Zoe’s Health Diary Post Gardasil

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I kept a health diary following my Gardasil vaccination to track and understand the seemingly random symptoms that appeared. To read my full story, click Pap Smears Save My Life: Cervical Cancer After Gardasil.

May 2008

13 May: Had comprehensive medical examination for police force entry

20 May: 1st symptom – rash (urticaria) which was present from then on.

Medication – 1 x Telfast 180mg per day, ongoing from 20 May – 24 July.
No apparent effect as rash always present.

25 May 2008: Swollen lip (angioedema).

Strange bald patches on tongue – continued from May onwards

June 2008

Rash always present, sometimes would flare up into welts and be almost unbearably itchy.

12 June: Saw doctor and had blood test, nothing was found.

20 June: Had 3rd Gardasil injection

29 June: Swollen eyelid

July 2008

10 July: At 11pm my right eyelid suddenly swelled up; feet swollen

11 July: Rash very bad; feet swollen.  Saw doctor and had more blood tests. Started short course of cortisone


In addition to Telfast, given short courses of Prednisolone (cortisone) 25 mgs tablets,  2 x day (50mg) for 2 days; 1 x day (25mg) for 2 days; ½ a day (12.5mg) for 2 days.

14 July: After exercising at the gym rash on inner thighs very bad, like chafing

Doctor called to say blood tests had shown elevated CRP levels (inflammatory indicator). Went back for weekly blood tests, CRP levels kept rising.

19 July:  Rash on legs was blood red in colour and unbearably itchy.  Soles of feet swollen and very painful to walk, had to hobble

20 July:  Lips, both eyelids and entire face swollen. Angry rash all over body, legs, arms and face. Fingers and toes so swollen they were like sausages, and reddened.  Hands/wrists swollen and very sore. Had difficulty picking up things, unable to wash dishes.  Still hobbling as soles of feet so swollen.

21 July:  Rash and swollen lips, still hobbling

22 July: Left eyelid and lips swollen, rash all over body, arms, legs and face.
Went to see Dr R. (mum’s doctor).  More blood tests. She tried to get me appointment with Allergist.  In meantime changed diet to exclude gluten and preservatives.

23 July: Rash. In evening right foot started to swell. Lips swollen. Couldn’t sleep because of joint pain (hands, knees and feet).

24 July: Had rash, pain and swelling of joints, unable to walk because of swelling on soles of feet. At 1pm tongue started swelling. Went to the Casualty Dept of the Alfred Hospital.  Admitted to Casualty and eventually seen by “Dermatology Team”

Medication changed to include 2 types of antihistamine, R1 and R1

Morning: 2 x Telfast

Evening: 2 x Zyrtec

Also 1-3 Periactin before bed (only took 2 tablets then discontinued under medical advice, see below)

25 July: Went to see Dr S, a Specialist Physician. Recommended not to take Periactin.  Had more blood tests, including specific one for Lupus.


Morning: 2 x Telfast

Evening: 2 x Zyrtec

26 July: Extreme pain in left wrist, couldn’t sleep. Pain in right knee. Top lip started swelling in evening.

27 July: Pain in left knee. Swelling in left foot in the evening.

28 July: Woke at 5am with extreme itching, very stiff and sore all over. By mid-morning both hands swollen and itchy. Back to see Dr R. Had more blood tests. Right knee sore in evening.

29 July: Bad rash in morning

30 July: Bad rash. Swelling of left eye lid and rash on face at about 6 pm. Swelling in feet in evening.

31 July: Rash. Both wrists swollen and aching. Both feet and ankles swollen. Base of tongue slightly swollen

August 2008

1 August: Rash

2 August: Rash

3 August: Rash

4 August: Rash. Slight swelling of top lip

5 August: Itchy rash, particularly on arms. Slight swelling of bottom lip. Feet swollen in evening, wrists aching

6 August: Itchy rash, particularly on thighs. Feet slightly swollen in morning

7 August: Rash

8 August: Rash. Pain in right knee.  Top lip swollen in the evening.

9 August: Rash. Above right eyelid slightly swollen.  Above left eyelid swelled up in evening.

10 August: Bad rash. Eye swelling  gradually went down. Right wrist swollen and aching in evening. Bad indigestion.

11 August: Bad aches and pains. Above top lip swollen. Rash bad and skin very sensitive to touch. Gut pain/indigestion after lunch. Right eyelid swollen from mid-afternoon, extremely swollen in evening.  Back to see Dr R.

