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Catherine Deppa

What was your life like before you received the COVID-19 vaccine?

Normal. I was exercising going to work. I felt pretty normal.

Describe the symptoms and the timeline of the reaction.

Took 4th vaccination- Pfizer Bivalent Omicron on Sept 28th 2022. On Oct 12th experienced burning patches all over my legs like sunburn and by the evening my blood pressure spiked to 210/110 and pulse was 120. My blood pressure is usually about 125/75 and pulse about 65. This was very severe. I tried to go to bed and relax and just felt worse so drove myself to ER. I was hospitalized for 2 days. They put me on an ARB and sent me home. This didn’t help much. On 21 Sept I woke up at 430am in a cold sweat blood pressure was 169/99 pulse 117. I had severe chest pains and thought I was having a heart attack and called 911. The 911 operator told me to chew an aspirin which actually helped a lot. Later I learned that some of these symptoms could be helped with aspirin so I have started taking 1 regular aspirin per day. I took a leave of absence from my work from 12 Oct till 22 Dec because I was so fatigued and had no stamina to even walk to the mail box. I would wake up every morning and not feel like I slept at all. I went to many doctors and none of them could figure out what was wrong. My primary care sent me to neurology, allergy/ immunology, rheumatology and endocrinology. ANA came back positive so they tested me for autoimmune diseases which all came back negative. I suffered lots of pain in my arms - especially right forearm that traveled up through the elbow into my tricep and bicep. I still have this everyday although it’s less now that I take estradiol.I also had a lot of pain in many of the fibromyalgia points and so the rheumatologist diagnosed me with fibromyalgia but alot of these pains were lessened when I started estradiol. I am able to work part time now and do some chores. Blood pressure is under control without ARB medication.

Describe the solutions that helped your symptoms

Aspirin Benedryl Valium for sleeping Estradiol- I am 53 going through menopause. I think loss of estrogen really exacerbated my symptoms. Estrogen is cardo- protective. I started Estrogen December 14th and this has helped my blood pressure, brain fog, fatigue, muscle pain and insomnia. I don’t need Valium anymore to sleep after starting estradiol. Cyclobenzaprine for muscle joint pain at night before bedtime.

Which solutions were not helpful?

Taking blood pressure medicine did not help. Going to all these doctors who had no idea how to help me. It caused a lot of anxiety to keep going to doctors and ERs and no one could give me a good diagnosis and treatment and if I mentioned that I had taken the COVID vaccine within 2 weeks of acute symptoms they dismissed that as very unlikely. Some doctors thought it was anxiety and wanted me to try Xanax or SNRI.

What would you like others to know?

I think that at least in my case that my body has developed some autoimmune syndrome that was exacerbated by menopause. Loss of estrogen combined with autoimmune condition drove my body off a cliff. I think that there is also a mast cell activation component and that aspirin helped my blood pressure and tachycardia/ palpitations. Estradiol gave me back my energy and ability to think and return to work. I suspect that I have an autoimmune reaction to ACE 2 and that is why my ANA is elevated but I haven’t been tested for that.
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