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We’re the dirty secret nobody wants to talk about, says man injured by COVID vaccine



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Injured by the COVID-19 vaccine — that his employer forced him to get — Stephen “Steve” Wenger is now unable to work full-time and is facing more than $70,000 in medical bills, he said in an exclusive interview with The Defender.

Wenger, a longtime construction project manager in the telecommunications industry and former volunteer firefighter who was in excellent health, was “dead set” against receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

But when faced with an ultimatum from his employer — get the vaccine or lose his job — Wenger reluctantly got vaccinated.

Within days, he found himself unable to stand up or move around. He crawled on his “hands and knees” into a hospital emergency room, he said.

Wenger ended up spending more than three months in the hospital, paralyzed from the waist down.

READ ALSONew York to end COVID vaccine mandate for health workers

He was diagnosed with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), “a neurological disorder that involves progressive weakness and reduced senses in the arms and legs” according to the National Institutes of Health.

Wenger, now 57, shared his story with The Defender, including his negative experience with the federal government’s Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP). He provided medical documentation to The Defender to corroborate his story.

However, within days, he experienced a reaction to the shot.

Within days, back at work on the Navajo reservation, Wenger’s legs gave out.

“I was lying there sprawled out on the concrete,” Wenger recalled. “I got home, was having issues walking again, falling, and losing my balance.”

It reached a point where he couldn’t even pick up a fork, he said. “They have these foam pads that they put on the silverware so that if you can’t grip … you’d have a bigger surface to grab,” Wenger said. “Well, my hands were so weak that my fingers couldn’t even pick it up. The weight of a fork was too much for me to pick up.”

By that time, he was essentially a quadriplegic, he said. “The whole time I was at Mayo Clinic, the only way I could get in and out of bed was [with] overhead lifts. They would put me into a sling, and they would lift me out of bed, set me down in a wheelchair.”

Wenger said he remained in this condition for approximately two months. “The one thing that I could still do was urinate in the urinal bottle. And it got to the point where, finally, I was in bed one night and I hit the call button. I just said, ‘I can’t do it anymore.’”

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Doctors told him it could be nine months to a year before he got back on his feet. “That just was not an acceptable solution to me,” he said.

Today, he still has no feeling from the knees down, his fingertips are still numb and he has issues with dexterity. Nevertheless, he has returned to work on a part-time basis.

“I’m unable to do my original job,” he said. “So, I’m on Social Security disability right now, but I work part-time at a hardware store.”

“Every six months, I still get a chemo drug,” he said. “What actually turned my CIDP around was rituximab. It ultimately stopped my decline and turned me around and got me on the recovery side of this … that’s what keeps me healthy.”

Wenger’s insurance payments increased from $200 to $850 per month and his deductible more than doubled, from $6,000 to $13,000 — an amount that was then reset when his previous employer changed insurance carriers.

READ ALSOHow Pfizer funded push for COVID-19 vaccine mandates

His medical expenses reached $70,000. In conjunction with a sharp drop in income, from six figures down to $27,000 on disability insurance, Wenger estimated his “real cash financial loss” as ranging between $250,000 and $300,000.

His family has done more than provide financial support. “You don’t get through something like this without your family standing behind you,” describing how his family members would fly from Wisconsin to Arizona just to surprise him — as did a fellow volunteer firefighter from back home.

“Their burden of proof is virtually unattainable. The fact that I’m 57 years old, have never had any medical problems and the fact that all my problems began seven days after I got the vaccine, well, that’s not good enough, ‘that’s not proof that the vaccine caused your injury, that’s purely coincidental.’

“My message is, No. 1, don’t give up. No matter how dark and hopeless it seems at times, fight on. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You may not be able to see it today, but it’s out there.

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