Medication – Added Paracetamol Extra for pain, indigestion tablets

12 August: Right eyelid still swollen, gradually subsided throughout the day. Hands sore, particularly fingers on right hand. Skin very sensitive, skin on neck sore. Left knee sore in evening.

13 August: Bad rash. Body aches and pains. Top lip swollen. Feet and ankles swollen.  Unable to walk. Couldn’t sleep due to body aches, joint pain, chills and fever. Strange feeling in throat, felt like a bag of marbles in throat.  In a lot of pain and cried for about an hour.

August 14: Swollen feet, sore to walk on. Swollen wrists.  Rash bad. Severe gut/chest pains after lunch (gastric reflux?). In evening, left side of bottom lip suddenly swelled.  [During evening and night swelling of lips did the full circuit – i.e. first left ½ of bottom lip, right ½ of bottom lip, right ½ of top lip and finally left ½ of top lip.] Tongue started to swell and then throat started to swell.  Went to Casualty Dept of Alfred Hospital at 10.15 pm. Back of tongue swollen and strange feeling in throat, felt like a large bubble in throat with difficulty swallowing.  Left Alfred at 12.30am having not been seen.

August 15: At about 6.30am had difficulty in swallowing, sore to swallow. Balls of feet swollen, wrists swollen and sore. Went to Dr R. She said she had never seen or heard of anything like it. Was put back on cortisone. Left eyelid swelling just before bed.


Morning: 2 x Telfast

Evening:  2 x Zyrtec

Prednisolone (cortisone) 25 mgs tablets:  2 x day (50mg) for 2 days, 1 x day (25mg) for 2 days, ½ a day (12.5mg) for 2 days. (In addition – medication for pain, sleep and indigestion)

August 16: Bad rash, rash dark pink in colour. Slight lip swelling in evening.

August 17: Bad itchy rash, pink-purple in colour. Bad gut/ chest pain and nausea in afternoon.

August 18: Rash fading. Very tired. Felt unwell, gut pain/nausea.

August 19: Tired, no rash, no swelling. Nausea and lethargy.

August 20: No rash, no swelling, but nausea and very tired.
Revisit to Dr S, the Specialist Physician. Said that the blood test for Lupus was negative; that I have clinical indications of connective tissue involvement; and recommended that a Rheumatologist be seen rather than Allergist or Dermatologist.

August 21: No rash, no swelling but weak, feel faint

August 22: Weak, faint, no rash, no swelling but nausea

August 23: Slight rash, feel weak and faint after taking Prednisolone (last of the course)

August 24: Slight rash, no energy


Morning: 2 x Telfast

Evening:  2 x Zyrtec (In addition – medication for pain, sleep and indigestion)

August 25: Lethargic, slight rash

August 26: Slight rash

August 27: Slight rash. Swelling in right ring finger. Uncomfortable to swallow in evening.

August 28: Rash. Above right eyelid swollen. Bottom lip swollen. Both hand slightly swollen. Saw doctor (not Dr R) suggested taking ½ Prednisolone a  day. More blood tests.


Morning: 2 x Telfast

Evening:  2 x Zyrtec, Prednisolone (cortisone) 25 mgs tablets:  ½ x day
Panadol Extra Plus for pain

August 29: Bad rash all over body, particularly on lower legs. Left ankle swollen. Felt very tired and nauseous

August 30: Bad rash on body, particularly thighs – salmon pink in colour. Increased Prednisolone to 1 day


Morning: 2 x Telfast

Evening:  2 x Zyrtec, Prednisolone (cortisone) 25 mgs tablets:  1  x day
Panadol Extra Plus for pain

August 31: Bad rash on thighs – now purple patches. Top lip swollen. Took 2 Prednisolone. Very tired, felt nauseous.

September 2008

1 September: Rash on thighs now like brown stain.
Saw new  doctor, Dr D, as Dr R on holidays.  Started on Ketotifen

Medication – Switched Zyrtec for Ranitidine

Morning: 1 x Telfast 180mg, 1 x Ranitidine 150 mg, 1 x Ketotifen 1mg

Evening:   1 x Telfast 180mg, 1 x Ranitidine 150 mg, 1 x Ketotifen 1mg

Reduce and come off Prednisolone over next week

2 September: Brown stain on thighs fading. Finally saw Allergist , rather irrelevant by this stage

2-7 September: On new medication. No rash, no nausea but very tired, lethargic

8 September: Didn’t take Telfast as was travelling and had run out.

9 September: Rash returned. Resumed Telfast.
Saw  Rheumatologist , Dr A. Very thorough. On examination Dr A detected heart murmur. Ordered chest CT scan and echo cardiogram as well as more blood tests.

