Covid Vaccine – my experience

Last Friday I was lucky enough to receive the Covid vaccine, the vaccine I received was the Oxford AstraZeneca one. I was alerted by text message the previous week to let me know that I could book my appointment to receive the vaccination, as I was in group 6. Which is the current group that is being vaccinated in our town. We are incredibly lucky that the hub for our part of the county is in my small town. I feel sorry for those who live further afield. But for once living where I do has a benefit.

Mr Myasthenia was also messaged to say he could book in as he is also in group six and my unpaid carer. He booked in for 9am and I booked in for midday so that Dembe our Labrador wasn’t left. We were excited and nervous at the same time. I had read quite a few posts on line with people being quite poorly after the vaccination. You get the same when it is flu jab season so I do tend to take these with a pinch of salt. Just because someone else has a reaction doesn’t mean you will.

At around 9.10am on the Friday morning, Mr Myasthenia Kid messaged me to say he had his jab. That the process at the hub was like a well oiled military machine and that he had just finished waiting the required 10 minutes after his vaccination. He had the Pfizer one he told me proudly. The same one that his mum had the week before Christmas. He let me know that he was fine and that he hadn’t even felt the injection go in. Which for him is a huge deal, as he is a little scared of needles. Having to have gas and air for his travel vaccinations before we got married in 2000. He said he would come and get me for mine a bit later and not to worry, he didn’t have a headache or any of the other known side effects.

Mr Myasthenia Kid arrived just after 11.35 to take me to the hub to get my jab. He talked me through the process. I suffer with social anxiety so new situations can cause me to panic a bit. I am usually really good at covering this stuff up and most people who know me wouldn’t believe me if I told them I suffered from social anxiety. My social anxiety has increased during lock down due to not seeing anyone on a regular basis. I would have to navigate the vaccination hub alone, without my security blankets of Dembe and Mr MG Kid. 

I remembered my face mask – I don’t go out other than when Jay takes Dembe out and I sit in the car, so I don’t have to wear a mask very often. I put that on as soon as I arrived in the car park. I was very grateful for my run down of how everything is done at the hub as I didn’t feel so anxious. There was a hand sanitiser station on entering the building. I booked in at the reception area and joined the queue. The lady at reception gave me a leaflet for the Pfizer vaccine but explained supplies were running low and I may be given the AstraZeneca one, in which case they would provide me with a leaflet for that.

My only complaint about the queue was that although the marks on the floor were spaced at every 2 metres they didn’t have chairs at every 2 metre gap. Which if you are crap at standing, many people with a wide variety of complaints are wasn’t very well thought out. The queue moved incredibly quickly. I would say that there were at least 20 people ahead of me and I was at the front of the queue in less than 10 minutes.

Once at the front of the queue you had to wait until one of around 10 booths were empty. Inside each booth was a member of staff booking you onto their computer and the person who was injecting you. I had remembered to print off my list of allergies from my computer which I try to keep updated. I like to try and carry a copy of this list in my handbag or coat pocket when I go out in case I am ever involved in an accident. My dad had been quizzed about his allergies two weeks prior to my appointment. when he went for his vaccination so I knew this was incredibly important. 

Mr MG Kid told me that they had issues locating him on the computer when he was getting his jab. Low and behold they had the same issue with me. It was funny as the girl that was imputing the information onto the computer was someone I hadn’t see nor spoken to since probably around 2010. So it was hilarious when she said “is that Rachel?” and I said “Rachel?” as that is her name too. So she knew all my details to put into the computer but it was a situation where it was saying no! Rachel then asked me if I had anything with my NHS number on. Luckily I did, my list of allergies contains my hospital number and my NHS number. Rachel popped this on the computer and as if by magic my details appeared… exactly the same as she had typed them onto the screen a moment earlier.

