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Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dedra Long had a fulfilling life, working as a surgical technologist and raising her three children. After contracting COVID-19 in February 2020, and being exposed to it several more times through her job, she developed health problems that led her to seek new employment at a credit union.
In 2021, Long’s new employer began pressuring employees to get vaccinated — and that’s when things took a turn for the worse for Long.
“I finally decided to take it so I could continue working,” Long told The Defender. But the vaccines she took so she could keep her job resulted in injuries that stripped her of the ability to work — or even speak.
Long discussed her vaccine injuries, her symptoms and what her life is like today with The Defender, providing extensive medical documentation to corroborate her story.
‘My life was forever changed’
Long, now 37, told The Defender she is “currently out of work, as my vaccine injury affected my voice, which prevented me from doing my job.”
After contracting COVID-19 in February 2020, Long experienced “issues with joint pain and inflammation” that got worse after being exposed at work to the virus. That’s when she “decided to go into a new field of work,” finding employment at a credit union.
When her new employer began coercing her and other employees to get the COVID-19 vaccines, Long told The Defender she was apprehensive:
“I asked my trusted nurse practitioner several times and through a few appointments if [the vaccine] was safe for me. I had tons of inflammation in my body already and they thought I may have RA [rheumatoid arthritis].
“She and my rheumatologist told me I needed to get it as soon as possible. I even had another rheumatologist try to bully me into it saying he was unsafe because of me.”
Her employer eventually told employees they would have to pay out-of-pocket for weekly testing if they weren’t vaccinated.
“After several people I knew [who were vaccinated] were fine, doctors around me saying ‘get it,’ then my new work saying we would have to pay for testing weekly,” Long said, she reluctantly decided to get vaccinated.
She received her primary two-dose course of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Oct. 19, 2021, and Nov. 9, 2021.
Long’s health immediately worsened following each of her vaccinations. She said she “began having headaches and migraines more frequently after the first vaccine, then [after] the second I had constant migraines.”
Three weeks after her second dose, on Dec. 4, 2021, Long experienced a strong migraine and tremors in her right hand. She tried to “sleep it off,” but when she woke up on Dec. 5, 2021, she found her life “forever changed,” she said.
Long told The Defender:
“I was beyond exhausted with severe fatigue. It was hard to move but I needed to log in for work from home. I suddenly noticed the left side of my face felt funny. I had no feeling but a numb fuzzy feeling. My lips and eyes were not moving.
“I quickly let my boss know and logged off. I had my aunt take me to the ER. As soon as I went to get into her car, the entire left side of my body was heavy and very difficult to move. My left leg dragged behind me and I was weak.”
At the hospital, doctors determined Long’s blood pressure was “sky high.” They told her she probably had multiple sclerosis (MS) and advised her to see a neurologist.
Medical documentation from Dec. 7, 2021, confirms Long’s account, describing “very elevated” blood pressure, “twitching of facial muscles on both sides,” “numbness around the right ear,” and “some weakness of [the] left facial muscles.” Long also reported “tripping and falling easily” and often feeling “lightheaded.”
Two CT scans and two electrocardiograms conducted during her hospital visit confirmed Long had not suffered from a stroke or Bell’s palsy.
“This was the beginning of my nightmare,” said Long. “Then began tremors, spasms, jerks and speech issues.”
At a Dec. 15, 2021, follow-up medical visit, Long told doctors she developed a stutter in addition to her previous conditions. Medications she had started taking, such as clonazepam and propranolol, had “lightly improved” some of her symptoms, but nevertheless, her tremors and feelings of weakness continued.
By this point, Long had also visited a rheumatologist who told her she had fibromyalgia. Long was issued multiple medications for this, including Humira, but as stated in her medical documentation, “it did not improve her” and “she did not tolerate the medication.”
A Jan. 12, 2022, MRI found that Long’s sella — a bony structure that protects the pituitary gland in the brain — was “abnormal” and “dilated,” leading doctors to leave open the possibility of empty sella syndrome (ESS).
Documentation from a Jan. 19, 2022, medical appointment noted “something pressing on her pituitary gland.” By this point, she had been diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri and idiopathic intracranial hypertension and was being tested for “possible seizure [and] epileptic activity.”
Long also reported “trouble breathing” and “tremors and jerks so severe they [doctors] think it is seizures.”
