Our daughter was the picture of health and as any other ‘responsible’ parent, I dutifully brought her to Well Baby checkups where she received all the vaccines according to the provincial schedule. That is, until she turned one…
When she turned one, I brought her in for her first MMR vaccine and of course, never questioned anything because I figured doctors and nurses knew what they were doing. Éva cried of course so I comforted her and once home, gave her some Tylenol to make her comfortable. Just like after every vaccine she had received, she was always lethargic for a day or two so this time was no different. As she seemed to get better about three days post-MMR vaccine, she started showing signs of a cold (runny nose, fever). I had scheduled her 12 months photo shoot about a week post-MMR vaccine since I knew she’d be fussy but the runny nose never went away. I now use those photos as my point of reference as to when health problems arose. In fact, it worsened. And our daughter started snoring heavily at night while sleeping, something she had never done before so I figured she must be very congested. Days became weeks and the weeks became months.
One month post-MMR vaccine, Éva started crying and crying non-stop. At this time, the runny nose and fever continued to persist and she was still snoring heavily at night. Her fever spiked and Tylenol just wasn’t cutting it. At the same time, I started noticing other strange symptoms; she started losing weight dramatically, her tummy became incredibly swollen, her body was covered with eczema, she was losing the little hair she had, her skin tone became greyish, she became lethargic yet wouldn’t sleep at night. I could keep going and going. These were all symptoms she never had before. When I brought her to the pediatrician, all he found was a severe ear infection for which he prescribed antibiotics. I start administering the antibiotics and Éva seemed to get better, but that was short lived. Her ear infections (in both ears) seemed to have healed but all other symptoms were still present and worsening, including the fever.
At this point, she lost her appetite and vomited whatever she managed to eat. Diarrhea kicked in as well. A bit less than two weeks after her first ear infection diagnosis, the crying started again, the fever spiked up once again so I brought her back to the pediatrician. Diagnosis; ear infections in both ears, again. So another round of antibiotics, stronger ones this time. I started thinking the first ear infection never really went away.
Éva finished her second round of antibiotics and by this point, she seemed relieved from her ear infections but all other symptoms were still present, including the fever. By this time, the eczema patches were permanent, she continued to lose weight – no appetite whatsoever, chronic diarrhea, lethargy, her skin tone was grey and her eyes were sunken in. Oh, and the crying and screaming!
Back to her pediatrician we went yet again. Diagnosis; ear infections in both ears, this time with abscesses about to burst. I can’t imagine the pain she was in! And once again, another round of antibiotics – the third round of antibiotics within a six-week period. We headed home, uneasy about all this but were desperate for Éva to find relief so I reluctantly gave her the antibiotics, along with Tylenol. By this time, she had sores in her diaper area that were bleeding and just wouldn’t heal. The diarrhea and weight loss continued. And of course, so did the fever.
Two days into her third round of antibiotics, I started thinking maybe antibiotics are not the answer. Who gives three rounds in six weeks? So I started looking for causes of ear infections. Turns out 2 out of 4 cases (or 3 out of 4, depending on the source of information) are caused by either an intolerance or allergy to dairy!
Éva loves yogurt and cheese. So I decided that very same day, to stop giving her dairy products (and any traces of them). On the same day, I stopped the antibiotics, as well as the Tylenol. Forty eight hours later, the crying stopped. The fever went down a bit, but still persisted. Although she didn’t seem to be in such pain anymore, all other symptoms remained.
I thought at this point, one symptom at a time, right? A few days later, we headed back to the pediatrician to check her ears and it was good news! Her ears were completely clear! The doctor was very happy about this news although, I never told him I had stopped giving Éva her antibiotics four days prior as well as no dairy products. I did however (very innocently) ask his opinion on the correlation between ear infections and dairy products and he immediately denied it. At that point, I knew something was off here.
Soon after, I realized that doctors rarely prescribe this many courses of antibiotics in such a short amount of time (three rounds in six weeks). I approached him with all of Éva’s other symptoms: constant and persisting fever, lethargy, eczema, hair loss, severe weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, grey skin tone, constant whining, severe bloating, sores that don’t heal, easy bruising. She had at total of 23 symptoms – symptoms she never had before her first birthday.
The doctor’s reply? A virus, ‘because she attends daycare’’. I was at a loss. A virus? Yet, all other children at her daycare seem fine. He also refused to give us a referral for allergy testing. Within the next two months, I consulted six other doctors, including two specialists at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. During this time, Éva started suffering from recurrent nose bleeds, a new symptom. And again, the same diagnosis every time; it’s a virus because she attends daycare.
Then, I started thinking and I realized something. Éva was fine until she had her first MMR vaccine and she started getting sick exactly three days later. What if there was a correlation?? And my quest for answers started… and lucky for me, I found the documentary ‘The Greater Good’ online as I start doing some research.
