20 Sarah

Sarah age 43

Pfizer # 1: FH4752

I’ve just turned 43 and currently live in Nelson. My motto for life is “Life is short, embrace it, cos you never know what’s gonna happen tomorrow”. So, as well as being a tour guide for 13 years (working 8 months of the year and travelling the world for the other 4), I am also a Marriage Celebrant, a Bowen Therapy Practitioner, and a Massage Therapist – I like trying new things and exploring and never wanted a 9-5 job.

When covid came and the industry changed in 2020, I ended up moving into a friend’s holiday house in Wakefield and haven’t left. I ended up shifting careers and did Mental Health support work for 18 months throughout 2020-2021, and then the mandate came. My Intuition told me I didn’t want the vaccine and I wanted time to make an informed decision. I changed my booking around 20 times, holding out as long as I could. I was ostracized by my colleagues with snide remarks and jokes about me not being vaccinated – it was quite clear I was the only one who wasn’t.

It was stressful leading up to the last day of the mandate (15th November), so I decided around the 6th that I wanted to have a couple of months break over the summer and do doing something fun and get a seasonal job, as working seasonally was what I’d always done pre 2020, so I had my contract changed from fixed to casual knowing I had to get my second vaccine by 1st of January 2022 to keep my job.

I got my first vaccine on the final day of the mandate, 15th of November at a hub. I knew one of the ladies there who was a nurse, but it was a young trainee with her that administered it. I was in tears that I had given in. Directly after, I had a feeling of cold liquid running through my body, it was a strange sensation. That evening, I got a metallic taste in my mouth (which still comes and goes even now). On the 17th of November, the chest pain started – it felt like bricks on my chest. It was noted that chest pain was a potential side effect, so I didn’t feel compelled to do anything about it, I ‘sucked it up’ and tried to get on with my life. I applied for and got a job at a local campground and was due to start just before the December school holidays.

On 2nd of December, I still had the chest pain and was concerned. I contacted the medical centre who told me to go to ED, but I didn’t go that day. On the morning of 3rd December, I was talking to a friend on the phone and remember saying “I gotta go”. I dropped the phone, the world went black – I woke up on the floor, dizzy the world was spinning I felt nauseous. I couldn’t stand so I crawled to the bathroom – I felt the most scared I’ve been in my life (and I’ve been chased by Bear in Canada, fallen off a cliff in Australia and struck by lightning in the Amazon Jungle!), I’d never felt that physically ill before. I called a friend whose daughter had similar experience a couple of weeks before and she said to call an ambulance, but I didn’t want to do that. I knew it was bad but called my neighbour to take me to ED instead.

When I turned up in ED, I wasn’t able to give my name or details and could barely see – I had my head in a bucket. When I was able to go to the front desk, I told them I had chest pain. I remember the nurse saying there’d been an influx of chest pain that morning. I also heard and observed the girl in front of me and another guy having similar issues. I had an ECG, chest ultrasound, X-Ray and bloods which all came back clear, with the only observation that my white blood cell count was slightly elevated. When I mentioned the vaccine, the doctor acted a little strange, but told me I had an ‘inner ear infection’ and to go home and rest. I trusted what he said was right. I was not prescribed anything and went home. My head began to hurt (I don’t get headaches) and I ended up spending the best part of 2 weeks staring at the ceiling. The fatigue was like nothing I’d experienced, and I’d had no appetite. The ED doctor had told me to go back if I didn’t feel any better in a few days, and I didn’t, so went to the doctor’s again on 8th December. This doctor mentioned that it could be from the vaccine, but all I was given was Panadol and told to keep resting. My beautiful friends checked in on me and dropped off food over these couple of weeks.

On 14th of December, I spoke with NZDSOS who advised it was most likely to be Myocarditis and prescribed me Antibiotics, Ivermectin and Supplements which helped, along with Homeopathy and Bowen Therapy.
On 15th of December, I dragged myself out of bed to start my new job. As me and my new colleagues had our orientation around the campground with the Manager, I almost felt like I would pass out. I’ve always been a hard worker and wanted to be upfront so said to the Manager, “The person you interviewed, is not me now”, I told him what had happened but still continued with the job.

On 21st of December I was at the doctors again. This one indicated that I had anxiety and gave me a medical certificate for 2 weeks off, but I didn’t use it. I still had the chest pain, breathlessness, headaches, fatigue, nausea and still had no appetite but worked through to Waitangi weekend, then did another couple of weeks at a campground in Golden Bay. I advised the mental health job on 8th of February that I would no longer be working for them as I’d had an adverse reaction to the first vaccine and would not be getting the second one.

On 3rd of March, I got a job at the apple shed packing apples from a conveyor belt which I’m still doing a couple of days per week and don’t find physically strenuous.
I was the Celebrant at a wedding scheduled for the 5th of March and had to complete a covid test the day prior, which was negative. Walking back from the wedding, I noticed a tickle in my throat and felt tired. The next day I had a fever and sore throat, so tested again and it was negative but got a positive one on the 7th of March. My covid symptoms were a fever, sore throat, and a stuffy nose. I’ve become accustomed to feeling like crap, so it wasn’t that different to my ‘normal’.
On the 15th of March I spoke to a new doctor over the phone requesting a 3 month ‘Covid-19 vaccine medical exemption’, as I wanted to return to my mental health job – They were short staffed and needed me, plus I wanted to visit my Nana in the rest home. It took nearly a month to get but it came through in April. When on the phone with the doctor, she mentioned that she’d had an adverse reaction (high BP) and had to take 3 months off work. It seemed she was telling me this to express there was a light at the end of the tunnel for me, but THEN, she said, “Why don’t you get the second vaccine, it’s better than getting covid” My jaw dropped – I couldn’t believe what she was saying! I did go back to her on 24th of March and had full bloods taken and a heart Holter monitor was requested, I’ll be wearing it for 24 hours on the 12th of May.

My story is not over, and I still have my symptoms, but I’m sharing to let others know they aren’t alone. I have a heart to help others and am currently forming a local Nelson/Tasman support group for vaccine injured, as I know there are people out there thinking they’re alone in what they’re going through (like I did), and it’s only really the people who are living it themselves that understand your journey.