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As a non-autistic mom to an autistic daughter, addressing the whole MMR Debate is probably the right thing to do right around now.  This is not a scientific, going to provide documentation and other specific proof sort of post because I’m not in the mood.  I’ve done it before and if you’re interested, there’s a link at the bottom to some of the things I’ll be referencing.  Plus I have a search tool on my blog.  And it’s my blog so I can include and exclude what I want.  I don’t get paid for this blog.  Ha.

The reason I’m addressing this now is because, of course, Measles is in the news nearly every day lately due to what started out as an outbreak that began in Disneyland.  To keep it simple: unvaccinated individuals that actively had or were incubating Measles went to the amusement park and passed it along to other individuals, some of whom were vaccinated with MMR and the majority who weren’t.  Of course the whole thing branches out from there and it’s getting bigger by the week.

Before I offer any opinion on this, which you can probably guess if you’re a regular reader, I need to get this out there:

Autism is not damage.  

It’s not damage caused by vaccines nor birth accidents nor “bad genetics.”  

It’s a difference in biology that creates a difference in neurology due to genetics.  

As a child grows, the autistic traits become more noticeable.  As a child grows, there may be things in the environment that trigger the traits that non-autistic people consider to be negative to occur more prominently and that’s why they’re called Environmental Factors.  

Most people don’t seem to know what that means.  They think Environmental Factors means “pollution, water quality, and food quality.” That’s only a partial truth.

From the WHO (World Health Organization):

Environmental health comprises those aspects of human health, including quality of life, that are determined by physical, chemical, biological, social and psychosocial factors in the environment.

I was going to say something really insulting and cutting about being anti-vax when someone is perfectly healthy but doesn’t care or understand a wit about social responsibility, but I’ll refrain.  

I was going to say something that had the word “rage” in it but I realized I don’t feel rage.  I feel pity.  

Ok, maybe a little rage.  I feel rage because people who don’t have the intelligence to at least state that they’re anti-vax because they “researched ingredients” even if they don’t know what that really means, don’t really know how to interpret what they find nor know which resources are reliable.

I feel rage because there are still people whose default position is “BUT AUTISM!” because THOSE individuals didn’t bother to find out the facts.  

Or maybe these groups? they chose to ignore the facts.  They choose the paranoid path that “they” give us limited information that’s not true. They think pro-vaccination standpoint is uneducated and misled.

There are some from both groups, of course, who willfully ignore actual science that’s been peer reviewed and completed by independent scientists who have no stake in the matter except finding the truth… who lose money for their efforts and aren’t affiliated with pharmaceutical enterprises.

There are those who can’t tell the difference between science and pseudoscience … and those who can but prefer the fringe and discredited pseudoscience.

There are those with “my opinion and my psychic say so” when faced with irrefutable facts and who will twist anything around to mean the opposite of what they actually mean to the point of accusing chemical biologists of making things up and being part of some “team” trying to control the masses by feeding misinformation intentionally.

Yeah.  That happened just today.

OF NOTE: Never, ever read the comments underneath articles.  No matter your viewpoint or opinion, just don’t read the comments.

I wrote this other post 4 1/2 years ago: 

Win For Autism Community: Andrew Wakefield Lost License | Ever So Gently.

It’s even more important now because this individual, this purveyor of deceit (Wakefield) is being held up as a misunderstood man whose honest research is being twisted and lied about. It’s not.

I was so full of hope in the ability of our society to bounce back from something that was damaging to the Autism Community worldwide and now it’s even more evident that it’s damaging to ALL individuals in the world who may ever become ill from vaccine-preventable communicable diseases… that are healthy and able to be vaccinated.

My faith in people in general and yes, particular individuals, isn’t nearly so high any longer.

I think it’s important that people keep the details fresh regarding what Andrew Wakefield did: he knowingly, intentionally, and willingly perpetuated a hoax regarding the MMR vaccine by falsifying a study and a paper that would earn him fame and legitimacy in the scientific community.

Let me phrase that another way.

The MMR-Autism paper written by Wakefield was without question proven dozens of times over to be fraudulent.  He committed a worldwide FRAUD and hoax by intention.  On purpose.  For fame and notoriety.  For the money that some people think doctors and pharmaceutical companies and scientists are “in it all” for. The people who use words like Big Pharma and think eating and living without doctors or medicine or “chemicals” will prevent any illness and block all communicable diseases.

