My name is Ellie and I’m a 32-year-old mum of two primary school children. I run a small plants nursery in WA and study Environmental Science full time at university. Before the vaccine, I was a healthy and active person with no pre-existing health conditions. I hadn’t been to the hospital for about 10 years. Life was great, and I was super fulfilled working on the nursery and spending quality time with my children.
As a science student, you are taught to not be sceptical of vaccines and to trust that they have been studied enough. I had even spent my second semester at uni learning all about vaccines, towards the latter half of 2021. Deep down, I wasn’t fully assured that they were safe, given there had not been any long-term studies done.
I live with my 62-year-old mum, and she was super paranoid about catching COVID, so I felt pressure from her to get vaccinated. We thought that by getting vaxxed we would be protecting people, especially the vulnerable. People would make you feel guilty for not getting the shot, and I wanted to do the right thing.
I received my first shot of Pfizer in my left arm on the 10th of October, 2021 at a pop-up clinic in Midland WA. I didn’t have any major side effects except for the usual lethargy and soreness in my arm, but other than that I was fine. It was exactly 5 weeks later, on the 14th of November, that I first noticed something was wrong. Suddenly, I started blacking out, and I had to grab hold of things to ensure that I didn’t fully collapse. I then started having really bad heart palpitations, and I had never felt anything like that before. It felt like my heart was beating out of my chest, and I was convinced I was having a heart attack. I was short of breath and clammy. I was not well.
I decided to go to the hospital that day, and the doctors were great. They rushed me through because of the heart-attack-like symptoms. They hooked me up to an ECG, and I had chest X-rays and blood tests. The blood tests found no troponin, which indicated that I had not had a heart attack.
Eventually, my resting heart rate dropped to 40bpm. One minute, it was so high, and then the next, it dropped down dangerously low, and I had never felt so tired in my whole life. The doctors asked me if I was a cyclist or an athlete. I told them that I did live an active life, but by no means was I an athlete. They then asked me if I had received a COVID vax recently, to which I replied yes, 5 weeks ago. They dismissed blaming it on the vaccine because of the time in between getting the shot and becoming unwell.
The doctors had no answers for me, so I was discharged without any medication, and with advice to follow up with my GP. Another incident happened a few weeks later, on the 8th of December. It was the exact same experience: I had a heart episode at home, was rushed to hospital, and all my test results came back normal. I was sent home with no answers again.
A few months went by, and things seemed normal again. I decided to get my second vax due to the pressure from everyone around me. I went to the same pop-up clinic and the nurse asked me if I had any prior reactions. I replied yes, but I wasn’t 100% sure if it was vaccine- related. She lowered her voice and said that she had seen a lot of people come in that had been affected and advised me to not get it. So, I just went home.
On the 28th of March 2022, I went to a pharmacy and got the Moderna vaccine. I thought that by getting the Moderna shot, I wouldn’t experience the same side effects that I had with Pfizer. My experience with this nurse was different from the one at the pop-up clinic. She didn’t ask me any questions about prior experiences or reactions; it was more of a get-in-and-get-out situation.
The same lethargy and soreness occurred after my 2nd shot. Then exactly 5 weeks later (just as it had been after my first jab) on the 2nd of May, I presented with the same heart-attack-like symptoms as I had back in November. I rushed to the hospital and the doctors did blood tests and an ECG, but, once again, tests came back clear and by that stage my symptoms were less intense. After that night, I experienced 6-or-7 more heart-related episodes. Some episodes were really intense, and I would go to hospital; but other times the symptoms were less severe, so I tried to manage them at home.
During one particularly intense episode, I called an ambulance. I told the paramedics that I thought this could be vaccine related, and they agreed. They said that a lot of their colleagues had been presenting to hospital thinking that they are having heart attacks, and what I was feeling was not uncommon.
On the 27th of June, I saw my doctor and he recommended that I do an echocardiogram, which I did at a medical centre. My doctor was great; he bulk billed all my appointments and he verbally agreed that this was probably vaccine related, although he never wrote it on my medical records.
My echocardiogram results came back normal, except my heart rhythm was low at 50bpm. I also did a 24-hour Holter monitor test, which is a take-home portable ECG that monitors your heart rate and rhythm over 24 hours, but I never received the results.
On the 15th of January 2023, I went to hospital after experiencing yet another intense episode. They caught the episode on the ECG, and I was eventually diagnosed with Paroxysmal arrhythmia / Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). This diagnosis means that I have an irregularly fast heartbeat that affects the upper chambers of the heart. My heart rate could go from 60bpm to 150+bpm in a matter of seconds, even if I was sitting down, and this could last for up to 10 minutes at a time.
The doctor who was looking at the monitor seemed concerned and said that they had only seen this in older people. He recommended that I do a stress test on my heart and booked a cardiology appointment with a specialist at the hospital.
On the 18th of January, I went back to hospital with the same symptoms and was offered beta blockers by a different doctor to help lower my heart rate. However, she did recommend that I do the stress test first to figure out why I was having these symptoms. While I was there, a nurse who was looking after me told me that a lot of young, healthy people, including children, were having strokes due to the vaccines, and she specifically said that nurses and doctors were being gagged and couldn’t speak up.
On the 7th of February, I did the stress test—also known as an exercise ECG—and the results came back perfect. I went back to my doctor to discuss the results, and he reassured me that with a vaccine injury, I should get better, but they just didn’t know how long it could take. He said that my heart could reset itself, and it gave me a bit of comfort that I would get through this.
I had my cardiology appointment booked at the hospital for Friday, the 17th of February at 10.15am, but my symptoms flared up and I had to call an ambulance at 6am that same morning. The paramedics put me on an ECG at home straight away, and my heart rate was at 80bpm, which was normal. However, I agreed to go to the hospital as a precaution. When we got to the hospital, I was sitting in a wheelchair in Emergency when my heart rate suddenly went over 150bpm. The paramedics caught this on the ECG and confirmed I was having another SVT episode. My symptoms subsided 5 minutes later, and I was given Panadol and some vitamins via an IV drip.
Given that my cardiologist practises in the hospital, I was able to make my appointment. The cardiologist was nice, although he was just as stumped as the doctors had been as to why I was experiencing this. We ruled out genetics as heart conditions don’t run in my family. I then mentioned the vaccines. I told him I’d had a reaction to both doses exactly 5 weeks after each one, but he avoided the topic by changing the subject. All he could recommend for me was to do another Holter-monitor test in 3 weeks and to get some more blood tests to check my vitamin levels. I left feeling frustrated that not only did the cardiologist not give me the answers that I was looking for, but I also felt invalidated because when I mentioned the vaccine injuries, he brushed them off.
Now, all I can do is try and live a normal life. I have to avoid caffeine and intense physical exercise such as jogging or running, at least until I do further tests and receive more answers. Although I can go for brisk walks, I am feeling too scared to exercise. I used to jump on the trampoline with my kids every day after school, and we can’t do that anymore. I haven’t been able to garden or do much in the nursery. I love taking my kids out into nature in quiet areas. I now feel anxious to be outside where there are not many people around in case I have a medical emergency.
However, I am an optimistic person, and I am hopeful that my symptoms will go away for good, and I will get back to living a fully functional life. I wanted to share my story in case there are other people out there who have been diagnosed with the same condition since getting vaccinated. I still don’t have any answers, but when I do eventually get them, I will share them to help others in the same situation.