By Tracie Toler Moorman, Overland Park, Kansas
It is difficult to know where to begin when charting the 19-month journey my daughter and family have traveled since she was injured by the Gardasil vaccine in 2012. Maddie, my girl, as I like to call her, was a 15-year old happy, healthy, straight-A, honors/AP high school student. It was easy being her mother; it was a joy to be with her. She lit up the room when she entered. She was a beautiful writer and an amazing guitar player. That was my girl.
In December of 2011, she developed a hormone imbalance. It was rather bothersome but her pediatrician did not seem too concerned. In retrospect, I wonder if this hormone imbalance may have pre-selected her for injury from the vaccine. Perhaps it was genetics. I may never know. Her pediatrician suggested birth control pills to regulate the hormones and I took her to my gynecologist for a second opinion. My doctor concurred. Birth control pills were prescribed and while we were in the office, the gynecologist recommended the vaccine. Her pediatrician had also been recommending it. I trusted both doctors and believed them when they said that Gardasil was safe and the threat of cervical cancer was real.
As her mother, I wanted to protect her from any form of harm so I thought it made sense to begin the three-part vaccine. Maddie had always been tough when receiving vaccines but this one was very different. She described it as similar to being hit in the arm with a baseball bat swung by a professional ball player. It was excruciating pain.
Looking back, Maddie got sick after the first dose of the vaccine, but it was masked by symptoms we attributed to the birth control pills. After five days of headaches and nausea, I called the gynecologist and reported that she was not well. The doctor switched her from one birth control pill to another. The nausea subsided a bit but the headache lingered. She was still able to go about her normal routine most days.
In April of 2012, she got the second dose in the series. She was dreading the pain that she had experienced at the injection site and had the same excruciating pain with this one. After that, her health deteriorated quickly. She was unable to get out of bed. She had a constant migraine headache, unlike anything she had experienced before, and she was extremely sensitive to light and sound. She had no physical energy and no appetite due to severe nausea. Insomnia was a real problem, and when she could sleep, she never felt restored in the morning. She was very, very ill.
This went on for about five days. She returned to school but had difficulty focusing and physically getting through her school day. She would lose track of time. She reported twitching in her hands, feet and chest. Her vision was impacted. She was suffering from never ending, debilitating headaches, chronic fatigue and unexplained pain. Her grades dropped and eventually she was put on a partial homebound schedule due to her extensive absences. Prior to this, she had missed one day of school due to illness. Her health had taken a dramatic turn and continued to spiral out of control. None of us knew what to do.
I had contacted the gynecologist and reported her condition. I made sure that the doctor was aware that my daughter had a very unremarkable health history until now. She had been a healthy child. I asked if her dire situation might possibly be connected to the vaccine. The doctor’s answer was an emphatic no.
After that, I took her to her pediatrician. I mentioned my suspicion surrounding the vaccine but the pediatrician was focused on depression. She viewed the headaches as a symptom of depression. She stated that “50 percent of teenage girls are depressed,” and she prescribed anti-depressants. Deep down, I knew the headaches were the source of the depression rather than the depression being the source of the headaches. My husband and I took turns on “suicide watch,” as suicidal thoughts are a common side effect of anti-depressants when given to teenagers. It was a very dark and scary time for all of us.
Doctors’ appointments, blood tests, MRIs, CT scans, and EEGs filled our days for months on end. Her medical records filled a 3-inch, 3-ring binder. She was approaching the third and final injection of the three-part vaccine. By this time, I knew she had to be suffering a serious adverse event from the Gardasil vaccine. I called and canceled the appointment. I was lectured by the scheduler and told that if she did not complete the series, my insurance company might not pick up the high cost of the vaccine. That was a chance I was willing to take. I had gambled with my daughter’s health and it was becoming clear to me that I had lost.
One anti-depressant after another was introduced and the “suicide watch” dragged on. Nothing provided relief. I finally sought the help of a psychiatrist. He doubled the dose of the current drug and finally added another anti-depressant in conjunction with another drug. We also had a neurologist involved and countless other specialists. All tests came back normal. There was simply no explanation as to why my girl was so sick.
One by one, the specialists admitted that they suspected vaccine injury, although it was always off the record. I asked, “Where do we go from here?” and the answer was horrifying. The doctors did not know. I could barely breathe.
It was at that point that I gave up on traditional medical care. I felt the medical establishment had let us all down. They had no answers. I found a chiropractic internist who treated patients with supplements. This doctor discovered Maddie had developed many food allergies/sensitivities; her immune system was damaged. She had 20 major foods she needed to eliminate. She adopted a strict gluten-free, dairy-free diet. This treatment plan did not resolve the issue but it was a step in the right direction.
We added regular chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy, and Reiki. These alternative methods provided temporary relief but nothing that was long-lasting. We adopted an organic diet. She began meditating and doing yoga. In some ways, she has become an old soul. Her teenage life is so dramatically different from those of her peers.
The next approach was a high level supplement program that was very expensive. I think my daughter was simply too sick to benefit from this form of treatment.
After three months with no improvement, we switched to a homeopathic protocol. This treatment plan addressed heavy metal toxicity, which is very common among the vaccine injured. The doctor indicated that Maddie would most likely get worse before she got better. That proved to be true. This worsened condition persisted for about a week but, after that, she started to improve. Her treatment plan included a detoxification program using homeopathic remedies and foot baths. She also received a chiropractic adjustment at each visit and was seen multiple times per week.
After a few weeks, she had portions of her day with no headache. When the headache returned, it was much less severe. I can honestly say that two years ago, I would have dismissed alternative care altogether but when you are out of options, where do you go?
My hope is that my daughter will continue to improve. Time will be the true test. There are no words to describe what it is like to see a sparkle in her eye again, to see a smile on her face, to hear music drifting from her room or to see her attend school full time. All of those things had been absent from her life when she was in the midst of her health crisis. She missed out on so much. It is simply remarkable to see her participating in her life after so many months of sitting on the sidelines.
While I have had many regrets throughout our ordeal, my biggest regret would be the fact that I did not research this vaccine for myself. Instead, I blindly followed the advice of the doctors.
A simple Internet search sheds light on the fact that Maddie is not alone. Thousands of children in our country have been harmed by this vaccine. Current numbers being reported are 31,148 serious adverse events and 139 deaths following the HPV vaccine.
In my opinion, the risks simply outweigh any perceived benefit and, sadly, the vaccine manufacturer and our government do not seem to be too concerned. Research into why so many are chosen for injury and others are not is imperative but does not appear to be forthcoming.
For the sake of your child, please do your research. Education conquers fear, and knowledge is power.