Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pollyanna or Raging Anarchist?

 Everyday I read the newspaper out loud to one of my clients who is visually impaired. We start off by saying, "Let's see whats going on in the world today!" And as we read and discuss current events....and I avoid any articles that are overtly political or violent.....we end by saying, "What a crazy world we live in!"

 Today I read an article about some Georgia school teachers who are going to prison for cheating on their students standardized tests. First of all, prison seems a little much for this crime. Second, why is it mandated that kids have to take standardized tests? Why are money and jobs tied to these scores? Can you imagine the pressure that the children AND the teachers feel? It has become a convoluted venture in rules, control, money, and educrats making decisions that really have nothing to do with kids at all.

Currently in Ca. there is legislation that is pushing its way through, making vaccinations mandatory IF you want your child to be allowed to participate in any sort of public education system. Amber Weiss who is a Physicians Assistant for a Wholistic Family Dr in Santa Cruz, wrote a thought provoking Facebook post about SB 277. (I will copy and paste it at the bottom of this post in case anyone is interested.)

Let me say here that I DO believe in vaccinations. I did thoughtfully vaccinate my own children. I DO believe they have eradicated many deadly diseases through out history. What I DON'T believe in is having our right to choose taken away from us.

We also read about the Meitiv Family of Maryland. You may know them as the "free-range parents" who allowed their children to roam, together, unsupervised by an adult. Gasp. I bet each of my readers have stories about their free roaming childhoods. Recently on my "neighborhood page," someone commented about some kids playing outside in the street. "Who lets their kids play outside in the street" said the irate poster. I live in a rural area.....who DOESN'T let their kids play outside in the streets?

Uhhhh, I spent my childhood staying out until it got dark, playing kickball in the street, or tag, or hide and seek through each others yards. At 9 years old I could walk the couple miles to the train station, get on it and take it 3 towns away to my mom's job, walk several city blocks to her job, and then we would have dinner together in the city and ride the train home together. During the summer if I left early enough, I could stop at the Oakland Art museum and meander my way through looking at everything. There is something to be said for allowing children freedom to be independent and do things that are unstructured. Times are different today, and we do need to be wise and safety minded in the care of our children. But we don't need to be crazy.

The conclusion my client and I came up with was that we are all too smart for our own good. We have complicated everything until its a mess. "Just because we can, doesn't mean we should." What happened to a child being interested in something so we let them explore and learn about it until their questions are answered? Until they have run their course with that topic? Why must we rob them of their joy of learning by *making* them regurgitate the information back to us? Why must we test them? It stops the flow of their natural interest. The pressure shuts them down.

What has happened to reading about and choosing which age appropriate immunizations to allow your baby to have, and then being able to postpone any that you find questionable until they are older and more able to handle the side effects? Why does vaccinating children need to become a law?

If I want to allow my child to walk home from the park with her sibling, is it right that CPS steps in and begins to monitor my parenting? The Maryland police/CPS created the very situation they were fearful of, by picking those kids up off the street and holding them for hours without contacting their parents.

When I think about life in my perfect world that exists only in my head, I think about this Utopian place that I want to live in. Where people are diligent and make good decisions for themselves and their communities. They consider the impact their actions will have on others. Where they think through what their children truly need to flourish and thrive, and then they implement it with as minimal as possible an impact on others. Where neighbors are respectful of each others choices and we view each other as partners, team mates, in this huge venture of living that we all carry out each day. I think of parents of children who have specific challenges being able to rely on the kindness of teachers, friends, family members, neighbors, strangers help meet those needs. Not criticize and judge and gossip. I think of our government officials coming down off of their pedestals and joining us in all of our everyday lives, working along side us. Think of what could be done with all of those incomes!!! All of those government structures and positions being torn down and we all  just co-habitate and get along and help one another.....just because its the right thing to do. If I see my brother stumble, I reach out and help him up. Not wonder if thats my job.

Maybe I've read Thoreau's Walden too many times! I am brought back to the thought that I only have control over my own life. Its too overwhelming if you look at it all, but I really really wish that wasn't so.

Always praying for all of us....and hoping like there is no tomorrow that we can all find a way to keep it simple!

