By Jenny Red, Philippines
I thought the HPV vaccine Cervarix would protect me against cervical cancer. I thought I would be ‘armed’ for life. It only took one injection to find out I was wrong.
My regular week used to consist of a 9-5 work schedule, 2-hour workouts at the gym, 10-kilometer runs during weekdays, long-distance runs on the weekends, and a lot of nights out with out-of-town trips with friends in between.
But all that changed when I decided to have my first shot of Cervarix last September 2013.
Our office was offering Cervarix shots at a subsidized price as part of their Health & Wellness program. Since Cervarix shots are sold at an expensive price here in the Philippines, most of us decided to take advantage of the offer.
The day I got my first shot, my arm hurt a lot but I was told that it was just normal and that the pain would go away after a few days. After around 4 days, the pain did go away and I thought that was the last inconvenience I’ll experience because of Cervarix.
But I was wrong.
Less than a month after getting my first shot, I started experiencing non-stop headaches. At first, I thought the headaches were caused by my irritated sinus and that it would just disappear just as it appeared. But it didn’t.
I then decided to visit an internist who prescribed painkillers and told me to go back to her if the pain still persisted after a week. The pain did persist, but I decided to go to another doctor to get another opinion. She asked me to have my x-ray taken but saw nothing. She then checked my sinuses and told me that they were irritated so she prescribed nasal sprays and paracetamols.
We also went to see an eye doctor because my vision was starting to blur and my eyes were becoming sensitive to light. I was already having a hard time watching the TV or looking at my cellphone. But just like my previous visits to the other doctors, my results also came out normal.
After a few days of taking those medicines and sprays, I was still experiencing non-stop headaches. I started vomiting too. I lost my appetite and even when I tried to eat, I would vomit it all out. I also started experiencing nausea.
I was then advised to see a neurologist.
The first neurologist we went to asked me to have my MRA and MRI taken. She suspected that I either had thrombosis or an aneurysm but saw nothing in the MRA, MRI results. Then she suggested that I undergo an angiogram procedure.
My mom was all for it because she really wanted to know what was happening to me. At this point, I already was just sleeping most of the time, could barely speak or get up from the bed. I was too sensitive to light and sound. My right arm was starting to get numb, my neck was already very stiff. My neck and head were horribly painful. There were mornings that I would wake up crying because my head was hurting so much. There were nights when I thought I would die because I was feeling such terrible pounding in my head.
I told my mom I was already experiencing too much pain and I couldn’t bear undergoing an angiogram. I asked her if we could go to another neurologist and she agreed.
My second neurologist reviewed my case and then asked me to have an MRV taken. He also prescribed Arcoxia and Lyrica. When the results of my MRV came out, he also saw nothing. So he asked me to have an x-ray of my neck taken.
When the x-ray results came out, he diagnosed me with severe muscle spasm and recommended physical therapy.
I underwent physical therapy for one week and started getting better after that. The headaches finally subsided and I could, again, move around bit by bit.
The whole ordeal lasted for about two months. I am still recovering today. I’m now back in the office and can move around. I’m very thankful for that.
But, there are still days when I feel throbbing in my neck and head, not as painful as before, but it still hinders me from going back to my regular gym schedule and running. I also don’t get to travel around very much because my neck tends to hurt after hours on the road.
No doctor I went to really ever explained to me why I experienced all that. No explanation for the non-stop headaches, the vomiting, the arm numbness, the muscle spasm, the light sensitivity, etc.
The only thing that made sense to me were the other HPV vaccine stories that I got to read a few months back. And when I discovered sanevax.org, I was finally convinced that I, too, am an HPV vaccine victim.
I am very thankful that I was saved by God’s grace and that I got to recover from the horrible things I experienced because of that one Cervarix shot. I still may not be able to go to the gym regularly and run like I used to – but I know I will soon. J