During our last, and final, well-child visit to our Pediatrician, my 16 year-old son sat in the chair beside me, nervously petting his service dog and asking to leave. The doctor was finished with looking in his ears and throat, doing a visual check that he had all his body parts intact, and that his privates were where they were supposed to be. As he checked off items in Sam’s chart, I knew it was coming.
“Well, Sam seems healthy (no, doctor, he’s far from healthy). He’s due for his booster shots and he should probably get the HPV vaccine today, as well.”. I burst out laughing. It’s absurd for anyone to suggest that my vaccine-injured child should receive ANY vaccines, but the Gardisil vaccine? You’ve GOT to be kidding me.
“I’ll take that as a ‘no'”, he said, marking the chart accordingly. I hope he wrote “hell no”.
By the time I left, I was no longer laughing. I was furious. How many parents are just blindly trusting that their doctor has their child’s best interest at heart? How many would have accepted those vaccines, including HPV?
I have a lot of guilt surrounding my son’s autism and my blind faith in doctors. I believe with all my heart that Sam is the way he is because doctors have failed him repeatedly, starting at birth. An incorrectly placed internal monitor failed to alert anyone that Sam’s cord was in a true knot. Immediately following birth, my very, very blue baby was not taken to NICU nor given oxygen. He was still given the Hep-B vaccine on Day 1. Regardless of circumstances, his inoculations remained on schedule. He was delayed at meeting every milestone but following his eighteen month vaccines, we lost him completely. He stopped making eye contact and he went into his own little world.
I should have connected what happened to me as a child with my own children. When I was a little over a year old, I received my vaccines, one of them being Polio. I stopped walking and screamed when I was stood on my feet. I was hospitalized for nearly a month. Nobody knew what was wrong with me. I had to re-learn how to crawl and walk. Later, as a middle-schooler, I received a Measles vaccine and got a double-dose of Measles. My mother said ‘no more vaccines for this one’ and she fought the school system every year. She was a pioneer in the safe-vaccine movement without even knowing it.
But I didn’t make the connection. I trusted the doctors. I didn’t know I had a choice. In Ohio, you can decline to vaccinate based on medical, religious, or philosophical reasons. You just check a box. http://www.nvic.org/Vaccine-Laws/state-vaccine-requirements/ohio.aspx. Every state is different so if you’re not in Ohio, check http://www.nvic.org for your state’s regulations.
I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I believe there are a few (very few) vaccines that are a good idea. Families have to weigh the risk with the benefits and decide for themselves. I believe it’s important to do your own research and to understand why you’re doing something before you can agree to do it. A great place to start to understand the vaccine movement in this country and the idea behind herd immunity is to watch Vaccine Nation. It’s an hour and a half long and is available to watch free via that link. Then to learn what’s in the vaccines and to understand the risks before agreeing to them, I’d suggest the National Vaccine Information Center. It’s also the place to report vaccine injury if you believe you or your child have been a victim.
Time and time again, traditional medical practitioners have let me and my son down. As a result, I find myself turning to alternative medicine (which in China is just called medicine) to fix what traditional medicine has broken. We are lucky that we have a relatively safe emergency medical system in this country. If my child breaks his leg or falls very ill, of course we’re going to the doctor or hospital. That’s what they’re good at. What they’re not good at, is holistic medicine, or looking at the whole person and deciding the least-invasive way of dealing with the issues. They are taught, one illness=1 pill. Diabetes=Insulin. High Cholesterol=Statins.
Autism is a complex, whole-body medical disorder.
Doctors have tried to treat his anxiety with a pill. His constipation with a pill. His behavior with a pill. His lack of sleep with a pill. It doesn’t work that way.
Doctors who ARE starting to get it are popping up here and there. You can find a list of them on www.medmaps.org. Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), also referred to as Integrative Health, is a rapidly growing field of professionals who are open to healthcare approaches outside the mainstream medicine. This form of medicine is especially useful in people who have a multi-system disorder, such as autism.
It took me far longer than it should have to wake up. It was at that pediatrician appointment that it finally hit me. He doesn’t get it. He would have willingly given my male child a vaccine that only protects his female sexual partner from a virus that may or may not cause cervical cancer. Nevermind the fact that he will probably never have a girlfriend or be intimate with anyone. Wake up call. What the hell am I doing here?
I now work at Integrated Connections. Integrated Connections is the brain child of Kara Badgley, the mother who was told to plan on institutionalizing her very severely affected child by the time he was seven years-old. She refused to accept that there was nothing she could do for him and began to research why he was so sick. With each new intervention, she was pulling her son out of autism. He’s now mainstreamed, indistinguishable among his peers, playing soccer and attending birthday parties. She considers him in managed recovery. Sometime along the journey, she made a promise to God. If Z got well, she would turn around and help others coming behind her. He did. And she is.
There’s a method to remediating the symptoms of autism and it doesn’t come in the form of a pill. It comes in the form of a healthy diet, clean lifestyle, supporting the child’s immune system, and addressing compromised body systems. It takes a balanced approach of CAM and sometimes pharmaceuticals to address yeast, bacteria, Lyme, etc. If we were selling the latest, greatest quick fix, everyone would be snatching it up. They want easy. They was fast. They want someone else to fix their child. Well guess what? There is no easy, fast fix for autism. It takes a buy-in from the entire family and a commitment to follow the plan. But the plan works.
We nearly lost Sam. Integrated Connections is bringing him back.