It was almost three and a half years ago already that I left the wide, well-trodden path and began to machete hack my own trail through the dense bramble brush of what is largely considered a societal no-no; I began to question vaccine safety.
There was a good reason for this ghastly betrayal of "the norm".
You see, one of my babies experienced a vaccine injury.
I'll be honest, I didn't catch on at first. At least, not that it was related the MMR-V shot she'd received that caused what I witnessed. But there it was, plain as day now that I look back on it.
Hindsight is 20/20, and I now have perfect vision.
My cheerful, blabbery, fully mobile one year-old was suddenly different. I first noticed it when I got home from work one evening and she wasn't responding to her name when I said it.
"Hi Autumn," I said with excitement. No response from her but a blank expression as she sat still and stared at Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the TV.
"Autumn," I said again. Nothing.
Not thinking much of it except that it was embarrassing to be outdone by a cartoon mouse, I picked her up and held her, just happy to see her after a long day away from home. But she didn't look at me. She continued staring off into space, and wouldn't so much as smile. As the evening drew on, and the immediate days following, I remember slowly beginning to worry about her sudden change in demeanor. She wasn't smiling, wasn't walking like she was before, seemed lethargic, and non-responsive. As time went on and this continued, I remember thinking that something was terribly wrong. But I still never suspected it could have been the shots. Sure, she'd had negative effects before from them. So had my son. It was pretty much expected that on the night of their well visits, they'd be a combination of tired, cranky, rashy, feverish, and even sleepless. This was normal though. It meant the shots were working, according to the pediatrician. My oldest two had frequent double ear infections and various respiratory issues.
But this was different. I'd point out the difference to my wife. At first it was easy to just call it a new phase, even though I knew inside that wasn't what it was. I even remember one time maybe a week afterward, as we were sitting in the living room and my little girl was on the floor, just sitting there staring into nothing, I motioned to my wife to watch, then sneaked up behind Autumn and clapped my hands near her ear. She didn't even respond. It was like she couldn't even hear me. This was the point that I began researching symptoms to see what it could possibly be.
Little did I know it, but I was opening up a massive can of worms that could never again be closed.
As most of you know, I ended up becoming obsessed with this topic not long after. All I needed to see were hundreds of other similar stories online for me to notice there was an unmistakable pattern here. When I realized in the aftermath that it was a vaccine reaction, I began devoting a lot of time to researching further. My subsequent obsession generated hundreds of hours of late nights delving into the science, the statistics, the "vaccine preventable" diseases themselves, the testimonies of others, and then quickly spiraled out of control once I began to realize the sheer magnitude of corruption that was going on right under my overly trusting nose. The CDC's nefarious role, the political masking of truth in numerous forms, the corrupt money trails, and the medical brain washing that takes place absolutely blew me away.
In the meantime, I attempted to detox my daughter with clean, organic foods and targeted the cleansing of her gut, which appeared to be where many vaccine injuries start. Eventually, after a couple months of focused effort, we noticed that she was doing much better, and after a while she was interacting mostly like normal again. Over three years later, it's still apparent that she's been negatively affected; she struggled and continues to struggle with some aspects of speech, central balance, and breathing. I'm fairly certain I know why. But at the end of the day, I consider our family fortunate that it wasn't worse. These vaccine injury stories aren't all this mild; one might only spend a couple of hours watching #hearthiswell videos or simply seeing the Vaxxed bus for confirmation of that.
I began speaking out loudly - sharing important information. I was laughed at and unfriended.
I started a closed vaccine group on Facebook, mostly for friends and family(including my wife), to raise awareness of an issue I began to see was incredibly important. I was ridiculed and mocked by complete strangers.
I started this blog as a way to collect information around this topic, and blow off steam. I've been targeted by big name
"science" websites as a result.
I'm a liar. I'm an idiot. A moron. Gullible. Anti-science. Abusive. Neglectful. I've heard it all.
I'm an anti-vaxxer. Someone who selfishly opposes vaccines and wants kids to die of allegedly preventable diseases.
Eventually I grew so numb to the insults and ad-hominem attacks that I openly embraced the title of "anti-vaxxer". This didn't stop the vitriol toward me, of course. The term "anti-vaxxer" was originally created by misinformed, militant pro-vaxxers to make people like me seem loony. All the news spots, CDC studies, newspaper articles, and scare stats constantly spewed by the mainstream, and subsequently many within the general public on social media, are geared toward making people detest "anti-vaxxers". It is rarely considered why they might be "anti-vax" in the first place. What a travesty when you consider all those who are verbally persecuted for questioning the norm and speaking out on the dangers of vaccination - all because of a horrific experience with it. Why are there now so many people(including many doctors, nurses, scientists, and even well known figures) now speaking out and condemning the practice? Surely they can't all be liars. Surely there's something to be considered? Surely if you found out you were highly allergic to shellfish, you wouldn't eat it anymore?
Many people still feel the need to use verbal attacks when debating with those questioning the safety and even efficacy of vaccines, as if the anti-vaxxer's experience is completely meaningless, or never even happened. Mockery, sarcasm, and ridicule are common observations of anyone reading the comment threads of any online news story that mentions vaccination. Many "anti-vaxxers" have experienced devastating family tragedy, and have watched their children descend into low functioning autism, chronic seizures, severe neurological issues, and even death following routine injections. This doesn't seem to stop the desperate parroteers from clinging to their pre-suppositions and slinging hate toward those who have experienced it firsthand.
To quote a friend of mine, "If my child was lucky enough to escape vaccine injury, the last place you'd find me is on social media arguing with those not as fortunate."
So, since some folks can't seem to fathom that I was indeed once pro-vaccine, and that I did in fact once do what most people do - blindly trust their pediatrician to give them sound advice - and was subsequently burned as a parent for it:
I am no longer identifying as an "anti-vaxxer".
To bed with that derogatory categorization; whether it's an accurate assessment or not.
From henceforth, I will be categorizing myself as an "ex-vaxxer".
Been there. Done that. Never again.
Perhaps this will be the epiphany that some seem to be in need of when it comes to their cognitive inability to process why I and millions of others have decided to stop fearing typically benign childhood diseases and start focusing on actual health.
When you see "Anti-Vaxxer", you might think, Eww.
When you see "Ex-Vaxxer", you might think, Why?