Flu Vaccine or No Flu Vaccine? That is the Question.


"So far this season, more than 2,000 have died in the U.S. of flu-related complications, a number which has "pushed the illness past the 'epidemic' threshold." " [SOURCE: http://thestir.cafemom.com/healthy_living/149564/flu_epidemic_2013_what_you]

It definitely doesn't help that my husband and I recently watched "Survivors" on Netflix. It's about a group of people who survived a horrible epidemic, which started out much like the flu does each year.

Unless you and your entire family can stay indoors and isolate yourselves from the rest of the world, you run the risk of getting the flu.

As a mom, I sometimes do get the urge to isolate my children. There is nothing worse than seeing your child sick or in pain. I have three children, and my youngest two are still in daycare. My children are constantly at risk of being exposed to infections and germs.

But I also believe they have built up stellar immune systems because of that.

Every year, when flu season rolls around, I have to ask myself: "Flu Vaccinations or No Flu Vaccinations?"

This is the first year that my children did not receive the flu vaccine. Since my own run in with bad health, which caused some distrust in medical professionals and medicine in general, I've really started to question things.

Still, I wonder sometimes if I'm just being a bit paranoid.

My children do receive most other vaccinations. I try to space them out in case they have a reaction to any of them. My concern with the injected flu vaccine is that it is the only childhood vaccine that contains thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative.

Thimerosal came into the limelight when a physician in England claimed to have evidence showing a relationship between autism and a combination of childhood vaccines, which formerly contained thimerosal.

"While no studies showed a link between any harmful side effects and the thimerosal in vaccines, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Public Health Service agencies decided to remove thimerosal from childhood vaccines in 1999." [SOURCE: http://www.everydayhealth.com/autism/vaccines-autism.aspx

But it still remains in the injected flu vaccine.

As far as the link between thimerosal and autism, I'm neither completely sold or shut off to the idea. While scientific evidence debunks the connection, I believe that there are always exceptions ... that in certain children or adults, their bodies will react a certain way to any sort of chemical that is put in their body.

"For Gary Weitzen, executive director of Parents of Autistic Children (POAC) in East Brick, N.J., the research doesn't explain why his son began showing the signs of autism almost immediately after his 18-month childhood vaccines.

Weitzen tells stories of how his happy, boisterous 18-month-old boy would play peek-a-boo with the little old ladies who sat behind them in church every Sunday. "He would just erupt in joyous laughter," he says of his son's exuberant personality.

One Friday, the happy little boy got his shots and immediately got sick. "He never played peek-a-boo again," says Weitzen."

It's a compelling case, and I have to say that I can relate. There isn't any medical professional who will outright tell me that Mirena is the cause of my disabilities, but I'm pretty convinced that it is -- especially because the bone deterioration began after having it inserted, and stopped after having it removed.

Doctors can develop theories, but they can't always explain causes in totality, because the human body is a complicated mix of processes. It's difficult to pinpoint causes in some cases. And unfortunately, no one knows the cause(s) of autism.

I know what's it like to want to know a cause ... to want to know 'why?'

But to be clear, autism isn't my big concern with thimerosal.

According to Julia A. McMillan, MD, director of the pediatric residency program at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, there have been studies showing that methyl mercury, found in nature and even in many fish that we eat, can have harmful side effects resulting in intellectual and mental health problems. [SOURCE: http://www.everydayhealth.com/autism/vaccines-autism.aspx]

"A report published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that people who said they couldn't perform everyday tasks or engage in social and leisure activities because of a mental illness increased from 2 percent in 1999 to 2.7 percent in 2009. That increase amounts to nearly 2 million more people disabled by mental distress in the past decade, the report said." [SOURCE: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/reporting-mental-illness-rise-fewer-seek-treatment-study/story?id=14585730]

You really have to wonder, what's causing this increase in mental illness? I'm not saying flu vaccines are the cause, but I do have to question whether or not they could be a contributor. I think there are enough 'toxins' in plenty of other things that humans use and consume to help account for the rise in mental illness.

And yes, thimerosal is a toxin -- at least, according to Wikipedia it is.

"Thiomersal is very toxic by inhalation, ingestion, and in contact with skin (EC hazard symbol T+), with a danger of cumulative effects. It is also very toxic to aquatic organisms and may cause long-term adverse effects in aquatic environments (EC hazard symbol N).[10] In the body, it is metabolized or degraded to ethylmercury (C2H5Hg+) and thiosalicylate.[4]
Few studies of the toxicity of thiomersal in humans have been performed. Cases have been reported of severe poisoning by accidental exposure or attempted suicide, with some fatalities.[11] Animal experiments suggest that thiomersal rapidly dissociates to release ethylmercury after injection; that the disposition patterns of mercury are similar to those after exposure to equivalent doses of ethylmercury chloride; and that the central nervous system and the kidneys are targets, with lack of motor coordination being a common sign. Similar signs and symptoms have been observed in accidental human poisonings. The mechanisms of toxic action are unknown." [SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thimerosal]

Here is a helpful article about requesting and ensuring a mercury-free injected flu vaccine, if it is in supply at your doctor's office: http://www.metrokids.com/MetroKids/January-2010/Should-You-Insist-on-a-Mercury-Free-Flu-Shot/

When the doctor's office opens back up tomorrow, I'm going to check with my pediatrician to see if they have mercury-free flu shots available. I might consider the injection without the mercury ... might.