10 September onwards.

Rash was present all the time, but other symptoms came and went.  Felt exhausted, fatigued and yet was having trouble sleeping. Also feeling emotional, teary,  anxious and depressed.


Morning: 1 x Telfast 180mg, 1 x Ranitidine 150 mg, 1 x Ketotifen 1mg

Evening: 1 x Telfast 180mg, 1 x Ranitidine 150 mg, 1 x Ketotifen 1mg

Plus assorted painkillers, sleeping tablets

12 September:  Rash, top lip slightly swollen

15 September:  Rash, under left eye swollen

17 September:  Bad rash on lower back and hips

18 September:  Bad rash on thighs

21 September:  Rash on back, puffy under left eye

22 September:  Rash on legs, puffy above right eye, bottom lip slightly swollen

23 September:  Rash all over, top lip swollen

24 September:  Bad rash on back

25 September:  Rash all over, under right eye swollen

26 September:  Bad rash all over, particularly on back

27 September:  Bad rash all over, particularly on back. No energy, very tired. Couldn’t sleep

October 2008

2 October:  Rash, under left eye puffy

3 October:  Rash, left side of top lip swelled up in evening, throat itchy, coughing

6 October:  Bad rash on hips

7 October:  Rash on thighs

8 October:  Itchy rash on arms and legs, particularly around knees, puffy around right eye

9 October:  Rash, puffy under both eyes

11 October:  Rash on upper body

12 October:  Rash, soles of feet slightly swollen

13 October:  Saw Clinical Immunologist, Professor H. at Monash Medical Centre

Medication at this stage 

Morning:  1 x Telfast 180mg, 1 x Ranitidine 150 mg, 1 x Ketotifen 1mg

Evening: 1 x Ranitidine 150 mg,, 1 x Ketotifen 1mg

14 October:  Rash, top lip swollen on right. Very tired but still having trouble sleeping

15 October:  Rash, lethargic

16 October:  Rash, above right eye swollen in morning, both eyes swollen in afternoon. Very tired

19 October:  Bad rash on thighs

22 October:  Rash, puffy under right eye

29 October:  Rash on arms and legs, eyes puffy, top lip on left swollen in morning, bottom lip on right swollen in evening

Medication – cutting back on antihistamines

Morning: 1 x Ketotifen, 1 x Telfast

Evening:  1 x Ketotifen

30 October:  Rash, around eyes puffy

November 2008

1 November:  Cut down to ½ Telfast


Morning: 1 x Ketotifen,  ½  x Telfast

Evening: 1 x Ketotifen

6 November:  Itchy rash

9 November:  Itchy patches on arms

10 November:  Faint rash all over lower legs.

12 November: Went to personal training. Lips very swollen. Very, very tired.

13 November:  Rash. Upper left lip swollen in morning. Sore hands

14 November:  Rash. Slightly swollen around right eye. Left hand numb

15 November: Swollen under left eye in evening. Cut down Telfast to  ½ tablet every 2nd day


Morning: 1 x Ketotifen,  ½  x Telfast every 2nd day

Evening: 1 x Ketotifen

16 November: Itchy rash. Swollen around left eye.

17 November:  Went to personal training.  Itchy rash. Still swollen around left eye.  Fatigue. Couldn’t get to sleep, insomnia

26 November:  Rash. Swollen about top lip on right side

28 November: Saw Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, Dr Z. Had acupuncture treatment and herbs.

29 November: Finished Telfast


Morning: 1 x Ketotifen 

Evening: 1 x Ketotifen

December 2008

2 December: Revisit to Professor H. Rash had disappeared so decided against long-term cortisone. Continue on with Ketotifen

10 December:  Very tired

11 December:  Top lip slightly swollen

12 December:  Bottom lip swollen in evening

13 December:  Both lips swollen…

Continued on with Ketotifen treatment. Rash was gone and swellings gradually subsided

March 2009

2 March: Cut down to Ketotifen once a day

16 March: Stopped taking Ketotifen, remained rash free.

However shortly after this suffered major anxiety attack and insomnia.

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