Cody Hudson was interning in a medical office near his home in Florida, taking a gap year before beginning college in Arizona, when the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns went into effect and ended his internship.
Like many American families, Cody and his family took the recommended precautions around COVID-19. But when the vaccines became available, his parents were skeptical, Cody told The Defender in an interview.
As he began planning for college and started a short-term job at a coffee shop where everyone was vaccinated, Cody started researching the vaccine online and talking to people around him. He concluded the vaccine made sense based on the available information.
His mother, Heather Hudson, told The Defender she didn’t want Cody to get vaccinated, but she had trouble finding convincing scientific information to convince him of the dangers.
“We would go on my computer and try to research and even myocarditis information wasn’t coming up,” Heather said. “The warnings that should have been there were censored from us.”
Cody’s employer didn’t require him to get the vaccine, he said, but he was “heavily encouraged” to get it, and concerned about keeping his job.
He also was concerned about being able to stay in school. “There was virtually no getting into college without having a vaccine, and having the paperwork to go with it,” he said. “It was a stressful situation.”
In July 2021, Cody got two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. He had flu-like symptoms following the first dose. About a week or two after the second shot, he began to get a rash on his arms.
“At first,” Cody said, “I thought it was eczema, which I’d had in the past. It kept coming and going. I thought it was probably from being exposed to more chemicals from hand sanitizers, so my instinct was to just try to take care of my skin the way I had been instructed to in the past.”
He used hypoallergenic soaps and got some sample creams from his dermatologist.
Soon Cody began having aches and pains in his body, including severe knee pain. He chalked it up to the fact that his family was packing up to move to Arizona and he was lifting heavy boxes and being exposed to a lot of dust. He also ran five miles a day which he thought could be contributing to his discomfort.
In September 2021, his situation began to deteriorate rapidly, according to Heather.
“As a mom, I know he was kind of hiding it from me, but he was clearly having aches and pains, and his knee was hurting worse,” she said. ”The skin condition was, to me, looking like something severe. And so I was encouraging him to go to the hospital, but he was afraid to go.”
Cody said he didn’t think anything really wrong “until I coughed up blood.”
One night after his regular run, he wasn’t feeling well and he went to sleep. “At three in the morning,” Heather said, “he was coughing up blood and hanging onto the walls trying to stand up, and his face was swelling.”
“I couldn’t lie down because it was so painful,” Cody said. “I felt like I was going to die from the pain. I don’t know how to describe it.”