GRIEVING for your old life is one of the hardest aspects about being vaccine-injured. It’s grieving for all the milestones that should have been met, the memories that should have been made, the dreams, shattered and stolen, in the blink of an eye.
Before the pandemic, I had just started university, excited to begin a life dedicated to the stage, a life that I had worked so hard for. There was nothing I wanted more than to be doing what I loved, to be singing my heart out every night.
Now, there is nothing I want more than my life back.
At just 22, I feel as if I have switched lives with an elderly, frail woman, who can do no more than shuffle from her bedroom to her bathroom. I have swapped running up the stairs for a stairlift, performing to an audience for my bed, and my dreams for just dreams. My heart used to race with adrenaline after singing to sold-out theatres; now it races ten times faster just washing my hands. I used to innocently talk in code with my friends for fun, now I do it to avoid getting struck down as ‘misinformation’, and consequently bringing down whole support groups because I dared speak to speak about what happened to me.
I was initially told it was anxiety. I’d never heard of anyone being rushed into the resus area with anxiety. Neither had the cardiologists when I ended up in there; they were far more interested in whether there was any history of SADS. Many months later, I was diagnosed with the heart conditions supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), inappropriate sinus tachycardia (IST) and postural orthostatic tachycardia (PoTS), caused by the very thing that was supposed to save my life, not ruin it.
Seventeen traumatic months of gaslighting, pain and suffering later, my old life is nothing more than a distant memory. I watch my friends enjoying their lives and it’s bittersweet. Sometimes I think we are on different wavelengths. Their biggest issue is boys; mine is whether or not I’ll make it through the night.
I used to look in the mirror before going out with my friends. Now, when I look, I barely recognise me. There is a girl dressed like me, staring back at me, but she isn’t me. Her eyes are dull and tired, where they once shone, and a smile has been plastered on to hide the sheer pain of her entire world burning down around her. She is begging herself to hold on.