I posted last week about Jenny McCarthy’s appearance on Oprah and her new book Louder than Words. If you missed it, Jenny shared how vaccines played a part in her son’s autism and how she was determined to help him recover from this condition. This morning I was reminded of this topic again…twice.
First, I watched Jenny again on The View. It was another good interview. She talked about vaccines and the possibility of recovery for the autistic yet again. I did find Barbara Walters a bit irritating when she kept arguing with Jenny’s explanation of how autism can be reversible. Whoopi Goldberg too was a little too quick to butt in and tell parents that Jenny’s experience should not motivate parents to decline vaccines. BUT overall, this was another great message for parents.
Then, I sat down to listen to Carrie’s natural mom podcast in which she interviewed the author of The Boy in the Window, a book about the author’s son and his traumatic injury after a DPT vaccine. It was a great interview and I plan to read this book very soon.
These two interviews this morning got me thinking about my own experiences with this issue. When I posted last week about Jenny’s interview on Oprah I got several comments that implied that mercury is the scapegoat that moms who oppose vaccines are targeting and that in our folly we are overlooking the fact that autism rates have not decreased since mercury (thermisol) has been systematically removed from most vaccines. That means vaccines can’t be contributing to autism right?
I was irritated by the comments. While I do believe that mercury has no place in vaccines let us not overlook the fact that vaccines are full of other chemicals too and these chemicals work together to overwhelm the immune system. Just look at the fact that “some” doctors will refuse to vaccinate children who are ill. Why is this? Because they know that these chemicals can overwhelm their already weakened immune system. But why is that they don’t care to know if their immune system can handle the vaccine even if they are NOT currently displaying symptoms of illness? Why is it that they do not consider that previous vaccines may have in fact compromised their immune systems and that further vaccinations could be harmful? We may never know.
What exactly is in a vaccine? Try some of these on for size…formaldehyde, aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate, ammonium sulfate, formalin, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) to name a few. These are chemicals and heavy metals for cripes sake! If you look up some of these chemicals you will see that they are labeled hazardous and toxic. How in God’s green earth we can possibly think that these ingredients have NO effect when packaged in a vaccination shot? How can we think that cumulative exposure is not dangerous…especially combined with all the other exposures that occur in daily life? I like the comment left by one of my readers on another post: If you think these things are not dangerous…you are living in “Fantasy Land”.
When I share my opinions about the danger of vaccines I do not isolate the MMR shot or mercury as the cause of autism or other typical vaccine related injuries. The MMR is NOT the only shot that is dangerous and mercury is only of one many dangerous ingredients. I have researched this issue for 11 years now and I am 100% confident in my decision to deny all vaccinations for my children at this time.
Usually around this time I tell people that it was my son’s own vaccine injury that led me to where I am now. I did mention a bit about his story a few weeks back and I got several personal emails from a couple moms who basically said that what happened to my son was unfortunate but I could NEVER prove vaccines caused his injury and therefore I shouldn’t publicly declare that they did. One woman even implied that he was an acceptable loss for a product that otherwise does a lot of good in the world. I am horrified that moms can have this attitude about child safety. The picture below is my son after a vaccine injury. He is in ICU.
My journey really began on day two of my son’s life. His birth was pretty easy and when I had finished laboring I had a perfect little boy in my arms. He was calm and curious right from the start. He had many guests that day and all marveled at how serious he looked and how he didn’t cry at all. He slept in a bassinet next to my bed in perfect peace and he breastfed immediately and without trouble.
Then on day two the nurses came to get him and give him a Hepatitis B shot. At the time I had no reason to think I should not give consent. I knew nothing about vaccines except the fact that Doctors tell you need them and schools require them. Had I known he was being vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease I might have questioned it but I am not sure. :(
The baby they brought back to me was not the same baby they left with. This was not my calm, serene baby. This baby cried furiously, refused to fall asleep in the bassinet, or even be put down. I joked several times that we had a baby mix-up going on here but I tried to dismiss all thoughts that maybe…just maybe the vaccine did this. One day wasn’t really enough time to know if there had been a REAL change in his behavior right?
When I brought him home he had to sleep in the crook of my arm to be able to go to sleep. You could not put him down for even a moment or he would scream. Family members had to help with the constant holding and since I rarely got a break…or any decent sleep…I gave up on breastfeeding after only 4 months…a decision I regretted.
