I was only 3 months old when my mom took me in to get my vaccinations, just weeks after she and my dad adopted me in Chicago.
It was Janua￼y, freezing, and I had a bad cold. I’d also just gotten out of the hospital ward at The Cradle Society where I spent the first two months of my life as a formula baby with severe thrush and on antibiotics.
Oh, and no mother.
I didn’t even have a legal name. Though I hear the nurses called me Katina.
I was given up at birth and spent those first 2+ months in the ward with many other orphaned babies who were sick. They tell me I’m lucky I made it through that, let alone a bad pregnancy I was never supposed to survive.
That cold winter day the pediatrician assured my mom it was perfectly fine to vaccinate me, despite being sick, and having just moved into my very first home- in a different state from where I was born.
Within hours of my shots (including DPT), I went into seizures and fever climbed steadily to 104, where it stayed for a full week despite the Tylenol. I was also vomiting and crying, even sicker than before.
I ended up in the hospital (I’d barely been out of one since birth) where they performed a spinal tap (these suck for everyone, but especially babies). Why a spinal tap? The doctors said they had no idea what happened and it might be spinal meningitis.
My mom later told me that the pediatrician did mention encephalitis, and kept checking my neck—we think deep down he knew what was going on.
Even though my new mom had only had me a few weeks (I was her first baby and she’d never been a mum before), mother’s intuition kicks in, and it does so wicked fast. Growing up, she always told me how they could have lost me then, and I believe she knew it was close (as did the hospital). But she’d never go as far to say the vaccinations caused the immediate seizures (she still calls it shaking) vomiting, and that persistent high fever.
I’d even say “but I remember my face was paralyzed and I could only smile on one side” and she’d say “But now your smile is perfect!” Even though my left eyelid never did fully recover.
Only when my mom watched this documentary (that I’m honored to be in, telling this story) did she began to see the light. Yes, it took from the 1970s when I was born until my mom was in her 70s to have that “Aha!” moment.
I found my birth mum when I was 20, through finding a book in the library she wrote about giving me up for adoption. It was a fairytale story; I flew to Switzerland to meet her and we’re still friends to this day.
I think all three of us knew in our hearts what really happened; I dodged a bullet. Somehow, after surviving a pregnancy I NEVER should have lived through (any doc will tell you — but that’s another story) and being sick in the hospital for two months, I still made it through that “oh so rare” vaccine reaction.
I still have some seizures, which I’m officially diagnosed with (I have a secret weapon for them), but don’t get ear infections and severe colds like I did as a child. However, it takes work to stay healthy.
Here’s the miniseries that opened my mom’s mind and helped her understand how my mind works (diagnosed as a child with hyperactivity, ADD, severe allergies and chronic ear and respiratory infections). You’ll want to sign up so you are notified the next time they have a free weekend. Although you can watch the first three episodes FOR FREE! I’m in several episodes, including the first where I tell this story and more… My beau Dr. Mercola is in just about everyone as he always steals the show.
XO~ Erin Elizabeth
P.S. Somebody asked if we had any pictures of me that my parents had a chance to take before the vaccinations and paralysis in the short time after they’d adopted me. There are a few, but most were lost in the tornado of ’91 that took our 4 bedroom home, dog, cat, and neighbor- may they rest in peace. They aren’t close-ups and just show my parents beaming holding me the day they adopted me. Coincidentally that was the day after Thanksgiving. The tornado also fell on the day after Thanksgiving and after it happened my mom said to me (with news cameras who were there around us after the storm ) “Twenty-one years ago we adopted you and twenty-one years ago we got your back again.” We all are actually very lucky to be here and alive. I’m blessed and probably need to make a darn movie about this whole thing 🙂