 Amber Weiss
VULNERABLE POST: Until now, I have stayed out of the vaccine conversation. I have read the comments that some of you have posted and I have hesitated to engage in conversation about this divisive topic. But with legislation for state-mandated vaccination moving forward in California (SB 277), I am no longer willing to remain silent on this issue, which I see as a serious violation of freedom of personal choice and my right as a health care practitioner to provide informed consent. When I was at Stanford Medical School, I learned a lot about a lot of things, including the importance of informed consent. This means explaining to a patient the risks and benefits of any medication or procedure before administering it, especially when the risks include serious injury or death. As a physician assistant (PA), I consider it my role to educate my patients on the risks and benefits of every medication before I prescribe it - whether that medication is an antihypertensive (for high blood pressure), an antidepressant, an antibiotic, or a vaccine. Every medication has inherent risks and anyone with a smart phone can quickly look up a list of 20-30 common and/or serious potential reactions to any vaccine. There are also, of course, risks with any illness and I consider it my job to also educate people about those as well. So we discuss the risks of high blood pressure, depression, sinus infections, or measles. Then I help my patient figure out which risks they are more comfortable with and I support them with the choice that is least frightening for them. Some parents feel quite comfortable and competent in taking care of an acutely ill child; some parents bring their children to the doctor for every earache or fever. As as PA, I consider it my role to educate my patients and support them on their path to health. How we medicate ourselves or our children should be a personal choice, not a political one.
The current proposed legislation SB 277 would mandate that every parent vaccinate their child according to the full vaccine schedule, without the option to defer or delay any of them. In 1970, there were 23 doses of 7 vaccines. There are currently 69 doses of 14 vaccines by age 18 (36 of which are given in the first 18 months). THERE ARE CURRENTLY OVER 200 VACCINES IN THE PIPELINE. By saying yes to this legislation, we are agreeing to not only the current schedule, but agreeing to force children to take any future vaccines that are introduced to the schedule WITHOUT GIVING PARENTS OR DOCTORS THE OPTION TO CHOOSE.
I am PRO-SCIENCE, PRO-THINKING, and PRO-CHOICE. Regardless of your feelings about vaccination or the current vaccine schedule, ARE YOU READY TO GIVE UP YOUR POWER to say no to any of the upcoming 10, 20 or more vaccines that pharmaceutical companies come up with? The fact remains that the current vaccine schedule has never been tested for long-term safety in humans. Perhaps vaccination is the best thing to ever happen to the health of civilization. If so, then where are the studies comparing the health of fully vaccinated vs unvaccinated children? Keep in mind that in the past 5 years, pharmaceutical companies have paid over $13 BILLION dollars in criminal fraud claims (including failure to report safety data). Yet to question anything about vaccines or their safety is equivalent to heresy.
I believe that every parent should have the right to decide which medications to give their child. I don't believe that parents should give their freedom of choice to the extreme pressures of the pharmaceutical industry or the government. Would I vaccinate Skyler to ebola or any of the other 200 diseases for which vaccines are in the pipeline? I don't know, maybe. But that should be my choice, not the choice of the government or the pharmaceutical industry. If you think that you have the right to decide what goes in your body or your child's body, I encourage you to contact your representatives and voice your opinion against mandatory state-enforced vaccination. Are we going to live in a country where the government gets to decide what goes into your body or your child's body - or where you and your doctor get to decide? When we give in to fear, we often stop thinking rationally and we frequently give up personal freedoms.
I share the public health goals of wanting our kids to be safe and healthy, but I believe SB 277 is an extreme infringement on personal medical choice and should be scrapped while the current law (AB 2109), enacted in 2012, does its work. Currently, California law requires that parents discuss vaccination with their physician (or PA) if they intend to get their children exempted from vaccination. This law reduced personal belief exemptions 20% in the past year.
I wish I could show parents multiple studies comparing health outcomes for vaccinated vs unvaccinated kids and offer proof that vaccines are every bit as safe as we'd like to believe. But having heard from multiple parents, "My child was developing fine until we did their x month vaccinations," it's hard to ignore that maybe some kids really are more susceptible to vaccine reactions. Unfortunately, we don't currently have adequate medical tools to predict beforehand which children are more likely to suffer negative consequences of vaccination. Anytime there is a risk of serious injury or death, the principle of informed consent dictates that there should be a choice.
I realize that it is the medical equivalent of blasphemy to question anything about vaccines or the vaccine schedule. I realize that some people reading this will be shocked, some angry, some may "unfriend" me, and some may say hateful things behind my back. But for me, despite the social and professional risks, I am choosing to take a stand. I am not some crazy, uneducated, liberal parent (okay, the liberal part is true). I have two degrees from Stanford, including one from their medical school. I am a thoughtful citizen, a concerned parent, and a well-educated health care provider who understands that mandating the forceful use of a pharmaceutical product that carries even a small risk of serious injury or death violates the principle of informed consent.
I SUPPORT A PARENT'S RIGHT TO CHOOSE. If you agree, please share and have the courage to post a comment.
For those of you who want more info on this bill and how to stop it, check out


SC said...

I'm going to take issue with your phrase, "Times are different today," but not in the way you might expect.

Compared to those of us growing up in the 70's or 80's, kids today are living with a lower amount of violent crime, but an in-your-face news cycle of violence. They're living with more intense adult supervision, but less unscripted human interaction.

And it's no surprise that we're turning out a generation of consumers rather than creators; of people who think meat comes from a store and exercise only happens in a gym, and who've bought into the lie that the next shiny gadget will bring them happiness and fulfillment. The devices get smarter as the users get dumber.

Yes, times are indeed different today. And the only way to combat it is by saying NO to the manufactured, pre-fab life they're trying to sell us. Free-range is one of the best things you can do for your kid.

Mary Christine said...

The world my grandchildren are growing up in does not even bear a passing resemblance to the world in which I grew up - in the 50s and 60s. I really thank God I am this old.

And I remember lining up a the local high school gymnasium for the mandatory polio vaccine. No one complained about their rights being violated.

Tori said...

I am sorry Annette. I know how close you and Molly are. :(

Syd said...

I am glad that I was a free roaming child. And I guess I am still a free roaming man (in a good way) because I want to be out side doing things that I love. I had a friend who really lived the "no child left indoors" slogan. I think about him often--he was struck by a car and killed while riding his bicycle which was his primary means of transportation downtown. But he was a free roaming person too.