Brianne Dressen: Gaslit by Doctors and Loved Ones, Some Vaccine-Injured Are Making the Ultimate Choi
Updated: Feb 7
Many in the vaccine-injured community have been told their symptoms—from piercing, constant ringing in their ears to paralysis in their lower body—is due to “anxiety.”
Brianne Dressen, a former preschool teacher in Utah, was severely injured after participating in AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial in November 2020. She is the co-chair of React19, the leading non-profit organization aiding those injured by genetic vaccines.
“This has happened to tens of thousands of Americans that I know of—it’s likely far more—where patients are met with physicians that are doubtful, unbelieving, and in many cases, just outright dismissive to their patient’s complaints. And that really puts the patient in a very vulnerable situation, especially if you have family members that are doubtful of what’s actually happening with you… There’s some people that have made the ultimate choice to end their suffering,” said Dressen.
Dressen’s organization, run entirely by volunteers, is working with over 20,000 vaccine-injured Americans to help them get the treatment and support they need and connect them to doctors willing to help them.
“We want the injured to be empowered to be able to make their decisions and take ownership of their healing when everything around them—their medical teams, their jobs, their government—has abandoned them and essentially stripped them of that power.”
Dressen says the NIH knows a lot more than they let on. After Dressen and her husband repeatedly pled for help, the NIH flew her and others to the NIH to be evaluated, studied, and in some cases, treated.
But to this day, the public and the medical community are not being informed about the major neurological injuries that can occur post-vaccination—even though the NIH knows early intervention is key for such autoimmune dysfunction.
Brianne Dressen, such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
Thanks for having me.
It’s been about a year since you sat down here on American Thought Leaders with Maddie de Garay and Stephanie de Garay and helped introduce me to the realities facing vaccine injured in America, specifically related to these genetic vaccines. I’m really happy to have you back and to figure out what has happened in a year. I know a lot has. What I want is to get your personal story here for the record. What happened to you?
My personal story started a long time ago. It’s been over two years now. Before my vaccine, I was healthy. I was a mother of two young kids and a preschool teacher. I was definitely all in. It wasn’t a matter of if I was going to get the vaccine, but it was going to be when. As soon as I could get it, I was going to do that. And at the time, I firmly believed that if I got vaccinated, I would not spread the disease to others. I wanted to do everything I could to be part of the solution to take care of those around me.
So, I signed up for a clinical trial with AstraZeneca here in the United States and got my shot on November 4th, 2020. Within an hour, I had tingling down the same arm of my shot. Later that night, my vision had become blurry and doubled. Within two-and-a-half weeks, I had landed in the hospital after four ER visits.
Each visit had new symptoms that were very concerning, severe tachycardia, bradycardia, and limb weakness. The paresthesia moved from one arm to the other to all over my body. There was this horrific electric shock all over my body that I still deal with to this day. Severe tinnitus—I had a freight train sound in one ear, and a high in E in the other.
When I landed in the hospital, my legs just gave out. They weren’t working anymore. I had become incontinent. My sensitivity to light and sound had become so severe that my kids couldn’t touch me. They couldn’t be in the same room as me. My husband had put towels over the windows to make the room darker. He would come in to check on me, and even just the swishing of his pants was too painful for my ears. The running of water was too painful for my ears. The dog panting was too much for my ears. It was bad enough that I had to be holed up in a room by myself 24/7. I was also removed from my family, and definitely removed from my career and everything else.
Even my teeth were too sensitive. I couldn’t brush my teeth. Whatever the hypersensitivity was, it was beyond just a few of my sensory inputs. It was a body-wide, systems-wide dysfunction. When I was admitted to the hospital, they weren’t sure what it was. They didn’t run typical tests to rule out GBS or transverse myelitis or any of these other neurological issues that are typical with vaccines, although not common.
Instead, they slapped me with the label of anxiety due to the COVID vaccine. And four days later, I was discharged with intensive in-home physical and occupational therapy to rehab my legs and my cognitive deficits due to anxiety due to the COVID vaccine.
It might sound unbelievable to people that the collection of symptoms you describe would be diagnosed as anxiety by anybody.
