no stranger to the onslaught of questions the medical field throws at me about
vaccines. One of our doctors finally stopped asking when would we "catch up" on
some of the shots my kids' records were "missing." After years of hearing me
say politely, "Not today, thank you very much," as brightly as I could while
trying to change the subject, that particular doctor stopped asking.
presence in that office is usually for more pressing reasons—a major illness,
or the need for a referral for my son, Ronan, when he experiences new medical
problems. I want our doctor to attend to my children's present medical
situation, not to recommended vaccines from an over-inflated vaccination
I do request medical attention for my kids, the pediatrician now says, "So, no
shots today," as a statement instead of an accusatory question. "Yep, we're
good. Thank you," is how I've learned to respond. It reduces any further
discussion on both of our parts. I can get in and out of the exam room with
exactly the information or referral needed.
She's been happy to help us with
Ronan's many special needs and is more than accommodating to make sure we get
to a specialist when Ronan's problems exceed her expertise. I appreciate her
professional input over the years, and I know she respects me for what I've
learned and shared with her about Ronan.
doctor's partner though, hasn't gotten used to us. He doesn't know my
vaccine-injured son's background. On top of that, he is one of those Type A persons:
"Follow the directions and rules and don't deviate from the norm." He is the
epitome of what I imagine a scientific textbook doctor looks like.
think that's a great trait to have, if you don't bother to actually read the
patient's record to become familiar with his complicated past, or don't bother
to understand the human being standing in front of you, your textbook scenario
isn't worth squat.
heard only a little bit about this new partner. Since it was my first meeting
with Dr. Type A, I prepared my "thank you very much" response to whatever vaccine
insinuation he might throw at me. One or two colds, and sometimes the seasonal
flu, is usually what brings us to the pediatrician. Sometimes we throw in an
emergency room run just for good measure, which gives me at least one new gray
hair per child.
I'm used to minor medical mishaps for my typical kids, because
their health is fairly good. It's quite the opposite for their brother Ronan,
who has a team of at least eight medical specialists at one time. Usually,
bringing my other kids to the doctor's office means something's not right. That
day, an annual checkup brought us to the clinic.
we got too far into the exam, the nurse asked, "What vaccines will the children
be getting today?" The way she worded the question told me there wasn't an
option: She was doling them out. So, pick one, or two, or nine, for that
matter. Since the nurse was also new to the office, I explained politely that
we didn't need any vaccines today and then distracted myself with my daughter
so I wouldn't have to look her in the eye.
am I getting so nervous? I thought. These
are my kids. It's my
responsibility to make the decisions for their health needs! I stood up
taller and asked the nurse if she was going to do any labs since I hadn't
prepared the girls to go through a needle stick or for the pee-in-the-cup
nurse was writing on the intake form and said, "So, no shots today? You know
they are both due for some." Um, library books are due, and bills are due. My
girls are not due for shots today! Nah, I didn't really say that. I didn't have
the guts to say it like that. Instead, I replied, "We do the vaccine exemption.
Dr. J. is aware of our family's needs. Thanks." Dr. J., the head of the
practice, wasn't there that day, though. We got stuck with her by-the-book
partner, Dr. Type A. He, as well as this nurse, knew nothing of my son Ronan's
vaccine past, and why I've opted for the delayed vaccine approach.
nervous. For a second I thought maybe I should leave and come back some other
time when our regular doctor was in. I knew the potential to be lectured by a
medical provider was great, given our record. I didn't want to hear, "No
shots?! Pshaw. Silly Mommy, vaccines save lives!" I had a second to
decide—stay, or go home. Drat—in walked Dr. Type A. I could tell instantly that
we'd clearly struck a nerve, as the partner pediatrician held the sparsely filled-out
shot record page.
He barely looked up to greet us. Briefly scanning the room,
he looked again at all those empty boxes on the form. I had four of my five children
with me, so space in the exam room was tight. I don't think he offered a
greeting, but stuttered into a, "Um, well, I see that…you aren't going to
vaccinate today?" He held out the empty vaccine record the nurse had printed, but
refused to let go of the form. I wasn't sure what his first move was going to
be, and I could tell he was stupefied. Now I was officially nervous.
youngest were given a quick once-over. Their physical exams were very short,
with no chit-chat at all. The doctor attempted to write notes, but I could tell
he was having a hard time concentrating. As he tried to gather his thoughts, I
braced myself for a tongue-lashing.
poured his questions. "You know the children need their vaccinations. You know
they are very late to get them. See?" He
showed me the form. "You know we can catch them both up today? What is this,
that you homeschool? Don't you have to have shot records for that? How long
have you done this…homeschooling?"
stood and watched him unfold. I couldn't speak because there wasn't a chance to
answer any of his questions. He spoke so quickly, almost attempting to not
give me a chance to speak. Maybe he did it that way so he could say everything
he thought he was supposed to say during a "well child" exam. I started to
respond, "My older son has special needs and the little ones are—" but he
quickly interrupted. Clearly I'd confused the poor man, so I let him continue
with his verbal abuse.
Type A suggested a list of vaccines readily available and waiting to be
injected into my children. Pointing to the shot record again, he reminded me of
Vanna White. What a great rep he was for the vaccine industry! "Look, you can
get this one, and that one! Oh, and do get this one over here!" The list was
extensive. He described which diseases my children would be most exposed to. He
told tales of which symptoms from those horrid diseases to which they could
succumb. And then, the doctor tried again to sell me on which shots could save
He finally took a very quick breath that made him stop talking for a very short
second. That's when I quickly interjected, "Thank you for being concerned and
sharing your opinion. We use the vaccine exemption. As far as the
homeschooling, we have records. Only one of my kids is in a regular school
right now, and the school accepted the exemption form."
