At age 48, Catherine “Cat” Parker had a complete and fulfilling life: two young adult children, a job as a manager of a construction company and work as a freelance photographer and photojournalist specializing in concert and music photography — a passion that allowed the Minnesotan to spend time on the road with her boyfriend, a guitar tech.
However, Parker’s life came crashing to a near-halt soon after she received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on April 1, 2021.
“Within two weeks after receiving the first vaccine, I began to have chronic fatigue
and insomnia,” Parker told The Defender. “I went to a couple of doctors … and they just said it was menopause that was causing it.”
Parker’s symptoms worsened significantly after she received the Pfizer booster on Nov. 9, 2021. “Within 2-3 weeks after the booster, my hair began falling out and I started having severe brain fog and chronic fatigue,” Parker said.
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“I started having uncontrollable tremors, shaking and spasms, migraines, brain fog … to a point where I couldn’t communicate and couldn’t walk,” she added.
The two COVID-19 vaccinations she received marked just the beginning of a long and arduous journey, during which Parker experienced a growing number of symptoms that disrupted practically every aspect of her life, including her employment and personal relationships.
And, as is common with the victims of vaccine injuries, Parker’s concerns repeatedly were dismissed by doctors and medical experts.
Her symptoms — and the dismissive attitude of much of the medical establishment — led Parker to start the Vaccine Injury/Side Effects Support Group on Facebook earlier this year.
In addition, Parker has presented her personal story on social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube and TikTok, and launched an online crowdfunding campaign to help support her rising medical costs.
Parker said she launched the support group because she “felt so alone going through this” and “to focus more on offering support to those that have immediate needs, whether it is emotional support, resources for food, housing, rent, financial assistance and educational/medical information related to helping them get treatment, medication.”
“My heart was breaking to watch so many people suffering just to get information and help and I could not stand by and continue watching them go through this,” she said.
‘I feel like the walking dead’ after receiving the COVID vaccines
Parker described the adverse reactions she experienced since her two vaccinations as “all over the board with no rhyme or reason,” adding that “some come and go, but most of them are constant and plague my life every day.”
Parker’s symptoms read like a laundry list of ailments. They include:
- Chronic brain fog.
- Chronic cold and hot temperature intolerance.
- Chronic, extreme exhaustion and fatigue, including falling asleep in chairs and in any seated position within 5-10 minutes of sitting.
- Chronic falling over when trying to get dressed/walk/stand.
- Chronic headaches.
- Chronic nausea.
- Chronic red and glazed-over eyes.
- Chronic pain and swelling in the hands, arms and throughout the body.
- Chronic shaking and tremors in the arms and hands.
- Constantly cold hands and feet.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Hair loss (her first true indication that “something was wrong,” in November 2021).
- Head pain, with feelings akin to that of a stroke.
- Memory loss and loss of concentration.
- Microtremors and tension throughout the body.
- Painful and difficult urination, related to kidney issues.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Rashes and streaks on the skin.
- Restless leg syndrome and leg pain.
- Ringing in the ears.
- Skin rash.
- Sleep apnea.
- Difficulty breathing and swallowing when sleeping.
- Twitching eyes.
In her Facebook video, Parker said she had an existing autoimmune disease, advising the public not to get a COVID-19 vaccine if they have any such condition.
She also described possible liver damage, difficulty getting up and said she needs to sleep an average of 13 hours per day.
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Parker said her “personality has changed,” describing herself as “no longer as light-hearted or outgoing” as she used to be.
Many of the symptoms she described appeared more recently, months after her last vaccine dose. For instance, her tremors first occurred in early April of this year, while her difficulty swallowing and breathing while sleeping first materialized in May.
Overall, Parker said she feels “like the walking dead” due to her fatigue and like her “body is dying,” adding she feels her “body is in slow motion at times” and “after a while, you feel like your body is not yours, your brain is not yours, you don’t feel in control of anything.”
Parker said she lost her job as manager of a construction company in April of this year, because, according to her supervisor, her “work production was not there anymore.”
Her photography business also has suffered.
According to Parker:
“My business as a freelance photographer/photojournalist was at the peak of success in my industry when the adverse reactions started. I cannot photograph concerts or artists as I used to.
“I’m having tremors now, and nobody wants shaky photos.
“I have lost freelance gigs due to this and taking care of myself and my family has become others taking care of me and [me] struggling day-to-day just to pay bills, put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads.”
“My life has changed in so many ways [just] trying to take care of myself and work,” said Parker. “The adverse reactions interfere with my brain function in concentrating, walking, memory and much more. I have to have help getting dressed at times, or assistance with walking.”
Parker said she no longer makes plans “because it takes me two-and-a-half hours to come out of the brain fog just to get up and get going — that is, if I can get up and get going, because there’s times I sleep 14, 16 hours.”