Yes. It’s strange because I was the first at that point or one of the first, and so I gave the doctors a lot of leeway, because it was very clear that they had never seen anything like this before. I was like, “Well, I’m the first. They haven’t really understood it.” Maybe that’s why I was gaslit and treated the way I was.
But the sad reality is now this has happened to tens of thousands of Americans that I know of. It’s most likely far more, where patients are met with physicians that are doubtful, unbelieving, and in many cases just outright dismissive to their patient’s complaints.
That really puts the patient in a very vulnerable situation, especially if you have family members that are doubtful of what’s happening with you, or you have a family member that’s supportive who takes you to the doctor’s appointment and the doctor tells you’re crazy, and then your family member hears that you’re crazy.
What you know inside your body is that this is not anxiety. This is not depression. This is not some psychosomatic issue, because your legs are failing, you’ve got electrical shocks going on, you’ve got severe tinnitus, you can’t see right, and you can’t think straight. This isn’t just a small moment in time where you’re having a mental breakdown.
It’s an immune system dysfunction. There’s something wrong in the body. But the doctors are being told that it’s not something wrong with the body, that it’s all up here. And so, it isolates the people that are suffering with this, and it puts them in a very vulnerable situation.
I want to get into the bigger picture with all these different people that you’ve been working with now for quite a while. But going back to that time, presumably you reached out to the people involved in the trial, and so how was that?
Yes. All the way up until this day, I have yet to speak to a real human at the drug company. I have talked to people at the clinical trial office. Back when we very quickly became financially ruined because of this, we reached out to the drug company and the clinical trial company begging them for help. We had to refinance our house, because they did not own up to their part of our contract. The contract says that they will pay for any and all expenses resulting from injury, and they have not owned up to that.
At the beginning I was giving them the benefit of the doubt. I was like, “Well, maybe they just haven’t heard me. There’s a breakdown in communication.” But looking back at all the emails and the phone calls and the repeated cries for help between my husband and I that we made to the drug company, it’s very obvious that it was intentional.
As soon as I was injured, it’s very obvious that the effort on the side of the drug company to do nothing was in full effect. They weren’t going to do anything. There was no effort that was going to be made to help me. They literally left me for dead.
The only time that I received compensation from them was because a news story ran locally, and they wired $590 to my account without my consent. We told them it was without our consent, and then we never heard from them again. And then six months later, another news story ran, and the reporter called asking for a statement.
While they were on the phone with the reporter, they sent a settlement letter to my email, and they spelled my name wrong. The contract absolved them of any future payments, and we’re required to make a statement that AstraZeneca did nothing wrong and all kinds of things. We were signing our life away, essentially for $1,200.
Wait, this was sent to you without any communication?
Like a form letter, what was it?
Yes. It was a form letter—regarding this matter, everything will be resolved and settled after this. And I’m not a person. According to the drug company I’m not a human being, I’m a number. And sadly, for them, I’m inconvenient to them.
But they are a company worth ten of billions of dollars. And I’m not asking for a whole lot. I’m just asking for what my contract is due, for my medical expenses, so I wouldn’t have had to refinance my house, and so that my kids could still be in a stable situation financially. They’re not willing to lift a finger to make that happen.
One thing that strikes me here is that the nature of this first diagnosis seems critical here.
Yes. That anxiety diagnosis plagued me for six, seven months until I went to the NIH. It didn’t matter how many doctors I saw, what tests I had run, what positive tests I had, it didn’t matter. If I showed up in a doctor’s office and if I cried even a little bit because my life was ruined, then yes, it was all up here.
And I believed the doctors, I did. They told me it was anxiety so many times that I was like, “Well, they’re the professionals, so they would know.” I actually went to a psychiatrist and the psychiatrist did a full neuropsychological evaluation. He said, “I’m not sure what this is, but this is not anxiety. There’s something going on in your body. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s not anxiety.”
He issued statements back to all of my doctors. Even with that, they still didn’t change their mind. The NIH reached out to them, and they still did not change their mind. After months of dealing with this, then the NIH finally took pity on me and flew me out to be treated there.
Explain to me how this works. You said seven months down the road, the NIH gets involved. Please explain to me that whole piece of the puzzle.
