Monday, April 27, 2009

Close call

Over the weekend I kept a close eye on Carter, obsessively checking his temperature. We were lucky that his fever never returned and that he was left with an extremely boogery nose and a wicked cough. He had stopped throwing up from coughing so hard and by this morning, he stopped crying from the pain his coughing spells caused him. As of this morning, he is better and we don't have to get him in for a chest x-ray.

This last week was hard on me (as it was on the kids). I swear to God, I found a handful of gray hairs that were not there before. I was so worried that I'm sure it shaved a few years off of my life. I also cried so much that I should have purchased stock in waterproof mascara.

It's a scary time when your kids get sick, but it's even more worrisome for us because of our decision not to vaccinate. Every runny nose can possibly become meningitis, every cough could worsen and become pertussis and every cold could be pneumoccous. After this last week, I feel like we got a taste of what could happen if my kids contracted a vaccine-preventable disease. I know what it's like to be on both ends of the spectrum now - both with adverse vaccination reactions and dealing with disease.

I would not change anything and our decision remains the same.

I've thought long and hard about this, believe me. The moment our pediatrician recommended specific testing because Carter is not vaccinated, I really began to weigh both sides again. However, as scary as this last week has been - it does not even compare to how I felt during Logan's adverse reactions and here's why...

First, with Carter there was a plan. There was testing being done to figure out what we were dealing with so we could develop the best treatment plan. There was a treatment plan for whatever disease we were facing be it a cold, RSV or pneumonia. There was something we could do. Yes, it was miserable. Yes, we had to do more testing than those who vaccinate. But there were options.

With Logan's adverse reactions there was nothing we could do to stop it. We could give him Motrin, Tylenol, Benadryl and worst case - steroids. There was no treating the problem, only the symptoms. We were at the mercy of whatever was causing an adverse reaction because nobody knows why it happens and what exactly happens. It's a very helpless situation.

I still stand by my decision for our family. After Carter's 6 month check-up and vaccinations were brought up again, I was sent home to think about it. I was this close to taking him in to start a single dose - selective plan and then I got a call from my sister, R about how Cousin G had an adverse reaction (to most likely rotavirus) at his 4 month check-up that sent him to the ER - where they could do nothing but medicate him with over-the-counter medications. That sealed the deal right there for me. Not only has Logan had more than one adverse reaction, now another baby in our family has had one. The odds are a little alarming and I would really be playing Russian Roulette with Carter's health if we had gone through with it.

In our family, the risks are there on both sides. It really is a no-win situation and every conversation I have with our pediatrician at check-ups regarding the possible fatality of a scenario is absolutely real. We are at risk of adverse reactions and we are at risk of contracting diseases. Each choice is a roll of the dice.


Eriness said...

I respect your decision however you should hang out with people who vaccinate because your decision affects other people as well.

Vaccination is essentially a free rider problem, economic theory's explanation of the impact of the inaction of a few (who choose not to vaccinate) on the health and well-being of many (those who do vaccinate). In other words, if enough people decide not to vaccinate, it won't matter what you or I believe or choose to do in regard to our children. Vaccination only works if most of the population participates. Witness the ravages of disease on 19th Century and early 20th Century children or modern-day Africa to see what happens when people opt out.

I get that your kids have an adverse reaction and that it is not a one size fits all. But I am sure glad I vaccinated my kids and I am glad that they are protected because it must be scary when your chid is sick and you are not sure what it could be? Both my kids were sick after their vaccinations and had fevers and diarrhea

Anonymous said...

I just want to say that you are a GREAT mom. Really, I read your blog and am amazed at the love and devotion you have for your children. I think you are doing the right thing. With the amount of love and care that you have for your children they can get through anything.

God bless.

Kristin said...

This experience was a realization that both choices hold some heavy realities. I think it's a common thought from non-vaxers that these diseases aren't really a danger, that most have been eradicated etc. when vaccine-preventable diseases still are a risk (at least this was my perception).

My hope is that the CDC will do something to make vaccines safer. That enough people will stop vaccinating, creating a demand for change.

Because BOTH choices are right. Vaccines are not safe for everyone and these diseases are deadly to people now.

Kristin said...

Wow, Anonymous. That was very kind. Thank you.