Last Friday, I was eating dinner at home when my stomach started churning. I went to the bathroom and stayed in the bathroom the entire evening. Stuff came out from the top and bottom. It was a bad case of food poisoning it seemed. The only thing I ate that no one else had was fried noodles for lunch and steamed asparagus during dinner. It was bad, but I'd had food poisoning before so it wasn't scary.
The next day when I woke up, I felt 100% better to my relief. I ate the rest of the fried noodles thinking that maybe it had been the asparagus that was bad and followed that poor decision with a cookie, some chips, and some Easter jelly beans. I'm always eating junk food even though every time I do, I tell myself it's the last time.
About 30 minutes later, my stomach started hurting. It didn't feel like the food poisoning I felt the night before. My stomach was actually cramping and pulsating in pain. A year ago, when I was pregnant, I had bad stomach cramps and thought something was wrong with the baby. We rushed to my OBGYN and it turns out. . .I was constipated. Omg so embarrassing!! So I figured that I was just constipated again.
I tried to rest but I was in so much pain I started to cry. My husband was like okay, we're going to the ER. I begged him not to make me go since I was probably just constipated and they'd tell me, "take some doo doo medicine." My husband reasoned, "What if it's not constipation?" It was a good point so we left Baby T. with my best friend and her mom and went off the to the ER.
I'll spare you the details of five hours of tears, tests, and high blood pressure in the Pali Momi emergency room. In the end, its turns out I had stomach inflammation! I didn't even know what that was.
Apparently, the food poisoning irritated my stomach and the bad foods I ate the next day exasperated the irritation. Also, when I mentioned that I got the COVID Johnson & Johnson vaccine a week and a half before, one of the nurses said that the vaccine is known to cause inflammation. So that could also have been a factor. But who knows!
The week following my ER visit, I was weak and had no appetite. Through I was still able to nurse Baby T., I was terrified that eating normal food would cause stomach pains again. I ate soup, toast, and other low fat/bland foods.
It's been a little over a week since I was in the ER and I'm finally feeling normal again. I'm doing my best to avoid fatty (aka delicious), oily, salty foods. Whenever I'm tempted to go wild, I remember how miserable I was in the ER, how much I missed Baby T. and how guilty I felt for having to leave her, and how worried I made my husband and best friend.
Eating healthy is a struggle but I know it's worth it for my health, happiness, and baby.
The last you heard from me, the COVID-19 vaccine injection site on my right arm was red, hot, raised, itchy, and just overall uncomfortable. I haven't heard of a lot of people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who suffered side effects like me (chills, fever, body aches, headache, and of course, COVID arm). That's why I feel like it's important for me to share what happened to me. Here's what I tried, what worked, and what didn't work to remedy my unhappy COVID arm.
I read that hydrocortisone helped some people with the itchiness. Since I'm always getting bitten by mosquitoes, I usually keep some in the first aid kit. Luckily, the Cortizone 10 I had didn't expire until this September so I slathered it on my arm.
It felt less itchy. For about 10 seconds. Then, it was maybe even more itchy! Fail.
I've stocked up on compresses because of my million bouts of mastitis in the past eight months. Anyway, I read that warm compresses have helped people who've experienced pain at the injection site so I tried it. And omg it made the pain worse. Warm compresses did not work for me!
With my aforementioned abundance of compresses, I decided to try a cold compress. And hallelujah it made my arm feel much better, nice, cool, and comforting. The warmth of my arm turned the cold compress warm in 10 minutes but it was better than nothing.
I was complaining about how my arm was so itchy and a friend suggested that aloe gel could help. I had a container of aloe that I bought in hopes of making DIY hand sanitizer during the pandemic but it never came to that. So I slathered the aloe on my COVID arm and it was soothing. This time for 10 minutes or so. Longer than the Cortizone. But I didn't know if it was worth continuously applying the aloe gel. But the success of the cold compress and the aloe gell gave me an idea. . .
(Generic) Benadryl with aloe cooling spray
Finally! Something that actually soothed the pain and itchiness for more than 10 minutes! Once the icy spray hit my arm, it felt locked in and fricking amazing. I only had to apply it once in the morning and once before bed! After two days of using the cooling spray, most of the redness, pain, and itchiness went away.
So I got my Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination on Monday, March 22. I bought and started using the cooling spray on Friday, March 26. By Sunday, March 28, most worst symptoms of my COVID arm were gone. Today, on March 31, the injection site on my arm is still a little raised and sensitive to the touch, but all the pain, redness, and itching are gone.
On the news, I saw that they estimated 0.5% of people who got the Moderna vaccine had a COVID arm reaction. They're not even reporting on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine so I hope this is helpful to anyone out there who's experiencing these scary symptoms after their shot. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below.
If I had the choice to either get or not get the shot, I would still without a doubt get the COVID vaccine, even though the side effects were unpleasant. Because I know it's nothing compared to getting the coronavirus.
On Monday, March 22, I got my COVID-19 vaccine. It seems so surreal.
Unlike many people on Oahu, I got my shot at a pharmacy (instead of at a mass vaccination clinic). The gal who administrated my shot was nice, but omg the shot hurt. I looked at the needle as it was being tossed in the bin and it was all bent. *gulp* When the gal put on the band-aid, I flinched because of the pain.
