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Malin Aasgaard Keita, Masters in Social Work

First Dose of Astra Zeneca on 03/15/21 Lot #20210315

From Norway. Lives in Sweden

Q: What was your life like before you got the vaccine?

I was a healthy, active and social woman, a mother of four kids who followed them to football matches and other activities, just finished a masters degree in social work, working and having many future plans.

Q: What was your reaction, symptoms, & timeline?

Four days after having the vaccine I started to experience pins and needles in feet and legs. It then spread to my hands and turned into burning nerve pain and numbness. I experienced dizziness, brain fog, blurry vision, arm and hand tremor, sound and light sensitivity, I vomited every morning from the extreme pain. I also got blood pooling in hands and feet, heart palpitations and fasciculations/muscle twitches.

Q: What is your life like now, after getting the vaccine?

It has been difficult and a roller coaster ride between hope and despair. I felt alone and lonely in the whole thing because at first I didn't hear about anyone experiencing the same as me and even felt as I was not believed. I still struggle with nerve pain every day and other symptoms. I am still on partial sick leave from work, I am trying my best to work and stay active but life is harder now as I have to use more energy to do things that before were easy and taken for granted. I worry more about the future.

Q: Share your experience with any medical care and any diagnoses you have received:

I went to the E.R several times after my symptoms started. When I said that it started after the vaccine the doctors said that they could not say if its the vaccine or not, I was told that anxiety might contribute to my symptoms. My primary doctor has been helpful and referred me to a pain rehabilitation clinic, prescribed several medication for nerve pain and has taken blood tests and referred me to a neurologist and cardiologist. I am currently being checked to see if I have Pots. I also believe I have small fiber neuropathy.

Q: Was your reaction reported, and what was the response?

I reported it myself here in Sweden.

Q: Is there anything that has helped, and have your symptoms improved?

I think what has helped me most is time. After 6 months I started to feel a little better. The nerve pain and a lot of the other symptoms are still there, my heart is often racing, but I also have some better days and function better. The brain fog and dizziness is better, I no longer get a drop in blood pressure anytime I stand up. I can be active again with my kids even though its not as easy as when I was well. I also think coming to terms with what has happened and learning to accept my new life situation has helped, before I would regret every day why I took the vaccine, fearing I would not see my kids grow up or grow old with my husband. Also learning to pace myself has helped and balancing activity and rest. Getting to know and having contact with others online who have also experienced similar injury and getting support and encouragement has helped and made me not feel so alone anymore.

Q: What do you wish others knew?

That you are on your own if you are injured and have to advocate for yourself to get help. I wish it was more known in society that adverse reactions can happen and I wish we who were injured are not gaslighted and looked on as anti-vaxxers, after all we are not, we took the vaccine because we believed in it and wanted to contribute to ending the pandemic.

#WeWantToBeHeard #RealNotRare