My name is Julian. I was a fit and active 24-year-old triathlete and physiotherapist. I used to swim, cycle, run, row, or lift weights daily, before and after work. Exercise has always been part of by daily routine and I’ve never had any issues with my heart or breathing in the past.
I was hesitant about receiving the vaccine after hearing other people’s experiences with adverse reactions. As a physio working with people every day, I did not want my vaccine status to ruffle any feathers with this being such a contentious topic. I was inevitably going to lose my job when the mandates came through.
I became very stressed in the week prior to finally getting the jab. As the only unvaccinated person in my family and workplace, I would hate to be responsible for passing on the virus on, I thought. I began questioning myself: Am I being selfish by not getting it? How will I be able to survive without a job? How long can I keep awkwardly dodging conversations raised about my vaccine status?
The pressure was all too much. I folded on Friday 29 October 2021 and got my first dose of Moderna. It was painless and I was asked to wait 15 minutes before leaving. I browsed around the chemist for the next ten minutes feeling fine.
Suddenly I felt dizzy and my legs gave way under me. My vision blurred and all I could hear was ringing in my ears. I collapsed into a chair and stayed there for a good two minutes until I felt good to go.
My family and I put it down to a combination of having to wear a mask in a small, confined chemist and me being anxious about getting it. I took it easy for the rest of the day and felt fine that night.
That weekend I took it very easy. I was able to spin lightly on the bike and get out for a slow 40-minute jog. My heart rate was slightly elevated for such an easy effort, but it was warm and I did not experience any chest pains or symptoms.
Things started to take a turn for the worse three days after the jab. I was too exhausted to get up and train as usual before work. I noticed shortness of breath climbing stairs and towards the end of my routine 20 minute walk during my lunch break. By Wednesday I knew something was just not right when I started getting sharp stabbing chest pains.
With my heart racing at rest, I decided to book in to see a local GP after work on Thursday evening. Unlike a lot of stories I’ve heard, I was very fortunate to be booked in with a great GP. He picked up ST elevation and PR depression on my ECG and advised me to go straight to hospital.
I drove to Prince Charles ED on Thursday 4 November and gave the triage nurse my ECG trace and GP referral around 6pm. The triage nurse took a look at the ECG and told me “That’s nothing to worry about – changes like that are common in young fit males like you. We’ve seen a lot of people with chest pain come in and they had nothing wrong with them.”
Three hours later I was finally taken in by another nurse to have my bloods and ECG taken. At first, he brushed it off like the previous nurse, however, he seemed a bit more concerned after looking at the ECG trace. He left the room to talk with the doctors and came back to tell me that they wanted to do more tests on me later.
I was sent back out into the waiting room with a cannula in my arm for another hour before a doctor collected me, listened to my chest, and asked me a bit more about my history. I was told I had pericarditis, most likely from the vaccine, asked to go back into the waiting room until I got called for a chest X-ray.
After the X-ray, I was sent back out into the waiting room and finally called back in at 2am to have one final blood test and pain meds administered through the cannula. The doctor discharged me at 2:30am with a four-week course of ibuprofen and three-month course of colchicine. I was told to get a referral to a cardiologist and for an echocardiogram as an outpatient because they did not want me to stay overnight (and therefore not be formally admitted into hospital).
I saw a local GP that morning to get a cardiology referral. He had a look at my hospital documents and ECG trace and advised me that I didn’t really need to see a cardiologist. Apparently, my case was only mild and the medications I was prescribed was “overkill”. He assured me that my symptoms would resolve with just ibuprofen, and I could exercise as symptoms permit. He changed his tact after I insisted that he listen to my chest and provided me the cardiology referral letter (which I had to book myself).
One week later I had my first echocardiogram, which confirmed pericardial effusion. I was advised by the cardiologist to continue with the medications and review in January 2022. He seemed pretty confident that it would resolve by then and that I should go ahead with the Astra Zeneca shot.
I struggled back at work from 15 November, experiencing worsening chest tightness and pains. Any physical exertion would cause shortness of breath and light-headedness. One week later I decided to see a GP again after fainting. He referred me to a different cardiologist who sent me for a cardiac MRI. I was surprised when this cardiologist suggested that, “We try something different and get the Pfizer shot to keep me safe at work”.
