Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Shawn told me tonight that one of his students has Swine Flu. Last week he got an automated phone call from Brownsburg School Corporation that Whooping Cough has been circulating. Recently, signs have been posted all over one of the homeless shelters where I work reminding residents to WASH YOUR HANDS, as there are 22 families living there at any given time and sickness runs rampant. Oh, yeah, and the bedbugs. One of our shelters has an outbreak of bedbugs.
Is it any wonder that I get home from work and refuse to touch my sweet child who is screaming for me until I have stripped down and scalded my hands as I scrub? Should I be surprised that I have dreams about getting lice? Am I a worry-wart when I won't let Shawn have a snack when he gets home from work until I see him wash his hands?
Violet has a routine doctor's visit coming up next week and I am still debating over the right choice for her vaccine-wise. Up until this point, we have had her on a delayed immunization schedule, so she's getting everything that the CDC prescribes, but at a much slower pace than they recommend. Instead of receiving 3,4, or even 5 different inoculations per visit, Violet only gets two. The idea is that she will be fully immunized by the time she begins Kindergarten, but she will not be at risk for any (real or perceived) interactions between vaccines. Also, if she does have a bad reaction after a round of shots, it will be much simpler to identify which vaccine was the culprit.
Besides spreading them out, I have put an out-and-out hold on a couple of the more controversial vaccines; the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and the flu shot. The MMR is the vaccine that is most frequently sited as having negative effects and often comes up in discussions regarding autism. This shot is usually given (per CDC guidelines) as early as the 12 month visit. We are going to wait until Violet is at least 24 months to give her the MMR. I would like for her to be speaking clearly so that she can articulate any problems to me.
That brings us to influenza. Until this year, I never gave the flu shot much thought. Some years I got one, some years I didn't, and I never noticed any correlation with my illnesses or lack thereof one way or another. When it comes to Violet, I figure why risk an extra vaccine when the severity of the illness didn't seem to warrant it? I know that people can and do die from the flu, but, the risk seems acceptable to me. The Swine Flu (I refuse to call it by any other name), seems a bit more ferocious. From the accounts I've heard, it sounds like a huge bitch. I don't doubt that most people who get it will live to see another day, but the severity and duration of this one sounds brutal. I heard a frightening story on NPR about a nurse working in D.C. who lost a pregnant patient to Swine Flu. The nurse was devastated and you could tell that encounter was enough to scare the bejesus out of her and make her respect the power of this strain of flu.
Am I scared of it? I guess, yeah, I am. I really don't want to be sick like that, I don't know how I'd take care of Violet. I don't want Shawn to get sick like that; I make a really poor nurse. Mostly, though, I don't want Violet to get sick like that. Even her sniffles break my heart and when she has a fever--forget it. I am a nervous wreck.
But, I don't think we're going to get her vaccinated for Swine Flu. The lack of testing on this vaccine does not sit well with me. No one knows how well it will work, either, and that also, seems asinine. Some of these shots have mercury (one of those red-light ingredients) and they all require the patient to receive 2 doses for "complete" coverage. That, in addition to all the other vaccines that Vi is still in line to get this winter, and it just becomes too many for me to feel comfortable with. I've done my homework, I'll hear what our pediatrician has to say, and then Shawn and I will weigh the pros and cons.
So, yes, germs freak me out. I'd like to have a safety bubble around our house so no outside germs could penetrate it (no lice either!) but I know that's not an option. So I'll keep washing every one's hands, try to keep my fingers off my face, and hope to God these decisions are never something I end up regretting.