I am 44 years old. Before the vaccine I was fit and healthy and barely ever got sick. I was a healthy weight, exercised regularly and maintained a healthy diet and lifestyle. I only had one flu vaccine in my life and I was a bit crook with a cold afterward, so never got another. My recent diagnosis has really shocked my long-term GP, as he knows my history and that I literally, never get sick.
I only took the vaccine so I could keep my job. I have worked for my employer for over 20 years, and we were told that if we weren’t double vaccinated by a certain date we would no longer be rostered on for work. I had colleagues who lost their jobs for not complying so, reluctantly, I got it.
I had my first Pfizer vaccine on 2 September 2021 in my left arm, at the local walk-in hub. I felt nervous and sick to my stomach. I did not want this in my body and had a bad feeling about it. The staff were all walking around in their hazmat gear and didn’t give me much information, apart from a sheet listing possible side effects. It felt rushed, like we were all cattle lining up for our prod. Immediately after I was okay, apart from a sore arm which lasted about 24 hours. No symptoms otherwise. I was relieved.
I had my second Pfizer on 14 October in my left arm. Again, I felt sick about being coerced into this by my employer. Immediately after I had a sore arm again, but otherwise I felt fine. It wasn’t until that evening that I developed a high temperature and began shaking like I had a bad case of the flu. I was hot and cold with a high temperature for around 24 hours, after which the symptoms subsided. I put it down to the vaccine doing its thing, as this was within the description of a ‘normal reaction’.
Exactly two weeks after my second vaccine, I developed a sore neck. I had been doing Pilates and figured I must have pulled a muscle. I booked in for a massage which was good, but my neck was still very sore afterward. It didn’t occur to me that the twinging in my neck might be related to the vaccine. Strangely, the soreness didn’t subside. I took Nurofen and put up with the pain until end of November. I have a high pain threshold, but this was becoming unbearable and I was having to take the highest strength Nurofen four-hourly throughout the day and waking up to take it during the night.
I saw my GP in early December. He was surprised how inflamed the area was, so he referred me for an ultrasound, which I had that afternoon. It was at this time that it twigged for me. My sore neck came on exactly two weeks after my second Pfizer vaccine. As I have never had any significant health issues and my symptoms were so out of the ordinary, I thought it was worth mentioning the timeline to my doctor. He said that there was a possibility of a link and listened to my concerns. He has been my GP my whole life and I trust him. He said we would need to do further tests to get to the bottom of it.
I worked my last shift in late December in agony. I knew it would be quiet and I wanted to accrue as much time as possible, as I knew I would need it. I was sent for a nuclear medical scan where they use dye to see what was going on. This could only be done in the hospital as they are the only ones who have this type of machine. I called and was told that I was not going to be able to get in for some time as it was close to Christmas, so I took myself into the hospital and told them they needed to see me. I ended up having the scan on New Year’s Eve and was told my GP would have my results in six days.
Out of nowhere, two days after the scan, I had a sudden onset of various symptoms. I developed pain in my jaw and ear which was excruciating. I also started getting heart palpitations, where my heart was beating so hard it would wake me up. It all just hit me at once. My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest and would take my breath away, like it was skipping a beat, even when I was still. This would happen all the time throughout the day and night. I was rapidly losing weight, had tremors and was sweating profusely. Everything in my body was elevated. At night while trying to sleep it was like I could feel my heart beating in my ear as it was beating hard. I had to sleep with heat pack on my ear to try and muffle this out.
Over the past 12 months, I have lost 8kg from doing nothing and I did not have any weight to lose in the first place. Trying to walk anywhere would take me ages as every time I moved, my heart rate would go nuts and I would have to sit down. After four days of these symptoms, my GP phoned for me to come in right away for my nuclear test results.
The diagnosis was sub-acute thyroiditis. The GP could not believe these results and had not diagnosed this condition before or treated anyone with it, so he referred me to see an endocrinologist. It is a rare condition, and usually happens after a viral episode. The condition is self-limiting, meaning it should run its course and settle down on its own over about a 12-week period. I had not been sick with any virus and wondered if the cause might be the COVID vaccine. The GP said he couldn’t definitively say yes or no.
I saw an endocrinologist at the end of February and, as anticipated, by this stage the symptoms had settled down. It seemed I was past the worst of it but was still experiencing heart palpitations, so she suggested that I start taking beta blockers for my heart and steroids to help with the pain I was still experiencing. I didn’t want to put anything more into my body, as you must wean off these drugs and there are side effects to consider. I felt as though the vaccine had done enough damage to me and didn’t want any more drugs interfering with my body’s own innate ability to heal. My GP knows me and my history and agreed that I would be okay without these drugs and that I could let my body recover on its own, with him monitoring my progress.
I asked the endocrinologist if it was possible that the vaccine had caused my condition. Her reply was because the vaccine is new, with not a lot of data, she couldn’t rule out the possibility. I was able to get an exemption from the endocrinologist for the booster vaccine, so I think that says a lot.
My endocrinologist wants to write a medical journal on my case as it is textbook with symptoms and the timeline this disease typically follows. I am not eligible for any financial assistance for medical expenses as you need to have spent one night in hospital to qualify for the Australian compensation scheme. With doctor visits and specialist scans I have spent over $3,000 so far, with private health cover.
I have only been well enough to return to work recently, part-time with my exemption, after using all of my accrued leave taking eight months off. My employer now requires everyone to have an exemption or have their booster vaccine. My exemption expired a little while after returning to work, so I am currently in the process of trying to get an extension as I will not be taking a booster vaccine.
My endocrinologist successfully issued my previous exemption and had submitted another six-month extension request a few weeks ago as I am still in the recovery phase of the disease. Just a few days ago I was advised by her rooms, that Services Australia/Medicare have changed their criteria and that specialist endocrinologists can no longer provide vaccine medical exemptions! A further blow is that my GP will not be able to issue it either as he does not have the required credentials. Medicare have also changed their criteria for GPs and only GPs with FRACGP or FACRRM after their name can now issue immunisation exemptions!
It is unlikely that I will get another exemption, and therefore will lose my job of over 20 years. I love my job and am so disappointed. I don’t blame my employer – the government is to blame for enforcing this on people to keep their jobs.