Writing It Out

Slowly I have been shaking off the worst year of my life.  Although I alluded to it a few times, I have not really talked about it online. In the beginning I was much too sick.  As I started to feel better I was way too behind with life to blog about it.

Even now I hesitate. I have some hangups with writing about my health.  Geez Louise.  What’s more personal than our health?   So with all that being said, opening up like this gives me the sensation of entering dangerous waters. If I close my eyes I swear to God there are buoys with big warning signs posted inside my eyelids.  “Warning!  Riptide!” I pray that you won’t have reason to compare me to your great aunt, the one who just can’t stop telling you all about her bunions.

One year ago today on September 9 I got an immunization.  I waltzed away from the clinic without a care in the world.  I crossed the parking lot and I started my vehicle.  As I pulled out onto the road I thought about treating myself to a manicure.

Less than one mile away I found myself in serious trouble. It’s still unclear if I passed out or not.  I distinctly remember leaning over the passenger seat of my Jeep, trying to find my cell phone that was in my purse on the floor.  My hands shook so badly I could barely make the call to 911.  I knew I needed help and I was very confused.  It felt somewhat like being drunk, but more so…like drunk times 100.  Something was very very wrong.  Time got all weird.  I was in the back of an ambulance.  I knew my husband was in Chicago.  I remember calling my dad and worrying who would pick up my son from school.

That was the first day in a chain of events that have changed my life forever.  One of the hardest parts of my experience is that a vaccine was the catalyst.  Why in the hell this couldn’t have happened after something a little less controversial like an ingrown toenail or a few stitches I’ll never know.

Regardless of what anybody thinks about vaccines, it is a fact that every single year there are people who die after getting them.  It is also a fact that vaccines are injected into countless people every day without any problems whatsoever.  So what happened to me lies somewhere in that gap.  My story is in the gap.

As the weeks progressed and I was shuttled from one doctor to the next, I would come home from my appointments and type out notes.  I wrote like a woman possessed.  My intent was that when I eventually got to the right doctors I would be prepared with all the information.  What really happened was that I was emotionally debriefing after every appointment. Months later when I went to look back through my writing, I realized that I had written a story.

This story won’t leave me alone.  So I’ve been working hard to put it together.  And when I say “working hard” I mean wild bursts of writing in between long periods of trying to convince myself that I’m not actually a writer. I wish there was time to lay around on a chaise lounge and talk to you about it – but alas, that ain’t going to get it done.  So instead I’ll just have to keep plugging away.

One of the gifts that’s come out of my situation is that for the first time in my life I don’t really care how it rolls out.  As a person who has created things for years, I’m pretty hung up on quality.  I don’t make crappy stuff.  But the best part about your life getting shook up like mine did is that I’ve realized that the story itself is way more important than whether or not I’m a decent writer.  One way or another I’m going to figure out how to share it.

I’m going to share it for everybody who’s ever been affected by a vaccine injury.  I’m going to share it for every woman who’s been dismissed by male doctors. I’m going to share it for every doctor who hasn’t known what to make of a patient.  I’m going to share it for every patient who’s been treated like they’ve made up their problem. I’m going to share it for the anti-vaxxers and I’m going to share it for the hard-core immunizers.  And most of all I’m going to share it for everybody else who’s in between, living in the gap with me.


28 thoughts on “Writing It Out

  1. quinn mcdonald

    This is an incredibly brave step in a scary story. About medical care, about women, about doctors–about living in a place where you both want help and don’t want company. This is going to be your book and your story and that’s the most important one we can write.

    1. tj@studiomailbox.com Post author

      Thanks Quinn, most especially being there for me those first early weeks when everything was such a mess. This is a big step for me but it’s an important one.

  2. marilyn

    You go girl!!!!! All the Doctors & Pharmacys really push these vaccines! I personally won’t get them. I have Lupus and try to use only natural products etc. So I am the only one who can give permission to what goes into my body now…..my Dr. thinks I’m demented, and she is a female too.

    1. tj@studiomailbox.com Post author

      Hi Marilyn, thanks for taking the time to comment. It means a lot. Here’s hoping for strength and good days with your Lupus. Sending you lots of healing love, tj

  3. barb mckean

    Bravo honey for starting on this incredible story,please don’t fear any ripples or waves.You story is one that needs to be told. Sending Love & Hugs

    1. tj@studiomailbox.com Post author

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Alicia, I’m overwhelmed by everybody’s kindness. The year mark was a big one for me.

    1. tj@studiomailbox.com Post author

      Thank you Sar, I would have never made it through this last year without my friends!

  4. Janet

    Good for you for keeping all those notes. It sounds like a book might be in your future and one that needs to be written. I’m not a fan of doctors/drugs and so far I’ve made it without much help from either. I’ll be 71 in a couple of weeks and medication free. I plan to keep it that way as long as possible.

    I’m so happy that you’re better. I’ve missed you.
    Big hugs,

    1. tj@studiomailbox.com Post author

      Janet Ive missed you and our other arty friends too. This is a whole new kind of project for me so its bound to be an adventure. Thanks for reminding me Im not alone!

  5. Carolyn Olson


    Thank you for you story and I’m sorry about the pain and suffering that you had to endure over the last year. Please explain what happened. I normally advocate for vaccinations but I also want to be completely informed about potential problems with immunizations. How did your immunization go wrong? How did your doctors explain your reaction to the immunization. Thank you for helping me understand your situation.

    Thanks for your help in advance,

    Carolyn Olson

    1. tj@studiomailbox.com Post author

      Hi Carolyn, thanks for stopping by and your interest in my story. Years ago I was a regular blogger but over the last years I was less active. Then as I shared in my post I had a reaction to a vaccination that affected mostly my vision and balance but also my entire central nervous system. So now I am trying to write about this experience. I will share more as I work on this project as well as share some of the work I have done in my art journals which really helped me through those first months when I was so violently ill. What I have learned in the last year is that there are no clear cut answers…

    2. Catherine

      Found you/your blog via Pinterest. Am interested in your story and hope you’ll share it for all of us in similar places (*panic attack* turned out to be an aneurysm…). In the meantime I’m enjoying your work.

      1. tj@studiomailbox.com Post author

        Catherine thank you for taking the time to find me from Pinterest and comment on my story. It means so much and encourages me to keep writing. Wow I’m sorry to hear your aneurysm was dismissed at first. That is so scary. I’m hoping your well now. I keep trying to remind myself that these experiences can only make us stronger!

  6. Petra

    Oh love… sorry your year has been so shitty. But for me, you were a writer from the day I read the first of your words. Whether it’s expat-life, creating art or surviving a crappy year… for me you always qualified as a gifted writer.

    Plus writing through shit-covered walls helped me a great deal too – so hang in there, keep writing and creating. Wishing we were closer and I could just pop by with a tea and a craft-project. Much love!! xoxo

    1. tj@studiomailbox.com Post author

      Thanks for the love and support P. Guess we’ll have to wait for your trip to the US to have that tea…! xx

  7. Amanda

    I’ve just found your blog and read your story on your reaction to the vaccination! How horrible and I’m really sorry, it must have been pretty damn scary! I was wondering how you are doing now and if the side effects were a bit better?
    Lots of hugs and prayers coming your way!

    1. tj@studiomailbox.com Post author

      Hi Amanda, thank you for taking the time to comment. That is so kind of you. I am doing much better than I was immediately after the reaction. I still struggle at times and the recovery has been slower than I ever imagined but someday I hope I will shake all the effects. Only time will tell. Thank you so much for kind words and prayers.

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