I am a 37 year old male with no previous health conditions. I am a full-time coal mine worker, part-time musician and before the vaccination I liked to keep myself moderately fit and would exercise 3-4 times per week. Now walking down the stairs to get the mail or getting dressed leaves me breathless.
I had no intention of receiving the vaccination initially, but I knew that my workplace would be mandating it in the future. I went out of my way to source a Pfizer vaccine as they were not as readily available back then and I believed it to be a better option than the Astra Zeneca one at the time. My workplace announced the mandate in the two weeks after I received my first vaccination. I wish I had listened to my gut instinct.
Today marks my 10th week off work and I’m not sure if, or when I will be able to go back.
I received my first vaccination on the 21st of September 2021 and the chest pains that started three days after it, still have not gone away. It’s a feeling akin to someone standing on your chest from the moment you wake up to the moment go to bed. You can’t get to sleep and just lie staring at the ceiling until 5am each morning, either from the pain and discomfort or the stress. I have a shortness of breath that makes even small tasks like walking down the stairs to get the mail, a struggle and I suffer bouts of intense pain that make me question whether I’m actually having a heart attack.
I’ve had nine visits to the doctor in the past four months, whereas before I was lucky if I went to the doctor once a year. I had my second vaccination booked for four weeks after the first but decided to get some medical advice beforehand. I made no mention of having received the vaccine during my initial visit to the GP. I told him of my constant chest pain
and trouble breathing. I was sent for a blood test, ECG and the following day had an Echocardiogram.
A week later I returned to the same GP for my results and for further advice. All of these tests returned normal with no indicators of heart problems even though my symptoms had worsened. My second vaccination was booked for the week after this appointment and I asked the GP whether he thought it would be a good idea for me to get the second vaccine given that my symptoms could possibly be related. His response was, ‘You’ll be right. You’ve obviously read up on myocarditis and pericarditis and I can assure you I’ve seen people with these conditions and you’re not anywhere near sick enough to have either or them’. I decided to get a second opinion from my regular treating doctor, which resulted in me cancelling my second vaccination and going for further testing.
I spent my wedding anniversary late October in the emergency department where, after nothing showing up on an ECG and no change in troponin levels, they sent me home with some ibuprofen. It took four weeks from the onset of my symptoms to see a cardiologist for a stress echo. I was finally be diagnosed with pericarditis. Now all these weeks later after two separate courses of treatment with colchicine and aspirin followed by six weeks of prednisone I’m still unable to live a normal life.
I am unable to do most things I used to take for granted. Any physical exertion leads to hours with a racing heartbeat, chest pain and fatigue. I can’t go out and walk my dogs, walk around shops or mow the lawn. Even my one true passion of playing music with my band leads to extreme fatigue and feeling like I am going to pass out. I spent Christmas day alone in self isolation due to being classed as high risk when the first outbreak of Omicron happened. Every aspect of my life has been affected in some way by this, something that was meant to give us all back our freedom.
I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to return to my job. Even if I was well enough, I’m still expected to get the second vaccination before I am even allowed back on site despite having a medical exemption. And like thousands of other people, I’m going to be expected to roll the dice every few months and get a booster to maintain my employment. I am not currently eligible for worker’s compensation, and I am also ineligible for any compensation from the Government Injury Scheme due to not being admitted overnight in Hospital. I am currently utilising every bit of my personal leave and long service leave just to be able to pay the bills. Leave that should have been used for enjoying and experiencing life.
A vast majority of people I know didn’t choose to get the vaccination to protect their health. They got it because they believed they would gain some freedom back. They wanted to travel and a large percentage of these people only got it to keep their job. I’ve seen many good friends and colleagues lose their jobs over these mandates simply
because they wanted to maintain their freedom of choice and were unwilling to take the risk of ending up in a similar or worse situation than myself.
Nobody should ever have to decide between their health and their career.
I am lucky to have the support of my wife and a healthy bank of long service leave to keep my head above water. But there are many others in my situation who are losing everything and are not eligible for any form of compensation.
I can only hope that eventually I start to regain my health and get some form of normal life back. But after this many weeks with little to no improvement, I’m not confident that will ever be the case. I can only hold hope for anybody else who is FORCED into having any further vaccinations that they don’t end up with the same complications.