I am a 19-year-old woman who studies full time and works full time, well, that was until 2 February 2022. Please keep in mind this is my experience and I understand everyone’s experiences will differ. I would also like to state that although I am a plus size women my doctors say I am fit and have no history of the issue about to be mentioned.
I made the choice to get the vaccine as it was mandated in my job and I had to work to be able to support myself. However, I did not want it and believed that not enough research had been done. I also have Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and an auto-immune condition, however the doctor refused to give me an exemption. So I felt my only choice was to get the vaccine. I also would like to mention all my jabs were Pfizer.
Under the mandates I was required to get the vaccine otherwise I was not allowed to work or complete my degree for placements etc. I made the decision, so I was able to support my fiancé and myself. I was not comfortable and confident getting the vaccine.
After each of my first two jabs I went to the emergency department with chest pain and shortness of breath. They said I was just having an anxiety attack. I said that wasn’t good enough because I know what an extreme anxiety attack feels like, and this pain wasn’t it. I gave up in the end after the X-rays came back inconclusive.
Skip forward to the third vaccine on the 1 February 2022. Instantly I felt nauseated but I ignored it as I thought it was going to be a recurring thing. It wasn’t until I was seeing my GP the next day for another issue that I got an excruciating migraine out of the blue (I am normally aware when one is coming on) and I had chest pain again. I was sitting there feeling very dizzy. My GP took my vitals, and my heartrate was 130bpm even after sitting down for 20 minutes. She recommend I go back to emergency at the hospital.
I did as she recommended as the pain was increasing. All my blood work, blood pressure, X-rays, ECG and everything came back fine, but there was no explanation for what was going on so they sent me for a CT scan. This showed a pericardial effusion and evidence of pericarditis. The doctor consulted with a cardiology team and gave me a diagnosis of pericarditis. This meant I would have to follow up with a cardiologist and have an echocardiogram.
I was monitored overnight and was slightly improving so they were going to discharge me on 3 February. That was until the pain started increasing and I had to stay another night. I was discharged on the 4 February with medication but I was still in pain. I was also told this would be a three-to-six-month recovery and I wasn’t allowed to work until further notice. The following Monday my parents drove down from Queensland to assist me so my fiancé could continue working. Pain and energy wise, I was not even able to hang clothes on the line without my heart rate going to 120bpm.
That week after further consultation with my GP, I was informed that I could not do the job I got the vaccine for in the first place, for a minimum of three months due to the physical aspect of it. I am a disability support worker. This meant I had to resign or at least inform them I couldn’t work. I was employed as a casual which means I don’t get paid while not working. The echo results came back showing the effusion had subsided which was great. My fiancé and I then had to make the heart-breaking decision to do a long distance relationship so I could move back in with my parents to take the financial stress off him, and allow me to be closer to the facilities and support I needed to get better. This was only going to be a short-term solution.
On 14 February 2022 my parents and I moved me back to Gladstone, Queensland. I’m still not allowed to work as I cannot physically do the tasks expected of me yet. On the night of 17 February, I became very nauseated, dizzy, lethargic, and the pain was terrible. I also had a very low heart rate. I consulted with 13HEALTH and they suggested I go to the emergency department. So I woke my dad up and off we went.
At the emergency room my vitals and ECG were fine but they were concerned about the pain. They were going to send me home, but they decided to keep monitoring me as my heart rate was all over the place. My pain and symptoms were getting worse, and they didn’t give me anything for the pain or to help with the dizziness and nausea until about 5am the next morning (Friday). I was moved to short stay and then to the general ward. While in short stay my bloods were taken, and they came back fine. While in the ward and short stay not once did they offer to do more scans to help find out what was happening.
Later on the Friday they did an X-ray, it showed nothing. The doctor came around at 2pm and pretty much told me the complete opposite to what I was diagnosed with in the previous hospital. None of his theories or diagnoses made any sense. He acted as if we were stupid and would avoid answering our questions and was getting very annoyed that we weren’t happy with what he was saying. So we invoked Ryan’s rule. A new doctor came and suggested that the pericarditis (still going with this diagnosis unlike the other one) will fluctuate. Mum and I understood this but we were just asking them to run another CT at least, so we could see if it had gotten worse or better. He agreed.
I went and got my CT and was asked to stay another night for observation. Throughout the day and night my vitals were still within normal range apart from my heartrate fluctuating. I had an ECG but the doctor wasn’t concerned. All the other tests came back okay.
On Saturday I was feeling somewhat better but still lethargic and dizzy, and I had a low heart rate and blood pressure. They were however happy to discharge me because there was ‘nothing wrong’ with me. While waiting to be discharged I got a phone call from the radiographer saying that I should be going for an echocardiogram as there was something in the X-ray. The doctors ignored this even when the radiographer called them. The nurses and doctors wouldn’t give me pain relief or help me while I was hospital on the Saturday. I was discharged and have felt okay on and off since, however, they didn’t give me any form of management plan to move forward with and cancelled all the medication that I was on.
Since then, I’ve had to see a medical team and am still going through the process of following up with a cardiologist. However, when trying to access my records from my Gladstone Hospital visit, they are locked. All my other records are accessible.
I currently must take colchicine (twice) and a reflux medication daily. I am not sure what is ahead for me, and I am scared as I am only young. But at the moment they will not clear me to do work or placements for university. I still have new symptoms daily but most commonly it is bad chest pain. I struggle to breathe, have a low heart rate and blood pressure, dizziness, I’m tired and weak all the time, and my mental health is declining.