Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement, Part 4
Please note: When this post first went live, Lilly was still alive and doing OK. Lilly ultimately died from her adverse vaccine reaction (and illness and side-effects of treatment) on December 17, 2013. We spent 23 months and nearly $31,000 fighting to save her. We lost.
At long last, I give you part four (of five) posts that tell the story of our quest to get financial help from the company that manufactured the rabies vaccine Lilly received January 23, 2012. Following several days of being as factual, unemotional, and undramatic as possible – considering the circumstances – allow me, won’t you, to rant?
As we noted yesterday, two legal release clauses are the main reasons I declined the adverse vaccine reaction financial settlement offer. One required me to give up my right to free speech. The other held me legally liable for things other people said and did in response to our case.
This legal document dealt me an emotional blow similar to the day, while still hospitalized and fighting for her life, that Lilly began having seizures.
That’s not hyperbole. Truly, when I received this letter and settlement offer, I felt sick … because here is the thing, once the adverse vaccine reaction happened, there wasn’t anything I could do but cope.
This legal document, however, felt painfully deliberate. I felt that it was absolutely designed to protect the company – not me, not my dog, not your dog.
I felt victimized all over again.
It’s important to know that I didn’t begin this blog when this crisis began. I’ve been a professional writer for 20+ years now. I’ve always written about medical situations my dogs encounter in a variety of outlets, including this blog – Cody’s cancer, Ginko’s bad knees, Penelope’s kidney disease. Champion of My Heart, an award-winning dog blog, launched in April 2007 long before this adverse vaccine reaction became an issue.
After seeking clarification from the vaccine company veterinarian in charge of our case, who in turn sought details from the company lawyers, it became clear to me that agreeing to this one-sided legal settlement offer meant the blog would die.
In what universe can I write a blog designed to be a “real-time memoir” without being able to write about something that nearly killed Lilly?
The answer is this: I can’t.
And, what about long-held plans for a book? Forget it.
So, I refused to sign the agreement and turned down the money.
Money, mind you, that even my family veterinarian who gave Lilly the ill-fated vaccine called “hush money.”
I am unhushable. I won’t be shushed. I won’t be paid off. I won’t be quiet.
Yes, what happened to Lilly is very, VERY rare, but it does happen. And, if a girl like me didn’t know it was possible, how are others supposed to know, if I don’t tell the story?[See the earlier rant … What I didn’t know and when I didn’t know it.]
The day the official adverse vaccine reaction financial settlement offer came via email, our family veterinarian called, practically squealing with delight. You see, in nearly 30 years of practice she had “never heard of a vaccine company offering money.”
Now, we know why. The money comes with strings attached, and anyone who takes it cannot say a word.
When our veterinarian and I hashed through the details of the agreement together on the phone, she mused about how me taking the settlement might seem to all of you.
“I think they’ll see it as a sellout,” she told me. “I don’t know you that well in your professional life, but I don’t see you taking this money.”
Agreed. So, let’s add to the list. I’m unhushable, and I’m not a sellout.
Do I support greater vaccine research that will lead to longer time intervals between boosters? Yes.
Do I think we sometimes over-vaccinate pets? Yes.
Do I think titer testing is a viable option? Yes and no. It needs to be better, more accessible, and more affordable.
Will I ever vaccinate Lilly again? Hell no! Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I don’t think you should vaccinate your pets.
Of course, I consulted with my attorney about this adverse vaccine reaction settlement offer. He told me not to sign it, but he said if it had been his dog, he would sign it because he doesn’t care about telling the story. He’d happily take the money since the veterinary bills have become truly staggering – quickly approaching $10,000, with no end in sight.
Most of the staff at our regular veterinary hospital also said they would take the money. They were astounded that I did not.
As for me, I care more about this dog than words can convey. She has been my constant companion through some tough times, including having essentially everyone who is important to me get dangerously sick / terminally ill in the last 4 years.
I will not sit down. I will not shut up. I will tell this story through to its rightful conclusion.
Lilly’s prognosis is good, but it’s hard to believe that when she suffers relapses and major setbacks, including new paralysis-like symptoms that have not abated in nearly 2 weeks.
When I’m too optimistic, our veterinary neurologist says, “We’re getting there.” When I’m too pessimistic, he says, “We’re still OK.”
Most days, I believe him. Some days, I don’t. Today is one of those days.
If you are new to our story, it’s important to know that Lilly developed a rare and serious adverse vaccine reaction called meningoencephalomyelitis / meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and lining of the brain and spinal cord) after receiving a rabies vaccine January 23, 2012. You’ll find answers to adverse vaccine reaction frequently asked questions in this earlier 5-part FAQ series. Those answers include how our veterinary neurologist concluded that Lilly’s illness was vaccine induced.
Here are links to all 5 parts of this Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement series of posts: