I have travelled the country as a competitive athlete, and in 2019 I represented Australia at Fitness Universe. Not UK or Ireland, but Australia. I was on track to compete in my first ever strongman competition in March. A dream that will have to wait till another time.
I was told I didn’t have much time left to get the vaccine to keep my job. I’d been in two minds for a long time because of many reasons, but the one closest to home was the fact that my baby sister nearly died from the AstraZeneca on her second vaccination.
With my siblings all being in some form of scientific field, and my brother being a doctor of stem-cell engineering, they assured me that COVID was something we need to be careful of, and that the situation in the UK and Ireland was pretty bad.
I want to make it clear – I’m not anti-vaccine and I’m not into conspiracy theories. However I am pro-choice. I am scared of COVID, and given what happened to my sister and a few people I know personally who have taken the vaccine and ended up in hospital, I was scared of the vaccine too. But by weighing up the odds, I thought the chances of something happening to me would be very slim. At the very least, I would get the first vaccine and see how I’d go.
I got the Moderna vaccine on January 25th, 2022. The government asks if you consent to taking the vaccine, but just think about how that works when it’s being mandated to keep your ‘normal’ life. After I had the vaccine I went back to work, finished my shift and when I got to my car I started getting tired. So instead of training I went home. I was still tired and had a small headache so I went to bed.
I woke up the next day feeling amazing and ready for the day. I went to the gym with a sore arm, so the plan was to train legs. I started my warm-up stretches and started cramping. That’s not like me at all. So I listened to my body, stopped training and called it a day. I knew the vaccine wasn’t going to let me train that day. I stayed at the gym to talk to my friends, and by 10.30am I had collapsed to the floor. Fully conscious, fully aware, with no control over my body at all.
My boyfriend put me in the treatment room of the gym to relax and rest. I slowly got my function back after about two hours, but not completely. He took me back to his place with great difficulty as I couldn’t move, and the second he got me to his room I fully collapsed. I was in complete paralysis, but again fully aware. For two straight hours, I lay motionless on the bed not able to even open my eyelids. But fully conscious. I could tell my boyfriend everything I heard in those two hours to prove I wasn’t sleeping. Even telling him about the V8 engine that I heard outside, and the music that was playing.
I felt okay after the rest, and then after a shower we went to watch the fireworks for Australia Day. We walked almost half a kilometre to where we sat and watched the fireworks, but afterwards I started feeling weak again. I could slowly feel myself getting closer and closer to the ground. On the same walk back I collapsed five times, again fully conscious, with NO body function at all. With the help of two women passing by, my boyfriend was able to run and get the car to take me to hospital. He struggled to get me in the car as I was a complete dead weight.
Because it was Australia Day, and because of people and road closures it took almost thirty minutes to get to the hospital. I could hear everything, and I was trying to tell him not to stress. After an hour, I was finally able to talk and slowly move my right side. But my left side was completely paralysed and numb.
After six hours of tests, everything was coming back to normal but I still couldn’t move my left side. I was kept in hospital for three days, seeing countless doctors and specialists. They were trying to understand what was happening to a fit, active person, who has travelled the world as a competitive athlete, and who trains five times per week with no history of paralysis.
I got full sensation back after a couple of days, but if I walked more than one kilometre my body would start to go. Like my central nervous system had been fried. Since getting out of hospital, I’ve had two episodes of left side paralysis lasting up to 45 minutes.
This isn’t the end of it. I’m still being told by the government I need to be double-vaccinated to keep my job. But after the first experience, “you can shove that up your arse”. Last week I was brought back to hospital with blood clots in my urine and blinding pain. It was treated as a UTI. However, I have never experienced pain to that level with a UTI before, or blood clots. As another side effect I am now on my second period in four weeks.
I have started rehab to try and get my body functioning on a basic level. I’ve had sport injuries requiring learning how to walk again, that were less mentally draining and less physically demanding than this.