When we got married, we decided to wait for a few years
before we had children. When we could afford to buy our
first home, we thought it was also a good time to start a
family. Years passed. When Jennifer finally conceived, after
months of fertility treatments, we were overjoyed.
Eric arrived on May 17, 1991. He complained loudly about his introduction to the outside world, but he was a healthy baby. He soon proved to be a very easy baby with a cheerful disposition. He developed right on schedule.
We loved our son, so we listened to the doctors who told us that he needed to be vaccinated. My wife was a nurse, so we didn't even think to question whether this was best or not. He was six months old, so it was time to start getting his shots.
Within hours of his DPT shot, our sweet, cheerful baby disappeared. He was replaced with a fussy baby who cried constantly. A large knot developed where the shot was given. This baby who had been sleeping through the night, no longer slept, but kept on waking up screaming.
I remember the first time he had a seizure in my arms. It was seven days after the vaccine. His eyes rolled back in his head, and he went completely stiff. He started turning blue. I feared he was dead. I ran for my wife. She held him, while I drove the car to the hospital. By the time we arrived, he had come out of the seizure and was crying.
The doctors couldn't figure out what had caused the seizure. A spinal tap came up normal. We were sent home the next day without any answers. The spector of Eric seizing in my arms haunted me. He continued to fuss and cry, so we took him back to the doctor. "He has an ear infection," we were told. We were given an antibiotic and returned home.
Eric's next seizure took place in church while Jennifer was giving him a bottle. At first she thought he was choking on the bottle, then she realized he was seizing. She called me, and we met at the local hospital. We were told we would have to take him to a larger facility in Mobile, Ala. He had 10 seizures during the 35 minute drive.
Eric was put on anti-seizure meds. No one could tell us what was causing the seizures. Eric spent a week in ICU. When we headed home, we still had no answers.
The meds stopped the seizures for a month. We were beginning to hope that all would be OK. Then the seizures returned. This time they lasted longer, up to five minutes at a time, and were more frequent.
I cannot describe the helplessness I felt. As I watched each seizure, I wondered how I could survive with my heart intact if it was followed by another one. It felt as though my heart was at the breaking point.
The doctors couldn't find a seizure med that Eric would respond to. His condition worsened. When the doctor told us that he didn't expect Eric to make it through the night, Jennifer and I turned to the one place we could find comfort. We went to the hospital chapel.
We were both exhausted from days without sleep. It was almost impossible to pray. We wept as Jennifer prayed, "Please, God, if you can't make him well, take him in Your arms to be with you."
I heard a voice behind me ask, "Can I pray with you?"
We said, "Yes." I can't remember the prayer, but I'll never forget the comfort I felt when he said, "Go be with your son. He will be OK." I turned to thank our comforter. No one was there. I have wondered ever since if an Angel had been there with us.
Eric went home with us two days later. I thanked God! We still had no answers. The best theory the doctor could suggest was that Eric had a brain degenerative disease and a life expectancy of possibly two years. We asked if the vaccine could be connected with his problems. We were told that was impossible.
Going home involved learning how to manage the seizures, not that they were gone. Eric had only been home a week before they returned. We had O2 in one hand and suction in the other. The neurologist told us to keep a journal to record Eric's responses to the different seizure meds and doses. We started taking turns staying up all night so we could keep the records.
Having to leave Jennifer alone with Eric so I could go to work was so hard. Some days she would cry as I went out the door. We both knew I had to work to pay the bills, but that didn't make being responsible any easier. I don't know what we would have done if her family hadn't come to help us.
Birthdays are the worst.
Each year your child passes another milestone and the agony increases. It wasn't quite so bad when Eric was a year old. He was a baby, and we expected to buy him baby toys. As each year passed, the visit to the toy isle grew more difficult. Other fathers would be there with children begging for this toy or that game. It would twist my heart to realize that my boy would never be able to enjoy the things they were asking for.
How do you find a gift for an 18 year old who can barely even recognize that something special is happening? You're aware that your child isn't a baby anymore. How do you find something that recognizes this fact but still is appropriate for your child?
Eric on his 18th birthday. He's the size of a five-year old (only 45 lbs.), with the mental capabilities of an infant. We hope by getting his story out other children and their parents don't have to experience this heartbreak because of vaccine injury.
Vaccine injury has not only stole Erics life, but has damaged our lives in many other ways. We have lost our first home, we were turned away and unable to file with the Vaccine Injury compensation program to help Erics medical needs financially. They told us 20 yrs ago that 7 days after vaccination wasnt close enough to prove it, even though Erics doctor would go on the record and testify for his vaccine injury. We missed the statue of limitations because we were too busy in the hospital fighting for Erics life, praying they could just keep him alive. I have had to let Jennifer go to work, as the stress was just too much to handle staying at home everyday. Shes a nurse and because its our only income, she has to give vaccinations. She has to have the patients ASK about the vaccines or she can not say anything to them. That is not informed consent. If you can just imagine after what we have endured with our precious son, what its like for her to have to physically do that. It is mentally and emotionally heartbreaking.
We are still left with many unanswered questions, still trying to find a way to stop his seizures, and find a dr who truly knows how to treat him.
Who will take care of him when we arent able to?
"No amount of saying it isn't my fault can quiet the thought that it is my fault. I'm the one who took Eric to the doctor. Now, I will always struggle with feelings that I robbed my boy of the future he could have had. No amount of saying it wasn't my fault removes that."
I have talked with Ronnie, Erics father, and he would like to reach out to other parents struggling with vaccine injury, if you need someone just to talk to, he extends his hand out to you. email@example.com
Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! Jesus
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