Dr. Joel Wallskog
First Moderna Covid vaccine (received 12/30/2020)
Prior to his diagnosis of transverse myelitis, Dr.Joel Wallskog was an avid outdoors person. He enjoyed hiking, biking and numerous watersports such as wake surfing and water skiing.Joel was exposed to Covid 19 in August/September of 2020, likely at his work. He was exposed to numerous co-workers at that time who were symptomatic and tested positive for Covid 19. He subsequently tested positive for Covid 19 antibodies in September of 2020. He was asymptomatic. According to CDC recommendations at the time, he waited 3 months after his antibody diagnosis to obtain his first Covid vaccine. He developed numbness, weakness and balance difficulties soon after receiving the first Moderna Covid vaccine (received 12/30/2020). In the following months, he experienced periods of quite severe lower thoracic back pain. He was subsequently diagnosed with transverse myelitis with a demyelinated lesion at the T8-T9 level. He was treated with high dose steroids and IVIG with no improvement. He has participated in physical therapy. His symptoms are essentially unchanged since his diagnosis in January 2021. He has been unable to return to work as an orthopedic surgeon and has been on long term disability. He can walk short distances but is unable to return to any of his sporting activities that he enjoyed prior to his diagnosis of transverse myelitis.
On December 30 of 2020, I received the first Moderna Covid vaccine without incident initially. Approximately one week later, I recognized that my feet were numb—a (painful?) sensation of pins and needles. I also began having powerful electric shock sensations (Felt like electrocution?) down my entire spine radiating to my feet. I obtained an MRI of my cervical spine. It revealed no acute changes to account for my numbness. Move forward 3 or 4 days, I was sitting in a clinic room at work talking with a patient. I attempted to stand from a sitting position. However, I couldn’t stand. I pushed myself up with my arms, then quickly fell backwards. Later that day, I had MRIs of my thoracic and lumbar spine. I soon saw a neurologist who diagnosed me with transverse myelitis – a rare condition that involves a demyelinated lesion of my thoracic spinal cord. While my neurologist recommended immediate hospitalization, I opted to be treated as an outpatient. I was treated with high dose steroids and IVIG. Despite these treatments, my symptoms continued. I began to stumble and fall regularly. My neurologist recommended I take 2 to 3 months off work. I agreed to take off for 2 weeks. After my return, I operated on two consecutive days, although at an intended shortened schedule. After the second day, I felt horrible. I was numb from my umbilicus down to my toes. I could barely walk. I have been off work since. I am not safe to work as an orthopedic surgeon. After my diagnosis, I brought up the question of whether my condition could be related to the Moderna Covid vaccine that I received. I asked my employer to report it to VAERS. I was aware that the UK Astra Zeneka Covid vaccine trial was delayed twice because of 3 cases of transverse myelitis. Assuming that the FDA and CDC would be alarmed at my diagnosis, I expected to be contacted soon after my VAERS submission. No phone call or other contact. Weeks passed. I then contacted the CDC myself. They acknowledged my VAERS submission but stated my reaction was categorized as “not serious” as I had not been hospitalized and hadn’t died. I have never heard from the CDC again. No contact with the FDA. I notified Moderna directly and asked that I be contacted. No one from Moderna ever contacted me. One word describes how I felt in the first few months after my diagnosis – ABANDONED. My life has dramatically changed after this adverse reaction. My career of 19 years that I took almost 14 years to train for is likely over. While my electrical sensations have decreased, my numbness, weakness and poor balance are unchanged as compared to January of 2021. I compare myself now to a car. I begin my day with a quarter tank of gas. When my fuel tank is empty, my legs are done for the day. If I am overly active on a given day like today, I plan on spending the next day or two on the couch. Let me be clear, I am pro-vaccine. I got one Moderna Covid vaccine. Let me be clear, I had a real adverse event. I urge the CDC, FDA and all other involved governmental agencies to listen to the injured. Their adverse events are real. I urge everyone to become open and transparent with Covid vaccine data. The VAERS system is grossly inadequate. I am bewildered how we as a country seem to be dependent on foreign data. I urge additional moneys be allocated to studying the etiologies and treatments of adverse events. I also urge Congress to enact legislation to allow for financial remedy under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program for those injured by the Covid 19 vaccinations. Thank you.”