My Experience of Coronavirus Vaccination (Pfizer)

Today marks two weeks since I got my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

We wanted the process to go as smoothly as possible for me and so decided to call my nurse. We explained that I have Cerebral Palsy and hydrocephalus with a VP shunt and a history of brain bleeds. We had heard a lot about the different vaccines and wanted to know what the best one would be for me.

After listening to what we told her about my medical history, she suggested Pfizer.

We had one answer and wanted another so we asked my GP (family doctor) to call us back. In the end, another doctor called us since my GP was not there. She also suggested the Pfizer vaccine given my disabilities.

By this time, we knew the nurse said she would talk to her supervisor on the nursing team to try to get us a slot for the vaccination.

Her supervisor called us and offered us an appointment for Tuesday 6th July. I was counting down the days, we both were.

Fist Dose: 6 July

The day of the first vaccination, Alfredo stretched my arms a little to make sure they were as relaxed as possible and we left early although we did not have far to go.

We’d checked the weather some days before and got caught in an unexpected sudden rain shower which got us (and our masks) quite wet.

I had a new mask for the occasion, and it felt comfortable on my face. It’s a mask that has different sections for the mouth nose and chin and is known as a “fish” design. The protection level is FFP2 in Europe (N95 in the US). It has 5 layers of protection and I am happy I got it in purple (more like a lilac color but it’s really pretty).

Alfredo put it on for me since my hand-eye coordination and hand/ arm spasms make precise actions difficult always. I had to try hard to stay still as I was so excited and I was slipping around in my wheelchair a bit which did not help with getting ready to go.

When we arrived at the health centre, we checked with the nurse who would be vaccinating me as to whether the Pfizer vaccine (when in doubt, check again and again :)) would be OK for me given my conditions. He said yes, and commented on how wet we were which made me smile.

I still have vivid memories of being really ill in hospital after shunt problems and I didn’t want to have them again, although I never had, or have, any control over when they were going to happen.

We heard the symptoms of a headache related to raised intracranial pressure (pressure inside the skull).

I had symptoms of vomiting, dizziness not being able to stay awake and wanting to sleep all the time, not being able to eat or drink as well as increased spasticity and the worst headaches of my life which woke me up in the early hours of the morning.

This resulted in 4 surgeries and 2 Intracranial pressure monitors plus difficult recovery periods in the first eleven years of my life, and was really traumatic, I feel I have an understanding of what that kind of headache feels like. I felt glad that my current shunt was working well.

After our chat with the nurse (can you tell we’re worriers?) my vaccination had started: I did feel the needle going in and I know I winced and this was followed by a muscle spasm which was eased as Alfredo held my arm gently in the waiting area outside. Fortunately I didn’t hurt myself during it.

The nurse didn’t tell me he was going to put the needle in but maybe it was better he didn’t as I had no time to be nervous.

I was not too nervous, but I was excited and I think my muscles felt that too.

I had taken my usual dose of Baclofen when I woke up as we even checked with the doctor that was OK to do so, and it was.

Two minutes later, I was outside the room watching as the nurse gave Alfredo his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine. He was smiling at me behind his mask and I was smiling too, although I felt emotional, like I was going to cry with happiness. It was an emotional moment.

Meanwhile, the happy, “relieved” spasms where still happening and my fingers and arms were getting sore. My legs were painful too. It was time to take my afternoon dose of Baclofen.

I looked around me to check people weren’t close by and fortunately there were only 9 people in the building at the time, between medical staff and people waiting to be vaccinated.

I immediately felt numbness in the area of the injection and then felt a warm feeling there, almost like a heat massage.

A nice thing that happened was that a doctor stood socially distanced from me and asked me now and then if I was OK (not before asking if I had been vaccinated) to which I proudly told her I’d had my first dose).

At this point, I felt fine. I was glad she was concerned about me as the health centre was the vaccination site for the anyone with complex medical conditions or disabilities as well as the over 60s. “complex” was one of the most used words in my medical history.

We waited about half an hour although we’d been told 15 minutes was enough. Then we went home, but not before buying some Paracetamol to have just in case.

Back home, I didn’t feel anything except pain in the area of the injection right away. Some hours later, I started having more arm pain and felt really tired and had a headache.

I tried to relax beforehand using my powered wheelchair’s electric positioning but felt too sleepy so went to bed and fell asleep immediately for a few hours in the afternoon.

Second Dose: 27th July.

We had an appointment for the evening but last time the nurse said we could go whenever we wanted. We left mid-afternoon like last time after the same arm-stretching and mask routine as before. This time, I felt excited too.

The shot going in did not hurt and we told the nurse that I’d had a bad time with arm pain the last time as he asked how we’d been, not before asking if we’d had Covid, to which we answered no.

