Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Vaccine Controversy: A Middle of the Road Autism Mom's Perspective

So, I guess I should start this by saying, yes I have been following all of the vaccine stuff of the past week, but if you are on my facebook page at all, you already know that.  I think the unfolding of this story is going to be a long, drawn out process, I think there is much more going on than we are aware of.  Besides the video that was released that had recordings of Dr. William Thompson in snippets talking about the validity of the 2004 MMR study, another recording has been released of him discussing thimersol being given to pregnant women in the form of the flu shot.  I will attach it so you can see what I am talking about.  The validity of this recording of his voice in particular has not been confirmed, but he did confirm in his press release today that although he did not know he was being recorded, the initial recording relating to the MMR study was him.  I have no reason to question that the second one is as well.  The second one actually bothers me much much more- probably because I was pregnant with Nate during that whole swine flu panic in 2009- I had the flu shot and the two swine flu shots while pregnant because I wanted to protect my unborn child.  Now….oh man.
I am not even going to attempt to change any minds or come out as pro or anti vaccine here.  I don’t know what the hell I am anyway at this point.  My boys are fully vaccinated, completely on time, because I was being a “good” mom.  They got their flu shots- until, that is, we started with our current, amazing pediatrician who advises against giving a shot with thimersol in it to my sons with autism.  So I don’t do it anymore.  Last year my husband was the only one who got the flu shot.  And guess who got the flu?? 

What I do want to do is give some background on the evolution of my thinking regarding vaccination, any links to autism, trusting the cdc, etc.  I have mentioned a million times in the past that I am a nurse.  I thought I knew it all, had taking care of my kiddos all figured out, especially the medical aspects.  My older sister had her children first, and questioned the traditional vaccine schedule.  She altered it in a way that made her more comfortable.  I scoffed at this- sorry honey, but at the time I did, just not when we talked,ha.  My sister was a “granola” girl, you know, home water birth, no epidural with her first baby (is she NUTS lol), I figured she was just questioning everything “mainstream”.  I thought it was silly.  The recommendations are there for a reason, and we should follow them, right?
When Jack was born, I had a sucky obstetrician- it’s just a fact.  She didn’t send my medical records to the hospital in time (I was only a week early), and because they didn’t have documentation that I was immunized against hepatitis B, it was required by law that Jack receive his first hepatitis B shot before he was discharged.  So I said ok.  My child screamed for nearly 36 hours after he had his shot.  Not, oh, this baby is awake and realized he doesn’t like being out of the womb crying, I mean bloodcurdling screams, and he could not be calmed by anyone.  Not the parade of nurses, lactation consultants, doctors, grandparents, his clueless (at the time) parents.  Nothing could console him.  It was one of the most distressing things I had ever seen- here I had my first son, I was so full of joy, and I couldn’t comfort or soothe him.  It was terrifying.  Something was not right.  To this day, I feel like this had a permanent effect on him- he was just different.  When he was born he didn’t even cry- he just sat there looking at the warmer light.  The nurses kept smacking his feet to try and get him to make some noise.  After that shot, he never slept in a bassinet or crib for over an hour again, he was restless, fussy, there just aren’t even words.  He was tough, that’s all I can really say. 

Then Nate.  After my experience with Jack, I took charge of this birth experience.  I did hypnobirthing, did not want an epidural, did not want anything interfering with the natural process.  I mean I had a heplock in my arm in case they needed to hook me up to an IV, but they never did.  I did not allow any shots for Nate while we were there.  He did great.  He had a rough first year and a half physically in terms of infections- ear infections, upper respiratory- lots of antibiotics and nebulizers.  And yes, he had all of his shots on time.  But he had great eye contact, was picking up words, playing with toys appropriately, pointing- things I really appreciated because Jack had never done them (except the talking of course).  That changed at 18 months.  Yes, he had a huge round of vaccines.  And YES I do think that played a role.  I also weaned him from breastfeeding right around that time- maybe that was a factor.  Maybe it was already, as the mainstream medical community would say “in him” and the timing of his regression was coincidental.  All I know is that I lost him.  And it was by far the worst experience of my life.  I will even post before and after videos for you. 

Before (he was about 1)
After (almost 4 years later):


This is not to "prove" vaccines caused Nate's autism.  I don't think that it was a causation thing- I do think it's possible that this one more assault on his little body was a tipping point or switch- that he was on his way there due to genetic predisposition and this was a final trigger.   I want people to understand that this regression concept, it's real.  Look at his interaction before and his interaction now.  And since initial diagnosis, he is GREATLY improved.  

So my point.  I am not anti-vaccine.  I am pro vaccination- careful vaccination, especially if there are risk factors- such as in our family where there is a history of autism and other autoimmune issues.  (yes, I believe autoimmunity plays a role in autism, so there).  I AM anti bashing.  The things that are being said to autism parents who dare to QUESTION the norm, to express their concerns about the current vaccine regimen are slammed like you wouldn’t believe by people who have no clue what autism parents have experienced or continue to go through.  Even in light of the new revelations of the past week, which actually most people don’t know about since the media is not reporting it, this attitude remains.  When the media finally did speak up this evening, they focused on what may be a crap retrospective analysis of data by Dr. Hooker instead of the statements of the esteemed CDC researcher Dr. William Thompson.  Pay attention people to the credible person speaking- he questions the study- he thinks further research into the safety of vaccines is warranted.  We are not morons.  So stop saying things to parents like:
Such selfish parents.
Silly people endangering us all with their self-perpetuated fantasies.
Anti-vaxxers are a danger to society and bad parents
Here is Dr. Thompson’s press release from yesterday evening:

This is not a hoax, this researcher released the above statement, and is questioning the validity of the paper they generated.  He is calling for further research.  While telling us to continue vaccinating.  The results he is speaking of affect a very small segment of the population, true, but I don’t think it’s these specific results that have parents so concerned.  I think it has much more to do with the idea that potentially important information was left out of the final report from this study.  And if it was done in this study, what about the others?  This doctor co-authored I believe 9 related studies.  So is this a one time thing?  Or is there more to come? And I think it’s right to question that at this point. 

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