Originally written as a Facebook post for my friends in Dec 2020. Updated Nov 2021, April 2022, Aug 2022.
When I was 24, I was suddenly struck with a novel illness.
This was a mysterious illness that brought me to my knees for a year and has taken me two decades to even begin to understand.
It started out like a virus with flu symptoms. Then it escalated into an agony that doctors could neither diagnose nor effectively treat.
With a desperate kind of hope, early on I sought the care of a slew of MDs — from ER physicians to GPs and specialists.
I was given antibiotics and Flonase at the onset.
Then a series of jolting symptoms manifested. First, on a drive through the mountains, my ear canals suddenly became inflamed, so painfully that they felt like they’d been shredded with a knife. I’ve had ear and hearing problems ever since, and it’s notable that Flonase’s extensive list of side effects includes “ear and labyrinth disorders.” Then I broke out in hives, another noted side effect of both Flonase and the sulfa antibiotic I was given.
Vioxx & 139,000 heart attacks estimated by the FDA
Directly following the Flonase and the antibiotic, new pains assaulted me daily. I was given Vioxx, and suddenly I felt like a truck was parked on the left side of my chest. I couldn’t wear a bra and I could only take shallow breaths. For a year.
Headaches erupted, and there were several kinds. One was what I called the baseball-bat headache, where it felt like someone had taken a baseball bat and beaten me in the back of the head. Another was the bleeding-brain headache, where there was a feeling of blood trickling down the back of my skull as my head pounded.
The pain was so violent that I begged for the mercy of death.
Fortunately — presumably because I was both young and I didn’t take many doses — MRIs and CT scans showed that there was no damage to my brain or heart.
Yet it makes sense now when I read that three years after I was in the thick of this, Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market because of concerns “about increased risk of heart attack and stroke associated with long-term, high-dosage use.” Given the chest pain and headaches I had in the short term, heart and brain risks with long-term use are not surprising.
The good thing is that I was at no risk of taking Vioxx in “long-term high dosages” because within days of starting it, I knew that it and the other drugs I’d been given were not only useless for relieving my pain — they were adding symptoms to a growing list of horrors.
Out of what felt like nowhere, I struggled with a pounding heartbeat, and an unpleasant tingling sensation creeping through my body. These effects are associated with Zyrtec, which I was given for what was written off as “allergies.”
In addition to feeling like I’d been poisoned, I developed digestive problems that prevented food from moving down my esophagus. I have clear memories of trying to enjoy lunch with my grandfather, and feeling hopeless because I couldn’t get the food to move beyond the pain in my chest.
Because I couldn’t eat properly, I lost too much weight. I became so underweight that one of the helpful healthcare practitioners I eventually found wanted to take me by the arm and walk me into her office the first time we met. She later told me that I looked so frail at that time that she wasn’t sure I could walk on my own.
I spent the next few years overcoming all this (!) by seeking out integrative doctors and holistic health professionals. In the last 20 years, I’ve worked with virtually every healing modality you can think of. I have that difficult year to thank for catalyzing countless positive new ways of being, including my yoga and meditation practice, and two decades of wheat-freeness.
And because drugs like Vioxx, Flonase, sulfonamides, and Zyrtec were connected with the increase of my symptoms, since 2001 I’ve kidded that my motto is Just Say No to Drugs. I use that slogan from the Reagan years and the War on Drugs ironically.
What I try to stay away from personally are most prescription drugs because I know that much of what’s fashioned by pharmaceutical companies is not healthy or safe.
The opioid crisis is a clear example of how pharmaceuticals can be the opposite of healthy and safe. I have a friend whose brother died from OxyContin — and he was one of some 500,000 people whose lives have been compromised or destroyed by that drug.
He was 34 years old.
These facts I’m sharing are no judgment on any drugs you may take or have had your life saved with. I’m talking mostly about my body, with mention of other people’s fatalities — with acknowledgement that some drugs save sick people, and that contemporary medicine has certain strengths.
I share all this with you in the hopes that you’ll weigh the benefits and risks of the new vaccines very carefully.
As you know, these drugs are new and analyses of their safety and efficacy are dubious and scarce. Because pharmaceutical companies fund corporate-media television and journalism, emerging data and evaluations are not always likely to be unbiased. Because of the grave decline in diligence, truth-seeking, and accuracy in journalism, many reports will be anything but well researched. Rather, they’ll be jerrybuilt with wording pulled verbatim and unquestioned from press releases.
And I’m sure you’re aware that, in this intensely divisive world we find ourselves in, X is a data-proven fact to people on one side of an issue and Y is a data-proven fact to people on the other side of the issue. Numbers are pliable, and more frequently fraudulent than people realize.
In the case of Vioxx, about five years after it was pulled from the market (when the corporate media was publishing more stories in service of public interest), a New York Times article reported that a researcher revealed that data for 21 studies he had authored regarding the efficacy of Vioxx and other drugs had been fabricated.
