04 Rachael

Story of Rachel 53 years old Government Agency Worker
Pfizer # 1: FE8163
Pfizer # 2: FF2382
Pfizer # 3: FN4207 (Booster)

I’m 53 and a mother of 3 adult daughters and 2 grandkids. I’ve been working full time in a government agency for the last 5 years. My girls had left home to spread their wings and my partner, and I were looking forward to doing things we wanted to do. We love to travel and de-stress. Not long before I got sick, I decided to get a motorbike, we were looking forward to going on rides and extending our social circle, Life was good.

My partner and I were both mandated in our roles. I was against having the covid vaccine, I wasn’t sure about it due to lack of testing.

My partner is immune compromised having had multiple heart attacks, so was very vulnerable, but being able to work was the primary reason I had it.

I had my first Pfizer vaccine on the 28th of August 2021, I only had a sore arm and was tired for 24 hours. I felt the same after the second Pfizer vaccine on the 18th of September 2021, I had no other issues through to the time I had the Booster. My partner had her Booster before I had mine, and it had her in bed for 4 days.

I went into a local clinic on Saturday 5th March 2022 for the Booster. I was nervous about it and remember my hands were clammy. I had no notable reaction on the day but the next morning I woke with a headache that felt like somebody had put a brick through my head. I felt so unwell; however, I’d thought it was a normal reaction to the vaccine. Then, the neck pain started, and I developed chest pain, which almost felt like I was having a heart attack. By the middle of the week, I went to the doctors as I still had chest pain and could barely walk into the clinic from shortness of breath, also my voice had become intermittent at times, it would reduce to a whisper and make me breathless when wanting to speak so I also struggled to speak and felt I needed more oxygen. I had an ECG and was prescribed colchicine, which I took for the next 4 days, but I ended up having increased chest pain, so I went back to see her again and said to her, “I hope I haven’t been vaccine injured”. She said to stop taking the Colchicine and I was instead prescribed Celecoxib. She did another ECG and wasn’t happy with the result so shared that with the cardiac team. They suggested I get it checked at the hospital. She asked if I wanted to get the ambulance from there or to get it from home (I opted for home).

We went by ambulance on the afternoon of the 17th of March 2022. The pain I was in at the time was a 15/10 and I thought I was having a heart attack. They gave me Fentanyl in the ambulance, but it couldn’t control my pain. They filled me with more Fentanyl in hospital (to max dosage in the timeframe), which didn’t alleviate the pain at all. Then they tried Lidocaine gel (used as a dental anaesthetic years ago and is also a nerve blocker). They mixed the gel with Gaviscon and had me swallow it – my whole mouth and throat went numb. I was still having chest pain when they discharged me around 2-3 am. They sent me home with Lidocaine and Gaviscon and said to follow up with my GP. I said to her I’d never felt this ill in my life and wonder if I’ve been vaccine injured. She said. “I’d tend to agree”. That was when I started feeling really angry and frustrated about it all.

I was still not right over the following days. On 27th March I got out of bed and went into our family room. I found it difficult to breathe and thought I was having a heart attack, but It was a different sensation to what I’d had in the prior weeks. The Ambulance arrived, did an ECG, said it didn’t look good and were taking me in. I was admitted on the morning of the 27th of March and ended up being in there for 6 days (until the 2nd of April). They tried to get my pain level under control, giving me copious amounts of morphine. My body couldn’t regulate my temperature – I felt really hot but didn’t have a temperature. I slept most of the time, the fatigue was bad. I was frustrated and felt I had to repeat myself over and over of the pain I was still in, and how unwell I was, but It was like no-one was listening to me (I had young registrars telling me that I’ll be back at work in a week). They did a Cardiac CT, and I was diagnosed with acute pericarditis.

I was put in a room with 2 others and ended up contracting covid. I’d helped the 80 year old guy who came up from coronary care with his computer and later the charge nurse came in and I heard her tell the old man he had covid. They decontaminated the room, then had to test us every day, they were in their full PPE gear, and we weren’t allowed visitors. We were in the overflow ward and were told we’d all have to go home as they needed the beds. I told the charge nurse I couldn’t go home right then as my partner had not prepared for that to happen then. She said they could put me into quarantine (emergency accommodation) instead. I was fuming with the way I was treated. I ended up going home in a taxi and isolated in my room while my partner was still going to work etc. A couple of days after being discharged, I developed a terrible cough (I tested covid positive then), it was the only different symptom I had. I was still so sick and was on morphine, codeine, and nitro lingual spray, which they give people for heart attacks, but it seemed to make no difference.

