A woman suffered excruciating pain and was unable to walk after suffering a rare reaction to a common antibiotic prescribed to treat her urinary tract infection.
Talia Smith, 44, of Norwood, Massachusetts, was hospitalized in April 2021 after taking three pills of ciproflocaxin, also known as Cipro, from the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics.
She said it felt like a “bomb went off” in her body and five months later her condition had deteriorated until she couldn’t even lift her arms above her head and she was moved to hospice care weighing just 65 pounds.
Three years later, she says she was left in a wheelchair, forced to puree all her meals and unable to care for her veteran husband, who is also in a wheelchair.
The FDA puts a black box warning on fluoroquinolones, meaning they can cause death or serious injury, but Smith says he was not informed of the risks and was told it was a “safe and effective” drug.
Talia Smith with her husband, an American veteran who is also in a wheelchair. Smith used to care for him full-time before he became ill.
Smith shares videos about his experience with his chronic illness to raise awareness
Smith says he now has to puree all his food because he has severe swallowing difficulties.
Smith went to the doctor in April 2021 for treatment for a common UTI and was prescribed Cipro.
She he told 25 Investiga He asked the doctor at the time: ‘This is a pretty strong antibiotic, is this the right one I should be taking?’ And is there something I need to know?
But she said the doctor reassured her: “There’s nothing you need to be aware of.” It is a very safe and effective antibiotic for urinary tract infections.
Days later, he said he felt like ‘a bomb went off’ in his body.
She said: ‘The third day I had shooting pains, like in my heels, in my legs, like shooting pains, like I was being electrocuted. And I was like: What the hell is this?
‘The next [week], I was sitting in a chair taking a shower. The next he could no longer raise his hands above his head.
Over the next five months he continued to deteriorate and ended up in hospice care weighing only 65 pounds.
A year after taking the pills, she was moved to hospice care.
Even today, almost three years later, he said he still relies on a wheelchair and 24-hour help.
The former fitness fanatic now relies on a wheelchair and has to puree all her food.
It’s a far cry from the life she led before taking Cipro, working in the healthcare industry as a product manager and as a full-time caregiver for her disabled veteran husband and her children and stepchildren.
She said: ‘I worked out all the time. She ate well, she was healthy, she worked, she took care of my husband. I never got sick.’
She told News10: ‘This stole both of our lives, not just mine, his, my children’s and my stepchildren’s.
‘I am sitting next to him in a wheelchair because of three pills. Three pills. I can’t take care of him. I can’t take care of myself. “Now we both need 24/7 care.”
Last year, she began sharing her story on TikTok and Instagram, with some of her videos racking up 200,000 views.
She is raising awareness for others who have been ‘floxed’, the name given to people who suffer extreme side effects after taking fluoroquinolones.
There are currently eight brand-name fluoroquinolones on the market and they will be prescribed to 14.8 million people in 2022, according to figures provided by the CDC to 25 Investigates.
She says she is determined to improve and campaign for better antibiotic warnings and for doctors to take responsibility.
Its recommended uses include: anthrax, gonorrhea, typhoid fever and complicated bacterial infections.
It should only be prescribed for urinary tract infections if other treatments have failed.
Its black box warns that it can cause “serious, disabling and potentially irreversible adverse reactions.”
Smith said: “It makes me angry because the first black box warning came out in 2008 for tendons. And then 2013 was the irreversible peripheral neuropathy and 2016 was the permanent, disabling side effects.
“I carried Cipro through 2021. I think that would be enough time for doctors to get on board and be able to convey these warnings to their patients.”