But of course the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are nothing compared to the virus so I'm not complaining. I'm just sharing my experience. And full-disclosure, I'm currently nursing my infant daughter. Anyway, here's a breakdown of my symptoms that followed the next three days.
Monday, March 22
3:00 p.m. - Checked in for my shot.
3:11 p.m. - Got my shot, OUCH! Saw the needle used to inject the vaccine all bent as it was thrown into the needle bin. Lordy.
3:31 p.m. - Got the okay to leave from the pharmacist. I had to stay 30 mins instead of the standard 15 mins because of my allergy to Tylenol and aspirin. I felt fine except for the pain in my arm.
5:00 p.m. - Nursed my 8 month-old daughter for about 20 mins.
5:30 p.m. - Hosted a small dinner party for a friend's birthday. I started feeling hot and sweaty but maybe it was because I was running around getting the food set up and taking care of my daughter.
8:00 p.m. - As the party started winding down, I started feeling sleepy and my feet started feeling cold. Fun fact about me, I never feel cold, I run really hot.
8:30 p.m. - As I began nursing my daughter, I started feeling full-body chills and my skin started feeling sensitive the way it does when I get sick.
9:00 p.m. - My husband noticed that our daughter had some red splotches on her stomach and what looked like bug bite marks on her leg. I worried that the vaccine was causing my daughter some sort of allergic reaction. But it also kind of looked like dry skin. My husband and I decided that we'd moisturize Baby T. and keep a close eye on her skin and breathing. If they got worse, we'd take her to the doctor, but if it didn't get worse but was still there in the morning, we'd call her pediatrician.
9:30 p.m. - I went to sleep with pain in my arm, the chills, and fatigue. I took my temperature and it was 97.3, no fever. Also, maybe not accurate? I suspect that though the thermometer from Amazon, it's from a foreign country.
Tuesday, March 23
4:30 a.m. - Baby T. woke me up to nurse. Her skin looked better and her breathing was normal, much to my relief. I nursed her and she went back to sleep right away. I was feeling better but also super congested. My arm was still sore but the chills went away. Took some nasal spray and Zyrtec. Decided to stay up and get some work done.
8:00 a.m. - My husband noticed that the injection site on my arm was red. I
12:00 p.m. - Started feeling tired. Not sure if it was the vaccine or the fact that I was up since 4:30 a.m. Took a 1-hour nap during my lunch break.
1:00 p.m. - Felt better and got back to work. Finished the workday strong.
8:00 p.m. - While nursing Baby T., my feet started feeling cold, which is very rare.
8:30 p.m. - Finished nursing and had full body chills. My husband told me to take a nice, warm shower but I didn't want to water to hurt my skin so I took a Benadryl and went to bed. Put a warm compress on my arm, which was throbbing with pain whenever I moved it. Felt congested again so I took nasal spray and Zyrtec.
Wednesday, March 24
5:00 a.m. - Baby T. woke me up to nurse. My head was pounding and my arm was still stiff and sore. Nursed baby and called in sick to work. Went back to sleep.
10:00 a.m. - Woke up when Baby T. started crying to be fed. Still felt tired but headache and chills were gone. Arm still red and sore but now itchy. Nose congested. Took nasal spray and Zyrtec.
12:30 p.m. - Felt well enough to drive husband to his first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Pier 2. We previously decided that we should get different shots just in case.
1:30 p.m. - Husband done with shot, said it didn't even hurt. Made me think the person who gave me my shot was inexperienced.
3:00 p.m. - Feeling fatigued, I took a nap.
6:30 p.m. - Work up, felt better. Arm still red, stiff, and sore.
9:00 p.m. - Felt well enough to take a shower. The hot water felt good.
10:00 p.m. - Took Benadryl and nasal spray. First evening I didn't have chills as I was going to bed.
Thursday, March 25
3:00 a.m. - Baby T. woke up to nurse. I felt better and decided to "go to" work. Arm still red and sore. Unbearably itchy. Looked up "COVID-arm" and put on some cortisone. Stopped the itching for a little while. Hopefully that's the last of my COVID-19 vaccine side effects.
8:00 a.m. - My husband said that his arm is sore and his body feels tired, but other than that, no symptoms really. Ahh jealous.
Overall, I'm just really thankful I was able to get the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. One and done. And I'm thankful that Baby T. wasn't affected by the shot. I'm hoping the antibodies will get transferred to her. Everything is still so new and scary! But for now, the Takabayashis are okay!
We all know that feeling: finally ordering that thing you've had your eye on for awhile. Whether it cost a little too much or wasn't exactly practical, it didn't matter. Because the heart wants what the heart wants.
Here's an all too relatable meme featuring Scout the Cat's Meow.
Scams of any kind are despicable. The most successful scams work when the victim is stressed out and they feel rushed and overwhelmed. Scammers take advantage of tax season to take advantage of you.
The more we know about scams and how they work, the less likely we'll fall for them. Check out the article I wrote for Island Scene Online, Avoiding IRS Imposter Scams During Tax Season.
Do your best to educate yourself and your loved ones about scams. Always be vigilant. And if something feels just slightly off or strange, take some time to think it over or run the situation by someone you trust. It could be the difference between protecting yourself and getting scammed.