I’m 35, have a 12 year old daughter and my partners 2 step kids. I’m a beauty therapist by trade and had my own beauty salon. I was on my feet every day and had a normal busy life. From a pre-existing condition perspective, I’d had problems with my gallbladder since my late 20’s but only had the scan which confirmed my gallbladder only functions at 30%, in 2020. It would flare up with fatty foods, but I’ve always managed it with diet.
I didn’t want to have the vaccine because it was new technology, I felt it was rushed and wouldn’t have been safe. Watching the 1pm update with Jacinda in 2021, you were almost brainwashed into getting the vaccine for a normal life. I did it at the time to keep my business.
I had my first and only Pfizer vaccine on the 1st of September 2021, during lockdown at a drive through vaccination hub. I had noticed the substance in the syringe that was to be administered in my arm was brown – in hindsight I wonder how I let them 1nj3ct that into me. Within hours I was unwell, I felt lethargic and nauseous, so I went to bed. When I woke up the next day, I felt worse. I had a really bad cough, felt that I couldn’t get out of bed without collapsing and couldn’t stomach anything. Each morning after, I couldn’t move my legs properly – It felt like they were concrete, and I had what felt like electric shocks going through my chest, and my heart was beating really hard when I was lying in bed. It also felt like my brain was inflamed. I was concerned straight away and went to the doctors in the first couple of days, and other than going to the doctors/hospital (over those first 4 weeks post-vaccine, I went to the doctors 26 times and hospital 3 times). I was otherwise bedridden. I knew something was wrong. My heart rate was also high (my resting heart rate was 140bpm), I had chest pains and thought I was going to die. Some doctors said it might be a prolonged side effect from the Pfizer vaccine, and others told me “It won’t be from the vaccine, it’s anxiety”, and sent me home.
On the 6th of September I’d had some blood tests and the doctor called me to say my d-dimer was high (a sign of blood clotting) and advised me to go to the hospital. The ED doctor at the hospital told me that the Pfizer vaccine doesn’t cause blood clots, then refused to give me an x-ray, saying they don’t like to x-ray young fertile women. He then told me to get the second Pfizer vaccine as it will ‘save my life’, then sent me home. Over the many bloods taken in the first 6 weeks, my liver function results were more elevated each time, but they said they weren’t concerned. One doctor tried to tell me it was a pre-existing issue, but I’d never had an issue with my liver before. I was telling them I was having burning pain in my chest etc, but they didn’t take me seriously. They were instead offering me anti-depressants and anxiety medication – I knew I wasn’t anxious, I just wanted to go back to work and normality.
By early October I was so weak; that even talking was really hard for me and I’d get out of breath. I was barely able to eat anything since having the vaccine and couldn’t move from the couch, so ended up sleeping there and my partner was having to carry me to the toilet. By the time I went to the hospital for the 4th time on the 5th of October, I had the shakes and had lost 7kgs and they admitted me. My partner had to wheelchair me to the toilet in hospital because I was so weak I couldn’t walk. He also had to rip the toilet paper off for me as I couldn’t do it. By the time I’d left hospital, I’d had 3 chest x-rays, a CT scan, an ultrasound on my chest, an Echocardiogram, and had been tested for so many things, including hepatitis. All results were normal except for an inflamed liver, and they told me it was likely that I had POTS. I’d felt frustrated and hoped they’d find something so I could be treated and could get back to normal again. I’d been in hospital 2 weeks and my nurse friend said they’d done every test they could, and there wasn’t much more they could do to help me. She suggested I rest at home instead, so I checked myself out. They discharged me with a diagnosis of POTS from the vaccine – a few doctors/specialists in there told me I had the symptoms of POTS, but they’d not done the tests to diagnose it at that point. I was also prescribed Metoprolol to slow my heart rate and advised to take aspirin to thin my blood as I’d not been moving around. My partner pushed for an ACC vaccine injury claim which the hospital put through with the vaccine-induced POTS diagnosis. My partner followed up and did what was needed which resulted in my payments stating by Christmas 2021. I didn’t care at the time because I thought I was going to die, but I am so glad he pushed for it. I know I’m lucky as so many injured are having their applications declined. They call me every few weeks and say there isn’t enough information for the diagnosis to be confirmed and try and dig to find information to get out of paying me. ALL the testing with things coming back normal has not been good for my case.
