My name is Isla. I am 25 years old and live in London with my parents, dog and cat.
Before the COVID Vaccine, I was a trainee accountant and had just landed my dream job at an excellent firm. I was fairly active in my social life, was very outgoing, and would always be found where the party was. I was happy.
My passions are acting, radio presenting, and helping people around me.
I have my own clothing brand — Candóur — and would like to be my own boss one day.
I was never one to “follow the crowd”. I had big discussions about whether people should be getting the COVID vaccine or not. Like both my parents, I was questioning it, each having our own reasons. However, through the sudden urgency in the media for everyone to be vaccinated and the longing to travel and just be free, I followed the narrative like thousands of others. I was, unfortunately, one of the unlucky ones.
My health was never in any question before taking the vaccine. I have had some anxiety, but not to this extent. I was fully able to enjoy my life. I didn’t think twice about going out on my own. Now, I don’t really go anywhere without one of my parents, as since this my anxiety has become sky high and I often experience hyper vigilance in many situations.
I received my first and only Pfizer Vaccine in East London on 25 July 2021 in my right arm.
Five days later, I experienced flu-like symptoms and fatigue, and took some over the counter medication. I think at the time I may also have had a reaction to the over-the-counter medicine.
I remember driving to get a birthday present for someone, and I suddenly had a really strange wave of exhaustion — it was like being hit by a bus. I sat in my car for a while, and a huge surge of pins and needles started in my legs, and I had a lingering feeling of numbness throughout my body. That’s when all hell broke loose.
It was 2 August upon return from a morning birthday outing that I felt incredibly unwell. I was in the shower and immediately had to get out. I was boiling hot and suddenly started foaming from the mouth feeling like I was going to pass out. It’s the scariest feeling I have ever felt. I had been drinking at the birthday event, so I did wonder later if that along with the P and the cold medicine combined made things worse and had a part to play in that episode also, like one big concoction.
I was admitted to hospital that day for a suspected stroke. I was slurring my words and couldn’t remember who my dad was. I underwent a huge number of tests, and they kept me in the ICU for several nights.
I had an ECG, an echo, a CT scan, X-rays, and a lumbar puncture done. My bloods were taken, I wore a Holter monitor, and was kept under 24-hour blood pressure surveillance. I had many EMGs and a full MRI scan.
I was diagnosed with FND, post migraine with aura, and consequently anxiety.
I was incredibly scared, but “scared” doesn’t even come close to describing it. I felt like the world was ending. I would wake up in the night having panic attacks, not knowing what to do. I was in the accident and emergency room often, but always left with more questions.
To this day, I have had over 40 hospital visits and made over 20 trips in an ambulance to various hospitals. I stayed in the national hospital for neurology to have serious tests for an entire week.
I can’t believe this all happened, all I wanted to be free and able.
I lost my dream job, and wasn’t able to work for 18 months, and only very recently started walking, exercising and going places again, although my confidence in my body is at an all time low. It’s only in the last few months that I’ve managed to get back to working again.
The numbness and loss of full body sensation is still present. I suffer intense brain fog that hasn’t left me, the fatigue has improved, and thankfully I can do more with my life. The vertigo still appears on and off, randomly and is particularly bad around my period along with severe vestibular migraines and post vaccine migraine with aura.
I now really find that my suffering in general is heightened around my time of the month.
I get headaches almost daily, with brain fog that brings about random confusion and cognitive struggle, which leaves me feeling spaced out and very despairing at times.
I’m more prone to allergic reactions now, even things like echinacea syrup or honey. It leaves me feeling scared to take or try anything new, even vitamins. I also now get bad acid reflux.
There are days when the anxiety and depression from the vaccine have really set in and I miss my old self.
It has been the scariest thing I’ve ever been through in my 25 years on this earth. I feel mentally scarred for life due to the trauma that lives within me. The most frightening thing to me is the level of denial and gaslighting about these adverse reactions thats happened and continues to happen.
I am extremely driven and tenacious, despite everything that has happened in the past almost two years. I’m trying to just get on with it as best as I can. One positive is I have learned an incredible amount about my body during this. And I’ve made friends with other sufferers. It’s been an eye-opening, traumatic rollercoaster that I’m still on, but I’m so grateful to be recovering and getting better each day.
I try to tell this to myself every day, and surround myself with positivity. There are so many studies on the mind and how it is the strongest tool in the body’s ability to heal itself. I am a huge believer in that now.
They say “time is the best healer”, and I believe, alongside the mindset, and other positive actions (such as trying to get on with things you enjoy etc) for health it can help gradual recovery. I really want everyone to know that no storm lasts forever, and that in time I’m hopeful we can and will all overcome this together.