• Charlotte Dallison

Heartbreak & Heart Palpitations

Updated: Sep 16

A little piece I wrote from a hospital bed last night.

Hello from hospital.

I feel a little reluctant to talk about this in many ways (and yes I am literally writing from hospital in the middle of the night). I feel reluctant to talk about this for two reasons: 1. I’d hate for this to be misinterpreted as antivax, because it’s not. And 2. Because I don’t want people to think I’m overreacting!

Basically I had my first dose of the vaccine last Tuesday. This was an appointment that I was thrilled about. In Australia we are so embarrassingly behind the rest of the world with our vaccine rollout, and beyond that I had spent all of August so unwell with pharyngitis that I had to keep postponing my Pfizer. Not to mention the increasingly militant message here is “get vaxxed, or else!” I have no fear or needles or doctors surgeries, none of that bothers me. So when the big day came last week I was over the moon, so much so I kind of dressed up for my appointment (any excuse right now).

As soon as I got home, however, symptoms of my reaction started. At first they were normal, to be expected - a manageable headache and a bit of a sore arm. I took a Panadol and didn’t think about it. Then just over 48 hours after my inoculation I started to experience the worst menstrual cramps on record for me (a stage four endometriosis sufferer) so much so I could hardly stand up. For the next two days the cramps worsened and continued, and then came the migraines and the brain fog and the not being able to get out of bed. I called my gynaecologist who reassured me. I wrote about it on my Instagram stories and chatted to friends and strangers online about their experiences. Turns out issues with women’s cycles are a prevalent reaction to any covid vaccine (and naturally it’s not being reported on in the media for fear of scaremongering and because women’s health doesn’t matter).

However the worst was yet to come when on Saturday night I started getting heart palpitations and chest pain. Since then it hasn't gone away. I managed a walk Sunday and Monday, each one had me coming home gripping my chest. Not a good sign for a healthy, 29 year old female! I sensibly made a next available appointment with my doctor. But at about 9.30pm tonight the palpitations got even worse. And then I made them worse by googling my symptoms and calling the coronavirus hotline - which then saw me in an ambulance half an hour later…

So here I am, in hospital, it’s 1.30am and I have never felt more single in my life. What feels so hard about this is the harsh reality is that I no longer have a partner. I can’t call a next of kin. I don’t even know if I have a next of kin In the city I live in. I’m going to have to Uber home after this. There’s nobody who I can call to pick me up at this hour and during curfew. I know I have loads of incredible friends and a family who loves me, but essentially I’m flying solo right now, after five years of two back-to-back relationships. It’s such an extreme adjustment. It’s liberating and empowering to suddenly have autonomy over one’s life after years of compromising, but in this sort of moment it does feel a little lonely and my singleness is really hitting home.

I wonder if these symptoms are a literal part of heartbreak. Dose a racing, irregular heartbeat for two days, after a questionable vaccine, simply mean you’ve just been dumped? You often read about elderly couples dying days apart because they simply can’t live without each other and thus one them die of a broken heart. So am I having a faux heart attack as a result of the break up of a 3 1/2 year relationship? I’m sorry but no ex-boyfriend of mine deserves my literal vital organ, thank you very much. I know this all sounds like a lot, and it is. I have been tested beyond belief these past few months, it’s really been hellish. There’s a great Churchill quote I always come to during these kinds of moments though “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” My heart and I simply must keep going.

I can also sense the side eyes from certain medical staff here tonight. In my experience bedside manners don’t tend to be great in hectic, inner-city, public hospitals in Australia (and look I’d be in a bad mood if I’d spent the pandemic working in a hospital too). I do feel silly for being here though, and bit judged, because on the surface I’m the picture of health. They’re running all sorts of tests and still trying to figure out what’s wrong but nothing obvious is coming up… yet I also still have intense chest pain. So far the results seem to say I don't have myocarditis and that I’m suffering from a mixture of anxiety, extreme exhaustion and a heart murmur (which was diagnosed during childhood, is usually benign and I’ve never really had issues with). It is all a little coincidental that after a series of other serious side effects this is happening too...

I know I have the disposition of a hypochondriac but I’m actually quite reasonable about medical matters now that I’ve dealt with some serious health problems (you know, breaking my back as a teenager and stage four endo forever). I’m also already anxiously awaiting my ambulance bill - which will of course be offset mainly by my private health insurance, but still, will cost me more than a pair of shoes in excess and the timing couldn’t be worse financially. (If you’re reading this from the UK or NZ then Google how much an ambulance ride sets you back here, we might as well be in Trump’s America!). I do think that peers of mine believe I get myself into all sorts of regular, ridiculous situations so I can conjure up more material for my memoir. But somehow I always end up being this person. Being the person who attracts drama and is in the 0.1% of people who has the allergic reaction/the hospitalisation/the heart palpitations.

I’m also terrified about my second jab now… I mean, what if I died from complications, that’s just too ridiculous, even for me. Imagine how Gladys would berate Dan about it via some foul Murdoch rag - ew I don’t want any of those people to talk about me!! What would Jacinda think!! Equally I’m terrified of not being able to be fully vaccinated - what if I can’t have a second jab and it means that all my freedoms are taken away? Or I actually get covid and die from that? What if what if? On that note please don’t be put off getting your vaccine - reactions happen to people like me, not you. Fuck this pandemic. I don’t know about you but I’m over it. We are nearing 250 days of lockdown in Melbourne. People actually can’t cope anymore - you can see it in peoples (masked) faces as you go for your daily walk. Plus no covid would’ve meant no Pfizer to begin with, right? Bloody bats or whatever started it - 5G, Putin, Scomo’s Hawaiian holiday? Ugh.

In conclusion covid is crap, Melbourne might be cursed, and you should probably still get vaccinated. I’ve just been told I’m going to be fine and am being discharged shortly but will need a bit of follow up. Great, so I'm not dying tonight. In other news one of the paramedics was exceptionally gorge... I guess of the best things about being newly single is being allowed to gawk again. Silver linings.

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