When I was discharged from hospital on the 19th of October, I was still too weak to walk and couldn’t lift my arms over my head without experiencing symptoms, everything was really hard. We asked to hire a wheelchair from hospital when we were leaving, but the lady was rude saying “I don’t think you’ll qualify”, even though I’d been using one the whole time in hospital and needed to be wheeled out of the hospital to the car in one. On the way home in the car, I bawled my eyes out wondering how I would get from the car to the front door. My partner bought me a wheelchair soon after, which I continued using until April 2022. Even now, the muscles in my legs get so sore when not doing much, and I get tired easily. For months afterwards, my mum had to bath me. I couldn’t do anything myself.
I changed doctors after being discharged and went to a different practise. I had been requesting a cardiologist referral with my previous doctor but was told they wouldn’t do a referral, as it was just ‘anxiety’. The new doctor I went to was supportive and did refer me to a cardiologist, who I saw on the 29th of November. My partner wheeled me in, and the Cardiologist asked why I was in a wheelchair. I told him why and told me that people are going to think that I’m “Flaky”. He recognised I had symptoms of POTS and that it could’ve been caused by the vaccine, then said he doesn’t like dealing with POTS patients as it’s not really rewarding for him because he can’t do anything to help. I asked him for an exemption letter for the second Pfizer vaccination which he was good about, and gave me, but it was declined by Ashley Bloomfield (as it is for majority of others), saying there’s not enough evidence to support an exemption. The Cardiologist hadn’t treated me very well, but I was so used to that kind of treatment because of the dismissive experiences I’d been having with other doctors and specialists. I was hoping there was more testing that he could do but said he couldn’t do anything to help me and had said “What do you want me to do?”.
In December 2021, I sent an email to the Heart Centre where I’d had the cardiologist appointment and pleaded to have a second opinion from a different cardiologist, as nothing had improved. The second cardiologist, who I saw on the 25th of January 2022, gave me a Holter monitor for 24 hours, which just showed an increased heart rate – I’d been having palpitations before and after the Holter Monitor, but in that 24 hours had none. Prior, I’d had a warning on my watch that I had Atrial Fibrillation, but they dismissed this saying it can’t be considered as accurate. The cardiologist gave me a referral to do the tilt table test, which I had in May 2022.
My mum had worked the reception at my business from when I was bedridden and not able to go back. I had an employee working there covering for me, but as things weren’t looking any better after a couple of months, we sold the business in January 2022.
In May 2022 I had the tilt table test – For this, you have to come off your heart meds for 48 hours prior. This was stressful in itself considering I hadn’t been off it since my hospital stay in 2021. They strap you to a table from lying down position and then tilt you to standing position for 10 minutes. My heart rate was 170 bpm the whole time, it was painful, didn’t feel safe for me and felt like my heart was under stress. It also took me weeks to recover from afterwards. They said that the results showed my carbon dioxide levels were too low, and that I had a breathing problem and that’s why I have all these symptoms. Because of this, they never addressed the question of POTS diagnosis which my symptoms align to, and that I’ve been told I have. I wondered at the time whether the result had something to do with the ‘Mild Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy’ (HBOT) treatment’ I’d had 2 days prior to the test – I’d been doing weekly treatments of HBOT, but didn’t feel it helped at all, so stopped. I’d not had any kind of breathing problem before having the vaccine and I feel like whatever the breathing problem is, is a secondary issue to what’s going on. I then requested a cardiac MRI from the cardiologist, but he said there’s no evidence to suggest the heart issues are from the vaccine and that this is from a breathing problem. he also said he’d not seen anyone with my symptoms post-vaccine; however, I know that’s not true as I’d spoken to another injured person (with symptoms like mine) who’d gone to him. He’d told her that her symptoms were because of her age and put her on heart medication for life.
On the 9th of June, I went to the breathing specialist for the consult. It was stressful for me to have to travel to town. I’d had to walk across the street from the car, and go up the lift, then was made to explain myself as to why I was breathing so fast – they thought I’d been exerting myself prior, but I told them I had only walked from across the road. I remember having checked my watch at the time and it showed my breathing was in normal range. I was supposed to do a whole lot of sessions with a breathing physio, but I thought it was BS and didn’t go back.
