AstraZeneca Diary

"HOT FLUSHES" by Treforlutions TreVizionz is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit


Get my first shot of AstraZeneca at 3.15. Almost immediately develop a hot flush – well, more warm, really – and a little lightheadedness. But I’m fine to drive.

Like a mild handover: a bit fuzzy, difficulty concentrating (reading  impossible – can’t follow a thought from one sentence to the next), slight headache. “So what’s the difference?” asks hubby, with a wry lift of the eyebrow. You don’t look to this one for sympathy.


Sleep badly, wake at three, decide to get up. Start prepping lunch – slow cooker beef ribs. Well, you have to do something.

The same ‘hangover’ all day. Lunch – the ribs with some cauliflower rice – is delish! Sleep a bit in the afternoon. 

A protein shake for dinner: I can’t face cooking. And almost immediately – painful stomach cramps.

They subside after an hour or so, though my guts still feel uncomfortable. Like the time they pumped me full of air during a colonoscopy. Go to bed.


Early start. Wake up around midnight with terrible stomach pains. As if yet more air has been forced into my guts. Plus the worst reflux. My teeth feel as if they are being pulled from their sockets. Slowly. There’s a metallic taste in my mouth. Try to fart, try to crap, try to burp – my body mocks me with tiny bubbles and little pebbles.

Gaviscon does nothing. Nexium doesn’t help. And, as usual, Panadol is useless. I don’t know how they get away with selling that stuff.

Get out of bed, walk around – lying down is impossible, sitting is painful, standing is very uncomfortable. So I settle for standing as the least worse option.

Sip a glass of chilled water. It helps. And another. Walk around some more. Helps some more. Gingerly sat in my recliner. The pain begins to subside. After about and hour and a half I go back to bed.

Phew! Not a heart attack, then, says my paranoid subconscious. I tell it to shut up.

Wake up around 4.30 for one of my usual overnight pees. No pain. Go back to sleep. Finally get up at 6.30 – no pain! Head still a bit muzzy.

Risk a light breakfast – just toast and cereal. Uh oh. This isn’t over yet. By the time I get to the last mouthful my stomach pain is cramping and my teeth are vibrating again. Not quite as bad as before. Lie down: no! Recliner: no! “Sit up straight, feet flat on the floor – DON’T lean back, Pollard, keep that back straight!” Yes miss. It helps.

The pain subsides, but it’s still there in the distance, planning another ambush. Cancel the planned Mexican lunch. Cancel lunch altogether.

Today is going to be the water diet day. How good is that?

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)