He went in for more shots at 2 months and 4 months old. Each time he would become sick for an extended period of time but his Doctors assured me that I did not need to worry. He was sick so often that I decided to delay his six month vaccinations until he was 10 months old…at which time he got a DTP shot. This is shot changed our lives forever. :(
He became very ill after the shot with a high fever that lasted for days. The doctors kept telling me it was normal. When his fever jumped to 104 degrees I got in the car with him and went to the emergency room. In the triage they confirmed his fever and sent us out to the waiting room. I sat and held my son and began to notice something strange. I can’t explain it other than to say that I felt that he was leaving me. He was gradually loosing eye contact and alertness and his eyes and arms were ever so slightly twitching. When I started snapping my fingers in front of him and he didn’t respond I freaked out. I ran into the triage and told them something was terribly wrong and described what I was seeing. A young nurse scooped him up and took him into a nearby room and began examining him. He also tried to get my son’s attention and when it didn’t work I could see panic on his face. Then my son’s twitches turned into a full blown, violent seizure. The nurse got on the intercom and called for immediate assistance. Two other people came and they wheeled him into another room. I stood just outside trying to see what was going on and I recall that they told me they were going to give him an anti-seizure medication and then one of them ran outside and yelled to all the medical staff, “we need to bag him!” He had gone into respiratory arrest. His room filled with about 10 people and they ushered me away.
Fearing the worst I called my husband at the nurse’s station but I couldn’t even get the words out…I could only cry into the phone. A nurse had to give him the details because I couldn’t. After he got there they explained to both of us that our son was being air-lifted to a hospital that could handle this type of situation. We had to follow in our car and over the next week he stayed in the hospital with the first days being in ICU on a ventilator.
I knew in my heart what had caused this and when I asked the treating neurologist about it…he would only say that I should trust my instincts. He wouldn’t give absolute confirmation but he wanted me to know that I was right. At a later time he would tell me that my son was not a good candidate for any further vaccinations. I also found out that my son most likely had an immune disorder at the time he got that last vaccination and really should have never received it. But medical professionals do not currently check things like that. Vaccines are one size fits all.
Unfortunately for my son this information was too late. He had many more violent seizures and he ended up with mild brain damage and since his seizures would not stop they decided to start medicating him for epilepsy at age 5 after he almost fell down a flight of stairs during a seizure. I was not happy about medicating him but I did take comfort in the fact they said it didn’t have to be permanent and that I could evaluate alternative therapies in the mean time.
In between these two events though I became pregnant again and the issue of vaccines came up on a discussion board. I was horrified to find that I still wasn’t committed to denying all vaccines for my new baby….perhaps rationalizing that my son’s case had been unique. Another mom suggested that I retrain myself and start researching vaccine injuries. I did and I found that my son’s case was not unusual. There are thousands upon thousands of children that have been harmed by vaccines. And alarmingly I found even more confirmation that vaccines had caused my son’s injury when I found hundreds of stories just like his.
By the time my second child was born I was confident in my choice to decline all vaccines. Of course that is only half the battle. Sticking to your guns on the issue can be challenging because I met with many moms and doctors that were down right militant when I expressed my opinion on the issue. They act as though they know what is best for your child and they hope to shake some sense into you so you can be the good, vaccinating parent your child deserves. They dismiss all protests that vaccines can injure children by talking about how the statistics show that the number adversely affected is so small it barely matters…..yeah right…unless you are the parent of one of those insignificant statistics. And of course they talk about all the good that vaccines do, ignoring the fact that many other factors besides vaccinations have contributed to a decline in these diseases. But if you stick you your guns…it gets easier to deal with these people.
Contrary to what others might say I do not write about these things to convince other parents that vaccines are bad and that they need to deny them. I just want other parents to know that there is risk involved. I would “think” that most parents would want to know about that. I believe in informed consent. Tell all parents both sides of the issue….the good, the bad, and the ugly, and allow them to choose for themselves. Right now most parents are only getting one half of the whole story and they are basing their decision to vaccinate on that incomplete data. Tell them that there are risks!!!
If they still decide to vaccinate that is fine…at least they know the whole story and they made a conscious decision. I will not fault them for their decision at all. I just hope that they can see why I and many other parents decided that the risk was too great and respect our decision as we respect theirs. Meanwhile I share my son’s story to help other moms see that there is another side to this issue that many don’t want you to know about. It is your right as a parent to know the whole truth.
So how is my son doing today? Much better! We have made a lot of changes in our lifestyle to eliminate further chemical exposure, we have made many dietary changes, and we have learned to adjust. I am happy to say that I after the changes we made I was confident that he could function without the epilepsy medication. Call it mother’s intuition. :) I was right. He was taken off meds after 6 months and he has had no seizures. His weight loss has reversed itself and he is at a much healthier weight now and he no longer scratches his arms until they are a mass of bleeding wounds. It has been a long road but we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. I now realize that we were not one of the unlucky ones. We were one of the lucky ones.
Update 11/2011 – This past year my son was diagnosed (finally) with high functioning autism at the age of 11. Was it the vaccine, even if not the infamous MMR? I don’t know. It really doesn’t matter much. All I know is that daily life is a struggle and I still think we were one of the lucky ones.