Like so many Minnesotans, the pandemic changed the Carlson family forever.
“I think everyone was kind of afraid at first,” Susan Trelstad said, referring not to COVID but what she and her sister, Leanne Goth, believed would be the best way to protect their aging parents from the virus.
“I just find it annoying because they call it science and they’re following the science when they don’t have the data. Without data we don’t have science. Period,” Goth said as she reflected on her mother’s life.
“Mom was such a vital, energetic person. It’s hard to imagine,” she said.
“She was a home-ec teacher and she could entertain and throw parties and cook. She sewed, she knitted, she crocheted. She was always doing something with her hands,” she added.
“I think that’s why it was so hard to come to terms with because she had been so healthy and so active and then all of a sudden to have this happen, it was really unbelievable,” Trelstad said.
Darlene Carlson and her husband, Ken were in Florida when they finished their series of Moderna shots in March 2021.
“Dad had no reaction to those, and mom had no reaction to the first one and the evening of the second dose of the Moderna she became delirious,” Goth said.
Their mom spiked a high fever, and her strange movements caused them to think she’d suffered a stroke.
“So I brought her to the ER and that completely passed in about six hours and she was not admitted to the hospital,” Goth said.
“She was hesitant to get the booster because of her reaction to her second vaccination,” Trelstad added.
Instead, their mom thought by switching to Pfizer she’d fare better. Darlene seemed fine after her first booster. Six months later, she went back for a second.
“May 17, 2022, she was boosted,” Goth said.
Within a few days, something was wrong.
“She looked at me and said, ‘I have not been feeling well since I got that booster.’ That was on a Monday, and she had been boosted the Wednesday before,” Goth said.
“She didn’t want to go to the hospital, but I insisted. I said, ‘Mom, it’s not like you to be this tired for this long.’ You could tell she wasn’t breathing the way that she should be,” she added.
Her daughters said their mom went in with high spirits. They went on to detail her daily fight to survive.
“Both of her lungs were completely inflamed. They actually tested her for COVID. Her lungs looked like COVID lungs but she did not have COVID,” the daughters explained.
“Then it was decided she would go to the ICU so we knew it was serious. They needed more oxygen. They were trying all the antibiotics. They were testing for every kind of fungus. All of the tests came back negative. They were trying all kinds of medications. She wasn’t responding to any of them,” Goth said.
“The next morning they said she was on 100% oxygen, and they had to intubate and I rushed down there. I wanted to talk to her before she was sedated,” she continued.
“She had a heart attack while on the ventilator. I said, ‘Yesterday you said she has a 65% chance of survival. What do you think today?’ [The doctor] said things have changed and by that afternoon they told us that she was not going to survive,” Goth explained.
Darlene Carlson died eight days into her hospital stay on June 2, 2022, at the age of 82.
Goth said the doctor wrote in a report that her mother’s death should be reported as an adverse vaccine reaction.
“The very last line of it wrote this must be reported as an adverse reaction to the vaccine. Then the doctor who wrote her death certificate wrote it as a contributing factor,” she said.
A week later, Trelstad searched what’s called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, commonly known as VAERS.
“I’m a data analyst and I searched the VAERS database for any kind of record that was similar to hers and I didn’t find anything,” Trelstad said.
The CDC and FDA established the system more than 30 years ago to report post-vaccine health issues. According to the website, “healthcare professionals are required to report certain adverse events.”
“One doctor said this needs to be reported and the other put it on the death certificate. It didn’t seem like anybody knew it would be their responsibility to report it. Then we found out when she had her reaction in Florida that that hospital didn’t report it,” Goth explained.
Ultimately, Trelstad entered their mom’s death into the system on her own.
“People could think we are conspiracy theorists or anti-vax people, which we clearly are not. We are getting our boosters, following directives, being careful. We’re not expecting this,” Goth said.
Their emails to the media in Minnesota about the issue were ignored for months.
“I’m not trying to get anyone in trouble. I just want to shine a light on it because this seems to be in the dark,” Goth said.
Between December 2020 through the end of November 2022, there have been 20,002 reports of adverse events related to the vaccine in Minnesota. The reports include 462 deaths and 271 people with permanent disabilities.
But continued complaints of VAERS inconsistencies have led to growing cries on Capitol Hill to audit the system as a family prepares to mark their first Christmas without a beloved mother and grandmother.
“People don’t seem to be asking the really important questions and it’s frowned upon to ask some of the questions. I posted about my mom’s death on Facebook and all kinds of warnings came up to be careful about disinformation. Well this really happened, this is a reality of ours. I’m thinking the other internet stories are probably true, too. I’m not out there to scare anybody. I just want people to be informed,” Goth said.
“I get angry every time I see a commercial or ads about getting boosted and being informed. It makes me angry because people are listening to that and they don’t have all of the information,” she added.
It has been six months and the Carlson family is still waiting for funeral expenses for their mom to be reimbursed by the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP). That program provides compensation for covered serious injuries or deaths that, based on compelling, reliable, valid, medical, and scientific evidence, are found to be directly caused by the administration or use of a covered countermeasure.