I have worked full-time for the Queensland Police force over the last five years and maintained a fit and healthy lifestyle due to the nature of my job, fitness is a must. I did a lot of cycling, hiking and getting outdoors whenever I could with my grandchildren. For a 50-plus-year-old, I was in tip top health and had no underlying issues whatsoever. I had even seen a rheumatologist a couple years before which, when testing me, showed I had no inflammation markers.
I got the COVID vaccine because, we were under the orders of the Queensland Police Commissioner via email with a cut-off date, otherwise we would be stood down from our positions. I’d never had a problem with any vaccine before the COVID vaccine and I’m up to date with most of my other vaccine, the most recent being the whooping cough vaccine.
But this time things felt a bit different. The first thought was, how did they get this out so quickly? However, most of my colleagues were on the narrative that it was safe and that SARS-CoV-2 is nothing new. Something just didn’t add up, but I couldn’t afford to lose my job and I went and got the Pfizer vaccine in March 2021 in my left arm.
For the rest of the day my arm felt quite sore to touch. Everyone said that was quite normal, but it stayed sore for the whole week. It never quite went away and I started to feel some tightness in the joints of my hands. I didn’t think too much of it and just continued with life until the next Pfizer vaccination in April in right arm.
It was the same experience as the last. It gave me a bit of dead arm which then pained me for the next week. After the first week I started to notice I was getting more fatigued than usual and my hands were tighter than normal. When I would squeeze my fists together, I had trouble picking up and holding things. This kept on getting progressively worse over the coming weeks until mid-May 2021. I was out with my family and I wasn’t able to participate in physical activities, even just being able to get up and down into my camper and complete general chores was a struggle.
I was in pain all over my body and in all my joints. I tried taking Panadol and ibuprofen but it didn’t do anything. It then progressed into affecting my sleep and brain fog, which combined with the lack of sleep and pain, was really starting to affect my mental capacity.
Being the headstrong person I am, I sucked it up and pushed through my days until I couldn’t take it any longer. In mid-June I went to my local GP and I told him that I thought I had a COVID vaccine related injury. I presented with symptoms of inflammation explaining and showing her the swelling in my hands. My hands were so swollen I had to get one of my rings cut off which was extremely painful. Her response was, ‘If this was a vaccine injury, don’t worry about it, we will fix it’. I felt relieved and I was sent off for bloods and prescribed Endep, which I didn’t stay on very long because it made me moody, cranky and didn’t make any difference to my inflammation. The blood results never came back to me.
Over the next four weeks I tried to get into a number of different doctors. I was either refused entry or they were too busy. But eventually I found a doctor who was amazing and took me seriously. Immediately he could see the pain I was in. I told him that I believed this was a vaccine injury, but he didn’t say much and just focussed on what he thought it was and gave me a referral to a rheumatologist.
It was now July and I had to wait till September to see the rheumatologist. By this stage the pain in my hands, my knees, shoulders, neck and feet was debilitating, I wasn’t managing the pain very well at all, I couldn’t even toilet or wash myself. But I had no options other than to wait it out. Meanwhile I had been pushing through work and I was offered no support from my workplace. No one spoke to me. I mentioned to my colleagues that I was injured by the vaccine, but it fell on deaf ears.
One day at work, I was doing some physical work and I suddenly started to feel a stabbing chest pain which stopped me in my tracks. It didn’t go away and I started experiencing shallow breathing. I started to feel like I was going to black out so I asked for someone to call me an ambulance. They arrived fairly quickly. They gave me some pain medication and the pain subsided pretty quickly.
At the hospital they ran tests and found I had an abnormal rhythm of the heart and monitored me for about four hours and then discharged me on the basis that I was all clear to go. I was okay, but left with more questions than answers. This was more or less a one off, but I still to this day experience minor pains around my heart area.
Late July I saw a different GP who was able to access my notes. He gave me a script for Prednisone, authorised by the rheumatologist, which was helping me with the pain management side of things.
September arrived and I saw the rheumatologist who was shocked and in disbelief at how swollen I was all over my body. He immediately took to my knee and withdrew fluid to test. He checked my bloods and found inflammation markers to be very high and the results from the fluid came back typical to rheumatoid arthritis, which was my official diagnosis. Verbally he told me this was induced by the Pfizer vaccine. When I asked for the paperwork via email, I received no response, so I’m not sure if the diagnosis “induced by the COVIID vaccine” was written down. I was prescribed methotrexate (an oral chemotherapeutic) to stop my immune from going haywire. It has slowed things down but it has done what I was hoping it would. I still have trouble gripping things and I get fluid build-up in my joints, just not as bad.
The booster shot was mandated and I was pushing the boundaries trying to avoid it as much as possible. I was petrified of getting anymore because of my experience, but I was running out of time. I sought information through my GP who spoke to an immunologist. He suggested to my GP that I should stay away from the Pfizer vaccine and get the Novavax one because it was different to Pfizer. I really couldn’t afford to lose my job and I had already come this far so I rolled up my sleeve and got the Novavax booster In March 2022. I was lucky because nothing changed and things were still improving for me.
From September to June, I’d been moved to admin duties at the workplace and I saw the rheumatologist again in June 2022. He saw nothing was really happening and put me on another drug similar to methotrexate called leflunomide. After about a week I noticed significant improvements and I started to feel somewhat normal again. You can imagine how I was feeling after 14 months of absolute hell.
From June to current day, my symptoms have stabilised and subsided. I’m currently trying to wean myself off the steroids and I’m gradually lowering the methotrexate under doctor’s orders, to see how I go. The side effects of these medications have not been pleasant for lack of better words. I did try a few natural remedies but they interfered with my medication, so I kept on going with doctor’s orders just to be safe.
I reported my vaccine Injury to Queensland health via the website. I received an automated response and have heard nothing further. I’m sharing my story because people don’t believe this is real, and I’m unsure if I will ever reach 100% again. It’s cost me a lot of my time, money and has been emotionally taxing being unable to enjoy family company.
Because I’m over 50 and I work in the Queensland Police Force, still to this day they have mandated the fourth booster shot. Once again I have avoided it all costs and I’m lucky enough to have had COVID which means I’m exempt until November. So I’m praying to God that I get COVID again, ironically. This would then keep me exempt for another four months. If I don’t get COVID I face either getting the fourth vaccine which I really don’t want, or I lose my job. I can’t imagine what that would mean for me at my age. I’m furious that this decision has been forced on my life and I am very well aware that if I take the fourth vaccine I could lose it all anyway.