I’ve always been an athletic person. I like being outdoors. I have two young kids so my energy levels have to be up there. I was that mom you would see racing her kids down the street or jumping on the bed with them – energetic and fun.
My husband likes to hike so we would go on family hikes. I’ve always been healthy and the only concern l’ve had is depression and anxiety. I’m a registered psychotherapist worker with mental health and addictions, and I’ve been able to manage it well over the last 18 years.
I haven’t been doing my psychotherapist iob as l’ve been on maternity leave. Instead, I’ve been doing wedding photography and trying to break into destination weddings, so I knew I’d have to travel. I didn’t know when and or if Covid-19 vaccine mandates were going to lift.
I remember saying to myself aside from travelling, the media kept saying “do your part” and my family were also pressuring me. I thought to myself, if this means getting back to normal and they’re saying this is our ticket out, then l’ll do it. I need to trust science enough to do it.
At the time when I made the decision, I wasn’t aware of everything I know now. My first vaccine was June 1st and it was the Pfizer. I didn’t have any side effects or adverse events, just general site pain and a sore arm. Even after the first, my husband and I said to each other we both just felt off.
It wasn’t until the second one on July 30th whenI started noticing things. I remember sitting there for 10 minutes and all of a sudden I felt dizzy and light headed. I didn’t say anything as I didn’t want to stay there any longer than I needed to. I went to meet my husband at a Tim Hortons down the street and I felt sick, almost like a flu. I said to myself it was normal, and I went home and needed to lie down. I was in bed for 2 days with body aches, extreme fatigue, nausea and an overall sick feeling.
After the 2 days, I started to feel normal again. I started to notice every few weeks I’d feel like I was getting a chest cold, but nothing ever came of it. My chest just felt achy, as if I was fighting a sickness but then it would go away.
Then I started having constant joint pain in my fingers, elbows and my feet. I would feel arthritic pain. Even though I’ve always had migraines in the past, the headaches were becoming more frequent and felt different. When I got migraines before, they were temporal or at the base of my skull, but these ones were in front of my forehead and back of my head. Headaches and chest pain radiate down my neck to lower back, resulting in lower back pain, neck pain, and even down to my arms.
I noticed I was also having a hard time verbalizing thoughts. I was also getting more out of breath, and being an active person previously, I noticed I was out of breath easily. They would come and go and I would dismiss them…maybe the headaches were stress? I was rationalizing them away.
My menstrual periods became very heavy and painful. A couple days before my period, it’d feel like I was getting the flu, my periods lasted longer. They used to be so regular and to the day, but within the last couple of months, my cycle has shortened so now I get my period once every 2 to 3 weeks.
The first time I went to the urgent care was the first week of January due to chest pain and shortness of breath. There was tingling in my arms and hands which was concerning. I would be laying down in pain and couldn’t breathe.
My cousin is a nurse and told me to go see the doctor. After I told them what was happening, the first thing the doctor said was, “Hi Ashley, are you worried about anything?” I knew what he was going to say as my chart said I have anxiety. I reassured him I was not worried about anything. He tried to pass it off as anxiety, and I told him l’ve had anxiety for 18 years of my life, and I’m also a psychotherapist so I know what anxiety is, and this isn’t it. By using my coping strategies I can make it go away, but this is different, and it’s constant.
They did an ECG, blood work and told me everything was normal. The doctor sent me home saying it was probably something viral. They tested me for Covid and it was negative.
Nothing improved. I wasn’t given answers. Before leaving urgent care, they took my blood pressure and determined it was very high and told me to follow up with family doctor. When I saw my GP a couple weeks later, they were going to blood pressure monitor on me for 24 hours. I said I felt my concerns were being dismissed and I wanted them to look further into my chest pains and the shortness of breath was constant. My GP advised to put the blood pressure monitor on hold and told me to go to ER.
That ER doctor was good and suggested it could be Pericarditis. He also checked for blood clots. We did blood work, ECG, chest X-ray and d-dimer. I mentioned the fact I was double vaccinated and the nurse started treating me differently. I said they need to know nothing in my life has changed except I was vaccinated.
The ER doctor acknowledged it, but also mentioned it could be Covid. When I was tested the first time I was negative, and when he tested me again for Covid, that test was negative too. I’ve never had Covid. Even though the tests are not showing anything it could mean it’s not significant enough to show up on the tests, and he said it could either be attributed to Covid or the vaccine.
That day I talked to a lot of people in the ER. I was there for 11 hours and everyone I spoke to were talking about chest pains and shortness of breath. They sent me home and said take aspirin twice a day for a week because if I had any tiny blood clots, the aspirin would help. It was suggested the aspirin should help with inflammation as well.
Nothing came of that visit to the ER either and I still needed answers, so I got a referral to a cardiologist. Between the last ER visit and the cardiologist appointment, I went back to the ER for chest pain, shortness of breath and tingling/numbness in hands and feet.
This is when the internal vibrations started happening in my chest, arms and hands. This was a new symptom so I felt whatever I had was getting worse which made me very worried. They did the same thing at the ER. ECG, blood work and that was it. Also a quick ultrasound of my heart, again everything normal.
When I saw the cardiologist, they did an echo, stress test and I wore a heart monitor for 48 hours at home. The echo was fine, the stress test was negative but it maxed out at 6 minutes which the doctor attributes to not exercising. The heart monitor didn’t show anything significant and he recommended I exercise more.
I asked about my blood work and he said some of it was missing, and told me he’d call me back and do one more follow up appointment. I got a call days later from the office saying my next follow up was in a month.
Just recently, I noticed rashes on my feet which are itchy and red. I can’t play with my kids anymore and when they ask me to play with them and I have to say no because I’m terrified I’ll over exert myself. If I do, I get pain and shortness of breath and feel like I’m going to have a heart attack.
I can’t walk up steps because I feel like I can’t breathe. I can’t do anything I used to do. I feel like a horrible mom and having them see me so lethargic is not normal. Mentally, throughout the lockdowns I was having suicidal thoughts. I’m not the person who has it in me to do it, but having thoughts of not wanting to go through this is scaring me.
Those thoughts are coming back since my symptoms have been getting worse.
Sometimes I feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel and I struggle everyday, I can’t work. I can’t do the normal things that I used to do. The only thing that keeps me going is the fact I need to protect my kids from what’s going on in this world and I need to be there for them.