Being on the clinically extremely vulnerable list due to taking immunosuppressants, I was scheduled to have a COVID-19 vaccine by February 15th and this week I received my appointment.

I had big plans for a very long run this weekend and with the chance that I would experience side effects it was unlikely that I’d be able to run. As it’s important to get vaccinated, particularly with a low immune system, I couldn’t ask for a different date, I just had to hope for the best.

The Side Effects

I was well prepared for the possibility of experiencing side effects as a friend with Crohn’s Disease who also takes the same medication as me (azathioprine) had experienced headaches and fever-like symptoms for 24-36 hours when he had the same vaccine a week earlier.

Thursday

The first day was largely uneventful and apart from experiencing a little bit funny immediately afterwards I didn’t experience any side effects. Things changed throughout the night when I started to experience low-grade fever like symptoms as well as a headache and aches. After waking up at 2am feeling rough, sleep was non-existent for the rest of the night.

Friday

On Friday I travelled to the office and throughout the day I wasn’t feeling too bad. I was keeping hydrated including drinking SOS rehydration to replenish sodium and potassium. I was hoping that I would still be able to tackle the long run on the weekend so was making sure I was properly hydrated in case the side effects ended.

Weirdly, as soon as I got home from work I went downhill rapidly with fever-like symptoms returning with a vengeance. I was also experiencing abdominal pain which I thought could be related to the stoma but apparently is a side effect.

I was in bed by 19:30 shivering and struggling to sleep. My heart rate was hovering at 100bpm and was high throughout the night.

Saturday

I did manage to get some sleep albeit disrupted regularly and when I woke up I was feeling run down, aching and with a headache. The large part of the day was spent in bed but throughout the day I was getting progressively worse and weirdly my leg muscles were aching like I’d run a marathon.

When you’re not feeling well, wearing an Apple Watch offers some interesting insights into what’s going on with your body. Throughout Friday night into Saturday the heart rate was high but gradually slowed down by the morning. There was a blip when I went for a walk to the shop and then throughout the later afternoon into the evening the heart rate rose again when I was feeling worse.

The high heart rate was returning later in the day.

Like Friday night, it was another early night and a hot, sweaty, uncomfortable sleep.

Sunday

I woke up Sunday with a banging headache and sweaty from an uncomfortable night. I was still feeling fatigued and run down but the ‘marathon legs’ had fixed themselves although I still had aches elsewhere.

Another benefit of wearing an Apple Watch is the sleep data it records. Friday night’s sleep was worse than Saturday’s and the data backs that up with a good heart rate dip, lower sleeping heart rate and less disruption.

I’m hoping that today will be a better day than Saturday and that I’m coming to the end of the side effects and will be able to get back to normal next week.

List of Side Effects Experienced

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches (legs, back, neck)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sweating

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Diagnosed with IBD in 2002, I have experienced the usual ups and downs of having a chronic disease and tried numerous medications but the time finally came in 2018 to elect to have surgery to improve my life. I had the surgery in 2019 and this is my journey having a 'New Bum'.

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