We felt well immediately afterwards and waited half an hour again before leaving. I had some spasms beforehand, but again I was excited. I don’t mind these as long as they don’t turn painful, but they are hard to control too.

We finally left and had the vaccination.

The arm pain started for me again some hours later but this time what was worse was the headache. With the first dose, it felt like the start of a headache all day but this was all over my head and lasted for two and a half days. I took Paracetamol during that time.

This was so different from the last time I had had a needle stuck in me. But that’s a story for another post.

After my experience, I urge EVERYONE to get vaccinated. A few seconds of a needle in your muscle isn’t much to go through and after a few days of side effects I felt great. Trust me, I have been through many more invasive procedures and I am happy to be vaccinated. The best part was being able to have the vaccination with my husband and caregiver.

Vaccination saves lives and is the only way to help in the fight against Covid.

Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally by Emily Ladau

This book is due for release on 7th September 2021:

About the Book:

An approachable guide to being a thoughtful, informed ally to disabled people, with actionable steps for what to say and do (and what not to do) and how you can help make the world a more accessible, inclusive place.

Disabled people are the world’s largest minority, an estimated 15 percent of the global population. But many of us–disabled and non-disabled alike–don’t know how to act, what to say, or how to be an be an ally to the disability community. Demystifying Disability is a friendly handbook on important disability issues you need to know about, including:

• How to appreciate disability history and identity
• How to recognize and avoid ableism (discrimination toward disabled people)
• How to be mindful of good disability etiquette
• How to appropriately think, talk, and ask about disability
• How to ensure accessibility becomes your standard practice, from everyday communication to planning special events
• How to identify and speak up about disability stereotypes in media.

Authored by celebrated disability rights advocate, speaker, and writer Emily Ladau, this practical, intersectional guide offers all readers a welcoming place to understand disability as part of the human experience.

My Review:

As soon as I found this on NetGalley, I knew I had to request it. I liked the definitions of disability from interviewees and the fact that one of the people is someone I know from an online disability community.

I have Cerebral Palsy, Hydrocephalus and four visual impairments and have so many experiences of different treatment from different people throughout my life.

I have experienced both ignorance and acceptance from people and life has been, and still is, a constant fight for inclusion.

I know so many people with disabilities will identify with me on this.

15% of the world’s population has some type of disability.

I don’t need disability to be demystified for me as I live with my disabilities every day but this is exactly the type of book that I know could help many people who need to know more about the world of disability and what those of us with disabilities are constantly up against.

Demystifying Disability will be good for those who think they “know it all” as they live with, or know, people with a disability. I believe everyone can learn more.

Like Emily Ladau, I am a wheelchair user and I identified with her experiences. I also learnt about her disability.

Another part of this book that I loved was her discussion of visible versus invisible disabilities, since I have both. My glasses and wheelchair are a marker of my visual disabilities, as are my scars from my shunt surgeries for hydrocephalus.

However, unless I let people know I have hydrocephalus, let them know what it is and how it affects me, they have no idea that I have it or how serious it is.

Likewise with my glasses. I have them but people cannot tell how strong my prescription is or that they only allow me to “see” the very little I can and that they don’t correct my visual difficulties, that nothing will. I embrace all these parts of me and encourage those who do not to do so and for others with disabilities to embrace their own uniqueness.

Demystifying Disability is a friendly but firm nudge in the right direction for people who think the world is accepting of people with disabilities.

It will challenge your perception of disability whether you have a disability or not, and I hope it will go a long way in producing more real change in society.

I think, and hope, it is the kind of book that will let people know that they shouldn’t judge people based on what they “think” a person with a certain disability will look, or move, like.

I sincerely wish I could have had access to this book when I was growing up, as I think it will have gone a long way in shaping people’s attitudes.

The message this book gives is that all of us with disabilities should love ourselves as we are and that everyone can learn something, no matter how much they think they know.

Because we can all keep learning.

Thanks to Emily Ladau for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

5 stars.

Pre-order on Amazon here:


Through the Eyes of Me by Jon Roberts

Through the Eyes of Me

A Sensitive and Illuminating Account of a Child With Autism
24 August 2017

Graffeg Limited

32 Pages

9781912213009

£6.99

Ages 3+
“Through the eyes of me is a sensitive and illuminating account of life as a child with autism. ”

Through this beautiful, colourful picture book.

Readers will meet four year old Kya, getting to know her likes and dislikes and all the new offences of her character.

An ideal tool for developing an understanding of autism with young readers , the book has received numerous endorsements from parents teachers and health professionals.

About the Author


Debut Swansea – based writer Jon Roberts drew the material for the book from his experience of raising his own daughter Kya,who was diagnosed with severe autism. He sought to create a simple to read, but nonetheless informative and engagingly presented account, explaining her differences and beautiful quirks.

