I am 39, married and a mum to two boys, 14 and 7. I’ve worked in the hairdressing industry for the last 23 years, and have specialised as a bridal hairstylist for the last 7, plus also run bridal styling workshops in the winter months. Prior to the vaccine, I was an active mum and enjoyed going for hike, getting the kids out on their bikes and finding new places to explore.
At 21, I fell off my horse, broke my neck and sustained a head injury. I had bad short term memory loss from it and spent a year going through a rehab where it was like going back to school. It was a year before I started to remember things and feel normal again. I’ve had migraines and headaches intermittently ever since. Also, about 10 years ago, I had an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured and resulted in removal of my left ovary, and discovery of endometriosis which had caused my organs to fuse to my uterus. I’d had 2 laparoscopies to remove lesions, but it kept growing, so I ended up having a hysterectomy in December 2019. I still have the endometriosis in my bowel which gives me heavy bowel pain sometimes. I’ve also had IBS for years (which I’ve tried to manage through diet) and that flares up sometimes because of the endometriosis. I also take some medications for TMJ nerve pain (gabapentin and nortriptyline).
When the vaccines were available, I had it in my head that I had to have it to protect my mum, who has emphysema, so I booked it in as soon as I could. My husband had his slightly before me as his working at the port had required it. I bribed my eldest son to have it at the same time as me, he hadn’t wanted it. Mum gave us all the childhood vaccines, so I did too – I didn’t question it and had trusted the government.
I had my first (and only) Pfizer vaccine on the 14th of September 2021. I had a sore arm for about 4 days after. It was super heavy, and I couldn’t lie on it for 3 or 4 nights, and I was really fatigued. Within about 2 weeks, I was having stomach cramps and diarrhoea, which I first thought was food poisoning, as I’d had Turkish the previous day, and my husband had vomited over a few days at that time, but then he realised he’d mixed 2 supplements together and was reacting to that, and was fine once he stopped taking them. My symptoms continued for a couple of weeks, along with extreme fatigue and such heavy legs, that it felt like they had weights attached to them. I went to the doctor and he thought it was either food poisoning or potentially giardia, so I had bloods and a stool sample done.
I got my results through the app on the 22nd of October 2021. The stool sample came back normal, but I had a positive ANA antibodies test (autoimmune). It stated the result could be from lupus or drug-induced hepatitis – I thought perhaps it was because of the medications I had been on, although a few months prior to the vaccine, i’d had a negative ANA test as part of some testing done for hormonal issues which are regularly monitored. The doctor didn’t follow up with me after my results had come back. Over the weekend of the 22nd of October, I was really sick and ended up going to Second Avenue Health Centre after hours, but because I wasn’t double vaccinated, I had to go through a drive through for a Covid test, which was negative.
I then developed swollen lymph nodes under my arms, sore breasts, brain fog and was struggling to concentrate (I was still having to do jobs as wedding season had started), so I went back to the doctor as I wanted to know what was wrong, and see whether I’d have any other testing done. I mentioned that this had all started after having the vaccine, but he dismissed me telling me it was ‘very safe’ and that I had nothing to worry about.
On the 13th of November I did a wedding while still struggling with my symptoms and feeling like rubbish. I was doing the brides hair and couldn’t pick up the bobby pins with my fingers or pinch and pull the hair – it was like my hand eye co-ordination had gone. It took me significantly longer to finish the job, to the point she was almost late for her wedding. When I left, I got in my car and burst into tears and wondered what was wrong with me.
I was having short term memory loss issues again (which took me right back to my head injury) and mid-conversation would totally forget what I was talking about. I couldn’t focus and was having sensory overload. I was still super fatigued, had the dead legs had developed a burning feeling in my fingers, hands, and forearms (where it felt like someone was giving me chinese burns), and my hands would tremor. I began crying continuously and feeling really low, so I went back to the doctor, but he didn’t do anything. I ended up booking another appointment over a week later as I still wasn’t improving and couldn’t stop crying. The mandates were coming in for my industry in early December 2021 and I’d felt torn. I was feeling pressured to get the second one and didn’t want to – Do I get the second vaccine just to keep working? My gut was saying no. I took my husband with me to the doctors this time to speak for me (I couldn’t hold a conversation because of my constant crying), and tell the doctor what he saw so the doctor would take me seriously. My husband is level-headed and rational, and he knew that something wasn’t right, and I wasn’t myself. I had been feeling like some of this was either in my head or that I was over-reacting, but because my husband believed me (and he wouldn’t just agree with me to make me feel better), I knew what I was experiencing was real. The doctor took me seriously and considered that the vaccine could be the cause. He prescribed me an anti-depressant (Citalopram), and referred me to a Rheumatologist. The anti-depressant stopped my crying, but I lost motivation for everything and felt numb inside. I was functioning as much as possible for my kids, but spent a lot of time in bed.