My husband is a chemist, and he realized very early on that the doctors were not going to do anything. The drug company wasn’t going to do anything. If something were to be resolved, he was going to be the one to figure it out. He started digging into the studies and reaching out to researchers all over the globe.
A lead researcher in Germany got my blood a month after my injury, and my test result came back that I was positive for anti-neuronal autoantibodies, which means that your immune system is attacking your nerves. It’s something nobody wants. And even with that, it was still labeled as anxiety.
He reached out to Dr. Nath and Dr. Safavi at the NIH on January 11th of 2021 about a month-and-a-half into my injury. They reached out and replied right away. There was another person that was injured by AstraZeneca here in the United States that had a very similar cascade of symptoms after her COVID vaccine from AstraZeneca. We got them in touch with the NIH. So, there were two of us that were complaining about the same thing.
We don’t know if it’s directly correlated or not, but 10 days later, AstraZeneca was pulled off the market after we filed those complaints. At that point, NIH started a study. It’s on record. They started a study January 11th of 2021 to investigate COVID vaccine injuries that are neurological in nature. From there, they started collecting samples from people all over the country. They started enrolling individuals. They started flying people out.
And I’m patient number one in that study and my friend Dr. Denise Hertz, an injured gastroenterologist from California, she’s patient number two. It’s very strange to see chronologically who was in that study. Literally it’s the people I met in sequence, the full first row of the people that are in that study.
So, they studied us. They went so far as to collect samples from someone who had died. The amount of knowledge that the NIH has on what’s going on with the COVID vaccine injuries is very intimate. It’s very detailed. Yet what the public is being told about this is that the vaccines are safe, period. There’s no asterisk, there’s no subtext to that. There’s no, “The vaccines are safe. But by the way, we’ve been flying people out for the last two years, and we’re finding clues that could probably help these people get better, but we’re not going to tell you guys what those are. We’re just going to keep it secret.”
If I recall, Dr. Nath talked about how early intervention is the most valuable thing when these injuries occur.
He did. Yes. He said this to me privately, and then he also disclosed this in an article that was published by the American Academy of Neurology. They published this paper in the fall of 2021, six, seven months into the public rollout. But then they already knew that early intervention is key, as with any immune dysfunction in the body. Early intervention is key.
But they also know that immunotherapy could be implemented and help stop the severe cascade of the disease. The NIH knows this, and the FDA also knows this. They know that there’s this very crucial piece to the puzzle to keeping people from becoming chronic, but they’re not telling or informing medical professionals of the necessity of early intervention.
What’s happened is that instead of learning from my case in the clinical trial, learning from Maddie de Gary, learning from Olivia Teseniar who was injured in the Moderna clinical trial, this information has all been hidden, swept under the rug and minimized, instead of taking these cases, investigating them appropriately, collecting the data, and then using that information to help those that are like us and who came after us from becoming as chronic and severe as we are.
There’s something really important here. The NIH treatment actually helped you profoundly as I understand it, right?
This treatment does exist.
Yes. That’s where it’s hard for me because, and I’ve told him this, he’s one of the main reasons why I’m still alive.
Yes, Dr. Nath. He was one of the very few that validated me and my condition. He was the guy at the NIH that was calling my doctors locally and saying, “Look, your patient isn’t crazy. There’s something wrong with her. You need to help her.” He was the only guy in the country doing that.
But then on top of that, he’s the guy to do that. If you’re going to have someone talking about a novel neuro-infectious issue with your body, he’s the guy in the United States. He is the top mind in neuro-infectious disease. It’s not like we just had anyone pulling for us.
But what blows my mind is that we funneled literally hundreds of patients to the NIH to be studied and evaluated and helped. But it wasn’t just for the hundreds. It wasn’t just for a select few. The whole reason we were doing that is because we were promised that they would take that information, they would process it, and then they would disclose it to the public.