As well as writing, Jon works full time in IT and looks after his five year old daughter who has severe autism, with his wife Sarah. He classes himself very lucky as he and his beautiful family live near Swansea, where they enjoy long walks along breathtaking beaches and rolling countryside. Through the eyes of me is his first published book @strawberry ASD

Disability charity Scope described through the eyes of me as “delightfully told and beautifully beautifully illustrated… Will help siblings, classmates and anyone who knows a child on the autism spectrum.”

Here is what you may not know about autism:
There are over 700,000 people diagnosed with autism in the UK, one in 100 people.

Autism affects 2.8 million family members in the UK alone.

Jon Roberts says: “The reaction to Through the Eyes of Me so far has been fantastic. I have shown the book to parents and professionals and they all love it and I’m looking forward to sharing it with their children.”

Amy Willetton TV presenter and model.
John  has  created a wonderful book in praise of his amazing daughter. The illustrations are captivating and I love the way it highlights the world through the eyes of young person on the autism spectrum.

Anna Kennedy OBE
This beautiful and charming book captures the true delights of being autistic.
Alan Gardner the autistic Gardner
Through the eyes of me is a great children’s book that looks at what life is like for Kia as a young autistic girl. It is done in a simple, easy to follow an extremely positive way that I feel could be helpful to other autistic children and many children in general to simply understand autism.

Alex Lowery, autistic public speaker and trainer on autism

Without further ado, here’s what I thought of the book.

I love running I love reading I love ice cream I am Kya, I am autistic and this is my world.

As an adult with physical and sensory disabilities. I think there are never enough books written by, for or on behalf of people with disabilities. I like to read books about people’s experiences, too , whether they have disabilities or not.
I got sent this book by the author Jon  Roberts and the publisher Graffeg Books in exchange for an honest review.

The first thing that really touched me about the book was its title. Through the Eyes  of Me immediately suggests that it is going to be a very personal story. I was not wrong.
Jon uses first person language so it is as if his daughter Kya were talking to us through the pages of the book. He describes what she loves to do and also what she doesn’t like to do and what makes her scared or causes her anxiety.

Through the Eyes of Me is a portrait of a four-year old (now 5) girl first and foremost, but it is also a subtle look into the world of autism for those of us who do not have it and don’t know too much about it.
The book has beautiful and colourful illustrations by Hannah Rounding which really compliment the book and make it very visual.
The writing style automatically drew me into the book and I could imagine Kya’s daily life. As an extra nice touch, the book has a “this book belongs to” page and also a useful links page with important organisations for those wishing to find out more about autism, and the help and support out there for people with this disability.
The book is written in large print which is useful for children, as well as people with visual impairment I love the way that the words in the sentence that the author wanted emphasised about his daughter’s personality, likes or dislikes are written in a different font and colour to the rest of the sentence. It really makes them stand out, and, I feel, represents Kya’s  personality.
Even though I do not know Kya or her family, I feel like I know them after having read this book, and other key themes throughout the book are love, determination and devotion in spite of adversity. I get the feeling that so many people could learn so much from this book, and although the book is only 32 pages, it covers a lot of ground and is very memorable and effective.
I recommend it as a learning and teaching resource. Parents could read it to their children or children who are old enough could read it themselves. It would also be a great classroom teaching resource to help towards gaining more autism awareness.

I was interested to know more about Jon and Kya, and was happy to read about where they live as the   Swansea area is familiar to me because I spent a year studying at the University there. 

If you would like to know more about the creation of this book and the motivations behind it, watch this video
Thanks so much to Scope for featuring this book on their website, which is where I found information about it. Thank you to both Scope and Graffeg Limited for a copy of the book.  

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf follows Amelia Winn, hospital ER/ trauma and sexual assault nurse for whom life is good- she’s married to David and has a stepdaughter, Nora, who’s six at the start of the story, and almost seven by the end. They are a small but close family and Amelia considers Nora to be her daughter after Nora’s birth mother has not been in contact for years. David and she have practically bought Nora up.

After a thrilling, action-packed start in which Amelia’s world is shattered when a hit and run driver runs her and her colleague Stacey down as they leave work for the day, author Heather Gudenkauf
launches us straight into Amelia’s life as it is two years later, where she is learning to live again after the accident left her with a severe head injury and profoundly deaf, and Stacey dead.

From that day on, Amelia fights to get her life back on track, wanting justice for her and Stacey, but turns to drink to solve her problems in life.
This, however, is not the answer, and all she does is jeapordise her relationship with David and Nora. Not wanting to give up on anything, she fights for what she feels is right, turning to those she trusts for help.

