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Barry felt a pang of dread pre-Pfizer. He 'stamped it out.'
Lives Destroyed : Covid 19 Vaccine injuries : Part II
Barry* is married with two young children. He is in his early forties. Prior to his Pfizer vaccine, life revolved around his family, his dog, music and motorbike. He was fit, healthy, happy and productive. Now, he suffers chronic fatigue, persistent headaches, brain fog, memory problems, sound and light sensitivity.
“I have trouble sleeping a lot of the time. My circulation is now really poor so I have very cold hands and feet all the time,” he said.
Barry arrived for his Covid 19 vaccination on June 28 2021. While in the queue for his shot he felt a ‘small sense of dread.’
“I just stamped it out,” he said. “I had no previous reason to distrust the information that was in the media.” Within days he was overcome by multiple debilitating symptoms.
Barry’s the second a five part series: #LivesDestroyed #vaccineinjuries
Read his story below.
I'm in my early 40's, married with two kids. I'm an avid musician and my life really revolves around music. It was my job for a long time. That's no longer the case, but it's still very important to me. I play several instruments and sing and I am in the process of releasing an album. Illness put the brakes on that for quite a while which is why I mention it. My other passion is basically anything with an engine. I've always loved cars and motorbikes.
There are many, many things I can no longer do. I have a big dog, I used to love going off trail walking with him. I have been on my motorbike only a handful of times in the last 20 months as I don't trust my concentration. It didn't leave my shed for the first 15 months after I got sick. I have a great relationship with my daughter (8), but I now can't do anything remotely active with her. no running, jumping, chasing....anything like that. Even mucking around lifting or throwing her about in the pool will cause issues to flare.
I didn't drive my car for anything longer than ten or fifteen minutes for nearly a year as the concentration that took - completely drained me. I still rarely drive longer distances, something I would have done regularly which means there are plenty of family and friends that I now haven't seen in nearly three years, between early Covid restrictions and ill health.
Any evening activity now requires at least a week of planning just to have the energy to manage it. In more recent times I have managed to get to a few local gigs, but I generally have to leave early. We moved house two and a half years ago. I think I've been to a pub here twice as I am now really prone to headaches and migraines.
Basically, every aspect of my life has changed. Anything outside of work (I returned to work part time in late September and 15 months out) and family has to be carefully planned and accounted for.
Tell me your thoughts on covid at the time of your taking your vaccine.
What were your reasons for taking it? Did you have any reservations about taking it?
At the time, I didn't really think a whole lot about it, in fact I was just relieved it was finally my turn! I had two strong reasons for taking it. My wife was pregnant and my job puts me in close quarters with multiple different people every day. I had no previous reason to distrust the information that was in the media. I do remember being in the queue and there was a small sense of dread. I just stamped it out ...after all, why would someone NOT take it? At this point (June 2021) there was very little if any coverage of complications from it. I think there might have been a bit about Astra Zenica and clots at the time, but I knew I wasn't getting that one (I got Pfizered) so I really had no concerns. I would have had one in each arm no problem!
What is your injury: outline any of your medical diagnoses, conditions confirmed through tests and medical records.
My symptoms are chronic fatigue, persistent headaches, concentration issue (brain fog) and memory problems, sound/light sensitivity, heavy legs and general random muscle weakness. I have trouble sleeping a lot of the time. My circulation is now really poor so I have very cold hands and feet all the time. I got covid in Feb '22 (eight months post vaccine injury) and at this point my lungs became a big issue. Up to that point, they had been fine but for most of 2022, I was on an inhaler. There are other symptoms that pop in every now and again like heartburn and random heart palpitations.
The only diagnosis I have received is long covid and that I started to feel unwell following my first vaccination (I had three in total). Long covid itself is a diagnosis of exclusion - basically they rule out other conditions with similar symptoms through testing. There is no direct test for long covid. I have been to a cardiologist (my heart is fine) and I've had a brain MRI done. I'm still waiting for my ....the word escapes me but "brain doctor" (neurologist) appointment.
