I got the first vaccine at 9.30am on 9th August 2021. I felt fine afterwards. Later that day I went stand-up paddle boarding, then had dinner with friends. I was a bit tired, so left dinner early and went to bed. The next morning I woke up and all I had was soreness at the vaccination site. About an hour after I got up I started to feel like I’d been hit by a truck. The main symptoms at that stage were heavy fatigue, body aches and I felt like I’d been kicked in the diaphragm. For the next three and a half weeks (apart from one ED visit and several GP visits) I only got out of bed to feed myself. During that time each day brought a new pain or symptom. I made several late-night calls to Nurse on Call worried about the weird things that were going on in my body.
Day Six: I got a taxi to the hospital ED after not sleeping the night before due to a huge headache that no painkillers would touch. After hours of waiting I got blood tests. All they showed was that there were elevated levels of inflammation in my body. I went home to bed.
Day Seven: I felt a small painful rash in the middle of my spine. I went to the GP who took a swab to test for shingles and started me on anti-virials. Although we got in early, the shingles spread to the right around my ribs and finished in the middle of my chest. It was a very uncomfortable, painful six weeks.
Day Eight: I just lightly brushed a crumb off my chest and felt a very obvious lump in my breast. It shocked the life out of me as I’d actually, out of the blue, done a proper breast check about three days before I got the vaccine. There was absolutely nothing there. So, to go from absolutely nothing to an unmissable two-centimetre lump in the space of seven to 10 days was a shock. My immediate gut feeling was that it was the vaccine. I then spent the next two months with mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies and lots of long waits for results of each. Meanwhile, I’m still dealing with shingles and a multitude of other symptoms.
The result of the biopsy came back that it was a ‘slow growing’ invasive ductile carcinoma. There was nothing slow growing about it.
On the 4th of October I had surgery to remove the cancer and several lymph nodes, and I completed three weeks of radiation therapy just before Christmas. There is no further treatment needed but I’m now on anti-cancer drugs for the next five to seven years. Other symptoms include:
- heavy fatigue which seemed to get better but I am very limited in how much I can do each day
- pain radiating from mid-spine – ongoing
- waves of nausea that lasted a month or so
- heavy tingling in both feet which is getting worse – still waiting to see a neurologist
- I feel like I have a fly crawling on the back of my left calf, on and off
- heavy feeling in legs – ongoing
- brain fog and slow thinking process – ongoing
- deep ache in right thigh – lasted for the first three to four weeks
- feeling of sparklers going off in different parts of my left forearm and left shin – lasted three to four weeks
- strong pain up the back of my neck/base of skull
- permanent headache – ongoing
- felt like I’d been kicked in the diaphragm – lasted three to four weeks
- stabbing in left ear – regular for the first month or so, now just occasionally
- ringing in right ear – regular for first month or so, now just occasionally
- continual pain in the first joint of each finger
- ache in the left elbow – ongoing
- laboured breathing at times – ongoing off and on
My GP readily agreed that the shingles were due to the vaccine but wasn’t sure about the breast cancer. I’m 100% sure. The breast surgeon scoffed when I suggested that the lump was triggered by the vaccine.
I have not been able to return to the activities I used to do – lap swimming, bike riding, stand-up paddle boarding and lots of walking. I’m just starting to get out and do some walks now. My days are focused on trying to regain my health by eating as well as I can and taking a bucket load of supplements.
My mental health is another matter. As I am not fully vaccinated , whenever we go into lockout I am completely cut off from my usual support networks which makes life unbearable. This last lockout, us five per cent weren’t even allowed out for a walk. I don’t articulate things too well these days and it’s an effort to put this together coherently. I live on my own and I’ve had five really tough months health-wise. I really need all the support I can get right now. So, being locked up at home on my own, knowing that my usual activities are going on without me and missing the much-needed human contact has been hard.
Now we have the vaccine passports I am still basically trapped at home on my own as there is hardly anywhere that will let me in without a VP. After the last lockout ended I was excited about being able to go out and catch up on errands starting with the local op shop. Shops of any kind were not listed on the government website as places we needed a VP for. I got there and was turned away because I wasn’t double vaccinated. I just got in the car and cried all the way home.
The first lockout hit me hard. I wasn’t expecting the level of segregation, discrimination and the feeling that I don’t belong. I started to spiral pretty quickly and went into a very dark place.
I’ve had to work really hard since then to keep going and I’m currently having two Telehealth counselling appointments a week. I feel like I’m being constantly kicked while I’m down and I’m bloody tired. There is so much more to say but I’ll leave it there because it will just turn into anger.
Thanks for listening and I’m sorry if it’s a bit disjointed. I’m not who I used to be and life is a bloody awful nightmare right now, but I will not give up hope!