By Laura Price, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire UK
My daughter, Brianna, was an active dancer since the age of 2 and a member of the school athletic team. She has always been fit and healthy and very academic.
On September 28th 2011 at age 12 she had her first dose of the Cervarix vaccine. Shortly thereafter everything changed.
During the next 3 weeks she became increasingly unwell, experiencing fatigue, insomnia, constant nausea, increased body temperature, hot flushes, headaches and muscle and joint pain. She would attempt to go to school, but they would just send her home.
Her GP carried out several blood and urine tests, but all results were negative. We asked the GP could it be a reaction to the vaccine. Our GP contacted the manufacturers who confirmed that her symptoms were recognised reactions, but not generally after this length of time. However, our GP advised that she should not have the 2nd and 3rd doses of the vaccine in case.
Over the next 6 months Brianna could not handle more than 1 or 2 hours a week at school, some weeks there was no attendance. She also had to give up all sports and dancing.
To learn more about this period of Brianna’s life, read her original story here.
Post-Cervarix Syndrome: The next few years
In April 2012, after seeing the Paediatrician at our local hospital, she was referred to Gt Ormond Street Hospital to see the ME specialist team led by Dr Vic Larcher. It was then she received a diagnosis of CFS/ME (chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis).
When we asked him if the vaccine could be the cause, his simple reply was, “I am treating a lot more girls with CFS/ME since its introduction.”
Since then treatment has been regular physiotherapy and for 18 months she had psychology to help her deal with having a chronic condition.
Brianna now has to take 20mg of Amitriptyline a day to help her sleep at night, co-codamol every day for pain relief and anti-nausea medication as and when required. She has also been having hydrotherapy and is currently waiting to get a TENS machine for pain relief.
After two and a half years, Brianna could manage to attend up to 11 hours of schooling a week. She has been further diagnosed with Raynaud’s disease, hypermobility syndrome and postural hypertension.
Brianna has a very small circle of 4 close friends, having lost a lot of social contact due to not being well enough to attend school and do all that other healthy teenagers do. This serves to make her feel even more isolated.
By February 2016, Brianna successfully gained high grades in 7 GCSE’s after a part-time timetable at school and a lot of self-teaching at home.
She now attends the 6th form and is studying 3 (the norm is 4) A-levels over a 12-hour week, only going in for lessons and doing all study periods at home. However, it is not often that she manages the entire 12 hours.
She still has a small circle of friends. Due to the increased work load at school, we have to keep an eye on social time to ensure she does not overdo things and miss important time in school. She tried to start dancing again, but unfortunately had to stop as she was finding it too much to handle.
She still has regular physiotherapy to work on increasing her exercise time. She had a goal of being able to go on a school trip to Barcelona in July of this year and the school would only let her take part if her physiotherapist confirmed that she was fit enough. She did manage to go, however, it then meant she missed the week of school after her return, as she was so tired.
Brianna continues to take amitriptyline to help her sleep at night and attends hospital in London twice a year to be seen by a CFS/ME consultant who monitors her progress.
She has passed her driving test and has her own car, which is a great help in preserving her energy levels and enables her to easily get to and from school.
We have been looking at further education at University, but at this stage Brianna really is not sure if she would be able to cope.
She spent a lot of time trying to find a part time job, like her friends have, but it was very difficult to find something that she could cope with without over doing it. She now has a small job helping in a local hairdressers and they are very understanding of her condition and work around the hours she can do.
We would love her to have a normal teenage life.