At the end of November/beginning of December, I was getting a weird tingling sensation in the side of my face and in my head, and then I’d have random allergic reactions and would all of a sudden break out in hives and swell around my face and throat. From that moment on I had to carry antihistamines on me at all times, as I never knew when it was going to happen. At night sometimes I would be woken up as it felt like someone was squeezing the heck out my heart and then all of a sudden let it go – it would take my breath away. To me it felt like I was almost going to have a heart attack, but the doctor tried to tell me it was indigestion.
December and January were very difficult months. Because my son and I weren’t double vaccinated, we weren’t able to be with my family for Christmas. I also lost friends, and my 14yo son couldn’t do his sports he loves – swimming and racing BMX, and I couldn’t take my youngest one swimming because I wasn’t double vaccinated. We instead tried to get them out exploring and doing fun things with them. We would go for walks and my husband would often think I was going to pass out, so would walk behind me in case he needed to catch me.
Even though I had to refund all my brides their money and our finances had taken a hit, the mandates and Covid rules were a blessing in disguise. I couldn’t have done a wedding season with the long hours and high emotions – Even when I’m healthy it’s exhausting and I’d come home and not be able to do anything.
I had the Rheumatologist appointment in January 2022. My doctor had chosen a specific specialist thinking he might be a little more open, but as soon as I mentioned the vaccine, he said “We’re done here”. He didn’t do any further testing and took my $500.
I went back to the doctor again in February 2022 as I wasn’t improving. I needed answers and help. I asked for a referral for a specific immunologist (who had taken another vaccine injured person seriously). When I hadn’t heard anything, I contacted the immunologist directly and was told my referral was declined as I didn’t meet the criteria, they never told me what the criteria was or why I didn’t meet it. My doctor told me he couldn’t do anything, and his hands were tied. He was supportive, but said he’d lose his job if he rocked the boat. I then lodged my adverse reaction report with CARM.
I was working with a nutritionist at the time who put me on supplements – NAC, Quercetin, Vitamin C and D etc. I definitely started to function a bit better when taking them and it gave me nearly 3 months of feeling semi-normal. I had Covid in March 2022 and was ok for the first 3 days, on the 4th day I had body aches and migraines and spent 2 days in bed, but bounced back pretty quick. Afterwards, It felt like something had reset in my immune system and I felt really good for a while, but it didn’t last long.
I weaned myself of the citalopram in April/May as I wanted to have more of a clear head for the five scheduled workshops I had booked across Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, and Christchurch over winter months. Each class had ten students for a full 1-2 days. I really pushed myself, and it had taken so much out of me that I crashed in October 2022 – my body had enough. I currently had bookings through until April but will be limiting them in future to 1 or 2 per week as I struggle to focus anymore and am spending majority of my time in bed from fatigue. I am keeping my diet clean and healthy and don’t drink or smoke etc but have gained 10kgs since the vaccine. I also feel like my eyesight has deteriorated since the vaccine too. I’m getting more headaches and have them in clusters of about 5 days straight – these are more frequent than what I had before.
I have recently had some more bloods done, and it looks like I’ve started going through menopause. In the last 6 weeks I have been getting hot flushes, insomnia, and I’m physically exhausted but can’t sleep. I believe the vaccine has sped up the process of menopause. My mum was in her mid-40’s when she went through hers, and my sister (49) is at about at the same stage I am now. Before I had the vaccine I was seeing a natural place for my hormones. I was estrogen dominant and no progesterone, so I stopped eating anything with estrogen in it. Now, I have none of either and am on both estrogen and MRT (instead of HRT). I’ve also been having major issues with pain in my tailbone. I’ve paid $1500 for an MRI and they say it’s fine, yet I can’t sit on anything firm for periods of time. When driving, I have to stop regularly and get out and walk around as the pain is excruciating – It has gotten worse over the past year. I don’t know what to do or where to go next. My doctor thinks it’s part of menopause and has put me on calcium to try and prevent osteoporosis. I’ve also just joined a gym to help with my bone strength.
Before the vaccine I was a very driven person, always practising and upskilling, I used to do a style a day on my mannequin, and film tutorials regularly, but I’ve lost all motivation and don’t know how to get it back – I’m lucky if I do something once a month now.