Sunday, June 22, 2008

A strange place to start

Along the march route during the Green Our Vaccines Rally in DC in early June it occurred to me that none of us would have been there that day if 'it' hadn't really happened, if our kids hadn't been made so sick by their vaccines. We had better things to be doing that day. It was excruciatingly hot, expensive and inconvenient and huge sacrifices had been made by all of the families attending to get ourselves there and responsibilities covered at home....but there we were, 8, 000 of us.
When I held my picture of Nick up with the 8,000 other pictures while Sam Cooke played it became crystal clear to me. This did happen to all of us and countless others and the numbers continue to rise. The sign I thought so original; a picture of Nick at 8 months- a fat happy baby and then at sixteen months-swollen, vacant, agitated, dark black circles under his eyes, wheezing, full of mucus and outrageous diarrhea, was everywhere. I counted thirteen that were the same.
I came back to Boston with a conviction and courage that had been missing before. The reason the dietary changes and biomedical treatment are working is because we are healing him, slowly and purposefully from an assault on his immune system. Like so many other families, we are finding that our children diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum are physically sick. Despite the bruising and rage inducing fact that our pediatricians, neurologists, GI's and on and on don't believe us and think we are crazy, we persevere because our children are slowly getting better.
Prior to the March my suspicions were growing stronger. We started like many families do with 20 hours of home-based Floortime and ABA services, the rounds of depressing diagnostic evaluations, the transition planning and IEP and then into the world of Special Education parent. We work with speech therapists, PT's, OT's, and Developmental Specialists, most incredibly talented and loving but something was missing. The more I read and I read everything I could get my hands on; Jepson, Bock, McCandless.....Nick fit the picture. His ear infections and need for three sets of ear tubes weren't just a coincidence with the Autism diagnosis. The fact he had, had diarrhea for three years wasn't because he was a picky eater. His low muscle tone and lethargy and anxiousness and poor motor planning were part of a deeper picture. A picture shared by many, many children. My son, like so many others, had been neuro-toxically injured by his vaccines.
I disagreed with my husband initially. I thought is was too simple an explanation 'Vaccines cause Autism'..what about our seven year old daughter? She's ok. What about all the children who don't get sick from their vaccines? It seemed too linear, too inline for his male need for a culprit to blame. And after all, it seemed inconceivable, too frightening to be possible. Then our arguments blended into the blame game. I after all, as the CEO of medical care in our family, had driven Nick to these appointments, asked the nervous questions "these really are safe?" and accepted the given explanation. If this was true, should I throw myself on a massive funeral pyre like all the other mothers who had done the same and ruined our children?
I still battle gravely with my guilt. How could I have done this to such a vulnerable being? This pain is only slightly tempered with the vision of pediatricians having to slowly come to terms over the next few years with their devastating role in the destruction of a generation of children. But I go forward with energy because Nick is getting a little bit better all the time. If he can go forward so can I!
I read recently, in Andrew Solomon's piece in New York Magazine, that the head of NIH has come to the conclusion that the parent's know more than the doctors at this point. Yes, this is abundantly clear to me. As my experience has shown me, it is the mommies that will get you through. The best information, resources, ideas, support and courage I have received has come from other parents daring to try to fix the damage vaccines have done.
I believe vaccines save lives. I wish the shots babies everywhere will receive tomorrow were clean of horrible preservatives. And I wish the vaccine schedule wasn't driven by pharmaceutical interests. What I wish for most of all, beyond the healing of all of these injured children is immediate ownership by the medical community that 'this happened'... vaccines made our kids sick and now we are compelled to heal them. Until that happens I am going to write to keep myself going and any other parent on the same journey that wants support. I believe you. Alison MacNeil

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