I laid into him, "My other children are very healthy. When you say you think
they need Hepatitis B, do you realize that you are suggesting a vaccine for a
disease that is usually transmitted through illicit sex or IV-drug use? Look at
my kids," I said. They were almost 3 and 4 years old. "That behavior is far
from their reality. And you suggested the varicella [chicken pox] vaccine? If
you had looked through their medical records prior to the exam, you would see
that four of my children have experienced chicken pox naturally. They don't
need that vaccination. Which other ones did you say?"
attempted to peer over his clipboard to hold the shot record he was still
clutching. "This one—Hib, I think you said? From what you've described as an
ideal age to get that vaccine, my kids are well over the age of being in danger
of the very scary risks." Then, I immediately stopped talking. I couldn't tell
if I was speaking to a wall or if the doctor was getting ready for Round Two. We
both stood still, waiting for the other to speak. My oldest, who had stopped
playing with her siblings, was taking in every word. She was wide-eyed, waiting
to see who would speak next.
The doctor started to move toward the door to leave. I saw him begin to "doorknob"—a
term I'd learned in a psychology class back in college. Dr. Type A looked like
he was ready to leave me and my informed decision, but he really was not ready
to be done with the conversation. He held the doorknob, twisted it but then
dropped his hand.
He came back to the middle of the exam room. Maybe he had a
new angle or a new argument for me. Maybe he was going to attempt to again seal
the deal of what he probably expected to be a regular vaccine-injecting "well child"
visit. I met his gaze while my youngest three quietly played with the toys on
the floor, oblivious to how Mommy was defending them and their healthy bodies. I
wasn't nervous and actually felt a bit hot under the collar. I prepared myself
one more time. Oh, boy, I thought, here comes the hammer.
Type A started again. He brought up third-world countries and how deadly these
diseases are overseas. "Do you know how devastating it is to see those diseases
in third-world countries? They could be prevented by vaccinations!"
do doctors do that? They bring up third-world countries like that's going to
scare the heck out of me. Last I checked, he and I were standing right here in
the good old U.S. of A. I looked around the room, baffled that this was the
last card he was going to play. I didn't think it appropriate to have a
discussion on the history of sanitation and how our U.S. health habits are far
more advanced now than some countries will ever be. I'm sure he was aware of
that already, so I didn't mess with his intelligence. But I did let him
continue because he stopped trying to spoon-feed me his input and instead asked
for mine. "How do you protect them, Mrs. Jameson? What if you can
prevent these diseases?"
was my turn to take a deep breath, "We are careful where we bring our children.
We don't expose them to other people when they are sick. We stay away from
people when I know other people are run down. I make sure to keep up with the
health news—if there are communicable disease outbreaks in our area, we stay
home. Look, we lived through whooping cough and chicken pox.
Of course it was
hard for the kids. It didn't feel good, and the chicken pox itched like mad. We
were stuck at home for almost six weeks as the pox went from one child to the
next, through all four of them. My fifth child was in utero during that
outbreak, but look at her now: She's healthy and typical. We survived childhood
diseases a vaccine is supposedly going to prevent.
My kids have immunity to
chicken pox—I'd rather that assurance than hearing vaccine efficacy wanes after
a few years. My kids are healthy, and it's because we take care of them. We eat
well, and we are mindful of what goes in their bodies. It's not that difficult
to understand, Doctor. If you can provide me with some facts that state that
these vaccines will protect my children one hundred percent, and if the vaccine
ingredients aren't going to do harmful things in their bodies, I'd consider
vaccinating. Until that happens, we again respectfully ask for the exemption."
think I wore the poor guy out. He nodded and wrote something down. Then he
walked out without saying anything. The nurse came back a few agonizing minutes
later to do a lead test for my youngest. Dr. Type A came back in one more time
to give us the paperwork to drop off at the front desk. I don't remember too
much of his parting words, but he gave us the once over almost as if he'd witnessed
a once-in-a-lifetime moment: children… doctor's office… leaving without
didn't think it possible to confound a medical professional as quickly as I
did. I'll have to add "Baffles doctors to make them think" to my list of super
it be great if the little bit of input I shared would start changing the tide
of the medical profession? Maybe the vaccination mindset could be changed, one
doctor or nurse at a time.
office visit, every encounter reinforces my philosophy: Educate before you
vaccinate. After all, the kid you save may be your own.
Cathy Jameson is a dual-certified teacher
with ten years' experience in early and elementary education. Having stepped
away from the classroom to raise her five children, Cathy is now a full-time
mother, advocate, and writer. When her son Ronan started to show signs of
developmental delays, Cathy embarked on a mission to find answers, help and
healing - a mission she continues to this day.
She now writes regularly
about Ronan, vaccine injury, special education, and parenting a special needs
child with typical siblings. She writes with the hope that sharing her
experiences might help other families in similar situations. Cathy is a
Contributing Editor for Age of Autism and has had her work featured in The Autism
File Magazine and Pathways to Family Wellness Magazine. She is also a Co-Founder of The Thinking Moms' Revolution.
Reprinted with permission
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