Doctors: ‘We don’t talk about it because we’ll lose our jobs’
Parker told The Defender she visited scores of doctors, most of whom have dismissed her concerns or attempted to attribute her symptoms to other causes — an attitude Parker described as “gaslighting” and “mansplaining.”
“I have been to so many doctors,” said Parker, “including a cardiologist, endocrinologist, neurologist, hematologist, oncologist, naturopath, general practitioners, functional doctors and so many more.”
“[What] I get from some of them,” she said, is “‘oh, this is not attributed to the vaccine,’ and they try to explain it away, [that] it’s menopause, anxiety, you’re not eating right, your existing medication or something else. I have heard it all.”
“I have been dropped from care by at least two doctors for saying ‘vaccine side effects,’” added Parker.
She also described a visit to the emergency room as belittling:
“My ER visit to the hospital was traumatic, when the nurse checking me in belittled me for taking up precious time for others that needed it and [asking] what kind of miracle could they perform for me, since it took me this long to come in and maybe I was not taking it serious enough.
“It’s very disheartening knowing that we’re going through this and nobody seems to care. What a horrible experience.”
Parker also recounted how some doctors told her “we don’t talk about it [vaccine injuries] because we’ll lose our job … because they don’t want us to talk about it.”
Parker said two doctors did stand up for her, including her sleep neurologist and cardiologist, who “has several other patients going through the same adverse reactions” and who diagnosed Parker with pseudoparkinsonism and dysautonomia.
In her video, Parker described unsuccessful attempts to reach out to prominent medical institutions such as Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Institute and Emory University. She issued an “open call” for any medical practitioner who might be willing to help her with the neurological and kidney issues she is experiencing.
Parke took multiple supplements to treat her conditions, but she said, “Now that the money has dried up, I can’t afford to keep buying them.”
She reported her injuries to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and “every site you can report on, including the vaccine manufacturers’ sites.”
“I just heard from Johnson & Johnson after I called them out on Twitter several times. Before that, I heard crickets.
“VAERS finally reached out by email [in May] wanting to know if I have been cured or recovered. ‘No,’ I answered, ‘of course not, but thanks for taking so long to check up on me.’”
Parke said her injuries have affected some of her personal relationships:
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“It has put such a strain on the relationship that I have with my boyfriend. He received the vaccine and [experienced] no adverse reactions, so he does not know what I am going through.
“This has taken me away from my life and I [hardly] see anyone anymore. And when they see me, sometimes they do not know what to do or say.
“It puts a strain on your life because it takes over as the big elephant in the room and dominates every conversation and nothing else takes precedence.”
Her health difficulties also created difficulties for other members of her family, including her daughter.
“My daughter is my best friend and she is my saving grace, helping me and giving me the support I need with her kind heart,” Parker said. “I know it causes her anxiety and hurts her to see me going through this. I have seen her cry as she watches me going through this.”
Parker said she will not allow her children to get the vaccine, and encourages parents to do the same for their children.
“I’m so afraid for the babies now that are going to get the shots and the parents that are going to allow their children to get this,” she said.
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“I can’t imagine what these parents are going to start going through when this happens, and we have already seen that the numbers [of vaccine injuries] just keep increasing.”
Parker also did not mince words when talking about the vaccine manufacturers and federal regulatory agencies.
“We do not want anyone else to go through this, because it is no way to live, and it is criminal and willful neglect of what has happened to us when the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] FDA, [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC and the vaccine manufacturers put this out, knowing the adverse reactions were happening during their clinical trials.
“What bothers me is that the CDC, the FDA, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson knew of all the adverse reactions back in 2020 … If you go to [a video] the FDA’s YouTube page, on their public advisory committee, at 2:33:30, you’ll see them skip over the adverse reaction slide and explain it away as another slide in a different presentation.
“They knew about all of the adverse reactions, and they still put it out anyway.”
Had this information been available, Parker said she wouldn’t have received the COVID-19 vaccines and believes others also would have refused.
“I think if we would have had the option to know about what was going to possibly happen to any of us, we would have said no.
“I wanted that right. I wanted that right to know that these reactions could possibly happen to me and wanted the right to be able to be healthy and happy and work and take care of my family and myself.
“I don’t have that right anymore, because they took it away from me.”
Parker’s experiences and the difficulty she faced getting answers and treatment for her vaccine injuries were behind her decision to establish a support group for vaccine-injured individuals.
“My anxiety and depression were getting worse, and my daughter said to me, ‘Mom, you have always been the person to help others, maybe you need to focus on that for now.’”
“So I created my support group to focus more on offering support to those that have immediate needs, whether it is emotional support, resources for food, housing, rent, financial assistance and educational/medical information related to helping them get treatment, medication and other [needs].
“My heart was breaking to watch so many people suffering just to get information and help, and I could not stand by and continue watching them go through this.”
According to Parker, the group attracted 200 members in the first two weeks and is “growing every day [with] people from all over the world … with stories that are heartbreaking, but also resiliency to keep going through this.”
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