Haylee H

Haylee-looking-unwell.jpg

My name is Haylee and I live with my husband and daughter in Perth, WA. Prior to COVID we lived in New Zealand but we moved back to WA with our then 9-month-old daughter, just after WA reopened its borders in 2021. I was on maternity leave from my job as a nurse.

My health was good. Although I was diagnosed with MS in 2014, it had not affected my day-to-day life. The only ongoing symptom was some fatigue. I have a six-monthly infusion of ocrelizumab (an autoimmune medication) which suppresses my B cells to keep the MS under control.

When the vaccines were first mentioned in the media my initial reaction was, I would be happy to have one to resume my work as a nurse. However, some of my family members were very strongly against it and put up some pretty good arguments. We had many heated discussions on the subject and they nearly led to a family fall out.

On 11th October, 2021 I visited my new GP. He had previously been a scientist who had retrained as a junior GP and I trusted his advice. I asked him for his opinion on my getting the COVID vaccine. He said I was at a higher risk of getting COVID due to my MS and the fact that I was on an immune suppressant drug. He thought it was a good idea to get vaccinated.

After this I was offered work at a general practice and the vaccination was mandated, so I booked in for my first on 15th October at a local doctor’s surgery. By now I was so anxious about having it that I was crying uncontrollably in the waiting room. The nurse saw I was very distressed so called in the doctor. He confronted me and sternly said, ‘Just get it! Everyone else has had it and no one has had a problem.’ It was obvious he did not care at all for my concerns, and defeated, I went ahead and was vaccinated.

I noticed I felt more fatigued than usual in the following days but put it down to having a young child. My daughter then caught RSV and I developed mild symptoms as well. After a seven day clearance of my symptoms I had my second vaccination on 12th November. Once again I cried and cried at the prospect of having it. I felt fatigued but was otherwise fine and was so relieved. I thought I had gotten away with it without any issues. However, I did get my husband to sleep in the room next door to the nursery where I slept with our daughter, so if I died in the night he would hear her if she cried.

On the weekend after my vaccination I burned my tongue on some cooked asparagus. I had noticed my throat was a bit sore too, but it was the blister that formed on my tongue that was really alarming. We were holding a combined birthday party for our daughter and I, and looking back on photos of that day, I can see I looked really unwell.

The following morning I still had a sore throat, a bad headache and nausea, and had to abandon a mother’s group gathering and head home to sleep. The sore throat became worse and the following evening I had rigors, a splitting headache, a 39-degree temperature and an even bigger ulcer on my tongue. That night I began vomiting and decided it was time to go to the hospital.

My husband stayed home with the baby and our family friend took me to emergency at Peel Health Campus. There I was treated with anti-nausea medication in triage and they took my situation seriously.

When I was admitted I asked for pain relief and it made me quite ‘out of it’. They took some bloods, but I didn’t see a doctor for many hours. It was during this time I was left in an open cubicle near an open door. It was after the bloods results were received that an air purifier was put in my room, but as I was so dozy on the pain medication, I had not figured out what was going on. Eventually a doctor saw me later in the afternoon and he told me I was neutropenic. It was then that it dawned on me just how sick I was and how dangerous it may have been for me to be left in an open ward with such a compromised immune system.

My neutrophils were 0.1 (my most recent blood test in August of 2021 had shown them to be 2.5) and my white cells 1.1 (previous read was 4.3) and my lymphocytes were 0.4 (previous read was 1.2)
All my readings were very low!

My CRP (inflammatory marker) was 167 (it should be less than 5) and by later that afternoon it peaked at 255 and the next day went to 308. I was given IV antibiotics (Tazocin) overnight and by the next morning my white cells improved quite a bit. My lymphocytes were back to normal but the neutrophils had only slightly improved.

The doctor wanted to send me home that day but I told him I still felt dreadful. He said I could not stay in hospital just because I didn’t feel well and had a child at home. Then I told him that I had a sore stomach and when he touched it I nearly went through the roof. He ordered an ultrasound and it revealed acute cholecystitis (inflammation of the gall bladder.) Consequently I was kept in hospital on further IV antibiotics and pain relief. I was discharged after five nights with more antibiotics and a discharge diagnosis of ‘post vaccine immune reaction, acute cholecystitis and neutopenia (resolved)’ The follow-up was to be with my GP. It took me a good week or so to start feeling back to normal, and I was able to go back to work soon after.

I saw my GP on 23rd December and showed him the hospital discharge documentation. He felt terrible and said he felt responsible for my reaction. He promised to use my case as a study in his further education.

Since then I have blood tests done every two months as I am so frightened of becoming neutropenic again and I am happy to say that so far so good. I am one of the lucky ones who has been able to get on with life without any physical trauma however it has really affected me psychologically. The hospital experience was distressing as it was many hours before I was properly diagnosed. With my nursing knowledge I was well aware of the potential complications of my compromised system being exposed in the hospital upon arrival and prior to diagnosis. Furthermore, being separated from my one-year-old was heartbreaking as I was unable to see her for three full days. Fortunately friends, who were visiting from interstate, were able to stay longer and help my husband.

No vaccination is a one size fits all. But that is how this COVID one was marketed to us.

My body was telling me not to get it. I should have trusted my gut instincts. And I should have listened to my family members too.

I am lucky enough to feel well and be getting on with my life, but I do wonder sometimes if I am fully safe from the effects.