In June 2022, I asked my doctor for a referral to a Neurologist because of the weird twitch in my left arm, and I still had the swollen/inflamed brain feeling, and pains in my head. Every time I’d try to walk or move, it felt like there was a problem with blood flow not getting to my brain properly. I had an MRI in July 2022 on my brain and spine (I ended up going private to avoid the wait list). They saw something in the MRI, so referred me for a brain CT scan. That showed I had a Meningioma, but that it was completely calcified, therefor was all ok and no further follow up was required.
My current doctor is pretty much the only doctor who has admitted that it’s from the vaccine. Originally I was also told it was Costochondritis (Inflammation of the chest wall) and it would go in a few months, but whatever it is, is still there after 14 months. There’s been a pain in my left breast, and since the beginning, a pain in behind my left breast that feels like a bone pain where my heart is located. The doctor said there was a lump there so sent me for a breast ultrasound, but the results came back normal. Everything has been happening on the left hand side (which is also the side I had the vaccine). The pain gets worse if I’ve been on my feet to much, or walk too fast and my heart rate increases, it’s extremely painful. When I’d been in hospital, I was having heart pains at night and had an acute doctor come in and felt where the pain was and he’d said it’s exactly where my heart was beating and suspected it might be Myocarditis, which is why I wanted a Cardiac MRI to check for that (as it uncovers scarring on the heart). My doctor supports me having a cardiac MRI to investigate further, but with the cardiac MRI request declined by the cardiologist (from the tilt table test results), I didn’t fight it and have instead found a place in Auckland accepting doctors’ referrals for cardiac MRI. I’m waiting for an appointment and hope to have this in January 2023.
My current symptoms are the bone pain feeling in the left hand side of my heart behind my breast, the twitch in my left arm, my head/brain still feeling swollen, heart palpitations, with the main problem the increased heart rate (because when I have that, it sets everything else off). I sometimes have stomach pain too and had a lot of stomach pain in hospital over those first few months. I’ve since spoken to a pharmacist who’s studied POTS, and stomach pain can be one of the POTS symptoms. When I’m not doing anything and sitting down, I feel reasonably normal (this is being on my heart medication), but the moment I get up and try to do everyday activities, my heart rate shoots up from 80 to 150 in seconds, and then I can’t do anything for the rest of the day.
The effects of the vaccine have meant I’ve lost a lot of time with my daughter. She finished primary school last year and I couldn’t be there for that. When she started intermediate this year I couldn’t drive her, it was my mum who went to meet her teacher. I haven’t been able to do anything fun with her – I can’t take the dogs for a walk, I can’t go anywhere there are stairs, I can’t go to the shops with her, and I’ve have even had to ask her to stop making me laugh as that increases my heart rate and I get chest pain and feel like I can’t breathe. My partner has been amazing, I couldn’t have done it without him. He’d drop me to my parents in those first few months when he went to work, as I couldn’t be alone. Everyone has had to help me, which is really annoying. I can’t clean my house or if I bend over to pick anything up or do anything, my heart rate increases significantly, and is exhausting. If I came off the metoprolol heart medication, instinctively, I know I’d be back in the wheelchair.
My adverse event was reported to CARM and I ended up having a call from a person who said they were calling on behalf of Pfizer about my adverse event report, and were wanting to gather more detail about my symptoms/side effects. It had been months between when I’d reported it and when I had the call. Then I got a letter from Pfizer in the mail, telling me how safe and effective their vaccine was. You report it, and they just deny it and get away with it!
We have spent thousands over the past 14 months on appointments and treatments and bought a whole lot of supplements from the pharmacy and saw a naturopath who was really good and have been going to a Chinese medicine doctor for the last 3 months, which has helped a bit.
I feel angry, and can’t watch many things on social media, because it’s not helpful for me. I didn’t have social media before this and only started an Instagram account after I was injured to find more information. There has been great community help, and I’m in an online support group with some other injured people in Australia with the same symptoms, which has been helpful, but we’ve not had the help we need from the medical industry. The doctors/specialists are missing opportunities for research and to help us. We just want help.