Due to my list of allergies, the person that was doing the injection had to go and speak to the doctor in charge. She wanted to ensure that there was nothing contained within the vaccine that I could have a reaction with. When she came back she said that when my medical records had been reviewed by my gp practice they has put me down as needing the Oxford AstraZeneca one due to the allergies I have to a long list of medications. They double checked that I didn’t carry an epi pen or had an allergic reaction to a vaccination previously. Then without me even feeling it I had my vaccination. Due to the fact I am have allergies I was asked to sit and wait for ten minutes in the area they have near the exit. Normally with the Oxford AstraZenica one you can leave straight away. With the Pfizer one everyone has to wait 10 minutes.

I sat in the waiting area and within a few minutes I started to feel hot, weird and I had a funny feeling in my chest. I started to get tunnel vision. So I asked someone for help. I was lead to booth 11 which had a bed on it. I lay down and my face felt like it was burning. As soon as I was flat on my back I started to feel a lot better. I think I simply had a panic attack. The combination of having a nasty allergic reaction previously, being hot, wearing a face mask and being anxious, was too much and I panicked pure and simple. I lay down for around 5 minutes. As soon as I felt ok I sat up, then waited to ensure I was ok  sitting up and then made my way to the exit. Dying of embarrassment for being that person, who is probably being accused of being a drama queen.

Friday afternoon a few hours after the vaccine I started to feel very tired and had the chills. As we have a digital thermometer in the house I checked my temperature regularly as I know some people have spiked a fever after the vaccination. My temperature remained normal, throughout the next few days. I would say I felt under the weather but was quite relieved that I didn’t have the headache a lot of my friends had said that they got within hours of having it.

At 1am Saturday morning I woke up racked with pain, all my muscles were burning, when I got out of bed to go to the toilet I was freezing cold. I felt like I was coming down with the flu. I took some paracetamol and went back to sleep. My left arm where I had the jab was very sore, the whole muscle ached. All day I felt pretty out of it, horrendously tired, muscles aching as the day went on the pain got worse. By 17.30 I went back to bed, I took regular paracetamol and drank loads. Resting and staying in bed was the only way to go so I got a new tv series to watch and lay in bed with that on.

When I woke up on Sunday initially I felt a lot better than I had on Saturday morning. This was temporary though. After a shower and dressing I was wiped out. The muscle pain had reduced and was now just uncomfortable. However on moving around more than a step or two I was shaking quite violently. I was struggling to concentrate and just felt really awful. At 3pm I gave up trying to remain out of bed and crawled back in.

What I also noticed on Sunday was that my glands in my neck, groin, armpits and stomach had swollen up. I had glandular fever when I was 21, many years ago now and since then whenever I am poorly with a flu like illness I end up with my glands swelling up. They get quite painful, they ache and no pain relief helps. The glands in my neck were up so badly that they were giving me earache. I tried to see the bright side and that my immune system was doing its job. Having chatted to some other younger friends I had been quite lucky. Some of them who also had the jab on Friday still hadn’t been able to get out of bed for anything other than the toilet. 

The weird thing was whenever I was lying down and doing nothing I actually felt ok. However attempting to get up and do stuff made me feel awful. So they only thing I could do was just lie around in bed and hope that tomorrow it would be better. 

Sunday into Monday I slept 12 hours, which for me is a ridiculous amount. I usually get by on 7-8 hours. I spent years managing on much less so I am happy to get more sleep these days. I felt ok on waking but didn’t say it out loud as I was terrified the minute I did anything I would be feeling awful again. I have to say thank goodness the side effects have gone. I am feeling so much better now. The glands in my armpits are sore but all the other glands have gone back down. My left arm is just sore at the site of the injection and only hurts if pressure is applied to it . I am at long last out the other side of it. I am not exactly thrilled that I will probably end up going through this again in 12 weeks but hey, my odds with contracting Covid weren’t good and I wasn’t prepared to just take my chances with it.

My Myasthenia Kid who had the Pfizer vaccine, had really bad fatigue on Friday. He felt really drained and his arm was very sore. Saturday morning he still felt quite fatigued and his legs were aching. However this wasn’t enough for him not to go into work. By Saturday evening he was through the other side of it and the only issue he had was a sore arm at the injection site and nothing more. When he had the flu jab with me in November all he had was a sore arm where as I was poorly for a few days.

