I do not have a hard and fast standpoint on the COVID vaccines. If anything, I sit on the pro side of the fence. I have travelled a lot in my lifetime and have had my fair share of jabs. Like most arguments there is always truth to be found in both points of view. I personally do not know enough about the science to pass sound judgment either way. Much in the same way that I take my car to the mechanics if it breaks down, I go to the doctors if I need advice on my health. Well, that was until 2021.
In June I got ciguatera poisoning which opened my eyes and changed my opinion of the medical profession. Ciguatera is a type of food poisoning caused by eating fish contaminated with ciguatoxin. It’s very rare and is not something that can be tested for, nor is there an antidote. It affects the digestive, muscular, and nervous systems and can affect you for just a couple of days or for years. I found it really hard to find a doctor who would help me. If they didn’t already know about ciguatera they weren’t interested in learning. They listened to my story without caring, charged me a lot of money, and sent me on my way without doing anything to help me or even point me in the direction of somebody who could help. I lost my trust in the medical profession.
Fast forward five months, I had finally got myself back on track and was feeling good. I was exercising twice a day and I was at TAFE doing a six-week course before returning to work as a harvest diver. I had already made my mind up not to get the vaccine as my body was still very reactive after being poisoned. Things like caffeine, alcohol, the smell of chemicals, or anything from the sea are known ciguatera triggers and still caused reactions for me. These episodes were short lived and manageable.
Obviously there is a ‘however’ otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. I also needed to go home to the UK to see my family. I hadn’t seen them since 2018 and without being vaccinated it was looking difficult. Then they brought in the mandate, so after a few sleepless nights, off I went to get my first Pfizer shot.
The morning after, I woke up with numb limbs which turned into pins and needles. Then when getting out of bed I felt dizzy and everything blacked out for at least ten seconds. Apart from this, I had a chemical taste in my mouth and slight fatigue. But it didn’t stop me carrying on as usual, thinking these were just normal side effects. On day four everything took a turn for the worse. It felt like someone was physically holding me down, like there was a crushing weight on top of me and I couldn’t think straight. I then proceeded to get sick to the point where I couldn’t keep water inside me. The vomiting and diarrhoea lasted for three days. I couldn’t walk from my bed to the kitchen without getting out of breath and dizzy. I intermittently had pins and needles and numbness, more so after lying down or sitting still. I had a pain in my chest, my head felt like it was about explode, and I had pains in my spine, neck, armpits and groin.
This went on for four weeks and to be honest it’s all a bit of a blur, but in that time frame I had one hospital visit, about seven doctors’ appointments and as many blood tests. I had varying feedback from the medical profession. The hospital said it was gastro, and one doctor found, from my bloods, that I had inflammation and decided I had Crohn’s disease and booked me in for a colonoscopy. One doctor took two weeks to get back to me, she then called me in urgently to tell me that my white blood cells were down and I had inflammation. She then proceeded to offer no help but to push me into getting my second vaccine – a different type, the Astra Zeneca one instead.
Finally, the only doctor who helped me with my ciguatera and who is hard to get an appointment with, diagnosed me with low iron and said it was highly likely I had had a reaction to the vaccine. He said the trouble was that not much is known about the vaccine side effects. All he could do is give me a two-month exemption and told me I should come right. He still recommended the Pfizer over Astra Zeneca even after what had happened.
So, two months after the first vaccine my partner decided he could take an extra couple of weeks off work in January as he wasn’t there for me the first time I had the reaction but wanted to be there in case I had one the second time around. He said I had to get on with my life and go see my family, get back to work etc. I was obviously very anxious after what had happened the first time and it took all my mental strength to go and get the vaccine for a second time.
I had the usual flu like side effects but actually felt pretty good. I was relieved because I knew I could now go home to see my family. However, on the fourth day I woke up and took a turn for the worse again. The shortness of breath was back with a vengeance, dizziness, numbness, pins and needles, heart palpitations, shooting pains, and my head felt like it was going to explode again. I felt like a belt had been wrapped around my chest or a massive pressure was on top of me, and it was a lot worse when I lied down. I also had a high heart rate again, which increased when I went from sitting to standing and when I did even the slightest bit of activity.
So I was back to the doctor and another hospital visit. They could hear abnormalities in my chest but my bloods were all fine this time. They also looked for high levels of troponin which can indicate heart problems and did an ECG which showed no irregularities. They thought maybe I had pneumonia or mild pericarditis. I was sent home, instructed to take ibuprofen, and wait a week for an echocardiogram. The results from my echocardiogram showed mild inflammation but I was given no written and definitive diagnosis.
Three weeks post second vaccine I was a lot better, I was walking again and most of my symptoms had gone. I recovered a lot faster the second time around and was getting on with my life.
Then I caught COVID! For me it lasted only a few days and I had a cold and a chesty cough. It was mild. Was it because I was double jabbed? Or if I had caught COVID unvaccinated, would I have ended up in hospital? Would it have carried on for two months like the side effects from the Pfizer vaccine, or would it have affected me more like a bad flu? I can’t answer that question.
The reason I want to share my story is because, either way, people need to be made aware of the vaccine side effects. The mandate is not okay. Forcing people to get a first-generation vaccine is not okay, and the fact that the medical profession is turning a blind eye, covering up, and pushing sick people away who have vaccine related injuries is not okay.
The vaccine definitely has a place for the elderly and vulnerable but this also must take into account that it is first-generation, little is known about the side effects and the fact it doesn’t stop transmission. It is not a one size fits all solution. Even more so now the virus is moving into its endemic stage and evolving to become intrinsically less severe.