I’m 39, a wife and a mother of 3 kids. I was a pre-school teacher until 2019, when I’d been struggling with continued tiredness and took some time off work to try and figure out what was going on. Throughout that year I was diagnosed with ADHD (my brother had also been diagnosed as a child), PTSD from childhood trauma, which has caused Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue, and I also had Glandular Fever. As a kid, a few weeks before my 8th birthday my appendix burst, and I experienced some medical malpractice which resulted in many blood transfusions and bowel reconstruction surgery. I also have IBS (unsure from whether it related to back then), which I’ve not needed medication for as I manage it with lifestyle and diet. Throughout my journey of understanding what was going on with my body in 2019, I started to journal on Facebook. I had a people following along and had many message me telling me it was fascinating and should be a book. I loved writing (In my teen years I was offered a scholarship from my poetry, but I hadn’t really written since then), so in 2019 I started writing my first novel, which has since been published. The novel is book one of a trilogy and I’m currently in editing phase of the second book. The main character also has severe PTSD (I raise mental health awareness through my writing).
I wasn’t sure about having the vaccine since my son (now 6), had reactions to all his childhood vaccines with 2 weeks straight of vomiting after each one, and when I would take him back to the doctors about it they wouldn’t make any notes about what I was telling them. This still felt fresh in the back of my mind. I was having a lot of pressure from family with a family member ringing me daily to ask when I would be getting the vaccine, along with others also on my case. My daughter (12) had wanted it as she’d felt pressured at school and her friends were all doing social things and she couldn’t go, so I decided to go with her and have mine too, my husband had already had his.
I got the first Pfizer vaccine on Saturday the 13th of November 2021 and didn’t feel right afterwards. I’d felt tired, so I came home and went to lie down as I’d developed a headache. Overnight it developed into a migraine and ended up lasting 4 days – It was so bad that I couldn’t do anything or see properly, the whites of my eyes also went all bloodshot for a few days, someone had said this can mean heart problems but I’m not sure.. On the 5th day, the migraine it had gone, and I’d seemed to come right, so I submitted a CARM report.
My husband had planned to take 2 of the kids away for the weekend on 20th/21st of November but was hesitant because of how I’d been. I assured him I was fine, and for him to go.
On Saturday 20th, I took my son to the pool. My son was knackered and went to sleep around 6pm, and I had a shower around 7pm and had a bizarre feeling in my body like it was trying to shut down. I’d turned the water off and got out, then collapsed on the bathroom floor. I was awake the whole time, but I couldn’t move or walk – It felt like if I moved, I was going to die. I felt like an electrical current was running through my body and trying to kill me, and like my hand was in an electrical socket. The current went into flares and was stronger at times, like how pins and needles come in waves. I could feel my heart speeding up some of the time too. I was on the bathroom floor for over 2 hours not able to move and ended up wetting myself too.
I managed to crawl to the home phone and call an ambulance once I was able to move (around 11pm), then called my mother in law to come and look after my son. I was naked when the paramedics and my mother in law arrived as I couldn’t even get dressed and couldn’t really speak. I was just saying “I can’t move”. I felt really nauseous but couldn’t tell them.
When I got to the hospital they gave me some anti-nausea medication and left me for a while. I’m not sure if it was a heart attack that I’d had, but what happened at home started to happen again. It felt like a complete short circuit. When it was happening, I had 3 people around me, one massaging my chest, one trying to stick stickers on me in case they needed to use the paddles, and the other had my legs in the air – Another person was telling me to cough but every time I coughed I passed out and each time I passed out, I thought I’d died. After this, they told me they were admitting me, but they didn’t – on the discharge papers it says, ‘Doctor refused to admit’. I was discharged early morning around 5-6am on Sunday 21st of November 2021.
I was mostly bed bound for the following 5 weeks, having 2 more times where I was borderline to ringing the ambulance. We went to a barbeque one particular night. I didn’t eat anything and had people around me trying to see if I was ok. We left early and drove around with the kids to see the Christmas lights. I still didn’t improve so my husband took me to A&E.
The lady at the desk asked me what was wrong, and I said, “I don’t know what’s wrong, I’ve been like this since the vaccine”. As soon as I said that her demeanour changed, and she closed the book in front of her and told me to go and sit in the waiting room. They gave me a sick bowl and I was lying down across 3 chairs. She kept coming past telling me to “Get your mask on!”, I just kept shaking my head, I couldn’t speak to tell her I felt like vomiting. Then she said, “If you don’t want to wear a mask, then come with me”. I followed her and she took me to a room and shut the door. She left me on my own in there with no monitors, no water and no-one coming to check on me. My husband was still out in the waiting room (the kids were with their Grandma). I’d been in there about 4 hours, and I didn’t know what was happening, so I got up to go and tell him that I still hadn’t been seen, but when I opened the door, I collapsed in the doorway. They got me on a heart monitor straight away and found my heart rate was skyrocketing, then the doctor came around. I refused a covid test (from the nurse who’d shut me in the room). I knew it wasn’t covid – How would it be when I’d been at home for the last 4 weeks not well. I don’t know who she was but remember her curly blond hair and pink watch. The doctor came around and told me I was ‘stressed’. If anyone knows what stress can do, I do. This was not stress. We left in the early hours of the morning.
Night-time was definitely worse for experiencing symptoms. There were 3 nights over December where I had my husband watch me, as I felt like I was going to die. I couldn’t speak or walk; I was experiencing the strong electrical currents through my system and my heart rate was sky high. I had been too scared to go to A&E because of my previous experience.
Another night, I made my husband follow me in his car to the After Hours medical centre (then he took the kids back home to put them to bed). I’d had a nauseous feeling and felt like I was going to die again. They gave me different anti-nausea meds whilst sitting there and told me “Sometimes, if you get yourself worked up, you can’t stop yourself from being sick” (they were trying to say I was doing this to myself). When I left there I got in my car and lay down in the back seat. I rang NZDSOS and left a panicked message, and remember saying “If I die, I need someone to look into this”, I hadn’t remembered to leave my name. After the wave passed, I drove home.
In May 2022 I had bloods done and wore a Holter monitor for 2 weeks. My skin had a bad reaction to the stickers, but they told me that was fine, and my bloods were fine. When I went to the follow up appointment at the hospital with the specialist, she told me my results were fine but also said “They rushed through this experimental drug, so we’ll never really know what’s happened to you”.
I started a course in December 2021 about how the body and the mind work. It’s been fascinating. I know that I can’t help the flare ups, but I can change how I respond to the chronic fatigue (which makes my bones feel like they’re made of lead) and instead of sitting there feeling sorry for myself, I’ve learnt I can choose another option. I’ve still been having flare ups since January – the one I’m having at the moment has lasted over week, so I’m back on medication. I no longer have the short circuit feeling, but I still get nauseous, and it depends on how severe the flare is as to whether I take ondansetron, or metoclopramide.
Four weeks ago, though I’d gone back to the doctor because of my recurrent flare ups and still not feeling right. After feeling my tummy, he discovered my gallbladder is swollen, so he thinks it might be that. I’m booked in for a scan in 2 weeks’ time to investigate whether it’s that.
I have been dismissed by family and friends and have had one think I’d talked myself into what happened. Others have been scared to be around me because I’ve only had 1 dose and a lower immune system, so they’ve been scared to put me at risk, but I’ve had covid twice this year and only experienced mild cold like symptoms, headache, and tiredness, with aches the first time, but not the second.