Marie is a 45 year old mother, wife and carer for the elderly. She lives in the midlands with her husband and two children, age 11 and 16. She was fit, healthy and happy up until her second dose of Astra Zeneca in May 2021. Her symptoms began with a ringing in her left ear, progressed to a ‘vibration’ in her right ear and magnified in a matter of days to an unbearable sensation that Marie described as ‘like having an engine roaring in my head.’
Through the worst of her adverse reaction, Marie struggled to move from the couch to the kitchen to ‘make some bit of dinner for the kids.’ Her son told her there were times he thought she was going to die. Her husband often came home in the evenings to find her sitting at the kitchen table, sobbing. He said he felt totally helpless. The experience was so excruciating for her, Marie developed acute anxiety that affected her sleep, which in turn affected her condition, leaving her scared, desperate and exhausted.
“It was like a torture chamber. There’s no other way to say it. It was like being trapped inside a torture chamber never knowing when I was going to get out,” she said.
Read Marie’s story below:
My name is Marie, I work as a healthcare assistant for the elderly. I like walking, yoga, reading, socialising.
I had mild symptoms after my first dose of Astra Zeneca, shivers and shakes and that.
I had the second dose (AZ) on May 26 2021. After the second dose I was all shaky and shivery. The next morning I woke up and my ears were ringing. My left ear started ringing first. Then this vibration started in my right ear. It’s hard to describe but it reminds me of when you have the phone on vibrate and it’s ringing. Except the phone is ringing in your head.
A few days later I ended up at my doctor’s. I said I had a ringing in my ear. She said there was a build up of fluid. I said it that was from the vaccine. She said ‘you really believe that.’ I said yes, I do. She said it could be tinnitus from the menopause. She said it will get better.
But it got worse before it got better. The vibration in my right ear was getting progressively worse. My sleep was really badly affected. At one stage I didn’t sleep for ten nights in a row. This noise in my head, it was driving me mad. It was like a roaring engine.
I went from the couch to the kitchen, trying to make a bit of dinner for the kids. I tried to move around. I was trying to escape it. But you can’t escape it. It’s happening inside your head.
They (doctor, ear nose and throat specialist, audiologist) said it was tinnitus. But this wasn’t normal tinnitus. I couldn’t distinguish sounds. If a car pulled up outside I wouldn’t know what it was. I’d have to ask my husband what the sound was. The funny thing is, physically in my body I had no pain. But I had the noises and vibration in my head day and night. It was a torture chamber. I thought I was going to crack up.
I went back to my doctor after not sleeping for ten nights and I was given sleeping tablets because I was so on the floor. I’d lost about eight pounds in weight. I was a walking skeleton as I’m quiet slim anyway. I looked and felt so bad. I could barely eat or sleep. I went to a shell of myself listening to ringing and engine sounds in my head day and night so I returned again to the doctor and she was shocked at how I was. She mentioned the weight loss and gave me Mirtazapine (anti-depressant medication) which I hated. I am not a tablet person. I felt so numb (on the medication). Eventually I weaned myself off it but to me it felt worse because it made it almost like an out of body experience. I didn’t feel like I was myself on that medication. All through that summer of 2021 I felt I was losing it. I tried every day to keep going even if it was at a snails pace. This was no ordinary tinnitus, I will say that.
My family were dead scared. My son said to me afterwards, he thought I was going to die. So I must have been really bad. I used to cry at the kitchen table. My husband would come in and there was literally nothing he could do. He felt helpless.
Did you report your reaction to the HPRA?
I informed Hpra, I got an email with a ticket number and I have heard nothing back.
My periods were coming every three weeks and heavy. Heavier than ever before. I had twitches in my face, arm, feet. I hadn't the energy to go back to tell the doctor as I was so mentally exhausted. I didn’t bother going back to the GP. My head was so wrecked. I felt they didn’t believe me there. They passed me onto the ENT (ear nose & throat specialist) and that was worse. I was in a bad old state when I went to him. He said what do you work at. I said I work with the elderly. He said ‘ah that’s a stressful job.’ I said this wasn’t from stress it was the vaccination. I told him I got this reaction the next day, right after the vaccine. He said there was studies being done and he didn’t say much more about it. He was dismissive but not ignorant.
