This is my pro-vax story... words I never thought I would say.
Before today, I wasn’t pro-vax or anti-vax, or anywhere in between. I simply had vax-iety.
I am a person with illness anxiety disorder, or as it is more commonly known – a hypochondriac.
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It started when I was three, after a two-week stay in the children’s ward of the Royal Brisbane hospital. I underwent more tests in those two weeks than most people will endure in their lifetime. But I got lucky.
A few months earlier a doctor in my hospital had been at a medical conference somewhere in the United States.
At that conference, a case study was discussed about a boy with famous parents who had recently been diagnosed with a rare illness that only affects a minuscule percentage of children worldwide.
The illness was Kawasaki Disease, and the boy was Jett Travolta. I think about Jett often. He’s the reason I am alive today, but he never got to see his 17th birthday or become an adult like I did.
I received the treatment in time and made a full recovery. But the experience stayed with me.
Three years later in the middle of an art gallery on the other side of the world, I started screaming “No way Jose! No way Jose!”. The man I was screaming at was the same man who drew my blood every day when I was sick.
A year after that I watched the movie Outbreak where a monkey bites a man, who sneezes on a cookie, and Ebola Virus spreads around the world.
For six months I had night terrors, and during the day I anxiously waited for Ebola Virus to come and liquefy the insides of all my loved ones.
A year after that a news story broke about a child who died, and after they found a microscopic worm in his eye that he contracted from a snail which had slithered over infected bat poo. I didn’t play outside for months.
A few years after that a boy down the road died from Meningococcal and his parents displayed his trophies and medals at his bedroom window for passers-by to see.
I could drive anyone to that house now and point out the exact window. It stuck with me.