Thursday, November 05, 2009

Surviving, with no regrets.

I think we're going to make it.

After 6 days of fever (the first 3 spent entirely in bed) for one, 2 days of very high fever for another, and Mommy trying to lose count of her own fever daze; I think we're on the mend. Mr. Violets is still managing to pick up the household chores, and going to work, too. (3 cheers!)

I also have no regrets about not getting the H1N1 vaccine.

Sure, I felt awful. And watching my kids suffer only increased this feeling of guilt. What if I could have stopped it? Good heavens, if I can suffer instead I will. (Especially as my baby girl just laid there with a fever of 104 that wouldn't budge, sipping at water and occasionally asking if I thought she'd be better in time to do her timeline at school. What could I say? "Not today, kiddo." Checked with the dr. No breathing difficulty, I wasn't really concerned about anything other than the heat that radiated from her tiny body. And the occasional tremors that started whenever she'd start to cool off, her body's way of increasing heat to bring her core temperature up to it's desired temp. 104. I've learned from her sister that 107 is now considered the "not compatible with survival" red flag. But most people stick with 104 since it makes you feel rotten enough to look scary and as far as germs are concerned there's not much difference between a 101 fever and a 106 one. Both will kill off invaders.)

What's wrong with me? Has the fever cooked my brains? (Maybe, I was having some pretty interesting dreams about Percy Jackson...But only because the final book finally came in at the library, just in time for flu season.) A simple shot, a pinprick, a magic bullet could have prevented the past week's suffering.

No, seriously. We had it. We're on the mend. We missed a week of school, for which I feel bad. I know that the school desperately needs the money it loses each day a student stays home, whether it's due to illness, funerals, vacations, lice, spinning to fast on the playground, or a bee sting. I know the that each day is important to academic success. I know that the routine of going to school daily is vital for the kids to learn, and respect, and accept.

I also know that the flu happens. It's mother nature. It's life. It's a long lived cycle. Illnesses, epidemics, occur repeatedly throughout history. In fighting the flu, I felt like we were fighting a known enemy. Maybe the pathogen was more difficult to recognize. Maybe our powers of prediction were tested in this particular case. But in the end, it was us versus a virus. It felt like a fair fight.

Vaccines carry a lot of risks. Maybe it's just because I personally experienced a potentially life threatening reaction of partial paralysis (considered to be only a theoretical risk) but I'm wary of using medical science to try and outsmart nature. I feel like when we accept a vaccine, we're still playing a part in a massive double blind study.

They are predicting that the risk of serious adverse reactions are less than 1 per 100,000. That means that if everyone in the US were to stick their arms out for a vaccine, 30,000 would theoretically be damaged. Sacrificed for the good of the rest of the population.

Out of over 300 million people, 30 thousand really doesn't sound like so many. However, if you are the one in 100,000 your opinion will probably change significantly. The CDC admits that the vaccine was rushed. The multi-dose vials do contain thimerosol (an additive that's been linked to all sorts of nasty side effects.) For those who the vaccine takes effectiveness in (It's not 100% effective) it can take 10 days for immunity to take hold. Kids require 2 vaccines, spread 2 weeks apart. And vaccine clinics are just starting.

Quite frankly, this is early in flu season. Even if we'd jumped on the bandwagon, odds are that we'd have been hit anyways.

I'm not saying that vaccines are bad. They are one of many important tools we can use to protect those who are particularly susceptible. Infants, people with immune disorders, the elderly. (Although, the elderly seem to be pretty resilient against the current threat) I am saying that I felt much more at ease fighting off an infection using my own defenses than I'd feel watching my children rally against a reaction to an unknown agent. Is it a preservative allergy? A reaction to the vaccine itself? A different virus? Will there be permanent damage? And of course the haunting questions yet to come...Did I cause, or even contribute to, this (insert medical condition here) by pinning down my baby to inject her with something, just because everybody else was doing it?

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