Monday, October 19, 2020

I got my flu shot!

I had Guillain-Barre syndrome.  My immune system got confused and decided to attack my motor nerves. It usually happens after an event which gets your immune system going.  Something like a virus, a bacterial infection,  surgeries where they leave stuff in you, pregnancy or a vaccine.  There is some evidence now that covid-19 is a trigger for GBS. My GBS was triggered by food poisoning,  the doctors found evidence of the campylobacter bacteria in me. And I had the worst stomach bug of my life a week before my GBS happened

GBS is an autoimmune condition. Autoimmune sounds like a misnomer it should be called disorder immune. Because you are immune system usually works correctly automatically. But when you have an autoimmune condition your immune system attacks and destroys parts of your body you need.  Guillain-Barre syndrome is when your immune system decides to attack the sheaths that cover the nerves. It affects about one in 100,000 people in the United States.  I actually have a variant of Guillain-Barre syndrome called acute motor axonal neuropathy. My immune system also attacked my motor nerves themselves. Sheaths heal slowly,  axons not so much. So I have permanent damage.

But I'm not really posting about myself today. The past two paragraphs were just a little background. But I did mention that one of the triggers for Guillain-Barre syndrome is a vaccine. Because I am really really not wanting a relapse., if a vaccine can trigger GBS I was really wondering if I should get one. So a couple of years ago after getting GBS I did my own research. I also talked to my neurologist and my general practitioner. They all told me the same thing I found on the Guillain-Barre syndrome Foundation website. If a vaccine didn't trigger your GBS the first time, it's not likely to trigger a relapse. In fact if you're going to get a relapse it's going to be from the same thing that triggered it in the first place. So I make sure my chicken is cooked. And I also want to stay healthy and I don't want the flu. So I get the vaccine as directed by my doctor every year.

In fact, last year I got the flu shot at the hospital where I was volunteering. They were requiring it
for all staff. I was volunteering at that hospital because I used to be a patient. With my volunteer ID I got online to get the shot.  When I got into the big room they handed me a tablet for me to fill out a form.  It's a common form and you have to fill it out no matter where you get the flu vaccine. It looks like this. (The form doesn't say you shouldn't get the flu shot if you've had GBS. It says you should talk to your doctor because there's no room to indicate that if your  GPS was triggered by a vaccine you shouldn't get another GPS. This also applies to about one in a million people)

It's a list of things that you really think you should check no to every one of them. But item number 4 says, " do you have a history of  Guillain Barre syndrome?"...   I checked yes and the nurse's aide who was going to give the shot told me I was exempt I could wear a mask if I wanted to work in the hospital but I didn't need to get the shot. I told her I didn't want to be exempt I didn't want the flu. She called the supervising nurse, who repeated the same thing. I said no I talked to my neurologist and my family doctor and I told her what I learned about GBS and the flu shot. She took a big swallow and looked at me and asked when I had GBS? I looked her right in the eye without looking at her name tag and called her by name. And said in June of 2014 when I was here and paralyzed and you were my nurse.  She put the shot right into my tattoo, without hesitation

Today I went to my local pharmacy to get the flu vaccine. It was a paper form and I circled yes  for that same question. I was prepared for a little fight. But I got the opposite. But it was my turn on the pharmacist called my name and called me into the little private corner. She looked at my form and ask me one question. Did a vaccine trigger your GBS? Nope, it was bad chicken.  Then she just asked me which are my one of the shot in. I rolled up my sleeve and showed her my tattoo. "That's great but I'm sorry I'll have to cover it with a Band-Aid"

And she said that with an Eastern European accent. Which really got me thinking about this anti-vaccine movement and how it's being encouraged by Russian trolls

You know something, the vaccine isn't supposed to be perfect. It's supposed to reduce the likelihood of you getting the flu and it supposed to make the flu less severe then if you would not have taken the shot.

 It stops an epidemic, also. 

Show to the people who blurt out it's a personal decision. No!  It should be an informed decision based on facts and it affects more than yourself it's a  decision that affects everybody around you. Send a personal decision to wash your hands after using the bathroom if you work in a restaurant.


  1. Thanks for the information my neurologist and GP have not allowed me to get the flu shot and I’m asthmatic. I got GBS in 2015. Actually got the flu shot in November of 2014 and began to get symptoms of GBS on January 17, 2015 and got diagnosed by February, 2015. Every flu season I’m a nervous wreck and now with this pandemic its a nightmare. I’m going to pursue to question my doctors about the flu shot. Thanks and stay safe.

  2. I am not convinced with the science and the vaccine for the flu. I am post GBS 2017 and had the the flu shot for several years before my episode with GBS.

    My trigger wasn’t the vaccine but given all that has happened in the world of infections as a result of Covid-19, I have come to the conclusion that scientists still know very little about the bodies immune system and its responses to viruses and bacterial infections.

    Until that changes, getting the flu vaccine is going to be a hard pass for me. Good luck to anyone who does get after having GBS. Scientists has just scratched the surface of molecular mimicking and all that needs to be known to combat viral and bacterial infections and the body’s potential responses to them!

  3. I have CIDP which is the chronic version of GBS and have had it for over 15 years after getting chemical poisoning from a neighbour who was spraying a banned substance on his crops. My doctors all advised against getting the flu shot because it could make my CIDP a lot worse and I am already in pain 24/7.

  4. I have had CIDP for over 15 years which is the chronic version of GBS and I got it from chemical poisoning from a neighbour who sprayed his crops with a banned product. Over the years I have been advised by my doctors that if I was to have the flu vaccine it would more than likely make my condition worse and as I am in pain 24/7 I have decided not to have it.


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