Vaccination: One parent to another

Dear Anti-Vaccination Proponents:

I want to introduce you to someone who is very special to me. His name is Gabriel and he just turned 8 years old. He’s a huge fan of the San Jose Sharks, the Denver Broncos & has a new love for professional wrestling. Gabriel is in second grade, and is a kind, gentle kid. He has a younger sister named Eden that he adores. He has two dogs and he favors the little one, Jubilee. He carries her around like a baby sometimes and whenever he sits down, she curls in his lap or right next to him. I’m telling you about Gabriel because I want you to keep him in mind as I go on.

Gabriel is my son. He’s also a heart transplant recipient who is on immune suppressing medications that help keep him alive. He is unable to get the MMR vaccine because of his immune compromised status so he is especially vulnerable to the measles outbreak that is happening right now and I want to talk to you about that, one parent to another. I know that most of the time, when you share you anti-vaccination views, you are attacked. At the very least, you feel attacked. It is hard to see another person’s perspective when you are on guard so I hope that you can let your guard down & hear what I’m saying here.

People like Gabriel, and there are hundreds of thousands of them, rely on people that are healthy to keep them safe. They rely on the healthy people of this world to keep making choices that will help keep them safe…when the measles virus was almost eradicated in the early 2000’s, it was a relief to vulnerable people everywhere. Then, with the anti-vax movement gaining ground, it has become a problem again. Now, in 2015, we are facing an epidemic that can easily be prevented and I am stunned and dismayed.

Right now, I’m waiting to hear back from Gabriel’s cardiac team to determine whether I should pull him from school & virtually quarantine him to keep him safe. I’m waiting to hear the numbers of the unvaccinated kids in his school so I can assess the level of threat. There is a possibility that I will have to isolate my son, pulling him from everything he cares about, the things he loves, because there is an unseen threat out there that could make him very ill, or even kill him. That also means that as a single parent, my ability to provide for my family will be impacted.

And this upsets me. See, I get that you fear for your child. You’ve heard the stories of the horrors of vaccination & you believe that somehow big pharma is benefiting from the vaccine industry. You think there is harmful mercury in vaccines (there’s not) and that perhaps there is a link between vaccines and autism (also not true). You are an avid reader of Natural News & think the CDC is misleading all of us. I understand…I don’t trust the government either but I do trust the medical professionals who I’ve handed my son over to many times. I believe that if there was ANYTHING harmful about vaccinations, they would warn me. I believe that most physicians, when they took the Hippocratic oath to “first do no harm”, MEANT it. I believe the science because there have been countless studies done by organizations who have nothing to do with the CDC who have found the same results.

I understand fearing for your child…Believe me, I do. I handed my son over to a cardiac surgeon when he was 13 days old, knowing that I might never see him again. I’ve literally seen my son’s heart beating in his chest so please know that I get the fear you feel. I agonized over every choice I made, wondering if it was the right thing to do. I’ll never tell you that you’re wrong for what you’ve chosen, even if I disagree with it. What I will ask you to do is consider the implications of your choice for the most vulnerable of our human family…people just like Gabriel. If you choose to not vaccinate your child, and then send them out into public spaces, you are playing Russian Roulette with people who have no choice and minimal defenses against the viruses that your child can be carrying.

I believe in freedom & that you have a right to choose. I also believe that with freedom, comes equal responsibility. If you choose to exercise your freedom to not vaccinate, please be responsible with your choices & take measures to minimize the spread of disease. Just like you don’t want people forcing you to make choices about your child’s healthcare, I don’t want your choices to either force my family into undesirable positions at best and at worst, to harm or even kill my son.

Please, one parent to another…let’s keep all our loved ones safe. One death by preventable disease is one too many.

Highs and lows.

Today was a challenging day. My son, who has a chronic (ch)illness, needed his meds refilled. There was an insurance SNAFU and then a pharmacy issue which resulted in hours on the phone before it was finally resolved. Fortunately, it was resolved without any major drama but when these things happen (this is far from the first time), there is a rush of emotions.

First, I am fierce when it comes to protecting my children. Once, I read that the most dangerous place in the world is between a mother and her child and I am much like a bear when it comes to them. I will rise up and roar until I am heard, until they are safe, until things are resolved. Most often, I am grateful that I am strong enough to be able to bear the weight of acting as protector so they don’t know what is going on. Being a parent often means absorbing the shockwaves of pain, trauma and fear that are lobbed at the family so that the kids can keep being kids. My job is done well if at the end of a challenging day, they go to bed with smiles and happy hearts.

But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt me, that there isn’t a price being paid for it all. Indeed, on days like today, I feel weary. This is a soul level weariness that comes hand in hand with being the parent whose child has a chronic condition. Parents, imagine how exhausting it is to deal with your child when they have the flu or a broken limb…and then imagine that lasting for the entire length of your child’s life. It’s exhausting. Most days are not this challenging–and for that I am deeply grateful. Most days are good, great even, and those days sustain my aching heart when these rough days come along.

And that is the condition of life. There are highs, lows and every shade between. There is a popular illusion that remaining positive is the key to changing ones life and while I can definitely see the value in being positive, because this too shall pass, there is nothing beneficial in bypassing the pain when it arises. There is a vast difference between ignoring the waves as they roll in and learning to ride them, and that is what I am learning to do. I once heard grief (pain) described as a river, but I believe it is more like an ocean. There are times when the tide is low and the waters merely nibble at the toes. Then, there are times when the waves are hard & crashing, knocking you on your ass. Today was a day where the waves were stronger & knocked me off balance.

I’m tired and a bit battered today so I will allow myself the space to be quiet, and will allow my heart to express what it needs to say. Tonight, I will breathe deeper, rest longer and feel the ache. Tomorrow will be better.