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Michael O'Donnell

First Dose of Pfizer on 4/07/21 Lot #ER2613

Second Dose of Pfizer on 4/28/21 Lot #ER8730

Cape Coral, Florida

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

Prior to the vaccine, I was a healthy 22-year-old guy who was finishing up engineering grad school and working a full-time job in data analytics. I enjoyed traveling, cooking, gaming, hanging out with friends/family, and exercising. I was excited to get my COVID vaccine (as you can tell by my pic after my first dose!) and wanted to do my part to help our country end this pandemic. I never realized how truly great my life was until my adverse reaction.

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

I experienced an immediate adverse reaction to my second dose. Within 5 minutes, I began experiencing a racing heart. I spoke to the nurse on standby, but they blamed my symptoms on anxiety. Over the next hour after this, I began to experience a state of fight or flight, heart palpitations, chest pain and hives on my chest. I decided to go to the ER, and once again the nurse there tried to convince me my symptoms were from anxiety without running any tests except an EKG. The following days I experienced the expected symptoms of a fever, headaches, and fatigue. Unfortunately, as the expected symptoms disappeared after resting a couple days, I returned to the ER on the 4th day after for chest pain, rapid heart rate, and abdominal pain, but received no answers. These symptoms lingered around the rest of the month, but many more symptoms evolved in this time. Since my second dose, I have developed chest pain, heart palpitations, tachycardia, low blood pressure, brain fog, lightheadedness, headaches, pins & needles in extremities, tinnitus, blurry vision, dermatographia, back pain, neck pain & burning, excessive joint cracking, internal tremors, muscle spasms, difficulty swallowing, abdominal pain (ULQ), bloating, loss of appetite, weight loss, adrenaline surges, insomnia. I still experience most of these symptoms daily.

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

I feel like I aged 50+ years over the course of 3 months after my second dose. If I overexert myself physically or mentally, I end up having to recover resting several days on the couch or in bed. I am unable to eat over 90% of the foods I enjoyed pre-vaccination and have been forced into a very restrictive diet. I consider myself fortunate that I have been able to continue working full time from home, but all these lingering symptoms have impacted my quality of work. I now spend several hours a week visiting doctors of many different specialties to advocate for myself and receive many different types of medical tests I never knew even existed until now.

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

I have received zero official diagnoses despite 4 ER visits, 5 specialist visits, 8 EKGs, MRIs, CTs, echocardiograms, an EEG, and countless blood tests. My cardiologist suspects postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) but is hopeful it will disappear. I am still working with a rheumatologist to rule out autoimmune diseases and an allergist/immunologist to test for mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS).

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

My primary care physician reported my reaction to VAERS. I received an initial email to fill out extra information such a medical tests and doctor visits but was never contacted again.

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

Time, rest and my family support system have helped my symptoms to stabilize and very slowly improve. In addition, a strict diet of minimal gluten, dairy, and red meat have reduced the severity of flare ups. Beta blockers have helped with the rapid heart rate and melatonin for sleeping. My symptoms seemed to stabilize in severity around the 3rd month post second dose, but I still experience many of the symptoms daily in less severity.

Q: What do you wish others knew?

I wish everyone receiving these vaccinations knew the truth about the potential adverse reactions. I am pro-vaccines and was very excited to receive my COVID vaccine. However, once I began experiencing all these debilitating symptoms, many physicians were not eager to help me because they have not been informed about these types of reactions. I wish our media, CDC or FDA would share these stories throughout the world so physicians could be aware of these real adverse reactions and could help treat or study us instead of being dismissive.

#WeWantToBeHeard #RealNotRare