By Karen, County Louth, Republic of Ireland
My daughter Laura has just turned 17 and is without doubt another girl whose life is ruined as a result of the HPV vaccine Gardasil.
When Laura first brought home the consent form from school in 2010 I read it thoroughly. I also went on the World Health Organisation (WHO) website to educate myself about this vaccine as it was new here in Ireland and I didn’t know much about it.
After reading their information and that supplied by our Health Services, I felt not only reassured that this was a safe vaccine but also that this was something very important for ‘my little girl’ and her future health. I stupidly thought that all details good and bad had to be printed so parents and girls could make properly informed choices.
Let’s not forget this vaccine is being promoted by our schools, Department of Education, the Health Service Executive Ireland (HSE) and WHO so one would think it must be good for all our children. Surely these reputable organizations wouldn’t take any chances with the lives and health of our next generation. I was satisfied I had done my research and taken all necessary precautions.
On the day of Laura’s first vaccination and indeed the following two injections, I was called to the school as Laura was feeling weak. This was to be expected as Laura was always squeamish about needles. In fact I had to do a lot of talking with her about the necessity of this vaccination to convince her to go through with having ‘a needle’. On the day there was also a lot of scare mongering amongst the students so I probably took it for granted that this had raised their anxieties and caused several of the girls to feel weak and unwell.
The vaccinating nurse told me to take her home, let her rest and she would be fine.
In the months that followed, Laura started phoning from school complaining of feeling unwell, faint and dizzy. We thought she was starting to experience menstrual problems for the first time although her periods were well established and not problematic before. The family doctor prescribed medication.
Laura was becoming tired all the time, her short term memory and concentration were deteriorating. She also started to experience food intolerances for the first time, in particular, yeast, gluten and dairy. Laura suffered visual disturbances and noise sensitivity. Burning muscles and joint pain were her constant companion. She was unable to continue with sports.
Before all this happened Laura played basketball for Drogheda Ladies and the school team. She loved to Kayak at the weekends and during school holidays, Laura was super-fit, active and happy. All extra-curricular and social activity had by now become impossible for her.
Even friends stopped calling as she didn’t have the strength to go out with them. Slowly life as Laura knew it was changing.
To put things in perspective, my mother in her 80’s was going out to day-care and Laura was lying in bed or on the couch. In fact on many an occasion we had to use my mother’s wheelchair for Laura when she hadn’t the energy to walk. It was plain for anyone to see something was very seriously wrong.
We started to visit our GP more and more although whilst growing up Laura only visited our doctor on a few occasions. No one seemed to have any idea what was going on, tests and more tests, nearly every box ticked on the blood forms. Every kind of sample you could imagine was requested, yet none of the results showed up anything. They all came back clear, indicating Laura was in good health.
Therefore no help, advice, medications or supplements were recommended. On every occasion we returned home deflated and our hopes dashed again and again.
I could no longer sleep at night with stress and worry. Instead, I found myself up in the middle of the night logging on to google looking for answers. Night after night I lay in bed racking my brains trying to figure out what happened. When exactly had things all started to go wrong and why?
Then in early 2012 for some reason the HPV vaccine came back to my mind. Could it possibly be the cause of all Laura’s health problems, the vaccine that I was so reassured about? Laura had been an exceptionally healthy child before this. And maybe I was very foolish to dismiss her weakness after the injections. I thought things were now fitting into place, the timing of her Gardasil vaccinations and the onset of symptoms etc.
As soon as I brought my suspicions to our family doctor he wrote a letter referring us to a consultant paediatrician, who after 5 minutes of interview dismissed my fears about the HPV vaccine and reassured me yet again that this was a very safe vaccine, he diagnosed ME/CFS and told Laura she would be better in 6 months.
Thank God we thought, light at the end of the tunnel and wonderful news – it’s not long term vaccine damage.
Laura just about managed to sit her junior certificate exams a month after this diagnosis with special provisions made for her by the department of education. Her results were very good under the circumstances but definitely did not reflect the top honours student she always was.
Six months started to roll on to 12 months and Laura was definitely not getting any better. In fact, by September 2013 she was no longer able to attend school, only now and again for a half day or a couple of classes at a time.
Weeks at a time went by with Laura lying in her bed, exhausted, but unable to get any kind of rejuvenating sleep, racked with pain and barely able to communicate. The weeks became months, we saw less of her around the house as she was spending most of her days in her bed. At her lowest point I found her younger brother Conor spoon feeding her as she didn’t have the strength or energy to feed herself. She moved into a spare bed in his room as she was lonely and afraid in her room on her own.
Meanwhile I kept researching ME/CFS trying different supplements etc. to try to help her, not all of her symptoms fit under the ME/CFS heading. That HPV vaccination came back to my mind again and again as being the cause of all her problems.
One night I typed in ‘HPV vaccination injury’ – ‘injury’ being the all-important word. This search lead me to hundreds of articles and sites on serious adverse reactions and long term side effects caused by HPV vaccination and in particular Gardasil, the very one Laura was injected with.
There it was right in front of me on my screen, thousands of girls like my Laura with similar symptoms, some worse and some who had actually died. I can barely read any more of these stories as I find them so painful. I’ve cried more than I thought ever possible. My God, the immeasurable guilt I feel every day for signing that consent form.
It’s now four years since Laura received her Gardasil vaccination. Through educating ourselves with useful information posted by other vaccine injured girls and their families, Laura is making improvements.
She follows a very strict diet, is trying to detox her system of heavy metals found in this vaccine. She gets acupuncture and vitamin B12 when she feels these will benefit her. She also found very high doses of top quality Omega 3 EPA to be very helpful.
Laura says, every year she feels sick to her stomach when she hears the first years being called to the hall for their HPV injections. Who could blame her? If she does recover from this and please God she will, Gardasil has taken away years of her life and experiences that can never be replaced.
There’s also the added worry of her fertility. Many of the other girls have experienced ovarian failure as young as 16.
As for Laura’s future, it is still unclear. She has made some improvement and is into the final 18 months in secondary school but still missing an awful lot of classes and even several days at a time. Every week she prioritises what classes she needs to attend and when she can fit in rest periods. She has her sights set high in terms of college points.
At this stage she herself feels she may have to defer for a few years. This is yet another blow but Laura rarely complains, just tries to stay realistic and upbeat…. I’m her mother and I’m no fool. I know there are times when it’s all a front because she doesn’t want to see me upset.
If we have learned anything positive from this horrendous life altering experience, it is that there are some very good people out there eager to help who have taken a genuine interest in Laura’s plight. But unfortunately no one seems to have the cure.
Please God by sharing our experiences we can all help one another.