My name is Jasmin. I am 27 years old, from Adelaide, South Australia. I am a support worker for struggling families and love my job. I have a wonderful supportive partner and I am a mother to three biological children aged eight, five and three, and a step-mum to a 10 year old.
Prior to the COVID vaccine I was a healthy and active mum. I did not have any health issues. I love helping people and my life was full and enjoyable.
I put off taking the vaccine as long as possible, until I started to feel the pressure to have it done. I got the Moderna vaccine on 2 November 2021 at a local chemist. Immediately, I felt very hot and clammy, and a wave of dizziness hit me. The chemist laid me on the cold floor to recover for a few minutes, but I was soon ushered out into the waiting room, even though I still felt sick. The chemist said it was just an anxiety attack, gave me Panadol and advised for a family member to pick me up. In the meantime, a kind stranger was calming my children who were quite distressed. My mum came to pick me up and I was feeling worried, as my vision was blurred, and I had never had anxiety attacks before.
I went straight to bed that day in the hope of sleeping it off, but I awoke to chest pain which was a six out of ten in severity. I also noticed red spotted rashes which had appeared overnight over parts of my body and felt very itchy.
The next day, 3 November 2021, I went straight to the ED at the Lyell McEwin Hospital where I waited a long time. They started an ECG scan but since the first part looked good, the rest of the scan was cancelled. The nurse acted dismissively and said that only Pfizer causes heart issues. I was sent home none the wiser. I went home and back to bed.
Three days later, I started vomiting randomly, once every few days, and wondered if I had eaten something that upset my stomach. I wanted to rule things out, so I cut out certain foods in the hope that it would pass. I visited a GP and was told it was just constipation. So I just pushed through the best I could.
By 12 January 2022, the vomiting had become daily, and I awoke to stomach pain worse than labour, a severity of ten out of ten. I was in agony and could not stand without assistance. My whole body was shaking uncontrollably, and I could not even hold a glass of water to my lips.
I felt like a seizure was imminent, so an ambulance was called, and I was taken again to Lyell McEwin Hospital. I was hooked up to an IV for fluids and the medics told me I was constipated due to digestive blockage, so I was given laxatives and an enema. This later showed no blockage. I was also told the shaking was related to anxiety. It did not make sense! I stayed overnight and was then released to go home the next day, even though I felt no better.
Over the next few months, I desperately searched for answers as to why I was vomiting daily. I went back to the GP and he prescribed strong opioids like Endone and Tramadol, as well as Voltaren. I was also given ondansetron to stop the vomiting, but it did not ease the symptoms. My appointments with the GP became weekly, as I persisted in my search for answers. I had a multitude of tests: an MRI, ultrasounds, blood tests, and CT on my neck, chest, and stomach.
My health continued to deteriorate as the daily vomiting persisted and I was in and out of hospitals for months: The Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Modbury Hospital, and Gawler Health Service. I saw a gastroenterologist who ruled out any issues, but was concerned with my mental health and wondered if I had been anorexic.
I was losing weight rapidly, and though it was raised as a possibility, another physician ruled out Addison’s Disease. My GP recommended seeing a gynaecologist to check out whether it was a woman’s issue and gave me a referral.
During this time, my mother had become the primary carer for my kids and I as I felt weak and lethargic and I could not even drive as it was not safe anymore. I was grateful for the support network I had around me. But I really lost the enjoyment of living as I could not eat and had no energy to go anywhere, not even to the playground with my own kids or to their sports activities which upset me a lot.
I tried to push through with work at first too, but over time my ability to do my role decreased, so I was forced to take two months off. My mum and husband took me to my medical appointments which were consuming my whole life. In fact, it was impacting our whole family’s way of life as we navigated this traumatic situation and not getting the answers we desperately wanted. I felt bad about seeing how everyone was being impacted.
I booked in with a gynaecologist although I had never had any menstrual issues before. I went in utter desperation to find answers. I was so tired of the constant vomiting. I had lost 19 kg by that point. She discussed endometriosis and adenomyosis as possible causes of vomiting and recommended a hysterectomy. I was quite pushy and desperate to get anything done at this stage despite what this sadly meant for the future. I had to rid myself of the discomfort I was feeling daily.
On 7 September 2022 I had the surgery and afterwards I noticed that my previous symptoms had subsided which was an overwhelming sense of relief. I was able to rest and recuperate from the Wednesday until the Sunday and felt that the recovery after surgery was smooth sailing. But it was a truly bittersweet feeling because though relieved the vomiting had stopped, I was utterly gutted that at 27 years old, I would no longer be able to have any more children. My gynaecologist confirmed later that upon analysis the uterus did have adenomyosis present.
To my horror, on the Sunday after the surgery, the daily vomiting restarted with a vengeance and continued severely for six days straight. I was rushed to Gawler Health Service and again put on an IV drip. I was back to square one, wondering what the heck was going on! It was fortunate that a physician this time went the extra mile and arranged thorough in-depth testing.
She noticed an instant heart rate rise when I would stand up and connected it to the dizziness and light-headedness I was experiencing. I was referred to a cardiologist and had in-depth blood tests.
On 9 November 2022, I went to see the cardiologist who wanted to check my heart properly by having me wear a Holter monitor for two weeks. I have just recently completed this test and am yet to receive my results. During the consultation, it was discussed that it could be POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) which would account for the light-headedness, dizziness, shaking and nausea symptoms, but this is yet to be confirmed or ruled out.
In November 2022, I went to see my dentist as I had concerns over my teeth. They had been presenting issues since the vomiting started. Prior to the vaccine I had never had any dental problems. The dentist told me that due to the constant vomiting, the acidity had impacted my teeth and that four of them should be removed. On 22 November 2022, I had two removed and am yet to go back for the removal of the other two. It was very uncomfortable.
A bit more than a year on, I am still waiting on confirmation of my diagnosis from the cardiologist. My life has changed dramatically in many ways. I am working on getting back on track. I feel like I have had to change the way I live and parent my children, as I have had to adopt a much slower pace of life to be able to manage my symptoms.
The vomiting has dulled down, to every now and again, but I still feel very fatigued after a simple chore. As time passes, I do feel like I have developed better coping techniques that help me manage my condition. I tend to eat smaller portions of food, snacking rather than having meals.
The vomiting has traumatised me. My itchy rashes are still evident. I am working on building my former confidence to get out and about. I have resumed work again and am studying a course in mental health. I truly regret the time I lost, not being able to be there fully for my children and husband in the last year. I owe it to them and my mum for taking care of me so well and feel very fortunate to have had their support.
I share my story to spread awareness of what can happen after taking the COVID vaccine. The truth needs to be heard. I hope that it may help others who are seeking similar answers to medical issues. Perhaps others will also be happy to help me understand my condition if they have experienced similar symptoms. I have yet to fully understand what has happened to me.