Aftermath of Hepatitis B Shots
It’s been nearly three years since I became chronically ill. I can tell you the day and the hour it began.
It was shortly after I received my second hepatitis B shot. I had recently completed a master’s degree. Six months after the shot, I could barely read.
I had trouble following TV shows. I missed puns and couldn’t pick up on social cues. Anything but a few minutes of a simple conversation left me hopelessly confused.
Before this my lifestyle was active and varied. I worked full-time, renovated my home, swam, canoed, practiced Tai Chi and did black and white photography. Now I could barely look after myself. My morning shower left me exhausted. It was all I could do to make my own meals.
My sleep was so shallow, I didn’t know if I was thinking or dreaming: when I was awake I felt barely conscious. I couldn’t drive or go to a movie, let alone work. I was plagued with joint pain, fevers, intense chills, intestinal problems, constant exhaustion and difficulty speaking. At times I thought I was dying.
I developed flu symptoms immediately after my first shot. This should have been a warning, but I had started a new job and assumed I was run down from stress. I should have been tested at this time to see whether I had “sero-converted” (developed resistance to hepatitis B). Failure to sero-convert indicates that further vaccination is dangerous (three shots are necessary to complete the series). My condition may have been much milder if I’d known to request testing. (It is possible to pre-test an individual prior to receiving serum from a bad batch, but it can certainly reduce risks.)
The extensive fatigue I experienced does not result from lack of conditioning as my insurance company would like to think. Exhaustion comes from certain areas of the brain being overloaded; to compensate for the damage, they have taken over functions they weren’t designed to perform. When overworked, thy start to shut down. It is nearly impossible to keep going.
In the first year of my recovery, neural pathways were rerouted; this accounts for some of my initial progress. Acupuncture, a yeast-free diet, oil of evening primrose and an individualized vitamin regimen all helped me make further gains. But now, three years later, only minimal improvement is probable. I do learn more ways to maximize my energy as time goes by, but the brain damage I have is irreversible. And pushing myself past my limits only worsens the condition.
My physician diagnosed chronic fatigue syndrome. Three months later he found me a specialist whose focus was nutrition, vitamin supplements and strengthening the immune system. With much persistence, I obtained long-term disability benefits and was able to stay in my tiny, manageable one-bedroom house. My children were grown. I was in a supportive relationship and most people did not question my diagnosis
I made slow but steady recovery for a year, then plateaued. My doctors were missing an important factor: the impact of the hepatitis shots. They thought it was merely a trigger – “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
My chiropractor saw it differently. Her profession has heightened concern regarding vaccinations. After much searching, she put me in touch with the Nightingale Foundation in Ottawa where Dr. Byron Hyde was researching cases of CFS induced by hepatitis shots. I am not an isolated case, though health authorities would have you believe otherwise.
Problems with hepatitis shots have been noted in Canada since at least 1990. Over 50 health care workers in Hull, Quebec had acute reactions, forcing them to leave work, many never to fully recover. One went deaf, another blind and a third fell into a coma and died. It took me many months to make contact with the foundation and obtain an appointment. The government has continually refused to fund this research and resources are extremely limited. Out of 1,000 people that present themselves yearly, only 30 or 40 can be taken on as patients. And it is not as if the evidence of suffering or damage is unclear or obscure. It can be established by a properly administered brain SPECT scan.
It was this scan that provided me with the most crushing of diagnoses since becoming ill: permanent brain damage. In my case, when I received the inoculations, my body formed no antibodies. Instead, the substance attacked my central nervous system. I was asked if I’d ever had electro-shock treatments. Apparently my brain scan showed this type of damage.
Today I am somewhat better. I can read simple novels, go for short walks, do a bit of writing and some of my own housework. I still have bad headaches, frequent flu symptoms, persistent fatigue and find that physical exertion greatly depletes my intellectual capacity. My energy level is probably one-eight of what it was when I was well.
It is hard for me to imagine what it must be like for the grade seven Ontario students inoculated over the last four years! If they became as ill as I did, then their futures would be greatly compromised. I wonder how many of them are being accused of using drugs, or being lazy and unmotivated , when they are in fact suffering the ravages of hepatitis shots?
Though a 1986 Ontario law requires that patients be informed of the vaccine’s dangers beforehand, the student consent form states only that the hepatitis vaccine might cause mild side effects such as slight fever, sore arm and tiredness for a day or so. They do not mention brain damage, loss of faculties or death. Nor do they warn that the vaccine can trigger any of the multiple viruses in our systems that we fight off every minute of the day.
I feel grave concern for all those young students that are vulnerable to the damage I have suffered. And for them, the ravages will be far worse.
I am able to write this article because my learning was not arrested in adolescence. This is when much of our social and intellectual development takes place. Though I am slow to process information and can write only for sort stints, I know how to problem-solve, to set and peruse long-term goals and have the self-esteem to take risks. I’ve learned these skills from experiencing the normal successes and stresses of adult like. At grade seven, children have barely begun to develop these capacities.
By starting at a high level of functioning, I have paid a price. Testing arranged by my insurance company has found me “cognitively and psychologically fit for daily living and full-time employment.” The fact I am so physically impaired that I can barely take care of my daily living needs, let alone work, has been flagrantly disregarded. My long-term disability benefits are now in dispute. I may be forced to apply for welfare and am in danger of losing my home.
Knowing what I know now, I would never have had the inoculations. They have narrowed my potential, my future, my life. In the meantime, I try to make the best of my situation and warn others of the danger.
With appreciation to Lucia Morgan for kindly permitting us to reprint her story, originally published in 1997 in Alive Magazine, issue # 188. Because of her vaccine induced brain injury, it took Lucia 6 months to write this story. She says “Because I’m not well enough to write every day, when I CAN work , I am very slow. In spite of this, I try to write a couple of times a week. Now, after keeping at it over the last seven years, I have managed to complete two dozen short pieces that I am assembling into a book. It’s called A SMALLER, RICHER LIFE: LONG TERM ILLNESS, A CHANCE TO GROW”. Lucia hopes to have this book completed by the fall of 2002.
****UPDATE*** Lucia Morgan launched a critically important vaccine damage lawsuit in Toronto, Canada on March 6, 2006, regarding the hepatitis B vaccine she was required to get in 1994 as a condition of employment by a provincialy run community centre which resulted in severe and irreversible brain damage. More information can be accessed here
Links to court decisions: