My name is Ashleigh. I just want to be heard. I am at the point where I feel I would be better off dead than to keep going through the constant thoughts and the pain, and not being heard.
I received the second Pfizer vaccine on Saturday October 9th, 2021. I started having severe chest pains on the Monday, as well as pain in my right arm, which radiated through my shoulder and up my neck and back of the head, with a rash and swelling at vaccination site.
I went to see the doctor on Monday afternoon and he put me on steroids for two days. I took steroids, Advil and Panadol as advised, with no change and the pain got worse. I called 13 HEALTH on the Tuesday night, and they called me an ambulance and took me to the Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital.
Upon arrival to PA they took blood and performed an ECG. I was given the all-clear. No one told me I had raised white blood cells until I got to the Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) on the Wednesday. The PA doctor had told me that the pains and severe rash I was experiencing was due to a reaction from the contraceptive pill, (which I had not been on for three years), and said that the vaccination site was swollen and red due to a Band-Aid reaction. I am not allergic to anything. They said they could no longer help me and discharged me from the PA at 3.30am on Wednesday. I did have a chest x-ray also that showed nothing. No other tests were done.
I was still experiencing the chest pain and asked for a second opinion, to which a nurse told me to get on my way out of the PA. So I went to the GCUH on Wednesday, October 13th. I was at the GCUH for approximately five hours, they ran an ECG and took bloods, but did not do any other tests.
The doctor spoke to me at length that it could be anxiety or weight-related, but said outright that it was not due to the vaccine. She mentioned in the exit doorway that there were symptoms of pericarditis and proceeded to tell me, (with my husband as a witness), that there were raised white blood cells at the PA and that there was an abnormal rhythm on the ECG. Nobody had told me about this. She then told me that I needed to go back to my GP and get a referral to monitor my blood pressure as it was still high. However, the nurse did not take it properly, putting it half inflated on my arm. Also the GP was to monitor for heart palpitations.
I went to the GP on the Thursday and showed my discharge letters, to which he said I needed another blood test. I’d already had two of the same blood tests that he was asking for. He proceeded to be more worried about moving his Porsche out of the storm than to speak with me further about this, and said that if my chest pain got worse that I should go back up to the ED.
I tried to take what was advised regarding Advil and Panadol over the next couple of days, but I did not fill the script for Endone from GCUH as it made me sick and I felt it did not give me the pain relief I needed.
Over the course of the Friday, Saturday and Sunday I felt the chest pain still there. I was taking Advil every four hours and Panadol every two hours to try and make it subside. On Sunday my feet, legs and hands started to swell again, to the point where I had painful sensations in all areas and excruciating pain in my left leg, along with a migraine, pain in the right shoulder and central chest pain again.
I spoke with an after-hours Telehealth doctor who advised me that he thought it could be myocarditis and pericarditis and told me to call an ambulance. I rang the 13 HEALTH number, and they advised me to go back to hospital.
My husband called an ambulance on Sunday, October 17th at 9.10pm. I was struggling to breathe again with severe chest pain, leg pain, swelling, hands trembling, blurred vision and pain radiating down right arm, and right shoulder to neck. I had blurred vision on-and-off on the right side.
I was in the adult acute bed four at Logan Hospital and had the doctor consistently come to convince me this was due to anxiety and my weight. He said that I was obese, and that they had run all the tests they could. I said that if they didn’t perform bloods and an ultrasound I would ring 13 HEALTH to implement Ryan’s Rule.
I spoke to the TL Nurse on shift, who advised me they would get a cardiologist down for a second opinion. I was left for what felt like hours, no-one did any observations, and when they took my blood pressure it was extremely high each time. The comments from nurse and doctor stated that it was normal for those readings in an ED environment, and they were not worried as it was due to my anxiety.
I was then moved at 4am on October 18th to Logan short stay, where I overheard the nurses handing over say I was taking up an unnecessary bed due to my obesity and I would be out soon enough. The changeover ward nurse rudely said I should have gone back to GCUH and asked why I was at Logan. That nurse did not do any observations on me from the time I arrived in short stay to when she changed over shift at 7.15am.