Know this: Wakefield is reviled in the scientific community because he tried to pass himself off as a legitimate scientist.  This wasn’t some misunderstood poor doctor trying to help the world see that the MMR is harmful to neurology or gastroenterology for the majority of the population or even a significant segment.  

He wasn’t viewed as legitimate prior to the Lancet posting that harmful, damaging, ridiculous paper and wasn’t … ISN’T viewed as legitimate by the science community afterward.  The editor at the Lancet at that time didn’t catch that they had previously refused his other paper/s on other subjects that were ALSO FALSIFIED because they were in dire financial straits and needed to publish something.  It was simply bad timing that Wakefield (I can still barely type his name without wanting to disinfect my fingers and keyboard) submitted that horrifyingly damaging paper. Within the past 2 years the Lancet retracted that paper and apologized.

All that said:

There needs to be a dialogue about Vaccine Safety.  If there’s anything this entire debacle has shown the United States this is true.  

I’ve always been of the state of mind that we need to know what medicines we’re giving our children, why we’re giving them, how they’ll affect our children, how necessary they are, and the efficacy.  

I’ve always believed that even if parents make ridiculous choices we ARE entitled to choose how we parent.  

We need to get more people to figure out that short term side effects are not vaccine injuries.  

We need to get people to figure out that correlation of timeframe and other events is not causation.  

That opinion is not fact.

In regards to vaccines, I would not liken them to pulling a trigger on a gun if we do inject our children or if we don’t by risking them to highly communicable diseases unnecessarily.  I detest that comparison when either the pro or anti sides use it. The fact is that vaccine injury and allergies exist but in a miniscule segment of the population. The personal stories people tell make it appear like a lot but personal interpretation leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation and exaggerations in retelling.

However: When we demand that The Government steps in to legislate and compel people to have medical procedures done, to take medicines we would otherwise refuse, we are going down a slippery slope.  We are giving away freedoms that once we give them away will be nearly impossible to get back.  It becomes easier and easier to give more and more freedoms away.

And when we legislate medical procedures and medicine, we’re infringing very closely on causing harm to individuals who literally medically would die if they were forced to undergo what the majority of the population would be safe with.  We would be forcing a need for them to waste precious time and money litigating their way out of medical procedures.  We have enough of that occurring already with disabled individuals that we presume are incompetent because “we know better.”

I think it’s one of the most important conversations that we can have with each other.  

I’ll be honest, though… the instant someone says “Big Pharma” they’ve lost all credibility and all I hear after that is “blah blah blah invalid paranoia blah.”  

As soon as someone automatically and broadly tells me that science, scientists and doctors are all in on some enormous worldwide conspiracy with The Government/s to make us all sick and give us cancer in order to make money and control us, they’ve lost all credibility.  

As soon as someone tells me that I simply haven’t done the “right” research, and that their propaganda with pseudoscience and their wacky holistic family practitioner who thinks catching moonlight in a GMO-free poison ivy leaf bowl is good medicine is a great scientific resource and their web site should be “looked into” they’re no longer credible.

When I’m told that their opinions are more educated and valuable than peer reviewed scientific research that has been supported repeatedly… well you get the idea.

I think that dialogue mainly needs to occur with our doctors regularly. I think our nation needs to stop being afraid of education and science.  

Living a paranoid life sucks. The MMR Debate and Vaccine Versus Autism Debate are NOT the ways to go about discussing Vaccine Safety.  If you want to debate MMR and its veracity, don’t ever attach Autism to it.  

First and foremost this is because while Autism might be a difficult neurological difference for individuals to live with (not the parents, the individuals themselves) causing them various disabilities of varying degrees at various times, Autism is not a tragedy.  Ever.  It is not a vaccine injury.  It is not damage.

I’m really tired at the moment, so I’m sure I’ve missed a lot that I wanted to address and probably didn’t say all of what I wanted to very eloquently or with as few words as I should have.  Or, you know, succinctly.  :-)

Edited for grammar. ♡


I had a 6-month check up with my PCP on Wednesday.  Since my Fibromyalgia diagnosis, this has been something she insists on in order to see the progression of my pain and how I’m handling it.  She does what amounts to a physical except I get to keep my clothes on at these check ups.  

