My name is Joel and I’m 29 years old. Before the vaccine sport and work were my life. I loved playing cricket and I loved my plumbing job. I had just gone into business with three others, and we had plenty of work. I had asthma as a child, but it barely affected me as an adult, and my general health was excellent. I never caught COVID-19.
I never wanted the COVID-19 vaccine but I had a wedding to attend in Melbourne and I was worried about the increasing restrictions on people who refused the vaccine. I’d heard about some of the post-vaccine health issues, but I wasn’t too concerned because my mother and sister were both fine after their Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines respectively. I also trusted doctors and the government. I thought, “Why would they give us something that could hurt us?” I also 100 percent assumed the trials had gone through the proper processes.
I had my first Pfizer vaccination on Sunday, the 19th of September, 2021 in my left arm at a local GP clinic that was doubling as a vaccination hub. I felt fine until the next morning when a wave of exhaustion hit me at work. I also had chest pains, and fast and laboured breathing. I persevered for the rest of the week. I knew something was wrong but hoped it would pass.
On Friday I called the GP clinic where I had the vaccination and described my symptoms to the receptionist. She came across rude and dismissive and told me to go straight to hospital. I wanted to ask more questions, but she hung up.
I knew hospital would be a nightmare on a Friday afternoon, so I went home, took painkillers, and planned to go to hospital very early the next morning, the 25th of September.
My mother drove me to the ED. We arrived around 6am and I was seen immediately. When staff asked if I suffered anxiety, I told them I didn’t. I had an ECG and a chest X-ray and was quickly diagnosed with pericarditis. The hospital report states that I presented with chest pain after my first Pfizer vaccine. Staff told me that post-vaccine pericarditis was very common and that it would clear in about three months. They said to get my second vaccination but I told them I did not want another COVID-19 vaccine. They said it would be fine, and I was unlikely to suffer any further issues.
I said, “Yeah, okay,” but I knew I wanted a second opinion before making a decision. I was discharged after several hours. I was prescribed colchicine and Ibuprofenand instructed to see my GP.
I saw a GP a few days later at a local bulk billing clinic I go to occasionally. I told him what had happened at work after having my first vaccine, and about my pericarditis diagnosis at the hospital. I also told him I didn’t want the second vaccine, but I would have it if I had to.
I was conflicted. On the one hand, the vaccine had injured me. But on the other hand, I also wanted to play sport, go to the wedding in Melbourne, and see my friends again.
The doctor told me that he and his whole family had the Pfizer vaccine, and they were all fine so I would be fine too. I trusted his judgement. Also, the colchicine and Ibuprofenhad reduced my chest pain to a bearable ache, although I still had stabbing pains occasionally, and hospital staff had said that my pericarditis would resolve in about three months.
I had my second Pfizer vaccination after work on Friday, the 15th of October. I had sharp pains over the weekend and the following week at work the pains became so bad I drove myself to hospital. Staff ran an ECG and took another chest X-ray, but nothing showed up apart from the existing pericarditis. I was discharged with instructions to keep taking colchicine and pantoprazole to counteract the effect of Ibuprofenon my stomach. I received no treatment or pain relief during this visit.
I developed anxiety after my second hospital visit. I had several awful episodes of sharp pains in my chest and arms which made me extremely anxious. I thought I might die. I could not sleep at night, and the tightness in my chest made everything worse. I continued to struggle at work. My chest ached and it constantly felt like something was sitting on my chest.
As I prepared for work on Friday, the 5th of November, the chest ache suddenly became stabbing pains. On a scale of 1 to 10, they were a 9. My mother drove me to the ED and I told the hospital staff I had pericarditis. The doctors and nurses were noticeably distant this time, and I sensed they were following protocols, rather than treating me as an individual.
I was given plenty of Endone and then discharged. They told me to continue taking colchicine for another six months. When I told them I had been taking colchicine since my first hospital visit and that I was told my condition would only last three months, the staff said they had no idea how long my condition would persist.
