In January 1991 I decided to have a tetanus booster, mainly because I hadn’t had one since my school days. (I’m now 43.) I rang the surgery to enquire about having vaccinations carried out, and made an appointment.
I asked the nurse if there were any side effects particularly in light of the length of time since my last tetanus vaccination, but was told there weren’t. Eventually, I got the shot without any problems.
In early July 1991, I returned to my doctor’s surgery to ask what vaccinations I’d need for Morocco. They suggested typhoid and polio.
A few days later, I went along to the surgery, where another nurse gave me an injection for the typhoid and the live polio vaccine. I’d never had either vaccination before. In fact, the only time that I remember having vaccinations was in school, apart from tetanus in my teens.
The nurse said I might feel achey afterwards, but said there were no other side effects.
That evening, I developed a temperature with aches and pains in my arms and legs. As the sister had told me to expect some aching, I didn’t report any of this, although at the time I thought that it was rather severe. I also suffered an enlarged, painful gland in my neck, which came on a short while after the vaccination.
I also had a general feeling of malaise. I couldn’t define what it was except to say that I thought that it was a bug. I tried to shake it off. About two weeks later while I was out walking one of my legs “gave out”. It felt as though my legs were both weak and they were numb.
Some time after that my legs started to feel as though they were burning. This coupled with the pain forced me to make an appointment at the surgery. I saw my doctor and reported to him my enlarged gland and flu-like symptoms.
Three months later, I returned to the surgery to complain that I kept suffering weakness and pains in my legs that I’d never felt before. My doctor just stared at me. When I asked her if she thought that I should rest my legs or keep on walking, she replied, “keep on walking”.
Since that summer when I got the jabs, my condition has steadily deteriorated over the years, and I am now at the stage of being able to take only a few steps before I experience the pains and a horrible numbness in my legs, which forces me to sit down. Any kind of movement gives me the same pain, even if I travel in a car.
The crises came in January 1992, when my legs were so painful and weak that I could hardly stand. Again I returned to my doctor. I also had large glands and a sore throat. I could hardly hold my head up because the right side of my neck hurt. A month later he requested a blood test.
By then, I was off work and feeling quite ill. I looked pale and still had the pains in both legs. My hands were affected too. They now burn when I have done too much, and there is a weakness there.
Now three years later, I suffer constant pains in both legs with numbness and burning. I suffer pains and weakness in my hands, and pains in my arms, but I don’t dare lift anything heavy as that also hurts my legs. Writing or repetitive movements hurt my hands.
I also suffer from an abnormality in the way my thought processes work. I have memory loss and I often stop in mid-sentence.
Besides the limb problems, I suffer ear aches and a kind of deafness, plus frequent infected neck glands which only clear up with antibiotics. I also have serious problems with balance, unsteady walking and falling.
With each step I take, the pain increases. I will seize up with pain and have to stop, after which it takes many hours for the pain to unravel.
These effects have all had a devastating effect on my life. I am now totally house bound. I have been resting solidly for nearly five months to try to get the burning pain to ease. Although it has eased somewhat, the pain and numbness are constant when I attempt to walk.
Eighteen months ago, the senior house officer to the consultant physician at Southmead Hospital, Bristol, concluded that I suffered possible vaccine damage to the central nervous system, disconnecting various nerves at the base of the spine. These nerves are giving the wrong signals and sensations, causing constant severe pain. That same day I was diagnosed as having ME.
Ever since I have had these problems I have had considerable difficulties with doctors. I’ve made a claim to the Vaccine Damage Tribunal to confirm that my injuries are at least partly caused by vaccination. But my medical notes indicate both that I had a pre-existing condition, and in any case, it’s all in my mind.
However, doctors now have diagnosed the problem as Guillain Barre Syndrome. When I contacted someone from the Guillain Barre Society, he told me that mine was the worse case he’s ever seen.
The side effects that I’ve suffered from the vaccine are consistent with known side effects of the polio vaccine. That and the close connection in time between receiving the vaccine and the onset of my illness makes it a virtual certainty that the vaccine caused my illness.
My GP has now admitted that I have nerve damage, caused by vaccine damage.
By the time I had the vaccination I was 38 years old and had been alive for nearly 14,000 days. If a condition such as that as I suffer was going to happen spontaneously it would have happened on any one of the other days of my life. There is something like a 1 in 14,000 chance that I would have “caught” it immediately after the vaccination.
!AEmma Whitlock (not her real name) is suing the manufacturers of the drugs for compensation.