7 Kinds of Fibromyalgia Pain

7 Kinds of Fibromyalgia Pain

We talk about exercise (yoga and some walking) and my diet (vegetarian with little sugar, plus no HFCS or food dyes; reduced dairy and reduced animal byproducts).  She checks my weight (hey, I lost ten pounds since my last appointment!).  She checks how I move; motions I can and can’t make; triggers for pain and other issues; posture; word recall; language usage; asthma and lungs; ears; spine; skin issues; eyes; mouth; reflexes; asks questions about the pain itself regarding location and the nature and quality of the pain.  Um, I forget the term for that.  The… the… diffuse pain and describing what it feels like.  It has to do with the seven types of pain that Fibro-sufferers feel.  There’s an info-graphic I’ll have to try to dig up.

My PCP wasn’t happy with the progression of my pain because A.) the flare ups have increased in frequency and I rarely have occasions of tolerable or “feeling really good.” I have a majority of time where I feel sick from the pain it’s so high, and it affects my sleep, moods, and anxiety levels.  B.) Even when I’m feeling “good” the pain is high, which means my baseline pain, the pain I feel at the lowest possible pain level all over my body, can be distracting.  C.) I have a lot of breakthrough pain where I have to take something in addition to my daily med.  And yet, when I’ve accidentally missed a dose of the Gabapentin/Neurontin (only 200 mg, taken 3X a day = 600 per day), the pain is quadrupled.  I don’t feel side effects, I just feel pain so excruciating I feel like throwing up and wish for nothing but being unconscious.  I didn’t explain things quite like that to my doctor, but gave her an abbreviated explanation.  I tried to hold it in for the appointment.  

She was able to see through my bravado (I had one of my daughters with me) that I was in severe pain in spite of taking my meds exactly as prescribed, and with my insistence that they’re working and minimizing the pain. I insisted I was tired, it had been a long day, and the weather being so cold wasn’t helping matters.  She said,

“Mmm hmmm.  The weather.  Yes that has a grande effect but it can’t always be the answer.  You are doing everything right to minimize your disease and it’s not your fault.  But you know Fibromyalgia is progressive.  You are in a lot of pain.  I see it and you need something more than what I can prescribe.  Your current dose of Gabapentin is as high as I can go.  You take the Tramadol for breakthrough pain, but you don’t want to take it often and usage is increasing, so the answer is the pain management doctor.  I know you don’t want to do that, but my dear, you are at the point that you need it.  Please trust me.”

Sigh.

I had refused a referral to a pain management doctor a year ago and again six months ago.  I think this time, I need to trust her as she asked.  Luckily it’s one in my own doctor’s group, who has a great reputation, and my PCP knows her as a coworker in the same building.

Then she asked me about my current Rheumatologist.  

“So, my dear, I have your list of medications: one for allergy, migraine, one for depression, sleep, and one for pain plus the occasional Tramadol.  But I have nothing listed from your Rheumatologist.  What is she treating you with? How is she treating your Fibromyalgia?”

I told her the simple answer: She’s not.  You don’t see any medications or treatment plan from Dr. Rheumatologist because although she considers herself a diagnostician for Fibromyalgia, she doesn’t feel comfortable prescribing medications for it and believes it’s a sleep disorder.  She refuses to accept that an inability to sleep well is a result of being in too much pain to sleep.  She also believes it’s related to anxiety, caused by anxiety and depression refusing to see those things as being mainly/partially caused by Fibro.  She doesn’t even believe it’s a neurological disorder yet feels a Neurologist is better suited to prescribing Fibro meds or barring that it’s the job of the PCP.

I think my doctor’s jaw dropped. Her lips pursed and she huffed through her nose.

And then:

“Hmm.  I know a Rheumatologist who will accept this referral I’m sending, and since you have the diagnosis and this doctor is my colleague, he should accept you into the practice.  Fibromyalgia is one of the specialties.”

 

Guess what? I  had a message on my home voicemail when I got home from work today.  It was from the new Rheumatologist inviting me to call as soon as possible, and if I couldn’t get to them before noon today to call them on Monday to set up an appointment.  

Suddenly I’m remembering my prayer… and The White Rabbit.


This morning… bright, sunny, and cold… I saw a white Winter rabbit.  I’ve never seen her before.  Usually I see brown or grey rabbits in my yard, as my yard tends to enjoy heavy rabbit traffic.  We even have a rabbit hole or two.