We didn’t go for ourselves. We went for the tens of thousands of others like us that needed similar care. So, I have almost a survivor’s guilt, I do. Because why was I selected? Why was I one of the very few selected to go to get that golden ticket to go to the NIH, to be able to have the opportunity to have my trajectory of recovery essentially changed, when I know tens of thousands of Americans that are really good people that deserve the same treatment? They deserve the same interventions, they deserve the same compassion, and they were not afforded that. They weren’t afforded that because the people that could do this stayed silent.
That’s a good question. What’s the reason for that? Is it because they don’t want to perpetuate vaccine hesitancy? Is it because they’re getting millions of dollars in royalties from Moderna? Is it more nuanced than that? Is it really just because someone told them that they need to shut up?
I’m not entirely sure why, but I understand that it was not right for the American public to not be informed. Everybody in this country deserves to know the full risks and benefits of the COVID vaccines. It’s that simple. Every single American should be able to make a full informed decision, not based on fear, not based on promises, but informed by data.
And not based on information apparently designed to elicit a behavioral response, which is my observation and also of numerous people I’ve spoken with. There’s this feeling that you’re not being told the truth. You’re being told information that will get you to do something specific that is intended.
Right. Obviously, if there was an extreme issue with COVID vaccines it could shift policy. At the time the policy was you get your shot, you sit down, and you shut up. There was no middle ground for understanding what could increase the likelihood of having a severe adverse reaction.
And who had to figure that out? We did. We had to figure that out on our own. We went through all of our injured individuals, and we asked them what pre-existing conditions they had. That’s something the government should be doing. That’s something that should be backed by pharmaceutical dollars. We shouldn’t be having to figure that out. The taxpayers shouldn’t have to be figuring this out.
But it also blows my mind that the taxpayers financed the development of this product, taxpayers financed promoting this product, and the taxpayers ultimately are going to have to pay for the aftermath of the failure of this product, because the drug companies are liability free. It’s an amazing business model for them to just be able to print money.
How many of the hundred-plus people that you recommended or introduced to the NIH got some help?
I want to say most of them did. It was very strange though, because some of the people that reached out to the NIH were told there’s nothing going on here. So there was a select few that they would just, I don’t know if they were overwhelmed or what, but during that time, they would just be like, “There’s nothing going on here. There’s no research going on here.” It was very strange.
But then if you were one of the lucky ones to actually get them to respond and call your doctor at home, your entire case management with your local doctor would change. It would change everything just to have the NIH say, “Yes, this is happening. You need to help your patient.” Maddie de Garay was one of those whose doctor was called from the NIH saying, “Yes, this person’s having a reaction. You probably need to validate them and run testing and here’s some possible treatments.”
Let’s look back at the Maddie de Garay case. It was amazing to have Maddie on a year ago. Again, she was a very brave young girl, let’s just say. I don’t know what has happened in the past year. I know there were many, many steps before she got validated. What is it about this case that is particularly close to your heart? Of course, it’s hard not to love Maddie, but there’s more to it than that.
Maddie’s a kid. Of all of the cases that we’ve had come through React 19, the tens of thousands, the treatment that Maddie has got has been by far the worst. She’s gotten the worst medical care. She’s gotten the worst treatment from the drug companies and the government. She’s been exploited to no end from people within her own sphere.
That kid deserves better. She’s resilient. She’s incredibly bright. She is hilarious. I don’t think people realize the amount of just sheer grit and will that that kid has to make it through every day. And I’m going to do everything I can to get that kid out of that wheelchair. We’re going to do everything we can. I’m not going to stop until she’s better.
Very briefly, we do have an interview about a year ago where we talked about her case, so what has shifted? And I’ll encourage our viewers to take a look at that. But just very briefly, if you could just summary what happened to her, and then where has things progressed in the past year?
She was coded as a stomachache, even though her legs stopped working. She has a form of gastroparesis where her throat muscles won’t let her swallow, so she has a feeding tube. She was having several seizures a day early on. She had cognitive issues. Her vision is still messed up. She’s got some fine motor things that are starting to get better.
But I’m telling you, she’s finally able to start getting some of these treatments that it’s taken us over a year-and-a-half to get these treatment protocols finally in place for her, because all these doctors kept using the fact that she’s a minor as an excuse not to help her. “She’s a kid, so we’re not specialized in pediatrics.”
But shouldn’t it be the opposite?