By: Norma Erickson, Vaccines Examiner
Raquel was the typical girl next door. She enjoyed spending time with her family and playing with the other children in the neighborhood. Raquel’s biggest concern was studying to get good grades in school. She loved to travel and enjoy the great outdoors.
Raquel was 14 when she got her first shot of Gardasil in November of 2008. In February of 2009, she received her second shot. Five minutes later, she was dizzy; ten minutes later, she was experiencing tachycardia (rapid heart beat) and seizures. A few hours later, she is in intensive care unable to breathe. Raquel is in a coma.
For the next two months, Raquel remains in the intensive care unit battling between coma and convulsions. When she is released from intensive care to a regular ward, Raquel can no longer walk.
During her stay in the hospital, doctors rule out the possibility of encephalitis, viral infection, and bacterial inflammation. Left scratching their heads as to a cause, they say it is a pseudocrisis and release her without further treatment. Raquel had to be transported home in an ambulance because she could not yet sit in a wheelchair, although one was provided for her. She and her family were left trying to deal with convulsions and paralysis on their own.
Raquel’s parents take her to a private neurologist who determines she suffers from demyelination, a loss of the myelin that insulates her nerve endings. She is given a prescription for anticonvulsive treatment and a myelin rebuilder.
In May, she is released to rehabilitation. By the end of July, she can finally walk again.
In October, her doctor decides to gradually decrease her medications because she has been seizure free for several months. In November, the nightmare begins again. Raquel is once more confined to a wheelchair and has to try to fight her way back to a somewhat normal existance.
Raquel has missed a lot in the last year:
- She remembers very little about her two month stay in the Intensive Care Unit.
- She missed the touch of her parents for months, while they could only view her though a window and communicate via blackboard.
- She could not wish her brother “Happy Birthday,” she was intubated that day.
- She could not celebrate Easter with her family, she was in the hospital.
- She could not celebrate her 15th birthday with family and friends, she was in the hospital.
- She missed five months of school.
- She can no longer enjoy many of her favorite foods, Raquel is on a special diet.
- She misses participating in normal everyday activities with her friends.
From the day she received her second shot of Gardasil, her life has been totally changed. She spent a lot of time wondering if she would survive at all.
Instead of looking forward to growing up and making plans for her future, Raquel has but one thought on her mind, “I do not want one more girl to suffer what I have suffered!”