Haylee-looking-unwell.jpg

My name is Haylee and I live with my husband and daughter in Perth, WA. Prior to COVID we lived in New Zealand but we moved back to WA with our then 9-month-old daughter, just after WA reopened its borders in 2021. I was on maternity leave from my job as a nurse.

My health was good. Although I was diagnosed with MS in 2014, it had not affected my day-to-day life. The only ongoing symptom was some fatigue. I have a six-monthly infusion of ocrelizumab (an autoimmune medication) which suppresses my B cells to keep the MS under control.

When the vaccines were first mentioned in the media my initial reaction was, I would be happy to have one to resume my work as a nurse. However, some of my family members were very strongly against it and put up some pretty good arguments. We had many heated discussions on the subject and they nearly led to a family fall out.

On 11th October, 2021 I visited my new GP. He had previously been a scientist who had retrained as a junior GP and I trusted his advice. I asked him for his opinion on my getting the COVID vaccine. He said I was at a higher risk of getting COVID due to my MS and the fact that I was on an immune suppressant drug. He thought it was a good idea to get vaccinated.

After this I was offered work at a general practice and the vaccination was mandated, so I booked in for my first on 15th October at a local doctor’s surgery. By now I was so anxious about having it that I was crying uncontrollably in the waiting room. The nurse saw I was very distressed so called in the doctor. He confronted me and sternly said, ‘Just get it! Everyone else has had it and no one has had a problem.’ It was obvious he did not care at all for my concerns, and defeated, I went ahead and was vaccinated.

I noticed I felt more fatigued than usual in the following days but put it down to having a young child. My daughter then caught RSV and I developed mild symptoms as well. After a seven day clearance of my symptoms I had my second vaccination on 12th November. Once again I cried and cried at the prospect of having it. I felt fatigued but was otherwise fine and was so relieved. I thought I had gotten away with it without any issues. However, I did get my husband to sleep in the room next door to the nursery where I slept with our daughter, so if I died in the night he would hear her if she cried.

On the weekend after my vaccination I burned my tongue on some cooked asparagus. I had noticed my throat was a bit sore too, but it was the blister that formed on my tongue that was really alarming. We were holding a combined birthday party for our daughter and I, and looking back on photos of that day, I can see I looked really unwell.

The following morning I still had a sore throat, a bad headache and nausea, and had to abandon a mother’s group gathering and head home to sleep. The sore throat became worse and the following evening I had rigors, a splitting headache, a 39-degree temperature and an even bigger ulcer on my tongue. That night I began vomiting and decided it was time to go to the hospital.

My husband stayed home with the baby and our family friend took me to emergency at Peel Health Campus. There I was treated with anti-nausea medication in triage and they took my situation seriously.

When I was admitted I asked for pain relief and it made me quite ‘out of it’. They took some bloods, but I didn’t see a doctor for many hours. It was during this time I was left in an open cubicle near an open door. It was after the bloods results were received that an air purifier was put in my room, but as I was so dozy on the pain medication, I had not figured out what was going on. Eventually a doctor saw me later in the afternoon and he told me I was neutropenic. It was then that it dawned on me just how sick I was and how dangerous it may have been for me to be left in an open ward with such a compromised immune system.

My neutrophils were 0.1 (my most recent blood test in August of 2021 had shown them to be 2.5) and my white cells 1.1 (previous read was 4.3) and my lymphocytes were 0.4 (previous read was 1.2)
All my readings were very low!

My CRP (inflammatory marker) was 167 (it should be less than 5) and by later that afternoon it peaked at 255 and the next day went to 308. I was given IV antibiotics (Tazocin) overnight and by the next morning my white cells improved quite a bit. My lymphocytes were back to normal but the neutrophils had only slightly improved.

The doctor wanted to send me home that day but I told him I still felt dreadful. He said I could not stay in hospital just because I didn’t feel well and had a child at home. Then I told him that I had a sore stomach and when he touched it I nearly went through the roof. He ordered an ultrasound and it revealed acute cholecystitis (inflammation of the gall bladder.) Consequently I was kept in hospital on further IV antibiotics and pain relief. I was discharged after five nights with more antibiotics and a discharge diagnosis of ‘post vaccine immune reaction, acute cholecystitis and neutopenia (resolved)’ The follow-up was to be with my GP. It took me a good week or so to start feeling back to normal, and I was able to go back to work soon after.

I saw my GP on 23rd December and showed him the hospital discharge documentation. He felt terrible and said he felt responsible for my reaction. He promised to use my case as a study in his further education.

Since then I have blood tests done every two months as I am so frightened of becoming neutropenic again and I am happy to say that so far so good. I am one of the lucky ones who has been able to get on with life without any physical trauma however it has really affected me psychologically. The hospital experience was distressing as it was many hours before I was properly diagnosed. With my nursing knowledge I was well aware of the potential complications of my compromised system being exposed in the hospital upon arrival and prior to diagnosis. Furthermore, being separated from my one-year-old was heartbreaking as I was unable to see her for three full days. Fortunately friends, who were visiting from interstate, were able to stay longer and help my husband.

No vaccination is a one size fits all. But that is how this COVID one was marketed to us.

My body was telling me not to get it. I should have trusted my gut instincts. And I should have listened to my family members too.

I am lucky enough to feel well and be getting on with my life, but I do wonder sometimes if I am fully safe from the effects.

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