I’m 32 years old and was 31 when I got the vaccine. I’m a Sensory Motor Therapist and a Wellness and Development Coach. I was healthy and very active. I went to the gym four times a week, walked every day and went for a short run a few times a week. I’ve always suffered migraines and had a time frame of about a year, where I had sleep issues, but otherwise I had no conditions or health concerns.
I never wanted the COVID vaccination because I didn’t think it would stop the spread and I didn’t think it was necessary for my health. Also, I’m highly intuitive and I had a ‘hell no’ feeling at gut level. Unfortunately, the vaccine became a requirement for work and I was also being pressured by my family. Reluctantly, I got my first Moderna vaccine on Friday 15th October 2021, in my left arm. Extreme nausea onset immediately and I almost fainted in the pharmacy.
Over that weekend I experienced vertigo and was wobbly on my feet. On Saturday afternoon I had shortness of breath and chest pain, which I thought might be normal, because people do say that this is a known side effect. I hoped it would subside. By Tuesday 19th October the chest pain had become so bad that I was doubled over from the pain. It felt as though someone had punched me in the chest. My heart rate had also escalated, and the dizziness hadn’t settled. My husband took me to emergency at the John Hunter Hospital.
After a long wait, the staff did an ECG and a D-dimer and everything came back normal. The nurse said that something didn’t look right on the ECG, but the doctor then came and said it was fine. They said my heart rate wasn’t escalated, but I knew that it was, because the top range reading was 150. My top range reading after exercise is usually maximum 110. I knew this because we measured our heart rate after exercise at my gym for three weeks in a row. I mentioned this to the nurse, but she shrugged it off and suggested that I continue to monitor it. After a few hours I was discharged with the instruction to see my GP if there was any further development in my symptoms. They told me to take Panadol and Nurofen for the chest pain.
For the following week, the chest pain and shortness of breath persisted and the dizziness came and went. I usually go for a walk in the mornings before work, but I was struggling to make it to the end of the block, so I gave up on the walks. I also do meditation and breath work most evenings and was unable to complete a session. I just couldn’t hold my breath for more than four counts. I could get through a day at work, but it was very draining. I would come home, have dinner and go straight to bed. The chest pain was worsening and became increasingly tender to touch and the shortness of breath was not subsiding.
I booked in to see my GP on Wednesday 27th October 2021. She organised an emergency ECG with a cardiologist, which I had on Friday 29th October. On 1st November I was gasping for air at work, so I caught the bus to the hospital and back to emergency. They ran another ECG which again showed nothing and sent me home again, with the instruction to continue Panadol and Nurofen. The next day, I saw my GP to get the results from the ECG she had scheduled, and it also came back clear. She booked me a follow up appointment with a new cardiologist at the same practice, just to be safe and recommended a stress test.
On Friday 5th November 2021 I tried doing a workout at the gym, but couldn’t make it past the warmup. I was too out of breath. It ended up being 101 days before I was able to return to the gym for only one workout per week. This was compared to four workouts per week before the vaccine. On Monday 8th November I fell down the stairs at the train station on the way home. I was feeling so faint and dizzy. It was completely unnerving, as I’m not someone who typically loses my footing and falls down stairs.
On 12th November I had the follow up appointment with the cardiologist. As I was visibly struggling to breathe during the appointment, the cardiologist decided it was safer not to risk doing the stress test. He did another ECG during the appointment. This was my fourth one and he said that he observed swelling and inflammation, which could mean pericarditis. This was a verbal observation and wasn’t documented. I was aware that pericarditis can be a side effect of the vaccine and asked if there could be a possible link. He said there were reports of pericarditis as a side effect in certain age groups and that I should continue to monitor my symptoms. He did not offer any further specific advice. He offered to run a pulmonary function test, but he said it would exacerbate my shortness of breath, so I decided not to proceed.
On Monday 22nd November 2021 I was at work and took a short tram trip to get the mail. On returning, I fainted face down on the floor. My co-worker found me and propped me up in a chair. The room was spinning and I struggled to breathe. I went home early and straight to bed.
