The Whooping Cough Got A Grip On Me .
My mother had good intentions when , on a sunny Autumn afternoon in 1961 , she took me to the doctor and had me vaccinated against the threat of whooping cough . I was not quite four years old and I guess my mind was on other things because I don't remember anything about it , perhaps the passage of the intervening years has conveniently blotted out the trauma of the injection . Whooping cough was widespread and virulent throughout the world in the sixties , and was responsible for a lot of infant mortalities . Hospital wards were full of little children coughing relentlessly , unable to breathe , untill they were sick , and then taking a huge gulp of much needed air that rushed into their tortured lungs with a whoop . There was no respite , the cycle of coughing would start again within minutes . Children would suffer for six weeks or more before the condition subsided .
A vaccine was produced and the government instigated a large scale inoculation programme . Tens of thousands of children were administered with the Pertussis vaccine. Everybody thought that was it , job done , and indeed the incidence of whooping cough cases dropped markedly , the vaccine had worked . However , for a small percentage of kids who were injected , the vaccine did not work , and they unluckily caught whooping cough despite the inoculation . Moreover , what nobody knew at the time was that some shots of the Pertussis vaccine were not only inneffective , they were contaminated . The effect of this would not become apparent for several years . I was lucky , my mother loved and cared for me and wanted me to be protected , so she took me for the jab . I was unlucky , the shot of vaccine that I recieved was contaminated .
Twelve weeks later I was deep in the throes of whooping cough , I had just turned four years old . My mother refused to have me admitted to hospital and cared for me at home , against doctors advice . I am glad she did that . I can vividly recall the coughing fits , the struggle to breathe , the whooping noise as I gulped air , and the blackouts from lack of oxygen. The contaminated vaccine produced a virus , and the virus swam in my juvenile , still developing , oxygen depleted brain . I survived the whooping cough , but would never be the same again.
I was now one of the small percentage of kids affected by what was to eventually become known as Pertussis Vaccine Syndrome .
Today P.V.S. has been identified, recognized , ratified and acknowledged by medical authorities throughout the world , and is medically described as a form of Autism . It's effects can range from mild to severe ; I am rated as mild and don't really have too much trouble coping with it in my life . There are approximately five million sufferers globally ; Europe , Africa , North and South America , Australia , they all have P.V.S. cases .
No government has ever accepted or acknowledged the existence of P.V.S. , probably because if they did it would open the floodgates to an avalanche of compensation claims that would cause financial chaos .
P.V.S. typically manifests itself as a behaviour and/or social interaction defect .
As a child I ran away from home on several occasions . As a young adult I disappeared from my family and social circle for five years , dropping out , living rough ,and travelling round the world ; I got as far East as Istanbul and as far South as Namibia , I went as far North as Tromso in Norway , and for some unknown reason had a complete aversion to the West . I walked thousands of miles , hitch hiked , jumped trains and hid in the back of trucks . When I turned up on my mothers doorstep some years later she put the kettle on and asked me where I'd been ! Like I'd just popped out for a packet of fags or something . Don't you just love your mother !
I was put in prison in Athens for being destitute , I was deported from Rotterdam for being a public nuisance and I was banned from Switzerland for one year for repeatedly busking on the streets of Lausanne without a licence .
I was chronically addicted to Amphetamine Sulphate at one stage , nowadays I just drink strong coffee ; they both take the edge off my hyper-activity . Unexplainable , I know , but it works . I steer clear of alcohol , it makes me extremely , and I really mean extremely , depressed . I have a complete phobia about telephones and will not use them or answer them when they ring. Employment is a problem , I have walked out of numerous jobs . Just walked out in the middle of the day and never gone back . I don't know why . I have a complete disregard for my own safety . I have been knocked down by cars on several occasions whilst attempting to cross roads . I have been electrocuted several times , one of which produced a near death experience . I saw the bright white light and was invited to walk into it . I declined . I have been involved in three serious high speed car crashes that were all write offs and lived to tell the tale each time with only minor injuries , actually some bones were broken so thats not really minor . I have a failed marriage , and several failed relationships , all my fault completely . I find it impossible to pay bills on time , if at all , and have been in court to explain my actions , or lack of actions , on countless occasions. If I could force myself to use the phone it would be worth putting the judge on my friends and family list , only kidding , but we are on first name terms. Perhaps thats some sort of street cred . I must ask a hoodie .
When I was about twelve years old I went to a jumble sale and bought an old dog-eared poetry book , it was an anthology . My mother told me to take it back . I ignored her , went to my room ,and read it from cover to cover . The way the words were put together in the poems fascinated me . I bought more books , of all types , and read them all . It wasn't long before I started trying to write material of my own . I am still writing and reading today , it keeps me sane and focused in this crazy world . I think that most of what I write is utter rubbish , and I don't understand a lot of it when I re-read it , but I hang on to it anyway . There are parallels there with life , I don't understand why it was me that got the contaminated vaccine , I don't know why it was me that the whooping cough got a grip of . I do know one thing though , I still love my mother , but if she ever says she's taking me to the doctor...............
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