August 24, 2012... It ranks up there as the third-single most life-changing day of my life, behind the day I was born (obviously!) and the day my hearing loss was diagnosed. At the time, I had no clue I would remember this day for the rest of my life. I mean, why would I remember a random day in August in the summer of 2012?
Today, five years ago, I went to my primary care doctor for my WPIAL sports physical as I did every year and at the end of the appointment I was told I should receive the Gardasil HPV Vaccine. My parents had me vaccinated with everything suggested up to that point, so my mom agreed. I received the first of three injections and I felt sick that night. And the next week. And the next week. I told myself I was just overdoing it playing basketball for hours everyday and that the stress of the hardest year of high school, junior year, was just tiring me out. I wish I was right. I wish it was just "stress" or "exhaustion".
I got sick that night and five years later, I've never felt the same. When my immune system was "modified" by the vaccine (part of the purpose of vaccines in general) to confer immunity from HPV, something happened in the process to turn my body on itself and I can link every single symptom and condition I've been diagnosed with straight back to the now revised Gardasil package insert. There are antibodies in my system now in dangerous levels that I previously tested negative for the year prior. Antibodies that shouldn't be in the body, and if they are, should only be in the blood, that are in my spinal fluid. Of course that spinal fluid covers the entire central nervous system, which has been under siege since and immunologically, we have never gotten it under control.
We've been doing damage-control the whole time. We know that my thyroid and pancreas both are under attack with extremely elevated antibody levels. We have to wait for them to fail, before we can treat it. No one has ever considered what we could do to prevent further thyroid or pancreas damage, which irks me because we know what those antibodies are doing.
My central nervous system is what most providers would consider irreversibly "re-wired" and damaged at this point with the technology and medicine we have now. My autonomic nervous system (controls all the body's involuntary functions) is always in a state of dysfunction. The ANS innervates just about every organ in the body. And the list goes on... All 17 conditions last I counted.
I never did get the last two injections in the series and honestly, I don't think I'd be here today if I did. I'm not going to start rambling with statistics, but they are absolutely horrifying. I wish we could prevent the stuff we can expect will come from the antibodies (that we know about), but medicine today is reactive and not proactive. Just when I think one thing is under control, another 3 go out of control, so I'm always struggling to catch up.
I've learned a lot from the last 5 years that I wouldn't have learned otherwise and that are motivating my research for my senior thesis in communication this year, but it angers me that a vaccine that was supposed to prevent cervical cancer as a result of (four of the 200+strains of) HPV works for a maximum of 5 years, and long term studies that I've seen are inconclusive as to whether or not it actually works. All of that will remain to be seen when long term study results become available, as it has only been on the market since 2006. Had I known what I do now, I never ever would have gotten it and I know my parents wouldn't have either. Unfortunately, in 2012, the accounts of others like me were not available or seen as quackery for the most part.
For a maximum of 5 years protection, I get to spend the rest of my life like this. This is the real Gardasil.
I am a 20 year old junior at the college of my dreams. I am studying Emergency Medicine and Communication Rhetoric and minoring in the Administration of Justice and National Preparedness and Emergency Management certificate. At some point, I want to go and get my paramedic certification when my health allows. I have several chronic illnesses and this blog and website serves as a place for me to share my journey fighting CRPS and my other conditions. I hope that this blog can also serve as an outlet for raising awareness for rare diseases. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy! Feel free to comment; I'd love to know what you think!