My name is Charlotte, I am 22 years old from London. Prior to the jab, I was a university drama student, I loved performing and had a glittering singing career ahead of me. I was a happy, healthy young woman despite a bleeding disorder which was monitored and manageable with the help of a
great bleeding disorder team.
If you’d have told me that I was going to have a reaction to the covid vaccine that would nearly kill me, I would never in a million years have believed you.
Naively, I would have reassured you that it was safe, and that there was absolutely nothing to worry about. The truth is, I couldn’t have been more wrong, and to say that it has ruined my life would be an understatement.
I received my first dose of AstraZeneca on the 28th January 2021 in my right arm. There was a home call appointment to vaccinate my Dad as he was vulnerable. My brother and I asked if there was any spare and got ours as well.
I was travelling in and out of London for Uni so it made sense in order to protect my Dad.
I had so much faith in the medical industry that I initially dismissed the immediate side effects that followed my first vaccination, as mere coincidence. I brushed off the arm ache, swelling, and migraine, because it was a normal reaction – everyone got those. Issues regulating temperature? Meh l’Il be fine. Dizziness? I’ve not eaten enough. Breathlessness? I’m probably just unfit right now. Numb arms, hands and feet lasting days? I’ve just slept awkwardly, I’ll be fine.
Alarm bells only started ringing when my ‘as regular-as-clockwork’ periods disappeared for the first time in my entire life. As a result of my bleeding disorder, my periods had always been monitored by consultants due to menorrhagia. I knew something wasn’t right, and I panicked. Pregnancy was out of the question meaning the reason behind it was far more sinister.
My gut instinct was indeed proved right when the exact same thing happened after my second dose on the 11th of May, again administered in my right arm at a home appointment.
By the summer, things grew worse. I existed on a soft-food diet consisting of yoghurt, pasta, and mashed potato as I was unable to move my jaw. I was also experiencing ear pressure and dizziness, I was repeatedly calling my doctors surgery regarding what they believed to be a blocked eustachian tube. As advised, I’d taken an over-the-counter medicine which had exacerbated my symptoms, sky-rocketing my heart rate and resulting in a visit from paramedics in the early hours of the morning on July 21st.
My symptoms continued to grow so bad that I was left practically bedridden, navigating the stairs via my Dad’s stairlift, and showering using a shower chair. I’d also started experiencing horrific panic attacks, tachycardia and body jerks.
Despite this, most of the doctors I’d spoken to insisted I’d be ‘fine in a few weeks’ and I took their word for it because I trusted them.
I didn’t get better, I got worse. I contacted an ENT specialist who determined that the ‘blocked eustachian tube’ was non-existent, and this was rather TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder) His treatment fixed my jaw.
I’d begun researching deficiencies that might explain my symptoms and asking the doctors to run countless blood tests. Each time, they found nothing, which was incredibly frustrating because all I wanted was an explanation for my suffering. I’d even suggested to doctors that it could be a reaction to the vaccine, and mentioned my period irregularities. Instead, they shrugged it off and deduced I might have health anxiety, suggesting that I self-refer myself. I negotiated, agreeing to counselling only if a 24HR ECG was organised.
Within days, I deteriorated so much that I was rushed into A&E on the 19th August with a possible pulmonary embolism. I couldn’t understand how, as my blood doesn’t clot properly – hence why I initially wasn’t worried about the relationship between AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots. I realised that blood thinners therefore wouldn’t be an option and begged receptionists to call my bleeding disorder team, repeatedly showing them my bleeding disorder card. They never did. I felt this overwhelming wave of impending doom, and I remember messaging my best friends and saying my goodbyes, which no young person at the age of 20 should ever have to think about.
When I was finally seen, I was so unwell that the doctor got my mother from the car park as I was being rushed into resuscitation with a dangerously high heart rate. I realised just how unwell I was when they insisted that I used the wheelchair to be transported to a room that was a mere handful of steps away. At this point, I was certain I wasn’t making it out of this alive.
Thankfully, my sister had called my bleeding disorder team and someone had been sent to me. I could’ve cried tears of joy at that point as not everybody understands my condition, and her presence arguably saved my life.
Eventually, after what felt like an eternity, once blood tests and an x-ray had been taken, and I was hooked up to an IV drip, I was moved into majors. I was being asked whether there was any history of sudden adult death in my family, which there wasn’t. After that, I was just left hooked up to a drip while my heart raced. By the late evening my heart rate remained high, which meant I had to have an overnight stay being monitored in an acute assessment unit.
I was ridiculed for crying, because I was so scared for my mother to leave me there, knowing that they didn’t understand my bleeding disorder and that I also didn’t want to be left on my own to die.
I didn’t sleep that night, I was too scared. I was taken for a CT scan in the early hours of the morning which showed no pulmonary embolism – but it didn’t explain my heart rate. The nurse that had ridiculed me admitted that she didn’t understand my condition, and it was just a ‘textbook case’ If anything, that just solidified my fears. I was only sent home that morning because the mv 24HR ECG was scheduled for that afternoon.
I’m still traumatised, 14 months on, and reliving that makes me uncontrollably sob. I now feel as if I’m too scared to access A&E in an emergency due to the trauma. They documented my heart issues as ventricular tachycardia, but I later learnt that it was a mis-type and I had actually experienced
supra-ventricular tachycardia. My 24HR ECG revealed sinus tachycardia, with highs of 175 bpm. Despite this, the doctor said I was fine, and when I asked them why I wasn’t getting better, I was told that their magic wand wasn’t working today! I had never felt more gaslit in my life, I had nearly died, desperately wanted to know what was wrong with me, and I was met with mockery.
I was left terrified to move for about six months until I received my cardiology appointment, and every time my heart raced, I was sent into massive panic attacks where I relived that traumatic night over and over again. I couldn’t see my friends and I had to complete my third year of university online, from my bed, with brain fog. In the meantime, I had tried to do short five minute walks, to build up my stamina and ended up feeling worse. In the new year, I had started to experience skipped beats, which were absolutely terrifying, and had given up calling my doctor as I was often just left crying after our calls. I even consulted a private cardiologist, who didn’t shed much light on the situation either. I just wanted to be normal again, and I didn’t understand what was wrong.
By the following summer, cardiologists explained that I had experienced SVT in hospital, alongside IST and POTS in daily life. There was nothing else besides AstraZeneca, explaining my symptoms, and I was told that there were many others just like me. I was given metoprolol to take on an as and when basis, which still sadly, hasn’t given me my life back.
I am a shell of what I once was, and my mental health has suffered massively. Nothing could have ever prepared me for what I’m going through and I am utterly heartbroken that the government, who had a duty of care to protect me, have just left me and many others like collateral damage. I am not just another rare statistic, I am a person with dreams and my whole life ahead of me. We have been swept under the carpet by the government and the media as just ‘misinformation’. No amount of money will ever make up for robbing me of my future. I have always dreamed of going into the performing arts industry, and now my future is uncertain. Will I ever get better? Will I ever see normal life again?
As of now. I’m still not better. I went on to complete my university degree as I’d decided that I’d already had too much of my life stolen from me, and I wasn’t going to let it take my degree too. Many more will receive vaccines this season, and many more people will find themselves in the same situation as me and my fellow injured.
I leave you on one last thought – how many more have to suffer before something is done about it?