Today I'm linking up with the Five Minute Friday community, writing for five minutes on a given prompt. This week's word is BROKEN.
I got my first Covid-19 vaccine (Covishield by AstraZeneca) on Tuesday afternoon. The vaccine rollout in Ontario has been quite confusing, so I felt fortunate to receive it.
I went to bed that night feeling fine, but for the rest of the night my sleep was broken. I woke at midnight feeling cold: not exactly shivering, but as if I were lying in an envelope of cold. I slept fitfully, then woke feeling warm -- not burning up, just too warm.
About 4 a.m. I went to the bathroom and could feel my heart racing. I went back to bed and tried to relax and breathe deeply to slow it down, but it kept hammering.
At 6 a.m. I got up; Richard and Jonathan were already upstairs. I did a couple of readings on my home blood pressure monitor, and my heart rate was 119 beats per minute. When I told Richard that, his eyes widened and he said, "What? You need to call the doctor." I said, "I think I need to go to Emerg."
I took a taxi to the Emergency Department; we were having a freak April snowfall and the lights along the waterfront looked beautiful in the falling snow.
The man at Emerg reception asked me the usual Covid-19-related questions and I kept saying "I am feverish, but I think it's the vaccine. I do have a headache, but I think it's the vaccine." The triage nurse took my blood pressure again; my heart rate was 137.
Soon I was called in and directed to a bed. A technician came in and hooked me up for an ECG. A nurse introduced herself and a doctor came in, checked me out, and ordered blood work. He said he suspected the fast heartbeat might be a reaction to the vaccine, especially since I had also experienced chills and fever.
The ward was crowded but quiet. Because no visitors are allowed in Emerg due to Covid-19, the only voices were of staff talking to patients and each other. At 7 a.m. it was time for shift change, and I listened as a departing nurse updated an incoming one on the patients in the various cubicles, including me: "Tachycardia, patient says no chest pain or shortness of breath." I kept looking up at the monitor showing my heartbeat; at last it was starting to slow to around 100.
Hours passed. I just lay there messaging back and forth with Rich and my sister-in-law about what was happening. Suddenly I was overcome with nausea and rang the call bell. The nurse rushed to get me a bag to throw up in, and the doctor looked in sympathetically and said they'd start IV fluids with something to ease the nausea. The nurse said, "When you were vomiting, your heart rate shot up to about 140, but it's back down under 100 now." Yikes.
Another team -- med student, cardiology tech, and nurse -- came in and did a second ECG. They were all very friendly and commended me for getting the vaccine.
After a while the doctor came back and said there was nothing abnormal in my ECGs or blood work -- nothing to indicate a clot or heart attack. He said since my blood pressure was good and my heart rate was stabilizing, I should go home and relax for 24 hours, and if it worsened I should come back in. Fortunately I didn't have to -- but I was wiped-out from lack of sleep, the stress of being in hospital, and the toll of having my heart racing at 2x normal speed for several hours. I was in bed before 8:00 Wednesday night.
I guess it's not 100% certain that the shot caused the accelerated heartbeat, but it does seem like the most likely explanation. There's a saying that "The cure is worse than the disease," but not in this case. In spite of what I went through I'm still grateful I got vaccinated. As I lay there for what ended up being about five hours, I thought about the more than 40 patients in the hospital's Covid-19 unit -- all but one or two of them having been transferred from other parts of the province where case numbers are much more overwhelming than they are here in Kingston. I wondered what it would be like to be fighting for your life, on a ventilator, being taken to a hospital three or four hours from home, wondering when you might get home or if you ever would, helplessly worrying about other family members who were also sick in hospital somewhere else.
The heart thing was worrying, and I'll be apprehensive when August rolls around and I'm due for my second dose -- but I don't want to get Covid-19, and I don't want to give it to someone else. If the vaccination can cause the chain of spread to be broken, it's worth it.