Every where I turned nobody believed me until I saw the audiologist and she said to me ‘You’re not the only one who has come in here complaining about the vaccine.’ That was the first time - and my heart said wow! - someone actually believes me. I was kind of happy to hear that because up to then, nobody would believe me. It was lonely and it was scary.
Tell me how you felt about covid vaccines at the time of your taking your shot
I was on the fence about taking the vaccine, because it was a trial drug. You think, well we don’t really know do we? I spoke to the doctor and he said sure it’s only a needle in your arm. It was a throwaway remark. He didn’t see a problem. And I trusted that, I took it at face value. I thought, well everyone is getting it. It’s safe, or so we were told. I was on the fence about it but I work with the elderly and I said oh God, what if I literally killed someone? I was under the impression that could happen, that it was true. That came from fear. I think it was driven through the media. And you were shamed if you didn’t get it. I was terrified I was going to lose my job. I did it for my job. At work they kept asking me did I get the vaccination.
The biggest regret of my life
Now, I know it is not safe. Well maybe it is for some people. I don’t know. It’s definitely the biggest regret of my life. Okay the engine sound has gone down. But I am living daily with ringing in one ear and vibrating in the other. I am worried, what is that doing to your body down the line? My family were dead scared. My son said to me he thought I was going to die. So I must have been really bad. I used to cry at the kitchen table. My husband would come in and there was literally nothing he could do. He felt helpless. He didn’t get the booster. He said there was no way.
Time has helped. I changed my whole diet. I think that’s helping, it seems to be easier this way. I take multivitamins and B12 and magnesium. My periods came back to normal after about nine months. It was around December 2021 that I started to turn a corner. The engine roaring sounds calmed down and then I could start to distinguish other sounds more.
I would say I am healthier now but I still have anxiety, thinking will it get worse again? Will I be able to sleep? That part of me is very much alive.
You nearly feel like saying, was I so fecking gullible just to go ahead and take a trial drug? I was very angry at myself for a while. I feel like the truth, is sort of coming out now. That helps. But this has changed my trust in everything. Hindsight is a great thing. I have no recollection of anybody raising concerns about vaccine safety at the time. I remember everyone being delighted about it because it was going to get us out of the lockdown.
My two children didn’t take the jab. And they won’t be taking the HPV vaccine. My husband didn’t get the booster. He said there was no way.
I know people didn't believe me. I shut myself away and especially from anyone who didn’t believe me. I did have a friend (who I confided in) and my brother supported me thank God.
How has your injury affected you financially?
I work part time with the elderly in healthcare and I don't give up easy in life but I had to take a month out of work which was costly for me. Then there was the cost of all the extra appointments. In all it cost me about €1,700.
I will say that how I live my life has changed now.
I would like to remain anonymous, even though I feel its hiding again by doing that, but for the sake of my job I feel I don't have a choice.
Warm thanks to those who support my work, it is much appreciated.
The Astra Zeneca vaccine is ‘no longer available’ in Ireland according to the HSE.
Marie’s is the 4th in a five part vaccine injury series on this Substack
Previously in the series:
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Gill left this comment on yesterday's article in this series:
"It's heartbreaking to read these stories. I live on Dublin/Meath border and if I can be of any help to Janet or anyone else suffering like this I'll give my number to Louise. Don't ever feel alone there's lots of us here who would like to help in whatever way we can. x"
Again, the denial of the medical profession is quite astounding. Not even prepared to consider a likely possibility while grasping at the most unlikely straws. This kind of thing didn't start with Covid but ratcheted up to such incredible proportions that the whole training regimen of doctors must be called into question. It is positively robotic, zombified even. I hope today's medical students are taking note.