My name is Jeremy Wheten and I’m a 26 year old full time steel plant worker and homeowner from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. I grew up in a large, loving family as the oldest of four boys, and now that I am on my own, I have three dogs and a partner who all live under my care. I am the sole driver and provider for our household so it’s quite a responsibility, but one I wouldn’t trade for the world.
I’m a welder by trade. Welding is my passion and what I’ve always hoped to do full time one day. I spent 5 years working as a welder before I got my job at the steel plant.
I’ve also participated in many musical theater productions including playing the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, worked as a volunteer ski hill medic, and I grew up heavily involved in Football as both a player and a coach.
I have worked extremely hard to get where I am despite many obstacles, including the horrific death of my little brother, Matthew, in 2020 due to a freak collision.
I have suffered from Tourette’s syndrome for as long as I can remember and spent my grade and high school years fighting daily to keep my tics at bay, and not let them hinder my future. Head shaking and jerking, vocal tics including grunting, gasping, uncontrollably repeating phrases under my breath such as “Nice” “Jesus Christ” “F*ck” etc. I also have restless leg syndrome and many more things I’ve learned to live with daily from an extremely young age.
The amount of humiliation, frustration and obstacles have been overwhelming but I never gave up hope of working full time and living a normal life despite my Tourette’s, and the single most traumatic experience any person or sibling can go through.
I was successfully able to get my Tourette’s to a place where it was more of a cause for frustration than an immediate personal safety concern. I was moved from a crane operating position to a ground level labor position which allowed me to work more safely, efficiently and allowed me to keep my income.
- In the summer of 2021, my place of employment made Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for all workers in lieu of the government imposed mandates. I was forced to choose between getting a vaccine with no long term safety studies for someone with a complex neurological condition such as mine, or losing my entire livelihood and everything I spent my life working towards. I made the hard, but obvious choice and received my 2nd Moderna on July 23rd of 2021. Within 72 hours of receiving my second Moderna vaccine, I began to rapidly deteriorate and started having violent, uncontrollable outbursts of tics, and new tics I’d never experienced before. These tics lasted for immensely longer periods of time.My body started rapidly developing painful seizure-like tics where if I am standing up, my upper body folds down in a puking position, my arms tighten down with my fists to the ground, entire body folding in half like a scene from the Exorcism. I now also bend over, lean my hands on my knees with my legs spread slightly apart (similar to batting stance), and thrash my head uncontrollably while hunched over. Usually, I will be stuck shaking in that position for a couple moments while I try not to hit anybody or smash my head on something. For visual reference I am a 6’3″ 400lb+ ex football player.New tics I have developed since the vaccine:
- both of my arms punch upwards above my head at the same time, swinging in the air and exposing my stomach to all.
- my arms will suddenly jolt outwards as if punching the air to the front or to my side, endangering anyone standing next to me who isn’t paying attention.
- I inhale so quickly I can’t catch my breath and I snort loudly like a pig.
- my face contorts and my throat makes a noise that sounds like I am choking on food and is extremely frightening for onlookers.
- my face muscles contract and I look like I am silently screaming in terror.
- one of my legs jumps forward and I almost fall over, trip or hit people.
- my head thrashes backwards so hard and violently while I sit that I avoid sitting in front of a wall for fear of cracking the drywall.
While the physical thrashing and vocal tics are exhausting, it is only the outside aspect of my Tourette’s. The hidden side of living with this severity of tics is the mental torture.
With my current condition, I have no hope of keeping a full-time job long term, which is needed to sustain my home and my family, and to achieve my career and personal goals. There is mentally no quality of life for me as long as I continue to have no control over my body, my face, or my voice.
I used to spend approximately 10%-30% of my day ticking. Since my second Moderna vaccine, I now spend approximately 50%-75% of my days ticking. It is merciless and never ending. My tics used to last no more than a few seconds, 2-10 seconds typically. Now, my tics are slowly increasing to 10 seconds to a minute.
I now struggle immensely to perform at my job due to the severity of my tics. At my very best, I make it through a miserable shift trying to keep up with my workload between tics. At worst, I am forced to call in sick if I am unable to drive or work my shift safely.
A year ago I was able to drive, work, participate in musical theater productions, socialize, grocery shop, and do almost anything freely without my Tourette’s halting my ability to do so. Now I am forced to actively avoid socializing because being in public is a dehumanizing experience. I am unable to sing, perform, weld, play football, entertain or any of my other dream careers. I draw mass amounts of attention to myself and my partner has to speak for me in public when my tics inhibit my ability to speak.
I feel like a burden to my family and a spectacle to everyone around me. It took no longer than a week before my entire life changed and my new worsened state started wreaking havoc on my job, my ability to drive, ability to run errands, ability to walk through public without people staring or fearfully thinking I am in a medical crisis.
In these few short months, I’ve started having people come up to me asking if I’m okay in public or thinking I am having a seizure.
The Government of Canada, Health Canada, the governing authorities of Ontario and all of it’s health officials made the series of decisions to impose mandatory Covid-19 vaccines on the working sector and general public, bearing little regard for the unstudied, unknown side effects. I now suffer incessantly due to their decision.
I humbly ask anyone with the ability or knowledge to do so, who works for Ontario, to please not turn a blind eye now for I am in need of immediate crisis intervention and help.
I am searching desperately with open arms and an open mind for any specialists, neurologists, Tourette’s specialists, doctors, cognitive behaviour therapists, or anyone of the like who might be able to help me. I am open to medications, treatments, therapies, hypnosis, trials, studies, surgeries, tests, scans, or any alternative routes that might help.
I’m not restricted to Canada and am willing to travel to see someone if there is a good chance they can help me.