Another wish of hers is to practice nursing again in spite of her deafness, and she can’t hide her surprise when she’s taken on as an admin assistant by the local Five Mines Cancer Research Centre in the town of Mathias, Idaho.

Amelia is a keen kayaker, and is drawn into a murder investigation the day she discovers a body by the river while out kayaking with her assistance dog, Stitch. As the only eye-witness, she spends time with her childhood friend, and the town’s police detective Jake and the investigation team trying to figure out what happened to cause colleague and friend Gwen’s death.

From this moment, the book’s plot is full of twists, turns and surprises. Despite the relatively small cast of characters, I felt I knew who was who and was cheering Amelia on in the moments she tried to take parts of the investigation into her own hands. Gudenkauf has created Amelia as a strong and resilient person who takes on the world head-on in spite of her deafness. She is a caring person who really values those who treat her well.

What she goes through in the book and her reactions to life show she is not afraid to confront everybody in her path, and show she is worth a lot as a person despite her hearing loss. She challenges misconceptions, yet creates awareness, and I think that’s what I loved about this book, along with its plot.

As a person with disabilities myself, I could identify with not being understood by people and having to deal with misconceptions of people without disabilities. I, too, have a severe sensory impairment , although mine is visual and not hearing. I agreed with Amelia when she mentioned that her other senses were heightened due to the lack of one of them, and that’s true because I experience the same thing whether it’s because of my physical disability or my sensory one.

The book’s plot, synopsis and even title grabbed me instantly and I really wasn’t able to put this down. This is a very fast paced, action-packed thriller. I see it also has a very sensitive and personal side to it, too , because Amelia’s relationship with her service dog Stitch and also with Jake, a childhood friend and the only person who seems to have to want anything to do with her after the day her life changed, are realistic and touching. Jake is also the only person she knows who knows American Sign Language (ASL) which Amelia relies on for communication, although she is also a proficient lip-reader.

Gudenkauf gets us right into the action at the beginning of the book, and we even learn what we later realise are important facts for understanding the entire book, whatever format we choose to access it in.

Overall for me, Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf is a brilliantly written and high-suspense story with elements of mystery that kept me interested and holding on every word. I loved the way that Amelia’s deafness was part of, but not the whole story, and how she always saw the good in her deafness and rarely saw it as an impediment. I liked learning about the different technology and other means she had of accessing the world despite her disabilites.

Stitch was just adorable, and I got the sense that the dog, and Amelia, helped each other in complementing ways. Stitch is Amanda’s ears and voice and she gave him a new life after he went through the unthinkable with another owner. The author leaves this to the reader’s imagination.

This combination makes Not a Sound a truly unforgettable novel and a pleasure to read and review. It is the kind of book I felt I wanted to go back through straight after having finished it, and that means I thought it was great!
Everyone can learn a lot from Heather Gudenkauf’s writing, and Amanda’s character is made even more realistic because Gudenkauf lives with profound deafness herself. The book helps in raising awareness of deafness, and I think everyone will find enjoyment in it.

I’ll finish this review by rating the book. 5 stars, which just isn’t enough as it deserves many more than that. Read this book!
A HUGE THANKS to Heather Gudenkauf, and to her publisher for my ARC of this book. Loved it and will be reading more by Heather soon. I think I have found another favourite author! A bonus is an excerpt of The Weight of Silence one of Heather’s previous books, at the end of Not a Sound. Five stars are not enough for this book.

Not a Sound is out now!

Strange Beauty by Eliza Factor

Strange Beauty by Eliza Factor was an amazing read. It charts, in a very open and honest way and sometimes with a touch of humor, the story of her son, Felix, from his birth and diagnosis with physical disabilities and autism to special and significant moments in his life.

As a person with multiple physical disabilities myself, I could identify with many parts of the story and especially with the daily fight they faced. The story is so engrossing, and I could really see the personality of Eliza, her husband Felix and his sisters coming through throughout the course of the book. Felix’s determination in everything he does as well as that of all the family was very well represented.

The flow and pace were exactly right, so much so that I read it in a day. Thanks so much to Eliza and her family as well as the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced Kindle ecopy prior to publication. The mention of the YouTube channel as a place to find Felix and the Factor family was a beautiful and special touch to the book as I could see the family and how they lived their life and put a face to their names.

Sleep Better: The Science and the Myths by Professor Graham Law and Shane Pascoe

This book is an interesting read. It contains tips and useful facts and figures about sleep, like do you really need eight hours sleep a night? How to measure your sleep patterns, learning healthy routines and more.

It has been written in an informal way but some parts of the book do read like a medical report or essay, which made the book hard to get through at times.

Overall though, it is an interesting guide, and will hopefully help you whether you have no sleep problems to mild or more severe ones.

3 stars

Thanks to the authors and publisher for a review copy of this book via NetGalley.