Prior to the COVID vaccine, I was reasonably fit and healthy. I took no medication, hadn’t seen a GP for over 30 years and walked my two dogs on the beach every day. On the rare occasions I needed medical help, I went to a hospital emergency department. I saw a skin specialist who checked my moles once a year.
I’ve worked for Queensland Health for 11 years. The last five years have been as a Food Services supervisor at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital. In April 2021, the hospital strongly encouraged staff to get the vaccine. It was yet to be mandated, but I knew it would eventually be no vaccine, no job. I got the flu vaccine every year, so nothing struck me as abnormal.
I lined up at work with hundreds of others to get my first Pfizer vaccine on 1st April, 2021. I can’t recall in which arm. I noticed no side effects. I got my second Pfizer vaccine at work on 22nd April 2021, in my right arm. It was impossible to lift it that night and my shoulder felt ready to fall off. It was excruciatingly painful and on a scale of one to ten, it was a nine. I thought I had slept on my arm awkwardly until I recalled that this symptom is a common post-vaccine side effect.
About two weeks later, the surface of my forearms, from the elbows to the wrists, began to burn. At first I thought it was sunburn. However, the burning persisted, so I saw my skin specialist on 14th May 2021. She asked if I had hurt my neck recently, because neck injuries can be related to skin conditions apparently. When I told her my neck was fine, she was baffled. She said she was unable to help and told me to see a GP. I said I would, but privately I wanted to deal with the situation myself and hoped the burning sensation would disappear eventually.
At work in late May or early June 2021, I was short of breath and my chest hurt. Colleagues noticed my distress and told me to go to Emergency, which is only a short walk from my office.
My first visit is a blur as I was in survival mode. The doctors had no idea what was wrong with me. I do remember the blood tests cleared me of a heart attack and that I was told to see a GP. I was prescribed no medication.
About this time, I connected my burning forearms with the vaccine. I read an article in the UK’s Spectator by a man whose arms burned like mine after the vaccine and he had ended up in hospital. I contacted him, but he had found nothing to relieve his symptoms.
A week after my first emergency visit, I saw two GPs at a local clinic. I had a separate appointment with each GP. Neither of them had any idea what was wrong with me. Neither of them mentioned the COVID vaccine and I can’t remember if I mentioned it either. My blood pressure was high, so they prescribed blood pressure tablets. They also referred me to a cardiologist, a neurologist, and for a brain scan.
Over the next three months, my health crumbled. I had terrifying chest pain and it felt like something was sitting on me from my neck to my waist. I woke up every morning exhausted, my body aching as if it had been in a car crash. My forearms burned like fire. I feared I would die. I even contacted my superannuation provider and insurance broker to update my death payment details. My wife found out and became extremely concerned about me.
On 7th September 2021 I was at work and felt shocking. I was passing through one of the wards and asked a nurse to take my blood pressure. She took one look at the readout and told me to head straight to Emergency. The systolic was 210, but I can’t remember the diastolic.
I had an ECG and staff took my blood pressure. The ECG results were normal, but my blood pressure had skyrocketed, although it decreased somewhat after an hour in Emergency. Doctors diagnosed hypertension and told me to follow up the high blood pressure and burning forearms with my GP. At that time, the burning had also moved to include my left thigh. I received no treatment or medication.
On 29th September I was at work when the chest pain and breathlessness became unbearable. My staff were appalled at my appearance and said if I did not go to Emergency immediately, they would put me in a wheelchair and take me themselves. Doctors ran another ECG and tested my blood. Everything came back normal and there was no sign of heart failure. I was diagnosed with dyspnoea.
I saw the cardiologist on 13th October 2021. He ran a series of tests including an echocardiogram, a CT coronary angiogram and had me wear an overnight Holter monitor. He was pleasant and patient, taking my concerns seriously. I can’t remember if I mentioned the vaccine, but if I did, he was receptive. He said there was obviously something wrong with me, but he had no idea what.
At my follow-up appointment on 10th November 2021 the cardiologist said that my tests were all normal and my heart was fine. However, I knew something was very wrong with me, so these results were not reassuring. After this visit, I stopped taking the blood pressure tablets. I knew my condition had nothing to do with my blood pressure and the cardiologist had told me my heart was alright.
On 29th December 2021, I was at work when the breathlessness got intolerable and my chest hurt badly. I headed to Emergency where they took my blood pressure. It was normal. I was monitored from 5am until 2pm that afternoon. I was diagnosed with suspected costochondritis and released with no treatment or medication.
I reported my injury to the Queensland Health Vaccine Command Centre and the ‘COVID Adverse Event Following Immunisation’ (AEFI) team, on Monday 3rd January 2022. I heard nothing back. When I sent a follow-up email I was told it is just a reporting service and to go and see my GP.
I had a bout of kidney stones in early January 2022 and then caught COVID in early March 2022. I had an unshakeable cough that gave me bad headaches. I was away from work for nine days.
On 3rd April 2022, I went to bed at 5.30pm feeling dreadful. About midnight, I asked my wife to call an ambulance because I struggled to breathe and my chest was in agony. Emergency was the same as ever. I had hours of waiting, tests returning normal and no-one knowing what to do with me. Doctors diagnosed me with renal colic and I was released that afternoon with no treatment or medication.
Work colleagues suggested I see another GP, so I found one nearby. When I mentioned the COVID vaccines and their possible link to my symptoms, she was adamant the vaccine was not the cause. Instead, she blamed hypertension and chastised me for taking myself off the blood pressure tablets. She prescribed more of these tablets and told me to take them for the rest of my life. She also said she would refer me to a renal specialist, but I never heard from her again.
It’s now October 2022. I received my neurology report three weeks ago and it’s normal. I often labour to breathe and the chest pressure is relentless. I now rarely take my dogs to the beach. Before the vaccine, we would walk for ages. We’d often climb a flight of stairs leading back up to the road. I can no longer manage the stairs and have only walked the dogs about six times since May 2021. Mowing the lawn leaves me breathless and exhausted. I’m fine if I sit and do nothing, but the symptoms return with the slightest exertion.
My forearms still burn ferociously. I’ve tried all kinds of creams and ointments, but nothing works. My sleep is fitful and my chest is so sore that it’s hard to roll over in bed.
I have lost interest in the medical profession. I feel constantly dismissed and no one has a clue what is wrong with me. Whenever I mention that my symptoms coincide with the vaccine, no one pays any attention. I’ve been to Emergency five times, only to be told to go to my GP. Since June 2021 various doctors have suggested I may have hypertension, dyspnoea, fatigue, costochondritis, a pulled muscle, panic attacks, or anxiety. My symptoms are unchanged, but the diagnosis changes constantly.
My workmates are supportive and offer plenty of health suggestions. Some of them are also vaccine injured themselves.
Although my story is nowhere near as bad as some people’s stories, I thought if I shared my experience, someone with similar symptoms might have found something that helps and could tell me about it.
All I want is answers. Why are my arms still burning? Why does it feel as if something is lying on my chest day and night? Why am I often breathless? Why can’t I mow my lawn or walk my dogs anymore? Why won’t the medical profession listen to me when I mention the vaccine?
When these questions are answered, I might finally find some peace.