When I interviewed LA resident Mercedes Needham, now a widow, about the devastating loss of her 53-year-old husband Terry, she said she had to stay strong for their two children. “They are at the most vulnerable time to lose a parent, in their late teens and early 20’s”, and Mercedes is determined to get her family through the holidays in one piece.
While writing this story, I reflect on the fact that I have never experienced a time and overall environment when speaking common sense or sharing a personal story has been considered so controversial. In fact, I look back to the past nostalgically to reminisce on times when we could have strong debates and discussions around facts without mobs coming after us for having differing viewpoints.
Now fact-based stories like this are shared and a whole swath of fearful people will try to cancel it out the gate. Uncomfortable truths and realities will be shared in this piece. Please listen to Mercedes’s story and her resulting perspective with an open mind. Let us try to be better than those who try to cancel reality simply because it may disrupt a mainstream narrative.
Mercedes starts off stating clearly that her husband was healthy and didn’t have any issues except high blood pressure which was controlled through medication. Terry had recently started a job with a new employer as a machinist and had to leave work twice due to headaches and cold symptoms. Both minor situations were par for the course, but caused an extreme hassle due to overly strict protocols and reaction. This, despite Terry’s job being a socially-distanced environment where machinists worked their own machines. On top of this, Terry wore his mask all day long and didn’t really interact with anybody.
Each time he took off work or left early, they required a COVID test which came back negative but due to company policy, he had to take three days off work unpaid. This became a real hassle. These protocols were extra heavy handed despite being in San Bernardino County where county rules are overall less strict, so it was the employer who chose a more heavy handed approach.
After several conversations with each other, Terry and Mercedes both decided it made sense for Terry to just get the vaccine, despite their hesitancy and concerns. After weighing things out, they decided the benefits of getting the jab would outweigh the hassle of the COVID protocols and the subsequent loss of work and income. There was also the pressure of Terry impressing his new employer and not wanting to look like the guy who wasn’t a team player by missing too much work.
Terry took the first vaccine shot and felt some soreness in his arm. Four weeks later, on May 5th, he took the second shot and was shocked at how his arm automatically started hurting. He started experiencing headaches and fell sick a couple of days after the shot. Then he experienced nonstop diarrhea and couldn’t even make it to work without an incident.
What was interesting was that due to the rules, despite having COVID symptoms, his work didn’t require him to stay at home for three days anymore, now that he had the vaccine. Ironically he was sicker now than the previous two instances he left work early.
Thursday June 10th before he passed away (Terry passed on Tuesday June 15th), Terry had the worst headache, developed chills and couldn’t stop sweating. Mercedes and Terry both thought it was the flu. His health rapidly declined in the course of the 5 days with severe headaches, chills and growing exhaustion from his inability to sleep. Mercedes thinks he got full blown COVID due to the vaccine. Terry was stubborn and didn’t want to go to the hospital and was simply eager to sleep.
The last time Mercedes talked to her husband was 10:30 Monday night. This was after he called in sick, hoping to just rest. After sleeping through the day and waking up at 5 pm, he was just happy he slept but woke up drenched in sweat. He was last heard around midnight speaking to his son. Terry went to bed on the couch soon after and when his alarm went off at 4:45 am, Mercedes heard it continue to ring. When the ambulance came, they concluded he had passed sometime around 3 am.
Mercedes wanted an autopsy. She was told it would take longer with COVID and Terry’s doctor happened to be on vacation. But she told the office, “Well, you have all his records of all the medication because he had high blood pressure. He took medication for it. So it was fine. You know, he had just gotten the vaccine?” Yet nobody wanted to hear anything about it being related to COVID.
Mercedes found this to be a stark contrast to the times before the vaccine was fully rolled out. “Well, this is surprising, because I had a friend from work who’s sister-in-law got into a car accident and they called it a COVID death. And he was fighting it because he was saying no, she died in a car accident, why would you call it a COVID death? So I’m telling you that he had all these COVID symptoms, and he had taken the second vaccine, and he hasn’t felt well ever since. And yet you don’t want to hear anything about it being a COVID death, or anything related to the vaccine? While I was planning his funeral, they were trying to tell me that ‘if you want us to do more investigations, then we won’t release the death certificate.’”
“So how does this heart stop in the middle of the night? He didn’t sleep for three days, and had all these horrible symptoms. It all started happening after his second shot. The doctor finally agreed to sign it off.”
“However, when I ended up getting the death certificate, it said that he had an infection and that the infection caused a heart attack. But there was nothing on COVID. I don’t understand why there is nothing about COVID on his death certificate at all.” It was almost like they are deliberately suppressing the truth.
Terry’s death is just starting to hit Mercedes. After 30 years of marriage and knowing Terry for 31, she hasn’t even had time to grieve. Mercedes doesn’t look forward to the holidays. Her 22 year old son was very close to his dad, so mom is staying as strong as she can and is in counseling, which is helping her navigate the grief process.
“I think especially with my son, this is such a volatile time in his life where it could go really bad so I just feel like I have to keep it together. Because if I don’t, then everything else will fall apart. I just try to take one day at a time, and hopefully, we can get through the holidays and keep his memory alive in any way that we can.”
Anger and guilt are other emotions Mercedes felt. Anger at all the events that transpired: the overly harsh work protocols that propelled Terry to take the shot and the subsequent death certificate back-and-forth that ultimately resulted in no mention of COVID. But also guilt, because she felt the pressure for her husband to get the shots and she succumbed to it.
Mercedes has a lot of questions. One of them is why they were so eager to report COVID deaths at one time, and now are not. She also questions the heavy handed approach to employer mandates.
Mercedes herself works in a warehouse for a food manufacturer that is not mandating vaccines but is strongly encouraging it. “We had to shut down plants a bunch of times and I think they just realized, if everybody’s vaccinated, then maybe you won’t have these outbreaks. But yet they’re still happening in our company. And if you’re wearing your mask, why do you do so if you are vaccinated? [My husband] worked 10 hours a days wearing a mask, it’s too much.”
Mercedes closes by saying, “I’m really concerned about people who are stressed or feel pressured into get doing something that they don’t want to do. And I’m concerned about young kids, when they don’t know what’s happening. I don’t want my kids to be the guinea pigs, I don’t want any of my nieces and nephews to do that. We’re living in a scary world right now. People are trying to say it’s a new normal. And for me, I think that’s just a horrible thing. ‘Normal’ is people engaging, kids learning, especially in school and being able to have a social life with their friends.”