This rabbit was special.  She was so white she almost glowed against the drab dying grass as we near Winter on the calendar.  She was round, pure white, full grown, nibbling at something, and although there’s plenty of noise on my street due to construction workers and equipment replacing a water main she seemed happy and calm.  She wasn’t skittish even though I’m certain she was aware of her surroundings.

Seeing The White Rabbit felt like everything stopped for a moment.  The background noise of the construction seemed to muffle.  I felt more aware of the sun’s insistence on continuing to rise higher in the morning sky.  My breath caught in my throat and my heart started to beat faster.  I remembered a prayer I made, asking God to help alleviate my pain, help me control my anxiety and the creeping White Tiger of depression.  I remembered asking God to help ease some of the fears and lift the heaviness of burdens… not to remove those burdens but simply to help me carry them without the oppressing weight and near-suffocation.  I asked for him to send me a sign that he heard me.

I just know that The White Rabbit is God touching my morning.   Maybe she could chase away the White Tiger.

You can skip this paragraph if you like because I’m about to take the long way ’round.  Now, I’m really not superstitious.  I believe in God, I believe in Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  I’ve blogged through my spiritual journey and occasionally share my thoughts.   I believe that the core faith is my path, politics be damned, and that it’s the best path, and yes the correct path or I wouldn’t have chosen it.  As a default in being a more, mmm, progressive Catholic I tend to lean away from believing in things like totems, animism, polytheism, and the like.  I don’t judge anyone who does believe those things; they’re just not my thing.

My point, after the long way ’round, is that I don’t believe this was a totem or spirit animal even with Native American and First Nation (indigenous/native Canadians) in my family tree.  I suppose it’s possible, but not likely in my mind.

This is why my White Rabbit feels like God sent her to touch my morning as a sign that he heard my prayer. It felt ethereal, and very similar to past events in my life that felt as my own personal proof of God in my life.  I can’t explain it if you haven’t experienced it although maybe in a future post I might.  I have a few stories you might enjoy.

So I did some research online.  I thought it might be fun just to see what white rabbits mean as signs in my Native heritage and in other cultures.  I found something unexpected, but it feels like reinforcement that The White Rabbit, MY White Rabbit was meant specifically for me.

“If Rabbit has hopped into your life:

Reminds us to examine and utilize the tools we have within ourselves. Although our instincts are innate, they also need nurturing and development. Rabbit meanings deal primarily with abundance, comfort, and vulnerability. Traditionally, rabbits are associated with fertility, sentiment, desire, and procreation.

It may also indicate a need for more planning or to check those plans already set in motion. Do not box yourself in a corner. Be aware that you may also need to examine the kinds of foods you eat. Perhaps a vegetarian diet, if only for a short time, can help you strengthen and heal.”

via Rabbit – A Message from one of our Spirit Animals.

 

I connected with The White Rabbit for a reason.

I realize this sounds somewhat, mmm, fantastical and probably delusional and even superstitious.  That’s ok.  However this happened, even if it’s pure chance, it felt important and needed.  That feeling, and the emotions associated during the brief encounter were validated for me.  My prayer was validated.  And I can’t imagine anything more important right now.

God is love.

 

 

P.S. This was my prayer:

 

Dear God,

I’m having a bit of a hard time lately.  I need your help.  My physical pain is higher than usual, and I think it’s my new normal.  It’s increasing my anxiety and ability to cope with everyday tasks and burdens.  Please send your Holy Spirit to ease the pain, and ease the burdens so that I might continue to carry them and follow through with tasks and participating in life events.  Please help me so that I don’t let my loved ones down.  If you read my blog, God, you know about my White Tiger.  Please keep her at bay.  She’s getting too close to me.  Please, please let me know you’ve heard me.  I don’t usually ask for a sign, You know that, but this time you also know that this control freak needs to know that she’ll get through it all.

Thank you.  You’re awesome and I love you.

Amen.

Jessica


I happen to live in the state where the Newington school that’s being criticized for curbing the Halloween celebration within its campus is being criticized.  I can’t believe this nonsense has gone national.  A few parents got their panties in a twist claiming a violation of “rights” because their children couldn’t dress up profusely and have their costumes paraded around their schools.  Because the schools didn’t want to have an entire WEEK of scholastic disruption.

Because of a common sense policy:

  • The school and administration there are getting threats of violence from all over the country .  
  • People are sending hate mail from all over the country.  
  • People are upset that Newington is caving to overly political correctness shoved onto them by evil liberals.  Like the words political correctness and liberal are bad words or bad things to be.  
  • Administrators are being accused of caving to radical Islam (say what now???)
  • Administrators are being accused of assaulting Christianity and Tradition and generally Ruining Everything

 

Yeah, no. Just… shut up.  Shut up shut up shut up shuttity up up up.