In some ways, I am quite lucky in that I don't have any outward problems like some others do. Plenty of people have been diagnosed with PoTS (Postural Tachycardia Syndrome) or various neuropathies, heart problems....basically all sorts of physical ailments. I have avoided all of those. All of my symptoms are, well, invisible (apart from the lung involvement but that is mostly gone now). So I am lucky that I don't have any of those difficulties. On the flip side, it is harder to treat symptoms when they can't be seen. The only conclusive test I have done was a capnography test - it tests the C02 levels in the lungs. Mine was consistent with other long covid patients in that my C02 level dropped and stayed low after reading out loud for a while. In ‘normal’ people, the body recalibrates and corrects this almost instantly whereas mine just stayed low for I think fifteen to twenty mins. I have attached the final letter I received when I was discharged from the long covid clinic.
Describe how your daily life is affected. Are there things that you cannot anymore?
It affects everything. I have an 18 month old son. I can't play with him the way I played with my daughter. I'm just not able for the physical exertion of rough and tumble or throwing him around. If I bend over or if blood rushes to my head my headache gets worse. The headache is ever present, but these days it is mostly background. It used to be fairly crippling. A lot of that improvement is through management, understanding what triggers it and avoiding those activities. Not being able to bend over is a big problem really. If you have kids you need to be down at their level A LOT! I have trouble keeping our small garden in any sort of order and even cleaning up after the dog is difficult. My dog now has to go to daycare several times a week as I don't have the capacity for the walks he needs which is an extra bill I could do without.
When I got sick I was the fittest I had been in a decade. I had taken up jogging and cycling. In fact, I had just gotten a new reasonably decent bike - it got used twice and now my brother uses it as anything beyond a slow walk will probably trigger a crash (of symptoms), or at least kick things up a notch.
I have managed to get back to or adapt some of the things I love which has been so important. I've been to a few gigs. I can sing again (although again, this has to be managed). I play guitar regularly and have recorded some music at home which I'm releasing this year.
Did you inform the HPRA of your injury?
Yes. I can't remember the exact timeline but I didn't hear from them for approximately one year. I sent them a stinker of an email asking why they had not followed up on what was clearly a complication and that they were not taking their role in all of this seriously. I got a reply to that, all apologies and asking for updates. I've had a few emails over and back since then.
What has been your experience of the medical system? How has this affected your experience/ recovery?
It is ill equipped to deal with chronic illness and I mean that as a general criticism, not just my illness. My experience is that the system is hopelessly mismanaged and difficult to navigate. When you can't think straight and a good day is like being jet lagged hungover and drugged rolled into one it is impossible to fill out forms or even know who to speak to.
My GP is lovely and very open about not knowing much about this illness. She is happy in a way to be led by me in that I can bring information or research to her and ask if we can act based on it. I think in this regard, I'm in the minority. The problem as I pointed out above is this puts the onus on the sick person who can't concentrate enough to read a menu to try and trawl through research papers filled with medical jargon. As far as I can see, the system is designed for:
a) people with clearly broken bodies. Broken leg, heart attack, burst appendix, that sort of thing.
b) eective procedures or non emergency procedures - these people can wait for whatever it is they need, a mole removed or maybe a hip replacement and it works reasonably well.
c) cancer. My mother had leukemia and I have to say she was looked after brilliantly. Thankfully she is fine following a stem cell transplant and continues to have great after-care now, nearly nine years later.
Everything else is just a river of misery with long waiting lists, a lack of knowledge or answers and a lucky dip if you will get someone who has any interest in helping you. I often wonder do these specialists think people wait on a list to see them for years for fun? I feel they often forget to look at it from the patients point of view, they can be extremely dismissive of opinions and information.
How have you been treated by wider society, have you been supported by your family, friends, colleagues and medics?
My family have been great. Really, I couldn't have asked for better. My mother had M.E. when I was a kid and the similarities are astonishing. What that means, is that my whole family immediately gets it. There was no trying to explain, they already understood. They help wherever they can. Friends for the most part have been pretty good. A few have just disappeared now that I can't go to the pub or out for dinner or whatever.
