1st dose: Pfizer BioNTech November 2021
2nd dose: Pfizer BioNTech
I received my first vaccination in November of 2021. I had had previously negative experiences as a teen with both the tetanus and hepatitis vaccinations and was very reluctant to receive the covid vaccination. Unfortunately, I work in the health sector and as such, I was mandated. I am a single woman who is responsible for not only my own mortgage and personal expenses but those of my business, including wages for staff. As such I felt I had no option but to receive the vaccination after being told that I was not eligible for exemption by my GP.
I had my first Pfizer dose at 1.15pm and by 1.35pm was experiencing an odd feeling in my tongue. I went home hoping that this was just going to be a minor and short-lived experience – I was wrong. By hour four, I had a feeling like someone had poured boiling water over my left face, chest and arm and was very tired. I went to work the next day and at 10am I lost sensation in the left side of my face.
I called Healthline that night and was instructed to get to the emergency room immediately and that I was to call them back within 20 minutes or they would send an ambulance to collect me.
At the emergency room it was found that I had a range of neurological symptoms including nystagmus to the left, a tongue fasciculation, loss of sensation (but not motor function) of the left face, balance issues and hypersensitivity in the skin of my left forearm. I was monitored for 4 hours and sent home with no further plan of care, tests, or diagnosis. A CARM report was filled out at this time.
The doctor at the emergency room was very good and I felt cared for, but she was not able or willing to directly attribute my current state to the vaccine.
I saw a GP at my registered practice (not my doctor) late November 2021. She conducted a neurological exam and confirmed the findings of the emergency room. She filled out another CARM report and tried to prescribe me amitriptyline. When I refused this medication and told her that I wanted an exemption her tone changed rapidly. I explained to her that I was not willing to take medication without any tests or diagnosis and that with my concurrent benign brain lesion I wanted a referral to my neurosurgeon and he would determine if I needed amitriptyline. We had words. I felt gaslit and unheard and came away with a referral to a psychologist which she never completed. She also never contacted my neurosurgeon.
A week passed and I took matters into my own hands and emailed my neurosurgeon directly. I had an MRI for my lesion (which is stable) in October 2021 and had been released onto a five-year check. I was booked for a telehealth appointment the first week of December 2021 with an emergency MRI a week later. I was instructed to not take amitriptyline and that my lesion was unchanged and not part of the current situation.
I saw another doctor (my current GP) at the end of December and again went through a neurological exam. I told him my concerns that I was meant to be having another dose in a matter of days according to the mandate but that I was still experiencing significant issues after the first dose. This doctor was very thorough and kind. He told me he would see what he could do and would call me as soon as possible.
He called me the next day and was upset that he could not find me a way out and told me that I was to call the local hospital as I needed to be monitored under supervision for the next dose.
I did not return to work so as to remain within the law. I called the local hospital and was told that there was no such option. I called the hospital in the next region and was told the same.
It took me a week to organise (no income due to not working) but I had to go to a walk-in clinic in another city. I did not feel comfortable being alone for my second Pfizer dose and arranged to spend the night with a friend. I took all my notes to that clinic and made them very nervous. I was asked to wait for an hour rather than 15 minutes. I had the same response in the tongue but was already experiencing significant issues so felt very defeated.
Mid January 2022 I had a follow up with my neurosurgical team and was referred to Neurology. This appointment was mid May 2022 and was very thorough. The team was amazing but again when I expressed concerns that I was still expected to have a booster they were unable or unwilling to apply for an exemption. They did, however, clearly note in my reports that I should seriously consider whether having a third dose was wise. I felt this was putting the ball into my court and so I delayed as long as legally possible and thankfully timed out before needing to have the third dose.
I was given a formal diagnosis of Functional Neurological Disorder.
I saw my GP again in November 2022 and asked for some assistance with the ongoing issues regarding my left arm as they were affecting my ability to work and that I wanted ACC for a medical treatment injury. I received neither.
In January of 2023 I received an appointment for a follow up with the Neurology team – JUNE 2023 and telehealth – six months!
I had that appointment this week and again my specialist was amazing at listening – there has been no change in my signs and symptoms and my left arm now has a deformity in the deltoid muscle and significant loss of motion due to pain. She confirmed that ACC was not an option at this current point.
At this stage I am waiting for a variety of referrals under the public system. I have had to adapt how I work and the amount of time I can work to accommodate for fatigue and limits in my function.
I am not against vaccination – I am against a one-size fits all policy that does not allow people to have their basic right of refusing medical treatment free of coercion.
There is no choice when refusal means that you cannot stay in the profession you spent years and thousands in student loans earning, decades working in, keeping your house, paying your staff and caring for your own patients whilst maintaining your own integrity and following the law.
I cannot in good conscience stay quiet if there is any possibility that my experience can be used to prevent this happening again.