I recently had some dental work done that ended up becoming quite complicated and in the end, requiring several more appointments than I had anticipated. And on the evening after my final appointment I felt that dreaded cheek swelling and throbbing pain that we all fear is indicative of an infection. I treated it naturally for a few days with some heavy duty (and disgusting, mind you!) herbs and homeopathy but I hit my limit when I was waking up at night in pain and unable to go back to sleep. I decided to do a 7-day round of antibiotics as per the recommendation of the endodontist…good ol’ amoxycillin. We have all taken it, right?
Now I am not opposed to antibiotics but I rarely take them as I have found many ways to prevent infection and many herbs that are nearly as effective without causing so much harm. The things we have to remember about antibiotics is that they require a commitment to repairing your system after even only a few short days on them because they wipe out your gut flora – the good stuff and the bad. They leave you vulnerable to more pathogenic factors and they are hard on the liver. All that being said, the impact antibiotics have had in medical history are nothing short of miraculous. And that’s the truth.
For me, after only 3 days into the amoxycillin I noticed they were having more of an impact on me than antibiotics had before. I was sleeping like I was in a coma, 10 hours passed like 2. Plus my digestion had become really sensitive and I had started to develop a small rash on my belly, interestingly right above my liver! At about day 5 the rash had spread all over my torso and was itchy. I examined the amoxycillin pills closely a couple of times to be sure that was what I was in fact taking. The swelling and pain in my cheek had subsided and I only had 2 more days to go. I was surprised my body was having such a hard time. It’s not like I had never taken amoxycillin before! I believe it is the single most prescribed antibiotic on the market!
Upon finishing the 7 days, I couldn’t have been happier in my spirits- now it was time to begin the repair! I was pulling everything out of my toolbox to help clear these drugs from my system. But slowly I began to feel strange sensations in my chest, much like heart palpitations. And after a day or two went by, these heart palpitations were so disruptive that they would make me stop dead in my tracks until they neutralized. Then by the 3rd day of heart palpitations, my heart felt like it was hitting my chest so hard sometimes it would actually take my breath away and make me have a coughing fit. On day 4 I was officially worried I was going to pass out from them because they had become relentless and were giving me dizzy spells. At that point, it was off to the ER to see what the heck was going on.
After an EKG and an electrolyte panel, “Premature Ventricular/Atrial Contraction”s was my diagnosis. “PVC’s or PAC’s are a normal part of life. Everybody gets them at some point and you just have to learn to manage them by not drinking caffeine or alcohol. And do what you have to do to keep your anxiety low. Ok?” the doctor says standing up ready to leave.
“No, wait one second please. Do you think this could be a reaction to the amoxycillin?” I ask.
“No. These things just happen. It’s a normal part of life for some people,” he replies.
“Really? Because it didn’t start until I was taking amoxycillin last week.” I commented.
“Mindi, even I get these kinds of heart palpitations all the time. They come and they go. There is no cure for them. There never will be. They just happen. Learn to live with it. And if it gets too bad ask your doctor for a beta blocker,” he finishes and begins to walk away.
“Wow!” I’m thinking to myself! I can’t believe these words just came out of his mouth. There is no way I would ever just “get used to it” nor would I ever ask any of my own clients to do that. That is not and will NEVER be a sufficient answer for anyone’s experience of suffering.
It was in this moment that I couldn’t help but to think about all the people who would take his mindless piece of advice to heart and go home with that kind of hopelessness in their heart simply because they wouldn’t know any better. Or perhaps because English is not their first language. Or they simply have so much blind trust in doctors. So many people would feel intimidated by this doctor that they would never even think to question him! I wish that all medical practitioners were trained in knowing the kind of power they can carry for people and I wish they were taught to be careful with that. I am so blessed to be educated and to know my rights.
I could feel that I hit the end of this doctor’s skill level and I was ready to go home. Even though the ER doctor disagreed that the amoxycillin could have anything to do with my symptoms, I decided to treat this as a systemic allergic reaction. Since I had ruled out that my symptoms were not life threatening, I decided to hit it hard with my detoxification protocols, starting with my favorite Detox Bath recipe.
The next morning I felt surprisingly a little better. I was actually able to take a deep breath without coughing and had several moments in between the palpitations. I called my acupuncturist and was able to get in right away. As it turned out, I had developed an energy block between two channels/meridians that both pass through my rib cage! He was able to clear them for me and I felt almost back to normal that evening.
Holy moly what a rollercoaster. A few more days, a few more baths, and another acupuncture session I was completely free of symptoms. So grateful.
All that was left was calling all my doctors and dentists and letting them know of this new intolerance to amoxycillin. What a journey.
Like most things in life, I like to take a step back and think about all the lessons learned in each adventure. Here is what I’ve got so far with this one that I would like to share with you:
1. Trust your instincts. You are your own best medicine, always.
2. Be your own advocate or find someone else to help advocate for you. And when you feel nice and strong and centered, advocate for someone else in need.
3. Be grateful to those who can rule out life-threatening situations but don’t expect too much from them!
4. Find a knowledgable practitioner who can see you as a whole person and who won’t give up on you! A practitioner who refers you out on the chance that someone else might know better is more skilled than a practitioner who keeps you around only to kill your hope of getting better!