Once again, I persevered through the pain. My health took a toll on my work relationships. My workmates just wanted me to pull my weight. I worked when I could and spent the rest of the time at home on the couch or in bed. Outside of work, I could no longer play sport and my social life was dead. I took a lot of medication.
I haven’t got the paperwork for the hospital visit in late February, early March, 2022. My chest pain was so bad that I took the day off work to rest at home. The ibuprofen did not alleviate the pain, so I called for an ambulance. The paramedics gave me an ECG and then took me to the ED where I had another ECG and another chest X-ray. I was given more Endone and was then discharged.
By March, my workmates were distant. Everyone needed to perform at full capacity. For me, this was impossible. I had lots of time off and could not work overtime or do extra weekend work. It all came to a head one day when I was left at a set of units by myself. My colleagues knew I was unwell, yet I had to carry a heavy toolset up and down stairs all day. Perhaps they thought I was faking my symptoms because I looked normal on the outside. In any case, I knew I could not keep going like this and needed to find less physically demanding work.
I left my job in June, and a week later found work plumbing caravans. I had never plumbed a caravan before, but I thought I could cope with it. I took a huge financial hit, but I earned enough to survive. I did not tell my new boss about my condition because I didn’t want to use it as an excuse to work slowly.
On Friday morning, three weeks after I started my new job, I had a very bad flare up at work and needed to go home. I returned on Monday and told my boss that I had pericarditis from the Pfizer vaccine. He is a good person and was very understanding. I had my medical records with me to show him and he said, “You don’t have to show me that. We believe you.” I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I felt trusted and supported and knew he would do his best to help me do my job.
I did plenty of research and found a corticosteroid treatment that looked promising. I saw a cardiologist who prescribed this steroid. He said some of his patients had great results with this medication. He was open to the possibility that the vaccine had caused my pericarditis and he prescribed the corticosteroid to take for three days. He also ran an ECG that came back normal. The steroid worked and the pain was nearly gone after a few weeks. I thought I’d got on top of the pericarditis and felt so much better.
On the 18th of November, I started work at 6am and by 9am I had the worst chest pains since the vaccine, easily a 10 out of 10. I drove home, which I shouldn’t have done, and my sister drove me straight to hospital.
I was in such agony by the time we got to the ED that three Endone tablets and a shot of painkiller into my leg did nothing to reduce the pain. I was relieved when they said I would not be discharged until they had my pain under control. They ran an ECG which was clear, took a chest X-ray, also clear, and ran blood tests to rule out lung clots, also clear. They gave me morphine and this finally stopped the pain. They discharged me at about 5pm that evening with a diagnosis of ‘non-specific chest pain’. I thought to myself, “Why would a 29-year-old have chest pains?”
The discharge notes also contained a strange reference to an ECG I apparently had in 2014 for a heart condition. This made no sense as I have never had heart issues until now. I had no idea what they were talking about.
I now see a new GP who started me from scratch and referred me to another cardiologist.
The cardiologist ran a stress test and referred me for an MRI. The MRI revealed no irregularities, but I was having a good day so I was not surprised that nothing showed up. She has booked me in for a CT scan, which she said will give her clear pictures of everything. I’m terrified she is just going to say I am okay, and it is what it is. I am putting all my trust in someone again, and it will be devastating if that trust is misplaced. I have spent a fortune on this and I am still unwell. I take Endone when the pain is unbearable, and I still take ibuprofen.
My biggest fear is that this is going to kill me. I am lucky I can still work, because so many people are not in that position.
I’m sharing my story because I’m so sick of the lack of media coverage about the vaccine side effects. No one wants to talk about it. I never wanted to talk about my situation. Hearing about other people’s vaccine injuries makes my anxiety a thousand times worse. But I want to change things in my own small way. At least I would have done something worthwhile.
I am just so angry. So many people have suffered terribly from this vaccine. I want to bring awareness to this suffering and I want us all to be compensated. But more than anything, I would like to see the same amount of money that was spent making and distributing these vaccines, to be spent on making people better. That would be awesome.