I would still have the vaccine even with knowing this. It is short term discomfort and feeling rough, to be protected. I know those who are anti – vaccine won’t agree and that’s fine, that’s your prerogative.

A strange week

Well the last week has been a strange one, it started on Friday morning when hubby and I both got a text message from our doctors surgery telling us we were being invited for the Covid vaccine. I had only done the vaccine calculator a few days prior and it had been saying that Mr Myasthenia Kid due to his medication for Psoriasis and being a carer would be in group 6 and I was unlikely to be vaccinated before the end of May into June. So I was pleasantly surprised that we both got the invite. We are both booked in at different times as one of us needs to be with Dembe, as he is never left spoilt pooch that he is. Mr Myasthenia Kid is getting his at 9am and I am getting mine at midday.

I am a bit worried about getting the vaccine as a few of my friends in the chronically sick community have been poorly after. Some of them had been unlucky enough to get Covid and are struggling with long Covid. Others had Covid and had very few symptoms and are reacting very strongly. My own dad was vaccinated a few weeks ago and he still has a sore arm at the injection site. My mum was vaccinated at the beginning of this week, as far as I know she is doing ok. I am happy to be getting the vaccination, I know there are many differing opinions. To be honest if Mr Myasthenia Kid didn’t work in retail I don’t know if I would be quite so keen to get it. My risk has always been that he brings it home to me and I get exposed to it that way. As we are both over weight ( but not morbidly obese or a BMI over 40 ) we are at a slightly higher risk of complications should we get it. What worries me more about Covid is the possibility of Long Covid and having terrible complications that impact me or hubby for the rest of our lives. Life is hard enough with my health, it would be even harder with Mr Myasthenia Kid also sick and he would struggle mentally if he had to lead the life I do. I see the arguments raging on social media every day for and against the vaccine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but screaming at each other doesn’t change minds.

***

I just had a very sobering experience and it has left me feeling sad. I went to our post box ( a hangover from when we had the Weims who ate post, including a cheque for £500 once!) and as I did, I happened to glance up the road. All piled up in front of the house where both my neighbours have recently passed away, are all their belongings in black bags. Their relatives must have people in doing a house clearance. I will be honest we hated each other. But to see the sum total of their lives packed up in black bags ready to be taken to the tip really upset me. They were loved by their friends and family but the things they cherished lie out in the street in rubbish bags. It really hit me hard, probably my age and having to accept my mortality. It just seems so tragic that their lives can be summed up by the contents of those rubbish sacks. It is the first time I have seen something like this. I know many people have to clear houses after relatives pass away, it is the first time I have seen it. I didn’t like it.

***

Sorry this post is a bit of a mish mash but that’s how my week has been. Yesterday I had to go and get some bloods done to check my electrolyte levels and to have the first of what I am assuming will be regular CA125 blood tests. For those who don’t know what a CA125 test is, it is a test used for diagnosing Ovarian Cancer – well one of them, You can find more information here  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ovarian-cancer/diagnosis/  I am having this test because my mum had a rare type of ovarian cancer back in 2018. Thankfully she is in remission and doing well after a huge operation to get rid of the huge ovarian cyst she had which contained a minute bit of cancer. She was incredibly lucky it was found when it was, it was mainly found due to the size of the enormous cyst on her ovary which was the size of a rugby ball. Although the type of cancer she had was rare and not one that runs in families, my gp and I both think that it is a good idea to monitor what this marker is doing. Although in my mums case her CA125 was barely raised, when her cancer was removed. She now has to have this blood test very regularly as she is still being monitored by the hospital. She is in remission and won’t be classed as cancer free for at least another 2 years. I was absolutely fine yesterday having the test but for some reason today I have started panicking about the result. It is a bit silly really, I need to have the test, I pushed for it and now I am terrified. Life eh?

Yesterdays blood draw was a bit of a disaster. Having my bloods done is never a pleasant experience unless I have a highly seasoned HCA / Phlebotomist / Nurse taking them. Otherwise I end up with a frustrated medical professional and multiple stab wounds. I sort of knew I was in trouble when I had to ask for paediatric needles and explain that me having Ehlers Danlos Syndrome meant taking my blood would be like sticking a needle into an elastic band. I have small veins that will blow at the slightest provocation. Yesterday for some reason I was in one of those moods where I didn’t want to make a fuss. I should of as I have been fucking butchered. 

