I noticed that I would get lightheaded after even short periods of sun exposure, something I had never struggled with before. My most distinct memory of this affecting my life occurred at a Renaissance Fair with friends. I passed out, nearly crumpling a jewelry vendor's awning. With my sudden increase in sensitivity to temperature, I ended up collapsed on the ground, even though it was not oppressively warm that day. As I came to, my friend's kind father disguised his alarm by remarking, "Chloe, you're taking this damsel in distress ruse too far!" Motion sickness has also become an inconvenient struggle for me post-vaccination. I am unable to go any length of time in a car without getting a severe headache, and long distances are almost unbearable. Needless to say, road trips and beyond do not appeal to me, despite my deep yearning to explore the world.
Since the onset of side effects, I have dealt with a frustratingly unpredictable pattern of symptoms flaring and rarely providing reprieve from always feeling sick. Chronic fatigue, widespread pain, rashes, vertigo, temperature disturbances, emotional distress, and insomnia are just some of the challenges I face as a result of only one dose of this three-part vaccine.
In confronting the doctor about not continuing on with injections, she expressed concern that I was making a dangerous choice. How could I invite possible future cervical cancer by refusing such a protective measure? "We'll talk again soon, and you can pick up the series with your second shot, no worries," my doctor promised in an attempt to dissuade me. "No, that will not be necessary,” I replied. “I know myself, and I trust myself, and I refuse to continue with any further doses." I stood my ground, asserting awareness of my own health and exhaustive research to support my firm decision. Her counsel was based on her duties as a physician, not as the owner of my particular body and mind. My conviction satisfied her, and we proceeded with the rest of my appointment. To defy the school’s requirement, my parents signed a "Religious Exemption" to avoid further doses and to protect my younger siblings from HPV vaccination.
Recently, many aware parents have begun protesting this vaccine. Why do only a handful of jurisdictions mandate it for school attendance? Has enough research been conducted to ensure its safety? Thousands of young people are suffering and face resistance when they relate their injuries to Gardasil. In documentaries and online, one can find many tragic stories of previously vibrant children now struggling with detrimental changes in health, happiness, and productivity. Due to impaired vitality, they fall behind in school, abandon activities, and miss out on life.
I have the conviction that on that February day, my life was forever changed. I recognize that I am fortunate to suffer through complications that negatively impact my life without disabling me. I embrace the challenges I face, for I know they make me stronger as I take charge of finding ways to feel better. I am not intimidated by those who hear my narrative yet fail to believe its validity. Authority figures do not always know what is best for the individual, and you can question those in power and refuse to follow the majority. You must have the courage to speak out and let your voice be heard through the crowd. I am proud to share my story to implore others to make informed choices about this vaccine, to question the state's role in requiring children to receive it, and to remind everyone that the most reliable expert in the world on you is, well, you.
Standing out in the crowd