I’m 35 and have worked as an accountant for the last 15 years. I live with my partner. I haven’t had any physical health issues prior to last year, but in March my gallbladder started playing up. I was told I would most likely need to have it taken out at some stage. It got to the point where I couldn’t eat or keep anything down and was losing weight, so I had an emergency surgery on 29 July 2021.
Separate to this and prior to the surgery, I chose to be fully vaccinated as I travel to Melbourne and Sydney for work, and would be staying with my mum in Melbourne. She is in her seventies and has diabetes. They were having outbreaks there at the time and she was worried about it, and I didn’t want to put her at risk.
I had my first Pfizer jab on 23 June 2021 and the second Pfizer jab on 15 July 2021. After both jabs, I noticed a slight headache for which I took Panadol. I also made sure I ate beforehand so I would feel ok.
I had a week at home after the surgery to let everything heal and went back to work the following week for light to normal duties. Three to four weeks after the surgery (five to six weeks after the second vaccine) I was really struggling. I was tired all the time, my energy was depleted, and I had to sit down a lot, which is very unlike me. I also had brain fog and developed pain in the left side of my neck. The pain was going through my shoulder and down to my elbow. I’d never had this before and I hadn’t done anything to cause it as I was still taking it easy after surgery. I was conscious of my diet and recovery after my surgery, so I went to the doctors to get my vitamin levels checked, as I knew depleted levels can affect recovery. My B12 levels were low, but everything else was normal.
At the time the pain started, I also started getting tinnitus. I’d never had any issues with my hearing before and it wasn’t overly bad, but it affected me when I tried to sleep and I had quite bad insomnia from it. I got it checked out and they said I had a minor issue with low range hearing, but it was considered normal, and tinnitus is in the higher frequency range anyway.
I was prescribed oral Vitamin B12 which only gave a slight improvement. So I went back to the doctor and was put on B12 shots. After the first one, the brain fog lifted leaving me feeling semi-normal. I had loading Ds (five Ds in two weeks) for the initial round and was advised to come back in three months for another, but I got to the three-week mark and hit a wall.
The fatigue and brain fog would go temporarily, but the pain and tinnitus was constant. I started to feel down all the time and was just wanting to feel normal again. I wasn’t going to wait three months for another B12 injection, so another doctor at the same clinic put me on monthly shots. I found it odd that the different doctors all had different views around this.
After another month without improvement of the neck/shoulder pain, the doctor ordered an MRI (which came back normal) and CT scan (normal). I then had an ultrasound on my shoulder. This showed mild bursitis, but it didn’t have a cause and didn’t correlate with the pain I was experiencing. They suggested cortisone injections to see if that would help. They were saying it was a trapped nerve but couldn’t tell me where it might be trapped. Only suggesting maybe my muscles were too tight and compressing a nerve. I’d been seeing a physio every week, as well as having weekly massages to see if that helped and had been doing some strength and resistance exercises at home, also without a lot of success.
In early January 2022, I woke up in pain and ended up going to the ED. I told them I couldn’t handle the pain anymore and that going to the doctor wasn’t helping. The pain was taking its toll on me and my mental health was being affected. They said they couldn’t help and just prescribed anti-inflammatories and sent me on my way. I’d had muscle relaxants, deep heat rub, and nothing had worked to take away the pain. I wasn’t going to continue taking medication that didn’t provide relief.
When I went back to the doctor for the renewal of the physio care plan. They mentioned that I could have another cortisone injection, but advised that there are downsides to having too many. I’d already had two and they didn’t work so I wasn’t going to have another. The doctors told me my symptoms were due to everything but the vaccine. One suggested they must be from typing in my work. I didn’t believe this but was willing to do anything to sort it out, so I got a new ergonomic chair and rearranged my office.
I’d had two cortisone injections, tried chiro, weekly massages and physio, dry needling, stretches and I’d still not been able to sleep on that side from the pain. The doctors said there was nothing else they could do for me because there was ‘no cause for my pain’. They’ve done blood tests for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, glandular fever and many more things. They have said if they can’t make a diagnosis, I might have fibromyalgia, but the diagnosis for that is only given when everything else is ruled out. I have referrals for a couple of specialists (rheumatologist and neurologist), but the doctor advises me not to get my hopes up as they can decline seeing me because to my symptoms are not ‘severe enough’.
There is no underlying reason that can be found to explain my issues. I have adjusted to live with it and after seven months it’s improving but is still bad at night. It’s exhausting and I’m just pushing through the pain because I don’t have any other option right now. I had my booster on 9 February 2022 and it was only in the last week I came across the article about Daniella Lenarczyk who has similar symptoms to me (brain fog, fatigue, tinnitus and neck pain). I’ve since found tinnitus is also being investigated as possible related side effect from the vaccines.
My partner also had his first Pfizer vaccine and had what he called “strong heartbeat episodes” after the second one. But he thought it must have been from being too active or something, even though he experienced the symptoms when resting. He had a telehealth appointment just before the booster and asked about myocarditis as a symptom of the vaccine but as soon as he mentioned it, the doctor diverted the conversation and said there was another patient waiting. He had his third jab (Moderna) a couple of weeks ago and got the same strong heartbeat again. This time it has been more noticeable than last time. He also ended up with a swollen lymph node in his armpit (the vaccinator told him after he’d administered it that this was a possible side effect). He had to take a day off work the next day and just can’t shake the feeling that he’s not quite right. This is the same as what I experienced. He’s booked into the doctor on Wednesday.