The MRI came back showing increased inflammation and subtle myocardial enhancement “that could represent myocarditis”. Without an exemption and the deadline for me to get double-jabbed soon approaching, I had to get it or lose my job. I called up the second cardiologist and expressed my concerns. He did not budge and told me that I could get the AstraZeneca if I didn’t want the Pfizer. Fortunately, I received a follow up call from the first cardiologist around the same time. I explained my situation and was lucky enough to be granted a vaccine exemption for six months.
Even though I had an incredibly supportive workplace, I made the very difficult decision to resign at the end of 2021 based on my physical deterioration.
My following echocardiograms in January and February 2022 showed slight increases in pericardial effusion compared to November. I still experience chest pains, fatigue, and shortness of breath with any physical exertion. Mentally, I keep sane by going for light walks daily, but that is about as much as I can tolerate.
My cardiologist has prescribed a corticosteroid called prednisone to help reduce the inflammation. Even though I am reluctant to take it due to unwanted side-effects, I am more concerned about this developing into constrictive pericarditis and having a long-term impact on my ability to work and exercise.
It has now been six months since I have shared my injury with you all. I ended up taking prednisone for about four weeks but I started experiencing side effects that were affecting my sleep, and I was consistently fatigued and irritable. I spoke to a naturopath soon after I stopped the prednisone, and I started taking a list of natural supplements. It was hard to tell if this was working for me because I had a pretty severe flareup around the same time.
Usually I would’ve been able to walk four or five km every day but on this one day, I got about 400m into my walk and I couldn’t go any further due to the burning sensation in my chest around the heart area along with shortness of breath. I don’t remember what my heart rate was on the day, but it often reads around 180bpm on my walks.
I booked myself in to see my GP, he ran blood tests and found my troponin levels were elevated which meant possible myocarditis, he sent me for a cardiac MRI in the following week and the results showed that I had pericardial effusion and myocardial enhancement. He said that there was nothing he could do to help other than prescribe me the prednisone, so he referred me to a rheumatologist.
It was about two weeks later that I saw the rheumatologist. She prescribed me methotrexate which is an immune suppressant. She was trying to calm down my immune system which was fighting the mRNA. She acknowledged that this was a vaccine injury verbally but didn’t write it down.
It was now March 2022 and I had to start a new job on the Gold Coast. I was managing my symptoms just by not exercising to reduce stress on my body and any chance of a flare up. Even though I was taking it easy, my symptoms got progressively worse and I started to experience new symptoms of swelling in my fingers to the point where they were turning a dark blue/purple colour and also becoming open wounds. It was so painful I wasn’t able to work properly – there wasn’t much I could do other than try to keep them warm.
I was able to manage and just get by until early July when I just felt physically cooked. Things took a turn for the worst. The chest pain started becoming more frequent and more intense and I started getting cold and flu-like symptoms more often as well. It got to the point I had to stop working and I resigned from my job.
I saw another cardiologist in mid-July. He did an echocardiogram and the results showed that the pericardium and myocardium appeared mildly echogenic, and the pericardial fusion is measured (diastolic) 0.7cm, to (systolic) 1.6cm. He was very honest with me and told me that the vaccine had caused a change in my epigenetics which had resulted in an inflammatory response in my body. From there he said my body would heal but it was just going to take time. He suggested that I change my diet to Mediterranean and to refrain from any vigorous activities.
It’s almost ten months down the line since I got my first COVID vaccine. My condition improved slightly from January to mid-February 2022 but has since been on the decline, I still experience all the symptoms and I have lost 15kg since the first jab. My condition has stabilised since leaving work. No work means it has allowed me to live a more relaxed lifestyle.
I’m sitting at about 60% of my old self. I’m not on any pharmaceuticals and I’m continuing with my natural supplements and try to walk daily.
I want to say thank you for all the support and messages. After I shared my story the first time I had about 30 or 40 people reach out to me; before that I was feeling pretty isolated and alone. I was scared to share my story because most people I knew were pro-vaccine, but this platform has changed my perception on the whole landscape of vaccine injuries being very real and not rare at all.
I pray for everyone who has been affected by the vaccine.