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Why I’ve Stopped Embroidering

Last year during the lockdown, I found a new hobby.

It was one that surprised me, because I never envisioned myself as having the traits associated with that sort of activity; namely patience, meticulousness, and tenacity. I’m talking, of course, about embroidery.

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Even my loved ones were surprised. Embroidery is, to them, a ‘girly’ thing, and I’ve always been, well… not. But there’s just something so therapeutic about the repeated motions of poking your needle in and out of the fabric, and watching the threads fill up a blank space with colourful patterns and shapes.

Sadly, I’ve stopped embroidering consistently since August last year. And it’s not because I grew bored or anything, or that I don’t have money to buy materials.

It’s because of the COVID vaccine.

How is it related, you ask?

First and foremost, let me clarify – I am NOT an anti-vaxxer. I got my Human Papillovirus (HPV) vaccine when it was still relatively new on the market. I was also one of the first people to sign up for the COVID AstraZeneca vaccine, because I live with my elderly parents, and I wanted to keep them safe. I still hold the belief that there are vaccines that people should get in order to protect themselves from diseases.

But ever since getting my first COVID vaccine shot, my body has been showing undeniable long-term side effects, namely persistent atopic dermatitis and eczema that mainly manifests on my hands (fingers/palm) and my legs.

It’s not exaggeration to say that I’ve not had any relief since August 2021, because these tiny fluid-filled vesicles would pop up all over my hands, causing intense itching (I have on occasions, felt like it would be better to just chop my hands off – that’s how bad it can get). I would inevitably scratch them (doctors always say “don’t scratch” as if it was easy – you ever experience an itch you couldn’t scratch? It drives you insane), which would cause my skin to bleed. It would then be extremely painful, until it crusts over, and my hands would look like Chupacabra’s paws.

Even when I will myself not to scratch, my skin would still get so swollen with fluid underneath, it would literally burst open (I shall not regale you with photos because even they gross me out), and deep cuts would appear as if someone had made small incisions into the surface of my palm and fingers.

Of course, like any person who believes in science and medicine, I’ve gone to several doctors and dermatologists. Is it something I’ve been eating? Something I’ve been touching? Or perhaps, possibly, the vaccine? Because I have a history of eczema, but it has never been this severe nor long lasting, and usually resolves after a week or two. NOT an entire year, with only a few days of break in between at most before a fresh wave of vesicles start popping out again.

But in every scenario and every doctor I’ve gone to, they just wave it off and say “no, it’s not the vaccine, it’s just your immune system being hyperactive” (without telling me what would cause my immune system to be this way. It’s just “one of those things that happens”). They then prescribe me with topical steroids, and send me on my merry way. Long term use of topical steroids is known to cause side effects, but that’s Western medicine for you – treat the symptoms, not the underlying cause – and if you have another symptom resulting from that prolonged use, we’ll treat that instead!

Having vented my frustrations at friends and family, some have also told me about how they’ve had skin problems (mostly in the form of persistent rashes) since they got the vaccine – so I know mine is not an isolated case.

The thing is, unlike very SEVERE side effects from the vaccine (they always say these are ‘rare’, but who tf cares if they’re rare or not if YOU are the one suffering from them? Like hey, look! I won the unlucky lottery!), such as myocarditis or blood clotting, I would say skin problems are considered a ‘minor inconvenience’ in comparison, which is probably why a lot of it goes unreported.

I did not initially make this link – I thought that I was probably eating or doing something that was triggering the condition. So I tested cutting out dairy from my diet, then seafood, then beans, and a variety of other foods, none of which helped. I cleaned all my often-touched surfaces and resorted to wearing gloves around the house to avoid touching stuff. NONE of which worked.

Again, it’s not a life threatening thing – but it certainly is bothersome not being able to do chores involving washing, and having to live with a bothersome, irritating condition that limits your hand movements, is itchy as hell, and causes you pain. Oh, and not being able to embroider is a bummer too, just when I discovered a passion for it.

But you know what the funny thing is? My mom was having a conversation with her doctor about how I was having these symptoms after getting my vaccine, and he, like all the doctors I’ve been to, simply waved it off as “coincidence”.

See, this is the thing I hate about some of our doctors. It’s a classic example of them dismissing your pain and symptoms as being ‘all in your mind’. I’ve seen this bias in action when my mom had her eye surgery and felt like something was terribly wrong during the recovery stage, but her specialist told her “It’s like that, it’s in the recovery stage, you have to expect it”. A month of suffering later, she went back, and the doctor admitted that she was FUCKING RIGHT – there had been a problem with the surgery, and they would need to do a corrective procedure. LISTEN TO YOUR FUCKING PATIENTS WHEN THEY TELL YOU BECAUSE THEY KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THEIR BODIES GODDAMIT

Wow, that turned into quite a lengthy, pointless rant, didn’t it?

Do I regret getting the vaccine? Not really. I had COVID in March this year, and I believe that if I hadn’t, the symptoms would have been much more severe. In retrospect, even with the knowledge that I might suffer these side effects, I would still do it again to protect myself and my loved ones.

But having contracted the virus and gaining natural immunity, I will NOT be getting a fourth booster. Because how many more iterations will there be? With many vaccines, they were developed after years of testing and clinical trials. I just feel that the COVID vaccine has been rushed in order to curb an onslaught of a global pandemic – and these effects, however minor they may be, may only manifest years later – with us as guinea pigs.

PS: This is me sharing my opinion/experiences, and should not be taken as fact or conclusion that vaccines = problems. Do not take this as medical advice or what not.