My husband arrived at short stay at 7.30am. We have a two-year-old, so he could not come up during the night. My blood pressure was taken with my husband present and it was 192/97. Again extremely high. This was downplayed by the senior doctor saying it was my anxiety and due to the pain I was experiencing, and that they could no longer help me.
The senior doctor did not state his name. He came in and leaned against the wall and said, “What do you wish to achieve from me at this stage?”. I replied with, “An answer and some treatment moving forward so I can get better”. He rudely said to me that I wouldn’t ever get an answer as there was nothing wrong with me, and that all tests and ECGs have come back normal.
He stated there was a high white blood cell count but did not explain why, even when my husband quizzed him again. He also said that I needed to change my head, and to understand that I wouldn’t get a diagnosis. He said that I needed to go back to my GP and not to come back to the hospital, as they were no longer going to help me.
This is not normal, it is not right. I feel I cannot go back to the hospital for treatment and my GP has sat in front of me and said this is all because of my weight. He asked my husband how long I have been chubby for and said that it was all anxiety and that I needed to stop going to the hospital, and that it was all in my head.
The discharge letter from Logan Hospital stated that there was evidence of pericarditis and myocarditis. I proceeded to make an official complaint to the Logan Patient Liaison Office and contacted the OHO Ombudsman. I received a phone call from the Directing Doctor at Logan Hospital, whom I had a 24-minute conversation with regarding my treatment, the letter of discharge and conduct of the doctors who saw me.
The discharge summary that the doctor had written up for my GP as a ‘care plan’ was apparently incorrectly written and contained a grammatical error according to the Directing Doctor of Logan Hospital. The doctor was on a fresh changeover shift that started at 7am that morning, and the letter was supposed to read ‘there is no evidence thus far’ of pericarditis and myocarditis.
I was advised by that doctor not to attend emergency again, and the Directing Doctor told me that all she could say to me was sorry. She’d had a look over my record, but when I was talking to her she’d only had a quick glance at my blood pressure and did not see that my observations had not been taken, or the fact that the ultrasound showed my heart chamber was more enlarged than usual.
I told the Directing Doctor that my blood pressure was 182/162 and she did not believe me, she said that I would be dead if that was the case. This blood pressure was taken up at the PA Hospital at 11:35pm on October 12th, I could not get a photo of it but they did put it on the computer so they would have that record.
The Directing Doctor then said to me that blood pressure is usually high on presentation to an ED department. I replied that my blood pressure had been stage three hypertension consistently for over two weeks and I was still getting dismissed.
I just want to share my story with you all so that there is evidence in case something happens to me. I am scared I am going to die, as no one will run all tests or acknowledge what is going on. This was not a grammatical error, and I had been pulled outside the exit at GCUH (with my husband) by the ED doctor-on-duty where no-one was in earshot.
I have a two-year-old old son and I need this heard, not just for his future (that I may not get to see if this keeps happening), but for the many others who are suffering in this same position.
Since being threatened with admission to the mental health ward if I keep pushing my symptoms and pain, I have been suffering severe anxiety when around others. I feel as though I am being hung out to dry as a mental nutcase. My periods are so irregular that the cycles have completely stopped now. I have no energy, I tried to go back to the gym because everyone kept saying it was my weight, but I was on my weight-loss journey fine before all this happened. Now, when I walk at 4.2kms/hour on the treadmill my heart rate skyrockets to 185bpm after just two minutes.
My blood pressure is still high and I have constant migraines, arm pain, chest pain and cramps, plus tingling in my legs and face. I am too anxious to seek any more medical help, I would rather die at home then have them pump me full of drugs, threaten to call mental health and have my son taken from me.
I have been on TRS Spray and folic acid, which have reduced the migraines but I still get them every few weeks. I have lost friends and family because of this, I feel alone and like I’m losing each day, trying to find the willpower to keep fighting, to see if time will heal.