Wider society - it's hard for people to understand what they can't see. Once you are upright and have no bandages they think you are fine again. You get pretty pissed off trying to explain. I'm now back at work part time and again, now that I'm back doing some work, people think I'm fine. I generally just avoid the conversation if I can at all.
Tell me about how your financial situation has been affected by your injury.
Badly. My wife was self-employed. Her business effectively closed in March 2020 with the first covid lockdown. That in itself was no big deal as we are fairly prudent people. All of our financial commitments are both small and manageable on my wage. I'm a permanently employed public servant. This next bit is a whole saga on it's own, but public servants with a positive covid test went on special covid leave. As long as they were signed off by their doctor as covid related illness, this became long term special leave. This entitled them to full pay and didn't impact their regular sick day allowance. It also wasn't subject to the same conditions as regular sick pay.
I got sick as a result of the vaccine. I have the same illness - long covid - but because I had no positive test, after three months I went onto half pay. After a further three months, I went onto nil pay. I received a small payment which was based on my pension entitlements. Same illness, completely different treatment all because I didn't have a positive test. This by the way is something I will be speaking to my local TD about in the coming weeks. I am back at work now, doing my best but I now have no sick pay entitlements for the next 4 years.
Basically, my parents paid my mortgage for the guts of a year and we managed on illness benefit. I am very lucky that my mortgage is really quite small, and that my parents were in a position to do that for me. Lucky seems like too insignificant a word for that level of generosity.
To finish: tell me about how you feel about your future, are you hopeful?
I'm always hopeful. I'm an optimistic person generally. Mentally, I'm pretty resilient. Sure there were really dark days as part of the illness and fucking hell they were hard, but I don't dwell on them. I really don't look back on what was at all, there's no point. It's part of the reason why most dates I've given are rough, I haven't counted how many days or months it has been because it doesn't matter. What matters is right now and tomorrow. What matters is that I have improved enough to be there for my kids a bit more, to be able to function a bit. I would only consider myself probably 40% recovered, but the way I look at it, that’s a lot better than I was this time last year, and that's all the hope I need.
*Barry is a pseudonym. He works for a state body that requires him not to speak to the media.
#LivesDestroyed #vaccineinjuries continues tomorrow.
Update: A reader asked why Barry took three shots having suffered a bad reaction to the first. Here is Barry’s answer:
It's a really good question but not a short answer!
I am very much a get on with it kind of person. I was self employed for a long time so unless my leg is hanging off, I go to work. This is to my detriment at times, but that's just the way I am. It means, if there is a problem, I will do my best to fix it. At the time, I had no reason to suspect that this would be a longer term illness and I was just trying to get back to normal as quickly as possible. My wife was heavily pregnant at this point and I was desperate to be able to look after her.
Anyway, on top of those reasons, I figured it couldn't make me much worse as I was pretty much bedbound with crippling fatigue and blinding headaches. I probably had Covid in March 2020, but because I wasn't out of the country at the time, I wasn't tested. I was the sickest I have ever been for about a week. By the time the testing rules changed, I was pretty much better so my test came back negative. Anyway, I read some articles which said the vaccine could help people with long covid. I didn't think I had long covid at this point, but I presented the theory to my GP - that the vaccine had triggered dormant virus particles and flared it up. We (Barry and GP) figured the second dose might be enough to knock it on the head. In fairness, I think it did pull me out of the nose dive I was in.
The third (and final - there will be no more!) dose was mostly to do with circumstance. We had a three month old we wanted to protect, my mother is immuno compromised, there was huge amounts of covid circulating at the time and I was pretty scared that if I caught covid, I didn't know how my body would cope. I guess there was still some (misplaced) trust in the system and what we were being told at that point. That final dose...I'm still not sure what to make of it. For about 36 hours, I could think clearly. I remember being out walking my dog with tears in my eyes as it just felt like the clouds had lifted from my brain....but I have no idea if that was psychosomatic or not. Whatever it was, it was short lived, the fog and headaches soon returned.
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