you get a mental illness label instead of help and compassion.

Love to write and create things? No free time, or if you do get free time, you’re either too sick or too tired.

Oh, and blepharitis? That eye condition I mentioned earlier? Is made worse by crying. Guess what people do when life dishes out neverending, stressful, troublesome bullshit? Yeah. They cry. Then their eyes feel worse. Then they cry some more because their eyes feel awful. Then their eyes feel EVEN worse, triggering MORE urges to cry, which they must then fight, so they won’t spend the next day in utter misery, fantasizing about gouging their own eyes out while working their noisy, shitty-assed job.

I mean, really? AM I in hell??? GAAAAHHHH. I’m sick of this shit.

I realize many people have significantly worse problems than I do, but that doesn’t diminish my right to be dissatisfied with the unpleasant and somewhat cruelly ironic aspects of my own life, does it? No, it fucking doesn’t. Because it feels like life has given me small tastes of its various comforts and pleasures, only to take them away and say, “No, you can’t actually have that. But first you can feel how much you love it before I take it away, then make your life not too torturous, but JUST HARD ENOUGH so you can never relax and fully enjoy it.”

I resent the fuck out of that, too.

When I start to resent it, I’ll sometimes have a pity party and think things like “Why can’t people like my boyfriend’s ex-wife get food allergies instead of me? She has the palate of an eight year old, so food allergies would hardly even impact her diet.” Or “Why can’t I have a health problem mainstream medicine acknowledges, so I can get ribbons and charity walks and attention instead of being shunned by society?”

Do you realize how fucked up it is to envy another’s illness? Not to mention, these are just poisonous thoughts in general. They’re counterproductive, and they help no one. They need to go. (But I’m only human, so first I need to forgive myself for having them, I suppose.)

Plus, fuck society. Whoever treats me like I’m crazy instead of sick can go fuck themselves.

God, I’m in a terrible mood.

Also, I’m tired of grasping for things to be grateful for in order to offset my difficulties. I’m tired of looking for little things to keep me clinging to this sometimes shitty life. Things like, “Oh, that flower is so beautiful. I’m glad I’m alive to see it. I guess the world isn’t entirely a cesspool of shit after all.” I had those types of thoughts back when I was suffering so badly I was fighting suicidal urges. As ridiculous as it sounds, they helped.

They don’t help much anymore. I’m tired of having to appreciate a goddamn sunset just to make living more bearable. I don’t want noticing random beauty to be my only joy…I want to find joy in GRABBING LIFE AND LIVING THE FUCK OUT OF IT. But how do I do that when I still struggle, and all these things seem to hold me back? When I can’t figure out how? I don’t know, and I’m sick of constantly wondering but never finding the answer.

Sigh. Life is hard, and sometimes I’d really like a break. Once again, I find myself hoping for some glorious afterlife to look forward to after I drop dead. Not one in which some guy saves his favorite people but banishes others to eternal suffering. I’m talking about an afterlife of joy and love and peace for everyone – even the fuckups of the world. A resting place along our journey, until we move on to whatever happens next. I think it exists, but of course I won’t know for sure until I get there…unless everything will simply be snuffed out with my last breath. But I don’t think that’s how it’s going to go. I think I’m going to learn what this crazy bullshit on earth was all about, and stop telling life to go fuck itself.

Maybe if I try hard enough, I can learn to stop saying it while I’m still here. But first I have to wait for my (probably delusional) optimism to return, because that shit has left the building.