Here is Chantel's story. Her most recent updates are at the bottom of the post.
"Your struggles develop your strength. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender. That is strength"
This is my story...
My name is Chantal, I'm a 37 year old Police Officer from Western Australia and I had a severe reaction after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.
To the people who threatened me with defamation charges and disciplinary action for telling my story, I am disappointed. I'm disappointed that your priority is to silence me for your own ego and agenda rather than ask if I'm ok and offer me any help! At no time have you asked if I'm ok or cared for a second about my health or welfare. You decided that putting me under more stress, when that stress can cause further risk to my life is your priority. It makes me question humanity and how any person can have such a lack of empathy towards another.
If defamation and disciplinary action is what you deem suitable than I'm not afraid. I've done nothing wrong, I did what you wanted and look what happened. No one has the right to take away anyone else's experiences or tell them how they should feel. Please believe me when I say, there is nothing that you can do to me that will even compare to what I am currently experiencing. Treating someone in this way is never ok and if people can take any lesson away from this then please stand up for yourself. Set standards as to how you should be treated and don't ever be silent if someone is treating you poorly regardless of their relationship to you.
To all the people who have told me that my experience isn't real and that this could never be true. Before you tell anyone that they are a liar or voice your opinion, ask yourself two things. Firstly. Do I have all the information to voice my opinion and challenge the experience of another and secondly, am I qualified in voicing this opinion.
In August, my employer announced that anyone who was not vaccinated against COVID would be treated differently by having to wear masks at all times in the workplace; excluded from buildings and moved out of their positions that they have worked hard for into office type roles if they are not vaccinated. (confirmed by an industrial relations staff member). This announcement is no secret to the community as it was published on the front page of the West Australian newspaper.
Prior to this announcement, I had decided I was not getting the vaccine. I am entitled to my choice. Please note that I am not an anti-vaxer as some may call it, but I make decisions based around having sufficient information available to me which I believed and still believe I do not have. My reasons for not getting the vaccine should not be anyone else's business but for the purposes of this post I am including it. For me, there are insufficient studies on long term health issues and the vaccine didn't meet the usual safety checks which makes me uncomfortable. I had never had a flu vaccine in my life and I had not had a flu since 2009. I believe in good nutrition and always use nutrition to cure ailments wherever possible. I created a company based on this premise and I am very successful. I had also had a reaction to an unknown allergy and wanted to wait to speak to an immunologist prior to making a definite decision. However, this appointment was two months off. I felt as though I didn't really have a choice. I was worried that I would be moved out of my position which is seen as a privileged role.
The morning of my appointment, I was really scared about getting the vaccine as I knew it wasn't right for me. I spoke to the doctor about my concerns and she was willing to write me a letter to delay it but asked me what would that mean for my job. I didn't know and it worried me. That day she had spoken to a lot of people from my job and she said that a lot of them felt threatened and put into a position to make a choice that they didn't want to and whilst in the waiting room, my colleagues told me the same thing. The doctor told me that she was concerned about giving the vaccine to people who weren't doing it freely by their own choice. Sadly, I joked with the doctor saying "I'll be the one the vaccine kills." Sadly, it could have.
Within 10 minutes of getting the Pfizer vaccine, I got vertigo and nausea and within 15 minutes I had hives all over me. The doctor and ambulance officer got the rash under control but as soon as I got home I had a fever, chills and felt very unwell. For the following 3.5 weeks I suffered rashes every day, fevers as high as 39.7, aching muscles, flu like symptoms, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pressure in my sinuses and a cough so bad that it felt like my blood vessels were going to explode in my face. Some days I cried because I thought I was going to die. I was so sick. When I thought I was starting to get better, I still had extreme fatigue and was constantly light headed. I went back to work but spent a lot of time laying on my office floor and struggling to get through the day.