Between April and June, I was back and forward to my GP with neck pain (which has been the worst symptom), I had body tremors, palpitations and it felt like my heart was having electric shocks or fireworks coming from it. It kept me awake at night and would increase my heart rate as I felt anxious with these symptoms. I was still unable to regulate my own body temperature and had extreme fatigue. Then, and still now It takes me so long to get up, showered and dressed – In the shower my heart rate is 140-150bpm and my lymph nodes and glands in my neck swell and then go down again, and now I’m starting to have high blood pressure even when I’m doing nothing. in June I started having muscle twitches in my right leg. Everything is happening on my right side (As I’m left handed, I had all the vaccines in my right arm too), and the spot where I had the vaccine, has been sore, it throbs and feels like it’s dead and wakes me up at night.

In May, I told my GP I was struggling to cook or do housework, which was getting me down and I told her I needed some home help. She applied for this on my behalf, and it was approved within a couple of weeks. Given the job my partner and I do, we were apprehensive about having someone we didn’t know in our home. We’ve had someone once a week for 4 weeks and need to re-apply again to continue. I’m grateful to have had the help so far.
On the 15th of June I went to hospital by ambulance at 4pm, as my heart was doing the electrical thing. My D-dimer result was up, and both the CRP (cardiac) test, and liver results were not normal. I was seen by a rude and condescending doctor about midnight. He turned around and said to me “I think you’ve got Long covid” (I’d had covid 10 weeks before), I told him about vaccine injury and that I had been diagnosed with Pericarditis. I also bought up my concerns about my blood, as it had started coagulating back when I went to hospital late March, and they drew back on the syringe to confirm a site for the cannula and found no free flowing blood coming out. I’d mentioned to a doctor how this was not normal – he said that it was fine and “I think that you’re stressed”. From this happening when I had bloods taken and as my forearms and right calf muscle felt lumpy under the skin, I wanted to have an INR Blood test (which measures the time it takes for blood to clot). He ended up doing an INR test and the results came back normal. He also arranged a chest x-ray but didn’t have the results back before I was discharged at 6am. There was no follow up to cardiology and I was to follow up with my GP.

Currently, I can barely walk and having a shower takes the most energy. I have a shower chair now and I feel like a 90yr old woman in a 50 year old body. The fatigue and breathlessness have not relented since I had the Booster and has meant I’ve had to adjust to becoming reliant on others to go anywhere. I love shopping but have only been once since I got sick. I was recently loaned a wheelchair and have to rely on my partner to take me out.

My eyesight has been hazy and bad, I have tingling in my feet, insomnia, mood fluctuations, brain fog and lack of focus. I have constant pain in my neck which goes to a headache on the top of my head that feels like someone’s ramming a screwdriver into it – It’s a nerve type pain. I take sevredol (an opioid) for this. These days, 1 day out of 7 I feel semi-ok, but I’ve had more time in bed than out of it in the last month as it’s uncomfortable for me to be up. A few weeks ago, I felt like I wanted to drive off a cliff the pain was so bad. I didn’t want to be alone as I didn’t trust myself. I’d never felt like that in my life.

My memory loss also resulted in me almost overdosing, as I’d forgotten I’d taken a sevredol when a friend was over and would normally note it in my phone at the time, but I hadn’t done that and took another. I ended up with a racing heart and palpitations and having an ambulance come, which was very frightening. My mental state has been so compromised because of this injury.
I saw a Neurologist two weeks ago (which was only 1 week from referral to get an appt). I’ve been having a lot of pain in my right leg and forearm, which both feel really lumpy under the skin and this week have an ultrasound booked to check on the coagulation levels in my blood, and an MRI to check my whole body but specifically my brain and neck.

I take sevredol, multiple supplements and have also been trying CBD oil. I was hesitant about taking this, due to my own moral compass, however I’ve been willing to try anything to address the pain. It takes the edge off at times, but some days the pain is back to the same intensity, so it’s hard to say whether it’s really helping, or the expense is worth it.
I was contacted by a lady from the ‘Helping Hands Kiwis’ Facebook group who has been lovely and supportive. I’m normally the giver, not the receiver, so it’s been humbling to have help and support from people I’ve never met.

I haven’t been able to work since having the Booster. I used my sick and annual leave until my ACC claim was accepted on 31st May with diagnosis of ‘vaccine injury – Acute Pericarditis’. My GP had since also added the neck pain to my injury claim which they approved on 14th June.

I still have a job when I’m ready to go back, but I don’t know if I have job stability. They ideally want me back as the work doesn’t stop but I’m not able to right now. My job is to talk to people and write reports and I now struggle to remember things and forget what I was talking about. I wake up each day hoping that something about my health has changed. Since having the vaccine, that was meant to be safe and effective, I find myself feeling broken – a shadow of who I was, sitting and watching the world go by.

Rachel 53 years old – Government Agency Worker