The nasal flu vaccine, FluMist, does not contain thimerosal. However, it is not recommended for my youngest son, because he is under 2 years of age, and because he has a history of recurrent wheezing.

I could get the FluMist for my other two children, but I'm just not convinced that I should.

Unlike the flu shot, the nasal spray flu vaccine does contain live viruses. However, the CDC says that the viruses are attenuated (weakened) and cannot cause flu illness. But the listed side effects include runny nose, headache, wheezing, vomiting, muscle aches, and fever. So, I'm supposed to make my child ill for a vaccine that might not even prevent them from getting the flu?

Something about voluntarily giving my child a live virus does not sit well with me.

I would love to hear your opinion about why you do or don't allow your children to receive the flu vaccine? I'm not interested in a debate, because I'm still trying to be open-minded about the whole thing. I'm still trying to develop a solid opinion about the flu vaccine. Maybe I never will.

Also, I should probably mention that one of my three children has contracted the flu this season so far. We also had a quick, 24-hour stomach bug that went through our family, but it was not the flu. I also did not receive the flu shot this year.

Here is an interesting article that a co-worker shared, which explains the differences between the flu and other sicknesses that are floating around:
http://gokicker.com/2013/01/11/the-no-nonsense-non-alarmist-essential-guide-to-the-flu/ [Image credit: gokicker.com]

And below is a photo that I saw on Facebook of a manufacturer's label on a flu vaccine for adults [Source: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=474144399315789]. The fine print reads: "There have been no controlled trials adequately demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with FLULAVAL."

"...I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." -- 3 John 1:2

Jot 'Em Down, Scratch 'Em Off


Last year, while sitting around in all of my boring, handicapped splendor, I jotted down some things that I've always wanted to do. I took that a little further by posting a To-Do List on my blog. I guess that way, I could hold myself accountable.

It was about more than just jotting some things down ... it was all about being ABLE to scratch them off.

Traditionally, it's called a 'Bucket List,' but I thought that a 'To-Do List' sounded somehow better -- like there was some sort of urgency to them. I don't want them to just sit in a bucket in anticipation for my passing; I want to them to be present, actionable items.

Last year was all about survival and recovery. I had to get through four consecutive surgeries and get back to a place where I could physically take care of my family again. I was so focused on my recovery that I was left with little to no time to do the things that I really wanted to do.

I just needed to get better.

But now, I have. I still have a pending hip replacement ... which I'm thinking could happen this year. But I'm back on my feet and I've got things To-Do!

I guess you could say that last year lit a fire under my butt and this year, I'm jumping into action.

Why? Because I can, that's why!

  • FIRST -- During my recovery I got back in touch with a long lost friend -- my sewing machine. I did a lot of sitting, because for much of my year, it's all I could do. I started experimenting with some fabric children's books. A few weeks ago I had a unique product epiphany and I'm planning to open up my own Etsy shop soon with it. It's something I've always wanted to do. I haven't updated my blog in about two weeks, because I've been so busy trying to get some stuff ready for my store. Stay tuned for more information about that.
  • SECOND -- My husband and I are planning a trip to Atlantis in the Bahamas. We're looking online and working out logistics, but it's a MUCH-needed trip for us, and I'll get to knock two things off of my TO-DO List ... swimming with dolphins and going down the big water slide at Atlantis. We also plan to go snorkeling, and we'll probably spend some time in the casino, too. Who knows ... maybe we'll hit the jackpot!
  • THIRD -- I've applied to a couple of Master's programs. This one is a little bittersweet, because it's something I really want to do, but I'm not going to lie ... the idea of going back to school worries me a little with working full-time, raising 3 children who are very involved in different activities, and opening up an Etsy store. I definitely want to get my Master's, but I hope it isn't going to send my life into total chaos. Anywho - I've applied and plan to start on a part-time basis at some point this year.
  • FOURTH -- We're going to take a hot air balloon ride over the Shenandoah Valley this year!
  • FIFTH -- This is more of a hopeful, but not guaranteed. I'm really hoping to publish my 2nd children's book this year. I've been saying that for four years now, but I really hope I can pull it off this year. I published my first children's book in 2007. Since then, I've had two more children and four surgeries. In order to publish a book, I need to have money to publish and the time to promote. And I've been low on money and time lately. But if I managed things better, I could totally do it. It's a great book and I've been wanting to publish it for some time now. For more information about my first short story and activity book for children, visit my author website at www.sissyDscooter.com

In October of last year, I managed to scratch off The Color Run (5K) from my list, which was HUGE for me. In fact, reaching that goal is what inspired me to, not only set, but reach new ones.

It's possible that I could surprise myself and scratch a few other things off of my list - like winning a gold medal at the Lineberry Olympics this summer, or finding a series that I enjoy reading more than the Hunger Games. I might even add some more To-Dos. But only time will tell.

I hope to teach my children to celebrate life -- to set dreams and goals and make them happen -- no matter the circumstance. And I don't mean in a careless YOLO kind-of-way, I'm talking about really experiencing life outside of the hustle and bustle of every day shenanigans.

So, watch out TO-DO List ... I'm coming for you!

I'm going to be a good patient and take my doctor's advice: "Don't Stop Livin'"

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." -- Phillipians 4:19


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