By an Oct. 26, 2022, appointment, Long reported “losing clumps of hair,” in addition to “dry skin, brittle nails, hot flashes, profuse sweating, chills, occasional fevers” and “new tics.” Long also reported “gasping for air” approximately 10 times per day.
Vaccine injuries affected ‘practically all aspects’ of her life
Long told The Defender that she continues to suffer from a long list of symptoms:
“I experience severe fatigue, memory issues, left-side weakness of entire body, uncontrollable body convulsions, jerks, tremors, slurring of speech [that] eventually led to a ‘Russian’ accent.
“[I’m] unable to walk, high blood pressure, high heart rate upon standing, walking [or] almost anything. Widespread pain, jaw locking up, non-epileptic seizures, neck twitches, uncontrollable bladder and bowel issues, blurred vision — it has gotten better now but it still flares.”
Long underwent a slew of medical exams, ranging from sleep tests to more MRIs. She said she still has trouble finding a doctor “who will actually look at me and help.”
These symptoms have affected practically all aspects of Long’s life.
“I had to quit my job,” she said. “I’m trying to work, but I’m scared I will never be able to work. My family is suffering because of my choices, and now my health is gone along with my job.”
“I couldn’t drive for almost a year,” added Long. “I was bedridden. I had to learn to walk and speak again. I have fought hard to be where I am today.”
Unlike many other vaccine injury victims, Long is fortunate to have located one doctor who connected her symptoms to the vaccine — although she says most other doctors have been dismissive of the possibility.
“My primary has said [the injuries are] due to the vaccine, no doubt in her mind,” said Long. “She has other patients who have issues from it as well.”
“Every other doctor dismisses it. Some of the nurses I’ve encountered would say it with their faces or responses, but couldn’t say it with their words, that they’ve seen a lot of this recently and it’s vaccine-related.
“The neurologists all gaslit me. I was medical and I never thought people would gaslight this much! They just say you’re crazy, hence [the] functional neurologic disorder diagnosis.”
Long received multiple other diagnoses, including central sensitization syndrome and small fiber neuropathy. She also enrolled in the Mayo Clinic’s Pain Rehabilitation Center. Long told The Defender this “helped somewhat and took me off most of my medications.”
Confirming this, medical records from Oct. 26, 2022, indicated Long was taking at least 12 medications, including clonazepam, cyclobenzaprine, diclofenac sodium, duloxetine, hydroxychloroquine, Lyrica, methocarbamol, montelukast, Nasonex, propranolol, topiramate and venlafaxine.
Long said she still takes muscle relaxers three times per day, including pregabalin and celecoxib. She notes, though, that “stretching, working out and swimming” have been helpful, including using light weights.
The most effective treatment, however, has been the use of a frequency wand.
“I also have started using a frequency wand,” said Long,” and that is the honest-to-God truth of what has changed my life to be able to function at all,” said Long, who credits the wand with ending her seizures, lessening her pain and correcting her speech issues.
‘Gaslighting is real,’ ‘being divided gets us nowhere’
Long told The Defender that her “entire family has been pro-vaccine.” However, her injuries acted as a game-changer for her and for other members of her family.
“Now, we will not vaccinate our kids, ever,” Long said. “My entire family believes it was this vaccine that harmed me. People see how I was previously, and my entire family had to pitch in to take care of me, as I was bedridden and just a body in a wheelchair. I couldn’t bathe or shower myself, I couldn’t walk. I’m blessed to have family members help me and my little family.”
Long has a message for anyone still considering the COVID-19 vaccines for themselves or their children.
“This [the COVID-19 injection] is not even a vaccine,” she said. “It is playing Russian roulette with your health. Please, do not take the vaccine or give it to your children. They deserve a life full of possibilities.”
In addition to the support Long received from her family, she also credits online vaccine injury groups, such as the Vaccine Injury/Side Effects Support Group on Facebook — founded by fellow vaccine injury victim Catherine “Cat” Parker — with helping her.
Long said the group “helped me to connect with others who fully understand your journey and where you are.”
“We have been left to die alone. Some of these groups are the only place we have to share what works because, the truth is, we are all guinea pigs left on our own with no help, no answers, and almost all of us are left being shamed and told it’s all in our heads.
“Gaslighting is real. It’s happening to people who are sane and begging for help that should be provided. We matter, too! We all matter. We are being shamed for taking the vaccine from one side and being yelled at for not being vaccinated enough all at the same time.”
Long said she hopes “we can all stop being hateful and all work together to save lives now. Being divided gets us nowhere.”