On a Tuesday night, I noticed that my eyes felt weird. They had a heavy feeling and felt like they needed rubbing all the time. The next morning I woke up to go to work and one eye wouldn't open and the other wouldn't close. The one that wouldn't close also wouldn't blink. I thought that I had allergies so I took an antihistamine and drove one hour to work. By 9:00am, I felt my top lip go a bit funny and my work colleague told me that my face was drooping sideways and she was taking me to emergency. I will be forever grateful for her making me go as she saved my life.
Within 1 minute of being at emergency, everyone was rushing around me and I started to panic. Next second I'm getting wired up to machines and a stroke specialist and multiple other doctors and nurses were in my cubicle. I was admitted to hospital.
The next morning, I got up and had a shower but instead I ended up having a stroke. I was in the shower by myself and my body started waving uncontrollably and the right side of my body got a weird sensation. I could no longer stand and I was on the floor scared. My right side got really heavy and felt numb with a weird pins and needles type of sensation. At this stage the left side of my face was fully paralysed and I had extreme muscle weakness in my left arm and leg.
I was taken for more tests which showed that the main artery to my brain had a rupture and I had suffered a mini stroke (TIA). I was transferred to the stroke ward at a different hospital that day and from that moment on, I was monitored hourly.
I can't tell you how scary it was being in a stroke ward with all elderly patients thinking what the hell am I doing here. I was tested for every illness and nutrient deficiency that could cause a stroke and the doctor said I was perfectly healthy and had no possible cause to what had happened to me.
While in hospital, I was monitored hourly. It was crazy. No sleep, and I was constantly scared that it would happen again. I couldn't eat or drink properly and dribbled everything down the side of my face. It was humiliating. This was a minor issue for the doctors but for a 37 year old girl, it was a big deal. I was told that there was a 25% chance it wouldn't heal and if it did, it would take months. This by itself was highly distressing.
I cried multiple times a day. It was mentally hard to get through every moment. I was not allowed to move at first but the nurses let me have bathroom privileges because going to the bathroom in a tray was too upsetting for me. If I moved too much or too fast I could have another stroke.
I was unable to have any treatment as the doctors deemed it too unsafe so the only thing that the doctors and I could do was wait and hope that my artery will heal itself. This will take a long time and in the mean time, my usual activities are on hold.
When I was discharged from the hospital, I was really happy as I couldn't stand being locked up in the hospital. Don't get me wrong, my nurses and doctors were amazing and I can't say one thing wrong about their efforts and caring nature. However, it was so scary being home without the constant care. I wasn't allowed to be left alone and the risk of having another stroke was and still is very high. I was in constant fear and even though my confidence is increasing, I still worry every second. I am further away from instant care and the risk of permanent brain damage is very real. I now also suffer constant nose bleeds and painful joints.
I was booked in for an appointment at the vaccine safety clinic. Sadly, there were about twenty other women the same age as me sitting around waiting. I didn't really understand what the appointment was about until I was taken into a private room with a doctor who tried to tell me that the vaccine had nothing to do with what had happened to me but then also couldn't tell me that it didn't. He sat in his chair stating that it was worth the risk of having another stroke to get my second Pfizer shot. How can a doctor sit there and tell someone those things. He was willing to risk my life to meet what I believe his goal to be of getting as many people vaccinated as possible. He didn't care about my safety and even asked after I refused the vaccine if I wanted him to call me back in three months time to see if I changed my mind. There was no respect for my decision.
The mental side of this is very hard and has required a lot of strength. I am a very active and busy person and to go from that to only being aloud to walk around the house is highly distressing. I have to be very aware of my mental health and I can't thank my partner and friends enough for dropping everything to help and support me. I am very lucky.
I don't want anything from telling my story accept the acknowledgement that no vaccine or medical procedure is safe for everyone. This is not my opinion, this is fact and the COVID vaccine is no exception. No one has the right to tell someone else that they have to put something in their body as they don't know the risks to that person. It is causing a sad division in our society and not making anyone happy. If you choose to have the vaccine then great and if you don't then that is ok too. Please be kind to each other and treat each other fairly and equally, we all deserve it.
* Photo was me in hospital showing left side facial paralysis.