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Bethany Sullivan

What was your life like before you received the COVID-19 vaccine?

I had already been struggling with depression and fibromyalgia, but my mental and physical health worsened significantly after the vaccine.

Describe the symptoms and the timeline of the reaction.

I am not anit-vax but I did NOT want to get the COVID vaccine, and waited for several months. In the end I decided to get it not because I thought it would be helpful or because I trusted the science behind it, but because if I didn't I would be isolated from my very pro-vax family, wouldn't be able to hug my parents or siblings, go to my brother's wedding, or visit my baby nephew. I wasn't willing to be on the outside like that, but I also had no idea what would happen.

With the first vaccine I felt fatigued and had worsened depression, resulting in obsessive thoughts of suicide. That lasted a couple of days. I proceeded with the 2nd vaccine 3 weeks later, thinking maybe I was simply having coincidental worsened depression. Later in the day after the 2nd vaccine, the upper joint of my right pointer finger started to "spasm" and hurt badly, out of nowhere. This continued intermittently and worsened. My finger became swollen, mottled, too painful to use, and it started become crooked. I went to see my doctor, and told her this started the day of the 2nd vaccine, and that I believed it to be related. She said "There's no reason to think that." She took an ex-ray, said I had an avulsion fracture. I asked how that could be, since there was no "moment" it could have broken. I first noticed symptoms while relaxing and watching t.v. She insisted it was anything other than the vaccine, and I started to think, "Must have been I was using the garden trowel too aggressively?" But it just didn't make sense. I went to a hand PT, and he created a brace for my finger. After it failed to improve and the pain worsened, I was sent to an orthopedist. The repeat x-ray showed "bone resorption in the distal phalange." My bone was disappearing! He couldn't explain why, said maybe it was due to lack of use; he also denied it could be vaccine related. I continued with hand therapy and it very slowly started to improve over several months. But then my left pointer finger started developing the same symptoms and started growing with a twisted crookedness; it did not progress to the severity of my right finger. My right pointer finger is now usable, but it is stiff and intermittently very painful. Today, all of my upper finger joints hurt intensely, intermittently, sometimes waking me up. My 1st and 2nd fingers are growing crooked. So far my other fingers are okay. Labs have been done, no RA, nothing autoimmune, no explanation....Additionally, my big toes started hurting August after the vaccine, but I didn't make that connection until later. My toes hurt intermittently like my finger do, and sometimes it's very painful to walk. Occasionally the 2nd toe on my right foot becomes very red, swollen and itchy. I never had these problems pre-vaccine.

That's just the hands and feet. I also developed random stabbing nerve-like pain in different parts of my body, no pattern I can make of it. Sometimes it's the left side of my pubic bone, sometimes a rib, various other random places. I can differentiate this from fibromyalgia pain. It's weird and scary. Cardiac symptoms have included chest pain over my heart, daily palpitations and "fluttering" feeling with in-breath. ECG was normal, nothing remarkable on Zio patch when I wore it last year. Which was reassuring, but something is definitely off. Fortunately, no significant or lasting shortness of breath. I can mostly walk the dogs without issue.

I've had intermittent tinnitus since the vaccine, which sometimes causes severe insomnia.

Mentally (I work as a psychiatric nurse practitioner and am very attuned to changes in my own mental health), depression became severe, with chronic suicidal ideation and wish to be dead because my body felt broken and I had no hope. Antidepressants gave me terrible side effects (worsened suicidal ideation and tinnitus, among other). Fortunately, I have a wonderful support team, including an ND, PT, and a therapist. I feel tremendous anger and grief about how the vaccine has impaired my quality of life, and that of others. I would like to be involved in this project in some way, and I am so glad it exists!

Describe the solutions that helped your symptoms

Hand PT seemed helpful in terms of learning to use my R pointer finger again, although it never fully recovered like the orthopedist said it should. I don't expect my hands and feet will ever be "normal" again. I think my ND has been helpful in terms of supplements, homeopathic and other treatments, reducing inflammation. My therapist has been a god-send. Rolfing, somatic experiencing body work, acupuncture and chiropractor/NET have been helpful for pain flare-ups. And the support of my friends who believe the vaccine was detrimental!

Which solutions were not helpful?

Western medicine - I would say it was harmful because they didn't believe me

What would you like others to know?

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The individual experience shared above is offered for informational purposes only. React19 neither endorses nor recommends any treatment(s) noted therein. React19 does not diagnose medical conditions, offer treatment advice, treat illnesses, or prescribe medicine or drugs. It is strongly recommended that, prior to acting upon any information gleaned from a shared experience, you first consult a physician.