I can’t even fathom why anyone would seriously and consciously violently threaten ANYONE for setting a reasonable rule for a school.  I have no argument in favor and every argument against.  Other than that, I can’t really formulate polite words.

An Aside: Why do people say Politically Correct as if it’s a bad thing? Adjusting our language and behavior in order to be sensitive to the cultures and traditions and feelings of others is a GOOD THING.  We become enraged and make threats of violence when others don’t do the same for us…

…but I suppose it only matters and is important if we feel it’s Christianity that’s being marginalized.  I love my faith, I love Jesus, I love my God, and I love my current Pope (yo! Shout out to Pope Frankie!) and I love most of my fellow human beings but a lot of the time I don’t like many of my fellow Christians.  The Bible gets twisted to mean terrible things, and while it’s corrupted, the Ten Commandments are ignored.  In place of goodness, kindness, tolerance, love, and generosity,  I read and hear about hate, selfishness, rage, and self-entitlement.

No, Christianity is not being assaulted.  As a whole when we include all denominations, we are the majority religion in the United States and we are a major world religion.  We are not in the minority in any way.  That is a statistical fact.  We are not marginalized in America.  We tend to be catered to.  We tend to be the religious group with the greatest power.   That’s not to say that in some areas of the world, Christians aren’t persecuted, executed for being Christian, hated simply for being Christian.  I know that right here in the U.S. there are plenty of people who hate Christians for breathing and painting us all with the same extremist evangelistic brush… much the same way people of all other persuasions make broad generalizations and hate simply to hate.  Some people just hate anyone who is not exactly the same as they are.  I know Christians who hate other Christians because they’re not the same denomination.  I know Christians who hate others within their own denomination for “not being Same Denomination enough.”

Haters gonna hate.

Aw, damn it Taylor Swift.  Brain, why you gotta be like that? Toss in Taylor Swift in the middle of a thought process.  Oi.

Ok, so Halloween is, literally, All Hallow’s Eve.  That means it’s the evening before All Soul’s Day (think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows… the Deathly Souls) or as some like to call it, All Saint’s Day.  This next part is very important:

Halloween is not a holy day for Christians.  Tomorrow is.

 

Dear fellow Christians,

All Saints Day is “our day” and no one is taking it away.  We get to recognize both Halloween and All Saints Day aka All Soul’s Day anywhere we want all we want.  We can even go to church tonight (the vigil mass) or tomorrow to honor this holy day.  Cool, huh? Costumes and candy have nothing to do with it.  Church has everything to do with it.

Love,

Jessica

 

Interestingly enough, not all Christian denominations celebrate Halloween.  I think Jehovah’s Witnesses refrain from Halloween, as well as some Evangelicals and other similar denominations.  It’s because we are to abstain from all appearances of evil… even dressing up and making fun of evil and anything that could possibly be construed as an association with evil IE. Halloween, the candy, the parties, the costumes, the make-up, the parades.  It’s way more complicated than that for those denominations but Catholics aren’t like that.  We like Halloween and we like All Saints Day.  *Please note I’m not really speaking for all Catholics regarding Halloween, but All Saints Day is a Holy Day on the Catholic Calendar.

Of course there’s a lot as to why people dress up as ghosts, goblins, ghouls, scary witches, skeletons, devils, mass murderers, zombies, etc.  There’s a reason why it’s “spooky” with a paranormal feel, why it’s creepy.  Why owls at night give us shivers and some people still think Satan lives in my black cat, Luna.

It has to do with Samhain, an actual blessed day for Wicca, Pagan, and Celtic religions, that honors the Autumn harvest and coming of Winter as it sits halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice and in fact, Samhain predates All Saints Day.  It’s a really spiritual time, when the doorway between our world and the spiritual world is thinned.  A time when anything could happen and people feel vulnerable.  Even if we don’t believe the same things as those religions, we still feel the cultural effects lingering from the days when our ancestors were afraid.

Dressing up as what scares you most lets you hide in plain sight from those very scary things.

