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Sarah Minchin

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

Healthy, busy, active. I am a musician and music teacher, keen on camping, walking and gardening.

Describe the symptoms and the timeline of the reaction.

From my "Vaccine Diary"

27/March/2021 Day 1

(Start of school Easter holiday) Arm immediately (within 5 minutes) felt limp and heavy and I have a metallic taste in my mouth. Arm also constantly tried to fold up at the elbow. After 2 hrs very sleepy and slept for 3 hours, otherwise no symptoms except mild headache in forehead.

28/March Day 2 Arm still limp. Still very tired with slight headache and slight nausea. A few minutes activity followed by 2 hours rest. In the evening (approx. 30 hours after vaccination) arm swelled a lot and I just managed to get my wedding ring off before fingers swelled also. Arm was extremely painful to the touch and very difficult to straighten to any degree. (I remember several weeks after this that my arm reacted in the same way to a Tetanus jab when I was 10 (1981) As far as I can recall that lasted about a week).

29/March Day 3 Still very tired with slight headache. Rest-to-Activity ratio the same as yesterday. Arm is difficult but not impossible to straighten, but won’t stay straight without effort. Arm is also still painful to touch and move.

30/March Day 4 Less fatigue so possible to be more active but arm unable to do much. Headache also lessened.

31/March Day 5 I did about 4.5 hours admin work. Much less fatigue. Arm unchanged.

1/April Day 6 Similar to day 5

3/April Week 2 All this week things are static: Arm is still very uncomfortable at rest, painful to move or touch. Fatigue is at a level where I can do some gentle activities with long rest periods between but I have moments of confusion and disorientation. I go for a gentle walk and am shocked at how exhausted I feel. Mindful of having had M.E. in the past I decide to take the following week off work. I have to cancel a music rehearsal because I cannot hold the trombone.

10/April Week 2 Fatigue gradually decreases over the course of the week. *Now that I am gradually doing more I notice heart “flutters” which cause me suddenly to need to sit down. I’m also getting “hot flushes” which last anything from a few minutes to an hour or so- the longer ones tend to be during the night as well as restricted breathing. As arm is showing no signs of improvement I call 111 and get phone appointment with my local Doctor. Advice is to continue to rest and take antihistamine and anti-inflamatories. I am possibly having a “Hyper histamine / sensitivity response” to jab. By the end of the week I’m very constipated- I think due to anti-inflamatories, which don’t seem to be working anyway, so I stop taking them. I try stretching arm gently, but impossible to tell whether it helps. I buy a light sling to help me rest the arm which does help. Arm gradually gets worse so I go back to anti-inflamatories. Antihistamines appear to do nothing.

*I eventually realise this would have been diagnosed as POTS

17/April Week 3 I return to work. Fatigue is lessening every day. I have moments of being very shaky and weak with heart flutters and suddenly needing to sit down continuing.

18th April - Whole upper arm and shoulder (Brachial complex)suddenly flares up dramatically. It feels hard to the touch but no particularly obvious swelling. The pain is excruciating. Arm folds at elbow so my hand is by my shoulder and eventually will not move. I manage to get my clothes off and put on a poncho which will go over my arm without having to move it. I can’t get dressed for two days.

24/April Week 4 Have to keep my arm in a sling. Any movement is extremely painful and I very gradually try to straighten my arm to 90 degrees. I am unable to do some aspects of my job. I have a feeling of restriction in my throat, down as far as the middle of my chest and feel as though I have something large lodged there. This persists as a strong feeling for about 5 days, then gradually lessens to a degree. The fatigue is still constant and fairly debilitating. I am doing nothing except work and sleep.

Describe the solutions that helped your symptoms

After about 6 weeks, 3 of which had seen no improvement, I went to a "Clinical Homeopath" From this point I make a slow but steady improvement. This is ongoing 23 months later (February 2023) Other things which gave temporary relief were: Hot baths, heat pad "Accuhealth" (based on accupressure points, with an electrical pulse on the points) and TENS machine.

Which solutions were not helpful?

My NHS Doctor! - Wouldn't see me and recommended anther dose of the vaccine. Trying to exercise or stretch too soon. Anti Histamines

What would you like others to know?

If you have suffered nerve damage, don't try to exercise muscles until the nerve damaged is mostly healed. Although my Brachial complex paralysis was the "headline-grabber", the neurological issues affected my whole body, with muscle spasms and symptoms similar to Long Covid. I haven't been able to think clearly since about 30 minutes after the injection.
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