Vaccines: Why I Fight?
- Jagannath Chatterjee
I thought I needed to clear my name. I have been accused of being a problem for this group, an internet troller capable of abusing the group, being anti-vaccine, anti-fluoride, anti-AIDS, of my posts being annoying, of being indecent, of being a political entity with a hidden agenda and so on. I have been through all my posts once again and I can't say why these charges have been levelled. Probably because I have touched the raw nerve of vaccine adverse effects.
The only thing I will admit is that I have a deep mistrust about vaccines and that fluoride poisoning of ground water is a great concern that my organisation tries to address in some districts of Orissa, a state in India. My mistrust of vaccines is because I am a victim of the MMR, administered to me in the year 1979, and from which I suffered a severe adverse effect which persists to this day, 32 years later. I had slipped into what I realised now, autism spectrum disorder.
Autism was not known to doctors in India at that time, knowledge about it is still very vague here. I was paralysed for about six months, my communication skills were severely affected, my body coordination was severely disturbed, I suffered memory loss, slipped into depression, my eyesight detriorated, I suffered very severe gastro intestinal problems, had a severe bout of jaundice that returned again, I suffered chronic fatigue syndrome, severe skin ulcers, my skin lost all sensation and had peripheral neuritis.
My problems started from the very night of the day the vaccine was administered. I mentioned it to the doctor but he said it was not linked but could not explain the sudden deterioration in my condition. All the doctors I subsequently went to negated the vaccine connection. My problems would not heal and I went on to have seizures and insomnia, so much that I spent weeks without sleep. I was in a very pitiable condition with no help forthcoming. I was put on psychiatric medication when I developed a suicidal tendency but that only made me worse, I had the most horrible nightmares that made me fearful of the nights.
When I persisted with my vaccine causation theory I was told I was suffering from an obsessive compulsive disorder. When I persisted, the threats started coming. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I would be refered elsewhere if I persisted further. It was then that I realised that I would have to study my own condition and somehow seek help from other sources. But I was in no condition to read, let alone research. I may mention here that I was interested in medicine since my childhood days and it was in 1979 that I was selected in the medical entrance test. I could not join because the vaccine hit me, and how!
What was my fault, that I had trusted the medical system, that I had believed my doctor and taken the vaccine?
I recovered somewhat under homeopathic and naturopathic treatments but that was a long agonising process when I had to not only deal with my pain but also my emotional state and the fact that people found me abnormal. There was no sympathy from either the doctors nor the society for whose "greater good" I had to sacrifice my health, and my career.
When I had recovered a bit I started my own research. I had only the internet, the doctors would supply me no material, I wonder if they had any. By the time I had my fill I knew I had to fight the scourge. Vaccines are perceived by the medical fraternity to be the greatest public health toll ever. For many of its subjects it is a public health hazard, worse perhaps because you are left to your fate and allegations heaped on you if you try to bring attention to the fact.
Today among other things I am on heavy medication for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Manic Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder. My treatment has not only caused me a lot of pain but has also ruined my family which today suffers from severe resource crunch. My doctor friends help me with books and journals to help me with my ongoing studies. And I have the internet.
I have joined many medical groups. After the initial resistance, as I am currently facing here, doctors of India have largely listened to me as I usually follow up my initial tirade with links to medical studies. Today I am a member of various public health groups, in particular the Medico Friends Circle, the Jana Swasthya Abhiyan of which am an active member in Orissa, of Medicines Sans Frontiers, of the PHRN, and even the IAP against whom I write often grudgingly tolerate me and even distribute my mails in their groups.
I am all for public health. But vaccines, that is where I prefer to be extremely cautious.
Do you blame me?
Believe me, there are victims out there. Victims who are crying out for help. No parent would like to dub her/his child a retard unless the condition is true. On an average an autistic child, according to a study would require an investment of $32 million for a lifetime of care. In developing countries such children are left to their fate and are often kept locked up in rooms. Those families who try to treat them become bankrupt like mine.
Doctors need evidence, true. But they need a heart too. They need to listen to their patients. They need a good dose of ethics, a good understanding of how to treat human beings as human as not as case files. While interating with the community this is what I try to get across.