My heart sank.
I found there is and can be a correlation. I decided to suspend all planned future vaccinations until I found clearer answers. I wanted and needed to find out what was going on as I started to question the safety of vaccines very, very seriously. I went back to the doctor’s office and requested the brand names of all the vaccines she had received. My request was met with great resistance and I was the one who was questioned as to why I wanted this information. A bell rang in my head and I started wondering why I was being questioned about obtaining the information I should have had in the first place?? I found this very troubling. I did end up leaving the office with the info I wanted (only because I had to threaten them that I’d come back with a lawyer) as I needed to look up what the side effects of the various vaccines were.
In the meantime, Éva’s condition was worsening, to the point where I had to keep her home from daycare on average two days a week, every week, from November 2011 to February 2012. Between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, she lost another five pounds. By the end of February, she was 17 months old and weighed only 17 pounds and continued to lose weight.
During this time, she developed pneumonia along with febrile seizures, not surprising since a simple cold would last at least 5-6 weeks and she was battling one at that time. It’s important to note here that we started questioning general/mainstream medical practices when ill.
At this point, she looked like a starving African child we see on TV. While undressed, we could easily count almost every single vertebrae and rib from a distance. Fear in me kicked in. I suddenly realized our daughter was dying. What she was going through was a very slow death. She was still not eating, still vomiting everything she managed to eat, had severe diarrhea, was covered in unexplained bruises and everything else. Éva started looking like a severely neglected child, who was suffering from malnutrition. And I needed to do something fast. I knew hospitalization would be required very ,very soon but since all doctors I had met with denied something was seriously wrong to begin with, I was at a complete loss.
Western medicine seemed useless at this point since I was not getting the answers I needed. I opted for alternative medicine during that winter, in hopes of finding healing through chiropractic, naturopathy, homeopathy, osteopathy, acupressure. When my naturopathic doctor asked me about reactions to the vaccines she had received prior to her first MMR, I remembered her having diarrhea and a fever for two days at her two-month vaccinations, same symptoms but for four days at her four month vaccinations, then for 6 days after her six month shots . It’s only once I answered this question that I noticed the consistency in our daughter’s reactions! I never put two and two together before. So these reactions to her first MMR vaccine made perfect sense given the pattern.
After trying many treatments to try to relieve Éva’s symptoms over the course of a few months and nothing seemed to work, I opted for a $400 allergy test performed by our naturopathic doctor (that is not covered by insurance but at this point, I didn’t care). I was shocked when tests came back positive for thirteen different food allergies!! I was stunned because she never showed signs of food allergies before. She is allergic to wheat, gluten, dairy, goat’s milk, almonds, hazelnuts, oats, sugar, and cane sugar to name only a few. And at the same time, I found the vaccine inserts I was looking for and I could not believe the list of side-effects from the MMR vaccine, side-effects she was suffering from:
- Persistent fever
- Loss of appetite,
- Chronic diarrhea
- Chronic rhinitis
- Food allergies
- Autoimmune disorders
- Chronic ear infections
- General malaise
- Febrile seizures
I cried so much that night, feeling so guilty for not noticing anything before and even worse, the guilt as a mother; ‘I should have known better’. But instead of dwelling on my guilt, I focused on the answers Éva so desperately needed. We finally had answers, almost six months after her symptoms appeared!
I had to re-learn menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking. With time, along with other alternative methods, Éva started getting better. We have learned to cope with her restrictive dietary needs however, we have also found out she now suffers from Celiac disease, a permanent autoimmune disorder she will be dealing with for the rest for her life. Éva turned four this fall but it has taken over two years to restore her health to a new ‘normal’. Looking back, her fever (that was believed to have been caused by a virus) lasted a total of 168 consecutive days and her ‘unexplained’ condition has cost us over $10,000 worth of alternative care, consultations and treatments. According to the alternative specialists we have met, she would not have survived another 6 months in such a state.
We have stopped all vaccinations, even for ourselves, her parents. Her baby brother is completely vaccination-free, also injection-free as we declined the vitamin K shot at birth. We refused to take any chances with our baby after doing our research and he is the picture of absolute perfect health as all children should be. As a result, we have become doctors’ worst nightmare as we question absolutely everything in order to obtain all the information we are rightfully owed before making any medical decision.
Today, Éva is once again the picture of health, just as long as we monitor everything she eats and even everything she touches as gluten is very present almost everywhere from food, to toothpaste, even down to Play-Do and many nail polishes as well as other body products. But it was not without a lot of hard work, tears, and countless hours of consultations, research and reading. On the morning of Eva’s fourth birthday, I cried. I cried tears of relief and happiness as I never even dared dream of (or think about) future birthdays while she was so sick. And this year for the first time, we can actually say we are looking forward to so many more!
Sophie Bombardier, Quebec
September 24, 2014