Before getting the covid-19 vaccine, I was 24 and an active, healthy mother of two. I was asthmatic and slightly low in B12 but otherwise really healthy. I often took my two little ones on daily walks and was very social with family, friends and baby groups. I had just returned from maternity leave and was
back at work dealing with life insurance and pensions. My youngest was 9 months old and on the day of the procedure, it was my daughter’s 2nd birthday, the 14th March, 2021. I had the AstraZeneca in my left arm. What a present!
My doctor advised me that it was crucial to get the vaccine as being an asthmatic meant that catching covid would likely land me in hospital. I wasn’t actually concerned about covid – not knowing anyone who had been affected – but my mother is quite overprotective and I also considered my children’s
welfare when making the decision. Never in a million years did I consider how this would come back to bite me on the a***! The same day after the vaccine, I had a migraine and terrible brain fog which left me dazed and confused. This was followed by the worst chest pain I had ever experienced. It felt like a bubble was about to burst in my ribs and around my heart. I persevered through this ordeal. The next day I passed out, which is now referred to as a drop seizure or syncope, which was to be the first of many.
Upon visiting my GP who had been our family doctor my whole life, I was told that it was ‘anxiety’ which was causing a lack of oxygen to my brain and the reason I was losing consciousness. He told me to ‘simply not worry’ and to treat the anxiety with medication. However at that stage I was now experiencing constant migraines, spasms, heart palpitations and a terrible pain in my heart, which was summarily ignored. There were endless calls to my GP, to 111 and to A&E but no tests were ever done due the ‘anxiety’ prognosis.
This took an enormous toll on my family, because I couldn’t pick up my kids or do anything with them. Any noises the kids made brought on migraines and the phonophobia (fear of sound), so I struggled to be around them. This of course was heartbreaking and debilitating as a mother. As time went on I
learnt to just suck it up because being without my children just made me feel even worse.
For two months I took medication for my so-called ‘mental health problems’ and had an asthma review as this had become progressively worse as well. Over time I began to lose my speech, mobility and was in a tremendous amount of pain, trapped on the sofa or in bed upstairs.
My first visit to A&E was in April of 2021 and was a traumatic event to say the least. I had just had the paramedics at my house and as covid was in full swing, I had to enter the hospital alone. Upon stepping foot inside I collapsed to the ground unconscious from the pain. A receptionist was yelling at me, “DO YOU KNOW YOUR NAME?”
I came back to her fairly slowly and she was visibly annoyed. I had written my details down and eventually remembered to hand her this piece of paper with my history and information. The receptionist continued yelling as though I was drunk or drug affected, until a kind man in the waiting room did the same thing to her, yelling in her face, ‘SHE OBVIOUSLY CAN’T TALK!’ He handed my phone over to check me in.
Things deteriorated quickly as I began having a panic attack, sending my pain levels skyward. I was screaming in pain and was unceremoniously wheeled to the front of the waiting room facing everyone like the daily entertainment. The kind gentleman from before wheeled me back to where he was sitting.
I was embarrassed, confused, alone, unable to communicate and extremely distressed. This episode left me with PTSD and I was completely reluctant to ever go back to hospital again with no-one to advocate for me and vulnerable to uncaring, unprofessional staff. I thought it would be better to die at
home with my family than at a hospital where I was petrified and my symptoms would simply escalate out of control.
As things were going downhill l rapidly I found a new GP in May and am still working with her to this day. She took one look at the copious notes from the paramedics and A&E visits and immediately referred me to a neurologist. Unfortunately the first appointment was 8 months away!
The neurologist only wanted to treat my migraines though and attributed my symptoms to this condition. He believed the seizures or syncope would eventually stop. It is hard to remember how I felt or reacted at that stage, as I was in a haze of pain and confusion with the numerous symptoms I was
In July of last year things deteriorated even more. I started to lose everything – my speech, my vision, my hearing and my mind! The excruciating pain and spasms in my back and left side were unbearable.
My family was further impacted as things worsened. My mum retired from her job so she could look after me and the children. My partner switched jobs so he could help more around the house and assist with the kids. My dad now also works from home to help out. This injury has had far reaching effects on many people, not just me!
Further down the track I had a suspected stroke, but it turned out to be a bad migraine and aphasia (language difficulties due to brain damage). I reluctantly went to the hospital but this time actually met some kind nurses and staff, one of whom pushed me to have an MRI. They discovered two slipped discs, arthritic spurs and spinal stenosis, which is narrowing of the spine. I mostly likely slipped the discs falling to the ground during one of the many seizures I had had.
After a year of epidural lumbar injections, Physiotherapy and other treatments, I had a consultation with a spinal surgeon. He is reluctant to perform surgery as it would be a long road to recovery but it is one step closer to holding my children. I have also had a 72 hour heart monitor that showed abnormalities but deemed normal for someone my age. Ironically I was wheeled into my appointment by my 71 year old Nanny. I have since had countless blood tests, ECG’s, EEG’s, MRI’s and x-rays which have led to more referrals.
However, it became apparent throughout this whole process that I would receive better quality of treatment if I didn’t mention that my symptoms came on immediately after the covid vaccination. The whole dynamic of care would change for the worse, so I quickly learnt to keep my mouth shut. This was very saddening for me. In every other aspect of my life I was advocating for vaccine injured people and communicating the dangers, but ironically I wasn’t able to mention a word in a hospital, in the setting in which I needed the most help!
To date I am 20 months in and still suffering from a long list of symptoms from partial blindness, paralysis, nerve pain, facial spasms, chronic fatigue, insomnia, convulsions, seizures, temperature changes, hair loss, heart palpitations, numbness, burning sensations, tingling and swelling in the legs
and feet. I have nystagmus, photophobia, tinnitus, vertigo, sciatica and saddle anaesthesia (loss of bladder sensation) amongst other things.
I have been very close to giving up a couple of times and am plagued with suicidal thoughts from the ordeal I have been through. I have nearly died several times and having these serious physical health scares leaves me constantly feeling on edge.
I have multiple friends & family that I now have to rely upon, as I lost my job, my car, my freedom & my independence. I can’t bathe on my own, cook, clean or even pick up my own children. This has been the case since June 2021 when I first started getting sciatica from the seizures.
I’m mentally and physically exhausted, but my kids are so resilient given the circumstances. They love their time with Nanny and it makes us treasure the time we do have together. One of the hardest things throughout this whole experience is knowing that other people are making amazing memories
with my children instead of me. For a long long time I felt like a failure as a mum and sometimes still do.
However, the welfare of my family and being able to raise awareness for vaccine injured people keeps me going on. I have learnt to accept that this is my way of life for now; but hopefully not forever. I spend my days trying to spread positivity for other injured and chronically ill people whenever I can.