Thursday, October 28, 2010

Been a While, Down For the Count

Ladies and Germs.

It's been a while since I've been in. Combination of good and bad. Made it out of summer term with A- in both sections of organic chemistry laboratory. Summer brought a respite from my symptoms. I think it's because I wasn't taking on as much as the summer before (when I was doing many many classes and also volunteer teaching a Japanese class.) All those are things I love to do but my body just doesn't take it that well I think.

I would first like to tell a short story, naw, make it a long story.

In June 2007 I was about to graduate from high school, and I'd recently been informed that I received a Mazda Foundation Scholarship to go to Japan for 6 weeks. At the same time, my grandfather was passing away.

Before that trip, I went for a sayonara physicial at my pediatrician. Before this time I went to the doctor maybe once, twice a year. I was healthy, with the occasional ear infection as I'd always had some drainage problems. At that physical I was given a clean bill of health, expressed no complaints, and then they brought in the vacs.

This included Gardasil, Menactra, and a hepatitis vaccine. I'd been coming off a cold and my mother asked "is it safe that these be administered when she is coming off a cold?" Without batting an eye they said "yes" and in complete blind faith I accepted the vaccinations: I'd never been squeamish about them.

I don't have the exact date, but I think it was about a week or less before graduation. I remained sick... my cold didn't let up. Graduation day I was hit with the most profound, odd, and frightening feeling I'd ever had in my life. I needed to use the toilet and I felt hot and restless. I remember asking my mother if I should go to the emergency room. She looked serious, and being a nurse, she suspected a vaccine reaction but did not tell me at that time. I was determined to go to my graduation, but was feeling restless and on edge the whole time, kind of out of touch and focus. And it was a blur. Like the intensity I felt life with had been drained away and everything had become less. But I made it through and went to a party with my friends. And for the most part I felt things went back to normal after that.

I had a little nausea in the mean time, digestive system wasn't quite right, attributed it to the excitement of getting to go to Japan again. I'd been to Japan a year before and truly had the most beautiful moment of my life, besides those one shares with family. Both were exchange immersion programs and Japan was where my passions and my talents were. I participated in the state-wide language speech competitions (took home 5th/35 in Division 1, didn't place in Division 2 but did well), laughed hard and played hard with my friends, ate junk food like crazy... did school musicals. I was a normal teen.

And then I was off for an orientation outside of San Francisco then Tokyo-bound but two days later. Felt a little weird, attributed it to the tired feeling you get when traveling. Couldn't sleep well but attributed it to jet-lag. Felt extremely nervous but attributed it to excited energy when I was riding the shinkansen to meet my host family in Hiroshima. For the first few days... being swept through entering a new home, meeting neighbors, introducing myself at school, meeting new friends... things went alright.

However, there was an escalation of symptoms which has not since decreased however there tend to be flares and remissions of varying lengths. These includes:
-Chest tightness/difficulty breathing
-Rapid heart rate, including at rest
-Feeling strange, difficulty falling asleep: restless, hot feeling, great sense of unease with urge to move
-Irritable Bowel
Toward the end of my stay, the symptoms progressed to include
-Strange feeling on face, around eye (right side worse)
-Hair loss
-Sense that something was wrong with eyes, jumpy (although now it includes floaters (started after taking Celexa)... could've just been the progression of whatever is going on...

How I survived, I don't know. The memories are still fond and I still yearn for the day that I may be able to go back to Japan, such as to teach English. Dealing with these symptoms made me desperately want to become a physician or naturopath doing research on problems such as these (which I believe was set off by the vaccine, regardless of whether it was an underlying issue... I truly believe that it would not be as severe as it is if I had never received the Gardasil vaccine, especially in conjunction with Menactra and Hepatitis B vaccine. I survived climbing up the steep staircase to put the clothes on the line and being attacked by wasps on the little balcony where the clothes were hung ;)

I do believe a lot of this I have documented in a journal I kept during my journey. I'll make a mental note that this is something I can show to doctors while looking for help. So that is a background story, but I'm also going to publish a blog of everything I have experienced since being vaccinated in June 2006 and if I am able to obtain specifics I will provide them. I will provide a blog detailing tests I have had done (good now that I'm having a full flare up of the symptoms) so that I will have everything in my mind and I'll try to make other posts more or less organized (I may use them to go to my appointments.)

And then when I get all this background information out of the way I can start writing about the day to day.

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