When she went for the crook of my arm, a place that hasn’t given up a drop of blood in years I should have spoken up. I didn’t. I was put off  saying something as  I could sense that this person wasn’t going to accept anything I said as gospel. I have had a few of these appointments of late, the last one with a hospital consultant that told me I didn’t have a spontaneous CSF leak in 2016 because my MRI didn’t show any signs of it. When you are met with that kind of ignorance there is no point fighting it. I must get a load of my CSF leak info leaflets together and put them in my handbag so the next time I am met with this shit I can casually leave one with them to read and educate themselves.

I digress, so she starts on the crook of my arm. I know this isn’t going to end well. Of course because I am half asleep due to my appointment being at the crack of dawn I forget to read her the riot act of absolutely under no circumstances is she to dig around. I get woken up with an electric shock like pain as she strokes the needle over a nerve. I want to say FFS but I dont, I take a huge breath in. She then says helpfully *sarcasm* you are very sensitive aren’t you. I wish we didn’t have Covid as my husbund would be here telling her she was talking out of her behind. He says at every opportunity that I am as hard as nails for everything except dentistry. I have had a lumbar puncture when the aneasthetic worse off, I have had the sides of my toe nail removed without aneasthetic as the ring block has worn off. I am not a dainty little peach that bruises at the slightest contact. I am in pain because your technique is shit. It probably works on big juicy normal veins but my veins are c*nts and I tried to tell you! 

It does what my veins always do, fills the tube up, looks promising a few drops go into the vial and then its stops. She digs around, I try not to react as she already has me down as being a pansy. When she gives up, I almost have tears in my eyes with relief.

This is how it is looking today. The bruising is inside and moving my elbow is sore. 

I then suggest the back of my hand as there is a place between the first two knuckles on my right hand which is always a sweet spot. This is ignored and we move to the side of the back of my hand. The tourniquet is so tight I am pretty sure that I am going to be bruised from its application. Without a word of a lie two hours after the blood draw, I still had the marks of where the tourniquet had been tied on every area of my arms.

This next spot is the same and is worse in the fact that I know the vein is blown before she seems to. I have to say now hand on heart this is the most painful blood draw I have had in all my 40+ years and I have had a boat load. 

As you can see I am the proud owner of a multicoloured wrist, that feels like it has a marble under the skin from the blown vein.  Also I would like to point out none of these photos have had any filters added, my bruises actually look worse in the flesh!

I just want to point out even though I have EDS, I RARELY bruise like this from a blood draw. I only bruise like this when someone has taken no notice of what I have told them and thinks that my veins need no special treatment.

This one was very painful as whilst the vein was blown she was again stroking the needle along my nerve endings and was surprised when I kept jumping.

Our doctors surgery has a policy of three attempts and then you get re booked for a blood draw with someone else. She did ask me if I wanted to continue. After having to get up at 6am so I could make it to the appointment semi- conscious, there was no way we were trying every single vein in my body to get blood!  So we went for vein number three on the back of my left hand.

This one did give up the goods at the rate of a slow trickle, she did insist on continually moving the needle about which I hate because I find it so painful. I must’ve turned a bit white on this one as she kept asking me if I was ok. I was fine just in pain and when I am in pain I go quiet and very white. This one blew as well, so I had the joys of her continuing to attempt to get the blood out whilst I could see the surrounding tissue turning a nice livid blue. The only good thing about this appointment was that I got the name of the nurse who can get my bloods on the first attempt. I have saved it on my phone so that all future blood drawers will be booked in with her. 

This one is bruised but it isn’t anywhere as bad as the other two, as I am so pale the camera doesn’t capture the colours as well.

I was so tired after this appointment that I went to bed in the afternoon and slept for two hours. Something I very rarely do as it usually stops me from sleeping later that night. I was completely worn out by the stress and pain of it all.

I am keeping everything crossed that I don’t have to have them repeated any time soon.