Heart issues, chronic fatigue, poor quality of life.
My name is Karlene, and this is my true story
On 11th February 2022 after being mandated, and having not experienced any previous reaction I got my booster COVID vaccination.
I am a 54-year-old woman employed by *** as a Wellness Advisor and on 11 February 2022 I had my mandated booster vaccine in ***. I had no reaction to the previous two vaccines and have no medical issues predating this. Over that night I had a severe adverse reaction, with a racing heart and sweats, nausea, joint pain and chills, headache, tightening chest, and disorientation so that I could not rouse myself until 4.30 in the morning. At 4.30am, I woke my husband and contacted the Healthline and was told to go to the ED of the Public Hospital.
I was examined by the doctor on duty that morning who happened to be a cardiologist from the Waikato DHB, Dr ***. He did an ECG, an Ultrasound, a chest x-ray and blood tests and found that there was no evidence of heart damage (myocarditis or pericarditis). He accepted that the heart rate which had reached 131 bpm and other symptoms were an adverse reaction to the booster resulting in compromised immunity. I was discharged just before lunch.
In the first three weeks subsequent to the booster reaction, I slept up to 18 hours a day. In addition, my mind was muddled and confused, and I forgot words and struggled with sequential activities. My heart rate fluctuated between a low of 40bpm and 125bpm with symptoms of a tightening chest whilst resting or moving about the house and garden (any exertion such as walking from the bed to the shower raised my heart rate to 125 from resting rate of 60). These readings were from my smart watch which records heart rate – and verified by Dr *** at a subsequent GP visit in which he tested the watches validity. Even brief visits from friends caused me to have a four-hour sleep after they left.
I visited the *** Medical Centre on 15 February 2022 and was examined by GP Dr *** because of tightening chest and racing heart rate after advice from Healthline. Another ECG was performed, again with no heart damage identified. I was given a Medical Certificate for time off work. Bloods were taken to identify any contributors – none have been found.
On 23 February 2022 I visited Dr *** at the *** Medical Centre, again for my tightening chest and racing heart. Another ECG was done with no damage detected. He filled in a claim form for ACC. He also said that the immune system rotates every 6 weeks and he hoped that my health would return to normal by that time. Another medical certificate was issued for two weeks, and more bloods taken.
I continued to rest, and my fluctuating heart rate recorded between 52-97 bpm. I rarely leave the house or do things around it for fear of doing anything that would increase exertion and elevate my heart rate and tightening chest symptoms (activities which include cooking, cleaning, shopping walking or gardening). My husband and sister take care of all of these. I can’t walk our dogs, have cancelled a trip South to see grandchildren, can’t read a book and follow a story line, can’t go to a café to have coffee with friends, or follow a pattern to complete a craft. This has a significant impact on my sense of wellbeing.
Thinking my health was more settled, my husband and I agreed to visit with his brother an hour and 45 minutes away on Saturday 12th March 2022. Although tired from getting up and getting ready I felt buoyant about the thought of leaving the house. We stopped to buy something for morning tea when we were nearly there, which involved me walking across a grocery store carpark, and then walking down isles to find items for a period of approximately 10 minutes at which time I became breathless and fatigued. I took note of my heart rate which was 149bpm. Recalling that my GP said 150bpm was critical we stopped to rest at which time I became faint and my vision blurry with heartrate dropping to 46bpm and I began to experience tightening in my chest. As you can imagine we were quite frightened of sustaining significant heart injury and so we stopped what we were doing, and I have rested since this time. It is also worrying to find out that my health remains jeopardised by minor exertion, when after a month off work we had begun to think there was progress.
By definition, I believe my considerably reduced quality of life qualifies as a physical injury. I cannot work, I cannot drive, I cannot leave my home, and I cannot undertake activities of daily living. In my role as a Wellness Advisor and Social Worker I need to be able to empathically listen to the trauma of others, to follow their narrative, and to critically evaluate their wellness to provide safety to the NZ public. Until my health improves, I am not able to undertake these actions due to the symptoms outlined.
I did the right thing by vaccinating to keep others safe at my workplace, and now I would like ACC to do the right thing and recognise that I have been injured by this treatment and to support me towards wellbeing. It may not be a neat and tidy diagnosis but the only reason I am unable to work and live life fully is because of an on-going adverse reaction to the covid-19 booster. I have used up all my sick leave and annual leave and although my work have generously given me special leave for two weeks it is hard to recover while worrying about how long they can pay for me to be away. Your acceptance of a claim would also initiate support from *** as I hopefully work towards transition back into work in the near future. I have worked full time most of my adult life, and look forward to working again, however at this time I am not able to due to a covid-19 booster reaction. Please do the right thing and acknowledge and accept the claim.