I had finally landed my dream job at the age of 52 as a medium rigid driver for a trucking company. I was healthy, happy and my life was going in the exact direction I had dreamed of. I expected to drive for this company until the end of my career. I was welcomed into this company on the 30th of August 2021, driving confidently and fitting in with my other colleagues.
A text message from management was sent to us regarding our opinion of the COVID-19 vaccination and I personally felt as though the short and long term data wasn’t really there, so I indicated my reluctance. On the 8th October we were notified again by text that the Victorian Government were mandating the vaccination for all authorised workers by the 26th November 2021. Even though I felt hesitant about receiving the vaccination, I was backed into a corner. I was only months into my role with this new company.
I received the first Pfizer vaccine in my left arm on the 8th October, 2021. I felt somewhat sore and tired the next day but nothing after.
The company asked for proof of vaccination by the 15th October, so I went in for my second Pfizer vaccine, also in my left arm, on the 29th October 2021. I felt very tired the next day and was concerned about how I felt at that stage. I stayed quiet though and didn’t mention it to any co-workers as it had been dismissed as a normal reaction and I was new in the workplace. The fatigue and soreness persisted, however.
I spent the Melbourne Cup holiday relaxing and having a few drinks which was nothing out of the ordinary and was in bed at a reasonable hour. The following morning was completely normal and I followed my usual routine with the truck checks and paperwork. I ate before I left the depot and felt completely fine. I had a couple of deliveries and was feeling peckish around midday, so I stopped for some food and coffee. I finished the break and headed off.
I was on the Melba Highway heading towards Yarra Glen when I began to feel hot and uncomfortable. Thinking it was the food, I wondered about what the problem could be, while I was driving on down the road. The last thing I recall is noticing the cross country jumps at the Hunt Club.
I crashed the truck but have no memory of this at all. I have vague recollections of a man standing at the door telling me to get out and an ambulance parked up on the hill. My colleague was there as well as she had been driving in the area. I also recall taking my boots off in the ambulance and then being at the emergency bay at Maroondah Hospital. A couple of hours seemed to disappear and I wondered if my husband had been notified.
In the ER I was told I had a seizure and had bitten my tongue which was why it might be painful. I was dazed and confused. The hospital staff treating me ran a series of tests of my blood, urine, strength and co-ordination tests and then a CT scan. The doctor informed me that I wouldn’t be driving for at least six months. This was devastating news for me and I immediately teared up. I couldn’t understand what had happened and why? I felt incredibly sad that my newfound career was coming to a sudden and potentially abrupt end.
All of my tests came back clear and I was referred to a neurologist at Box Hill for further testing and an MRI. I was given a certificate of capacity and needed the neurologist’s clearance to drive. Although I was assured by my neurologist that the vaccine was in no way related to my seizure, it seems incredibly coincidental that it occurred shortly after the second COVID vaccine.
My boss provided me with alternative work and agreed to ease me back into duties. I was very upset though and could see my ideal job drifting away from me.
I remember visiting the accident scene with my husband afterwards and being shocked at how much farther down the road I had crashed. My last memory was of the Hunt Club, but my truck had landed another three blocks further down the highway just out of Yarra Glen. We followed the tracks of the truck and damaged fence. We were astonished to see that I had crossed over into oncoming traffic, leaving the highway and eventually hitting a concrete drain. This caused the truck to veer into the fence and stop. As I was still having a seizure my foot had hit the accelerator again and the truck moved forward into a pond in the paddock. It was a miracle that I hadn’t hit anyone or been killed in this accident. I was definitely being looked after that day, so to speak!
My husband was immediately convinced that the vaccines were the cause of my seizure, seeing as the event occurred only five days following my second vaccine. He was also sceptical of the efficacy and safety of the vaccine and I had been wary of the lack of rigorous testing.
I visited my GP on the 5th November and relayed the events of the crash and that I had had the second Pfizer vaccine only five days prior. She reported the seizure as an adverse reaction, which was heartening. I was also treated well by the medical professionals who attended to me and was never gaslit or dismissed.
I then received a letter from Yarra Ranges Highway Patrol stating they were requesting a licence review. This was extremely upsetting for me as I still believed I might be able to get back on the road within six months or less following a review from my neurologist. I felt reasonably fine up until this point, just a little tired and I was sleeping more than usual.
On the 16th November we visited work again and my boss showed me the video footage of the incident – two cameras were fitted in the truck, one facing the road and one facing me. I was very emotional and overwhelmed to witness the three minutes of footage of myself. It was so surreal seeing my mouth dropping to one side and my face becoming distorted. My body became stiff and rigid, and my wrists were turning inwards. Towards the end it looked as though my body was twitching and I was trying to suck in the air.
The hospital informed me that I had had a tonic-clonic seizure and would need to have further tests including an MRI, EEG and sleep deprivation tests. Then they informed me that I wouldn’t be driving a truck for five years or my car for 12 months and should consider an alternative career. I broke down at this point upon realising that my life was never going to be the same. My licence was suspended on that day.
I did commence lighter yard duties at my workplace but was still living in hope that I might be on the road again one day. However, my next visit to the GP put paid to that as she stated that I wouldn’t be driving a truck for 10 years. Workcover interviewed me extensively, but their investigation has led nowhere and I wasn’t compensated in any way. I have not had a seizure since that day.
Moreover, I am no longer independent and rely on my husband and others to drive me around. This has also affected my ability to see my kids in Tasmania as they are only teenagers. It is the little things that you notice when you cannot drive and get around easily! It weighs heavily on my mind and I am no longer as happy or content workwise.
Hopefully I can one day drive a smaller truck with less capacity and continue my dream career, given that I am seizure free to this day. On November 19th 2022 it will be 12 months since the incident, so I will be able to be assessed again by my neurologist.