Friday, February 29, 2008

A Shot in the Dark

I haven't really done my homework on the vaccination debate. For most people, that means going with whatever the doctor says. For me, that means I chose a doctor who doesn't care whether or not I do any of them, except that he'll advocate spreading them out if I do. He doesn't ask when or why. He leaves the research in my hands, but he also doesn't check to see that I did it.

It's not that I'm clueless. I've read some articles and parts of the three books I own on the subject. I've read Yahoo group postings about Dr. Sears' newish book and figure I'll pick it up someday. But mostly I've surrounded myself with people who think vaccinations are pretty problematic and almost not at all necessary. This means I feel good doing nothing.

Well, it's not that I do nothing either. I feed my young toddler son a crazy healthy diet, including lots of things I've read are super good for his immune system and fighting yucky stuff, foods like bone broths and organic meats and produce whenever possible, in addition to probiotics and cod liver oil and coconut oil. Oh, and lots of breastmilk. If some benevolent bank in the sky paid me for all the hours I spend in the kitchen or nursing my son -- even minimum wage -- we could pay the architect to draw up plans for that addition we've been wanting.

But when people start to float around questions about vaccinations on mainstream email lists, I got nothin.' Since my non-decision-making may have such an impact on my son, and I think maybe in some states I could be charged with child endangerment, I really ought to know what I'm doing.

It's just that I think the mainstream medical community and most people paid to talk about nutrition in this country don't really know what they're doing. That makes it hard to listen to what they have to say. We have soaring rates of autism -- now up to one in 150 children or one in about 100 boys -- and as a former teacher, I can attest that kids today have serious issues with attention and ability to focus. I happen to believe it's because of all the junk their bodies -- and their parents' bodies -- have been exposed to from a young age, but I don't see many large research projects or governmental programs seriously working to change those problems, except with more drugs.

Over the past ten years, as I've address digestive problems, acne, depression, a thyroid disorder and what looked like it might be infertility, regular doctors have contributed to about 8% of my improvement, and that's being generous. The rest of the successes I've found were through hard work via alternative therapies. And most folks in that crowd just doesn't even consider vaccinations worth talking about. If I gave them to my kid, that would just cause a cascade of other issues he'd have to address when he got older. And I'd like to spare him that.

What gets me most is the idea of all the chemicals mixed in with the actual virus (or whatever biological piece is the focus of the shot) -- all that stuff going directly into such a little person's bloodstream. And then there are the claims I've heard around that most disease rates had already declined significantly before the vaccines came on the scene. Plus you hear of things like that mumps outbreak in Iowa, in which most of the affected parties had been vaccinated. So what's the point? If I really did my reading, maybe I would see it, and maybe it's just that I don't want to.

Some people would think I'm crazy for letting my kid's fever go up to 104.7 and doing nothing about it other than holding him and nursing him. But I really believe he's better off for it, for the "housecleaning" as one doctor put it at a nutrition conference I went to. My hope is that by letting his body fight out these small illnesses now, I'm making his immune system more capable of fighting bigger stuff in the future. I really hope I'm not wrong and that he doesn't catch a bad case of something a shot might have prevented.

But if I'm right that he's likely as sensitive in his body chemistry as I am, then shooting him up with all that stuff seems irresponsible. I won't give him wheat or dairy yet because I finally figured out that they made me pretty sick. The idea of his little body getting accosted with potential poisons at a young age when he can't really handle them ... well, that just sounds to me like a pregnant woman riding a horse. She's probably not going to fall, and if she did on her own, it might not matter. But if she falls carrying a fetus, there could be major damage.

Most kids aren't going to have major reactions, but if there is something else going on in the body and it gets assaulted with a shot, it just might freak out. A joint isn't going to kill you, but if you smoke it on top of being drunk and driving a few blocks home, that last toke just might be the thing to shove tree bark up your nose and windshield glass through your eyeballs. Kids who are already on the edge of something, I think, are the ones who really suffer from vaccinations, and we can't always know who those kids are.

Whenever people in mainstream circles talk about vaccines, it seems to come back to the autism link. "But there isn't any mercury anymore," they'll say or "It's been proven that vaccines don't cause autism." But if we stopped living in a black/white dichotomy, we might see some shades of gray. It takes someone like Jenny McCarthy going on Oprah to make moms feel like perhaps those disorder-vaccine-link claims are not only coming from us crazy lefty moms who deprive our children of blue and green Goldfish crackers.

I wonder now what, if anything, will be the public reaction to the disclosure that the US Government has conceded that the mercury in two of an 18-month-old's nine vaccinations may have "aggravated" a mitochondrial disorder and led to her eventual diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation found that "compensation is appropriate" for the family. I'd like to think it would get people thinking more about the complex interplay of factors that go into a child's development, factors that get more complicated the more our world gets complicated.

I know I should have statistics at the ready, but, for once, I want to just pretend I can keep things simple.

Read an article -- yes, it's the only one I've read -- on the Federal Claims Court decision at

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