While it was in use, there were studies that showed its lack of safety, which many doctors at the time were not fully aware of. When it was pulled five years after its release, an FDA analyst estimated that it may have caused between 88,000 and 139,000 heart attacks. About 30% to 40% were fatal. That same year, The Lancet published an editorial criticizing both Merck and the FDA for continuing to make Vioxx available from 2000 until the recall.
I was given it in 2001. (And when I found early reports at the time indicating a connection between my headaches and chest pain and emerging data about Vioxx’s dangers, doctors dismissed me, saying such dangers were rare.)
In 2006, The Wall Street Journal reported that FDA data indicated “that patients in a Vioxx clinical trial had suffered more heart attacks than the original [New England Journal of Medicine] article about the trial reported.”
Not every prescription drug has a history as sordid as Vioxx’s or OxyContin’s. But many do (see why pharmacovigilance developed). And I’m talking about two often-intertwined things: the questionable nature of novel drugs and the safety of people.
Your body and soul know what’s right for you
And it’s still crucial to do your research. And because I know that you likely do do your research, I urge you to do it deeper. Because your health (and thus your life) depends on it, make time to dig into what a report or statistic truly means. As part of that, really look at where you’re getting your information from. Most of what’s in the legacy media about the new vaccines is marketing material. The Canadian Covid Care Alliance breaks down clearly and simply why “95% effective” is misleading. The data use relative risk, which the FDA has said can create “undue influence” and “suboptimal decisions.”
“Patients are unduly influenced when risk information is presented using a relative risk approach; this can result in suboptimal decisions. Thus, an absolute risk format should be used.
Fischhoff, B., PhD; Brewer, N., PhD; and Downs, J., PhD. Communicating Risks and Benefits, FDA.
Pfizer’s absolute risk reduction is 0.84%.
Truth is crucial now
In terms of what’s being reported in the media — whether it has to do with covid or something else — ask yourself, “Do I feel fear, anxiety, overwhelm, or hopelessness when I watch or read the news?”
The world has been rife with turbulence and horror for a LONG time, so that’s partly to be expected. But the best resources should make you feel enlightened by balanced wisdom and inspired to take safe, positive action in self-directed ways.
And really, to get truth now rather than five years from now, it’s wise to spend a good amount of time turning all media off and accessing your own deepest intelligence.
My experience has taught me that when you routinely focus your attention on the ever-streaming torrent of distorted information and rely primarily on outside sources to tell you what’s going on, you’re not using the power of your mind as well as you are when you rely primarily on your inner wisdom for your highest truth.
I understand that the virus is threatening and that each of you is doing everything you can to protect yourself and others. I know you’ll make the best decisions for yourself, and I urge you to respect the decisions that other people make too. A brand-new, novel, and fastest-to-market-ever vaccine with a KNOWN side effect of anaphylaxis is not for everyone, but it is for some.
A serious question for everyone should be, “What might the known side effects be six months, or three years from now?” (Update two years later: here’s a population-based study of about three million Italians suggesting that “mRNA vaccines are associated with myocarditis/pericarditis in the population younger than 40 years.” This study is one of dozens around the world, if not hundreds, showing similar results. Heart complications are now often written off as “mild” and “rare,” but the reality is that even mild heart conditions, which are increasingly not rare, can have long-term consequences, which any critical-thinking person would recognize as alarming.)
“Uncertainty” was a commonly used word in 2020. Its prolific use was tedious, but it was an apt word because a lot was and is uncertain. Uncertainty is the nature of life, and it’s been compounded.
I think “Responsibility” is a word for 2021.
2020 crushed our systems because they were broken — and in 2021, it’s the responsibility of each of us to cultivate awareness and make decisions that will affect how we revolutionize everything in the completely new world we’re slowly creating, whether we recognize the process or not. (The way you choose to educate your kids will affect how we rebuild education! How you choose to handle the virus will affect how we evolve healthcare!)
Our personal decisions might seem small, but they have boundless ripple effects.
With that, we’re more responsible than ever for our physical and emotional health, our ongoing development, our thoughts, our attention, our actions… and for making decisions that balance our individual choices with love, progress, open-mindedness, and freedom.
I also want to share with you that I think it’s important to be cautious about putting excess faith into the modern religion of Science. Science in its highest form involves humility (not finality) regarding the hypotheses that are tested, and it often involves time when it comes to testing those hypotheses or testing them again with different variables or new information. Equally innovative but somewhat less trustworthy is a scramble to create products that involve testing their long-term safety on millions of people.
Also know that while Merck agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle about 27,000 Vioxx lawsuits, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act prevents vaccine makers from being liable for damages to any and all precious bodies and lives.
As it’s phrased, it “provides that no vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death.”
Let’s hope that in the events that it’s necessary, this “Additional Remedy” is honored: “a manufacturer may be held liable where: (1) such manufacturer engaged in the fraudulent or intentional withholding of information; or (2) such manufacturer failed to exercise due care.”