We get to hide among the creeperss, letting ourselves believe that if the evil spirits came out on Halloween then they couldn’t distinguish between us and them and therefore we must be safe out in the dark while we put our complete and utter trust in our neighbors to not put poison into the candy they pass out.  It’s a societal show of trust that we allow strangers and neighbors to give our children candy while we let our children go door to door in costumes out of arm’s reach.

We get to do that regardless of  our religious affiliation or cultural background to beg for free candy from strangers and neighbors all we like as long (as the porch lights are on at the houses… leave the houses with the porch lights off alone).  Dressing up for Halloween and begging for candy; attending Halloween parties; sending your children to schools that allow it in costumes…. as long as we remember that it has nothing to do, really, with Christianity.

Honestly, as a parent in general but also as a parent specifically to two children that don’t react well to HFCS and food dyes, with one of them being lactose intolerant to boot, I really don’t want teachers sending my kids home at the Rage Stage of the sugar rushes.

If your school has a policy of “no costumes, no candy, no overtly obnoxious Halloween” then please remember that your rights aren’t being trampled. I’ve come to realize this is actually Mom Spent Way Too Much On A Costume And Wants To Make Sure Nevaehly Is Seen Dressed Up As Pryness Elsa By As Many People As Possible And That Includes School Damn It.  If that’s your issue then throw a damn Halloween party.  Halloween falls on a Friday this year so go to three Halloween parties.  Knock yourself out.  You can let your child sleep in the costume and go on errands in it.

Your child won’t care, and won’t remember because her rights aren’t being trampled either.  It’s not that big of a deal.  Your child will remember Trick or Treating with you in the neighborhood.  Your child will cherish those memories.  Your child will grow up and have fond memories when she sees the photos of  when she was a wee one with white faced cat make-up and pink cat ears while Daddy hugged her tight.  They will show their children how they had their pictures taken year after year in their costumes at the front door of your home, how they got taller every year as they and their costumes changed.  They’ll shed a tear when they see their first Cinderella costume in the memory box and you ask if it might fit their daughter that year.  They’ll remember attending parties with you, helping pass out candy to others, drinking cocoa together, sorting through the loot on the floor looking for open wrappers and candy that might cause allergic reactions.


I don’t encourage panic or fear regardless of the topic.  I don’t encourage listening to rumors or extremisms in media hype.  I don’t encourage “research” through propaganda sites because they will never, ever have the truth, about anything.

I encourage learning about the topic from unbiased sources because while it might sound trite, I believe that knowledge is power.

BUT EBOLA!

Well… I’m much more concerned about Strep throat, Laryngitis, Bronchitis, Shingles, Measles, Whooping Cough, and Influenza.  I’m far more likely to get any of those.

My children and I are far more likely to come into contact with the Enterovirus, which is actively killing children and adults in multiple countries because it presents as a cold at first.  But it’s causing paralysis.  Difficulties breathing to the point of not breathing.  The CDC says that

“because it is a respiratory illness, the virus can be found in an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum. EV-D68 likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches a surface that is then touched by others.”

That means that direct contact is not needed.  All you have to do is go shopping, to a movie, a restaurant, church, school, work, a baby shower, a wedding reception, and anywhere else there are people interacting.

There is no treatment.  No protocol.  Nice, right?

At least with Ebola there’s a strict protocol.  It’s highly infectious, after all, and I’m not ignoring that.

The 2014 in West Africa’s Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea has killed more than 4,000 people; and since it has a 50% mortality rate there, maybe higher, double the number of people who have had it and survived.  It is not a death sentence.  Perhaps in West Africa it’s close to a death sentence, but not here in the United States where we have better medical facilities and research facilities and healthcare workers.

Strike that.We HAVE medical facilities, research facilities, and healthcare workers.

Have you seen photos of the so-called hospitals in Liberia? Tents have to serve as clinics and hospitals.

And we send the healthcare workers there, but there are so many people there who aren’t educated about Ebola.  We just sent our military over there a couple of weeks ago to West Africa.  Did you know that? Do you know why? To build hospitals.  If I recall correctly, to build seven hospitals because they don’t have any.  Well… this is what they call hospitals there, which people are afraid to go to (I’ve read) because they feel that they have a higher likelihood of dying if they seek treatment in them:

Found on Huffington Post

Redemption Hospital in Liberia; Found on Huffington Post

Close family members and medical personnel in direct, frequent contact with a very sick, progressed person that has Ebola is at risk.  That’s why over 200 medical staff over the world, mostly in West Africa, have died from Ebola themselves.

