I’m 42 and a youth justice worker. I’m very passionate about my work. I had no health complaints before the jab. I went to Zumba regularly, walked outdoors—all the usual things.
I didn’t want the jab because I thought the whole process had been rushed and I wanted to wait for more long-term safety data. However, the government mandated the jab for my industry, so I had to get it to keep my job. I did try to push back at work, but it was out of their hands. I took leave while I figured out what to do, but I so badly wanted to get back to work. I had a mortgage to pay, so on 21st December 2021, I got my first Pfizer jab (left arm). I didn’t have any reaction other than a sore arm for a couple of days. I felt relieved—maybe I was overthinking this and everything would be okay.
I had my second Pfizer jab on the 5th of January, 2022 (left arm). Initially, I felt fine. A week later, I experienced extreme dizziness and a pain that ran from my right arm into my chest. By the 19th of January, the dizziness got so bad that I couldn’t walk in a straight line and I had chest pain for over a week. I was concerned, so I went to the GP and he took my blood pressure. It was 170, and he told me to go to Emergency immediately.
I struggle to recollect exactly what happened when I arrived at the Footscray Hospital Emergency Department because I felt so disoriented. But I remember that they put a cannula in, and I remember telling the doctors and nurses that I hadn’t felt right since the second jab. The hospital notes from that visit state that I had “three-out-of-seven” dizziness, which I thought was odd because the dizziness was so extreme, I could barely walk. They also said that I had “white-coat hypertension,” which means your blood pressure reading goes up when you’re around doctors. My sister is a nurse and she explained to me that basically they were saying that my symptoms were in my head. I was upset, because I know my body, and I felt that my symptoms were being minimised. I have no documented tests from that day and they didn’t give me any prescriptions. They sent me home after a few hours with no advice.
The next day, I booked in to see my GP. I showed him the hospital notes and told him that I was concerned because I knew something wasn’t right. My GP organised a 24-hour blood pressure test, which showed that my blood pressure was still very high. I was diagnosed with hypertension and my GP prescribed Olmesartan, which I have been taking ever since. The pain in my arm and chest subsided and the dizziness moderated.
Even though the dizziness and pain had reduced, the nausea and heart palpitations set in. The heart palpitations were concerning, so in late March I took myself to ED again, this time at Royal Melbourne Hospital. I waited for about two hours, but they were so busy and I felt so unwell that I gave up and went home to rest.
The nausea and palpitations persisted, so a few days later (on April 1st) I went to another GP (my regular GP was away) and he listened to my heartbeat. He identified an irregularity and sent me to hospital. I went back to Royal Melbourne Hospital ED. This time, I waited a few hours and was eventually seen by a doctor. She checked my heart, did an echocardiogram and kept me in for observation. A couple of hours later, the doctor told me that the echocardiogram had shown ventricular ectopic heartbeat, which is a form of arrhythmia. She gave me a management plan consisting of magnesium and potassium supplementation, followed by electrolytes. She told me to follow up with a Holter monitor test for 24 hours as well as an echo ultrasound of the heart and referred me to a cardiologist. She did not discuss the cause of my symptoms.
I followed the treatment plan as well as still taking my blood pressure medication. I did the Holter monitor test and ultrasound. I picked up the Holter monitor test results to take them to the cardiologist, and that’s when I saw in the report that I had had 20 ‘events’ in my heart within 24 hours. My maximum heart rate was 124, which is higher than it should be. I felt like “what’s going on here?!” I just wanted answers.
While I was waiting for my cardiologist appointment, I went to see the GP again for help with my nausea. He prescribed nausea medication, which I take frequently as needed. I also asked him for my echo ultrasound results. He told me that they showed an enlarged valve, but he assured me that I need not worry. I expressed concern that I was still experiencing daily symptoms and he said to discuss it further with the cardiologist.
I struggled every day with dizziness, nausea, lethargy, and heart palpitations. I was working from home a lot because I struggled to physically manage full days at work with the dizziness and lethargy. I’m extremely lucky that my workplace has been very supportive throughout this experience.
My first appointment with the cardiologist was on the 21st of May. It was quite brief. I mentioned that these symptoms had started after my second jab and he made no comment. He didn’t respond. He said I needed further tests and sent me for another Holter monitor test and a stress test. He also gave me a prescription for beta blockers. I did the Holter monitor test earlier this month and am booked for the stress test next month.
The beta blockers have been hard to adjust to because I get faint, but apparently this will settle after I’m used to them. At this stage, everyone is still trying to figure out what’s wrong with me. None of the health professionals is willing to discuss WHY this is happening to me.
I feel so tired all the time. Sometimes I feel despondent, losing hope. I can only walk for 10 mins; I get extremely dizzy and nauseated. I’m lucky that my workplace has been very supportive, but I don’t know how much longer I can push through. I’m worried that I will have to live with this long term.
I have joined a class action lawsuit and have reported my symptoms to the TGA. This looks like it will be a long-term project. I’m not ready to give up yet. I keep hoping that the symptoms will resolve, and I’ll be able to have a normal life again one day. I wish I had listened to my internal voice and never got the jab.