At this time I also started getting shooting pains in the bottom of my feet and up and down my right arm. I noted this in my journal. I’ve been keeping a journal of symptoms and medical visits since November 2021 because I noticed that the medical fraternity didn’t seem to be able to offer much help and weren’t keeping good records. I thought it would be wise to keep my own record.
My first journal entry about the shooting pain is on 18th November 2021. During this month I also noted that I had to allow extra time in the mornings and before appointments. My shortness of breath would slow me down so much. I frequently had to stop to collect myself. I also bought Ventolin to help me breathe.
On 17th November I went back to my GP to request a medical exemption from my second vaccination. I was still experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath and increased heart rate. I did not have a diagnosis yet, or proper treatment. It seemed obvious to me that it was too risky to proceed with the second jab, when it was not yet confirmed whether or not my symptoms were related to the first one. My GP told me that my mental and physical health had not been affected enough to warrant an exemption. She also told me they had only given out two exemptions to date, between the nine GPs in the practice and that I was simply ineligible.
I have not been able to get an exemption from the second jab, even with all my symptoms. Luckily, I got COVID twice, which has meant I have been able to get prior infection exemptions. I think it’s kind of ridiculous that it should be a ‘lucky’ thing to get COVID so that I can keep my job, but it is what it is.
At the beginning of December 2021, I went to see my GP again for the chest pain and she prescribed Celebrex to ease the chest tightness. It didn’t really help, so I gave up on it within a month.
On Saturday 11th December the shortness of breath and chest pain escalated badly, with shooting pain in my feet and an increased heart rate. The next morning at 2:30am, I took an Uber to Lake Macquarie Private Hospital. They did blood tests, a D-dimer, chest and neck X-rays. They said there was nothing to report from any of the tests. Over the three or so hours that they monitored me, I was nauseous and gasping for air. When the doctor came to give me the discharge letter, the nurse beside him said something like, ‘Another one of these unusual cases we’ve been having recently’. He said, ‘Yes, there have been a few of these coming through’. This is a paraphrase because it’s hard to remember their exact wording.
Christmas 2021 was tiring. There were a couple of family events that I was not welcome at due to my not having had the second COVID vaccination. Towards the end of December I did a full 25 minute-long walk. It was my longest walk since the first vaccination, but it took a long time for my heart rate to come down and it did escalate the pain in my chest and feet.
Since January 2022, I stopped worrying so much about trying to get more tests or a diagnosis. I focused instead on trying to heal my body. It takes a lot of time to care for myself with these symptoms. I just want to get better, so I’m investing all of my energy in that. I know people might think the diagnosis is important, but would it help? Even if I have a formal diagnosis linking my symptoms to the vaccine, I still won’t qualify for the Medicare compensation scheme. This is because I didn’t spend the required period of time in hospital and I haven’t spent the designated amount on specialist fees. I know that these symptoms onset within minutes of the first Moderna vaccination on 19 October 2021, and while it would be validating to get official recognition of the cause, I think it’s obvious, don’t you?
I have got myself back to operating at about 75% of what I was before. I am training twice per week at a careful pace, and I am going for walks fairly regularly again. I still experience shortness of breath and I get this weird chesty cough when it’s cold, particularly in the evening. I never had that before. I have lower levels of energy and the chest pain flares up intermittently.
Overall, I have made great improvement this year, which has been largely self-guided. Unfortunately, none of the doctors, nurses or specialists I saw seemed to have any suggestions for recovery from these symptoms. I eat well, move gently and regularly, get fresh air and sunlight, meditate and do breath work. I supplement these lifestyle practices with other natural therapies like floating and sauna.
I wish that I hadn’t had the vaccination, but I’m glad that people are becoming more aware of some of the broader issues that experiences like mine tend to bring up. I have had some serious conversations with my family. I hope that in sharing my experience, it will stimulate these kinds of conversations for others.