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A.C. – California

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Describe the symptoms and the timeline of the reaction.

"​8/14/21

My J and J vaccine experience:

I have mild high blood pressure and take my BP meds each day. I also have asthma for which I also use an inhaler each day, and sleep apnea for which I regularly use a cpap machine. Otherwise I am healthy, walk regularly, eat healthily and overall have a positive outlook on life even during adversity. Oh yeh, I’m also a 6 year breast cancer survivor.

Early March 2021 I got the J and J vaccine. I very much felt I was doing the right thing, to protect myself, my family, friends and people I don’t know. I was glad to be getting the J n J vaccine because I do have some food sensitivities plus due to the conditions noted above. I was a bit nervous about getting the vaccine but still felt it the right thing to do.

I felt dizzy about 5 min after receiving the J and J. I stayed 30 minutes at the pharmacy as instructed. I still felt dizzy when I left to go home but not terribly. I also felt a bit dissociated or ‘out of my body.’ I’d been planning on still working that day but instead had to go lay down and sleep. I noted some pain and swelling of my inner right leg. I wasn’t very worried but just noted the symptom. I ended up exhausted from the vaccine and unable to work the next day either. Then the pain in my right arm kicked in so that it hurt quite a bit. But I still wasn’t worried and felt glad that I got the vaccine.

However, within 23 hours of getting the J and J vaccine all of a sudden while I was laying in bed about to sleep, my heart started pounding so hard and so fast unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. My heart felt like it was pounding against the inside of my chest and it beat so fast at a rate I couldn’t even imagine a heart could beat.

I don’t at all like asking for help. But knew I needed to call 911 asap so I did. I also texted a friend who hurried on over. The EMTs and fire came inside with my friend. I couldn’t afford to take the ambulance to the hospital due to the following:

I had been very ill in March of 2020 with suspected Covid when it was very first known to be in our community, and was tested and treated at the ER. At that time I had a fever of 104.2 and was in tachycardia with breathing difficulties, a bad cough, weird gastric symptoms etc. All the symptoms of Covid, but tested negative. But I was extremely ill at home for two weeks and it took two and a half months before I could breathe again without being super winded.

The phlebotomist at the time said she thinks it was a false negative because at that time the hospital had only tested a handful of people and were newly learning how to do the Covid test. The ER ruled out the flus and strep. I sure think I had Covid then in March 2020 but will never know. But either way, I was left with an $8000.00 hospital and two ambulances bill and had just finished paying it off in March 2021. The hospital had made me take an ambulance home too since I didn’t have Covid test results yet.

So fast forward to March 2021, I couldn’t afford to go to the hospital so the ENTs came into my home and cared for me there. I was in bad tachycardia and my BP was out of control. They tested my heart to see if I had a heart attack and fortunately had not. They monitored me for awhile until my heart and BP finally settled down. They believed that it was a vaccine reaction since I’d just had it the day before and prior to that had been fine, since being so sick in March of 2020.

After the ENTs and fire left, my friend asked me if I had a paper on vaccine side effects. I very intentionally didn’t read any side effects prior to getting the vaccine because I didn’t want to potentially influence myself or cause myself worry. My friend read the paper that had been given to me. I told her to not read any side effects to me at all other than if tachycardia was one of them. She read all the side effects to herself and ended up telling me that yes, tachycardia is definitely a side effect and listed under severe.

It felt severe.

When the ENTs were caring for me I looked up at the attending ENT that was monitoring my heart and asked her if I was going to make it. That’s how scary and how severe it was to feel my heart pounding so intensely and beating so fast.

I’ve ended up okay as far as I know though I was exhausted for about two weeks and could only work a little bit starting that second week after getting the vaccine. My heart’s been fine since as has my BP with my regular meds. But what I have noticed starting a few weeks ago is this weird and frustrating over sensitivity to sunlight. I can only be in the sun for a short time—20 min to 35 min unless there are clouds too, In sunlight, I very quickly get a bad headache, have balance issues, and have to get out of the sunlight ASAP. Then I’ve had to go home and lay in the dark for hours to get my head to stop hurting and to ice my forehead and top of my head. It’s strange and very frustrating because I’m limited in what I can do. I’m fine on cloudy days, but sunny days even when it’s only 69 degrees out which is not at all hot, I have to stay out of the light. But I’m okay for somewhat longer times on some sunny days if it’s not hot. I don’t understand this at all, but the sun and heat sensitivity issue is new.

Now I’m worried about getting a booster shot or another full vaccine dose. But I’m also worried about all the ways in which I won’t be able to participate in life—like traveling, seeing my family and friends who won’t see me unless I’m always fully vaccinated, etc. and being able to work.

What a mess we’re in!

-A.C. - California"

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