But for most people, my own research consistently say that you can’t easily contract Ebola.  It doesn’t hang out in the body for months, incubating and waiting to pounce when you least expect it.  It can’t be transmitted by insects.  You can’t get it simply by sitting next to someone who isn’t visibly sick anywhere in public because an exchange of bodily fluids has to occur.  Getting coughed on? Unlikely to infect anyone.

It CAN BE contained due to the nature of the disease, but the reason it’s such a problem in West Africa right now; they’re unable to contain it due to poor health facilities, poor general knowledge of prevention, non-sterile conditions, frequent contact between contagious individuals with lots of bodily fluids touching non-sick individuals, and people that are sick refusing to go attempt to get care because they believe it will kill them.  There was even a news report that one woman who was actively sick and showing signs of contagion, a self-proclaimed healer, was going village to village infecting people by telling them she could heal their sick but was actually actively spreading the illness.  Perhaps that was one of those stories that’s now myth, but the concept is likely: a person that’s infected doesn’t isolate themselves, doesn’t seek treatment, and goes around to infect others while contagious and showing symptoms while gooey.

The other diseases I’ve mentioned? They can’t be contained here in the U.S because of the nature of the diseases.  Some can be vaccinated against, luckily, but with the current anti-vaxx movement thanks to Vaccine Denialists the U.S. is becoming a germ pit.

But I digress.

I don’t worry about contracting Ebola, and I let my children know that.  I let them know that it’s a very serious disease, just like other serious diseases, but that it’s unlikely they’ll be in a situation where they would be in direct contact with someone who is contagious with Ebola.  No fear.  Do not feed the fear.  I let them know when I’m concerned about something, but I won’t feed the fear.

While I worry more about the other diseases like Enterovirus, I instruct the girls to do as we always do: wash your hands.  Don’t touch your face without washing your hands.  Don’t share utensils.  Don’t lick surfaces.  ;-)  Don’t use water fountains.  Don’t sit near someone who is gooey, spewing, hacking, drooling from the mouth or nose, blowing into tissues frequently that isn’t tossing those tissues and not washing hands.  Don’t shake hands at church (it’s not being unfriendly, you can still offer peace be with you).

Without feeding the fears, you can be conscientious and thoughtful about your family and the community you and your family live and work and play in.  Because while you think you need to get to work, you don’t have the right to infect your coworkers, customers, clients, consumers, or anyone else.  If your children are sick and have had vomiting, fever, or diarrhea don’t you dare send them to school until they have been free of those things for 24 hours without the aid of medications.  You don’t have the right to send your child to school to infect other people’s children and their families, forcing them to have to take sick days, especially children whose immune systems may be compromised.  You don’t have the right to infect school staff, bus drivers, or anyone else.  If that happens, take responsibility.

Be conscientious.  Be a good citizen AND be a good parent.  Don’t risk a relapse by sending your child to school too soon because you couldn’t take an “extra” sick day.  You risk having to take several additional sick days by forcing a relapse.  If that happens, take responsibility.

I think this infographic is great for trying to avoid the common cold and other respiratory illnesses.  My favorite bit of advice is “stay home when you’re sick.”

Enterovirus Prevention Found on the CDC.gov

Enterovirus Prevention
Found on the CDC.gov


WARNING: To teen or adult autistic individuals, I’d like to take care in warning you that this blog entry could be triggering to you.  I personally will not discuss ABA in detail because due to how our doctor referred us and who we were referred to, we chose not to pursue ABA therapies for our daughter.  That means I can’t speak to this from personal experience from a parenting standpoint nor on behalf of my daughter.  However, the link titled “ABA” will be discussing ABA therapies in some detail, so if you feel it will trigger trauma for you, please consider refraining from clicking the “ABA – Unstrange Mind link.

This link I’m about to share from Unstrange Mind by Sparrow Rose is probably one of the best and most comprehensive laymen’s explanations of why ABA therapy in its original intended form is, at best, misguided and at worst terribly abusive.  It also explains the difference between “different types of ABA” considering that in order to get an appropriately non-abusive therapy covered it must be classified as ABA for insurance purposes.

Most importantly, it explains to every loving, caring parent who takes their child to ABA and might fear that they’re being accused of abusing their child by allowing abuse through ABA what to look for in the therapist and the therapy their child is attending.  It talks about intent in bringing their children to ABA.

“ABA” | Unstrange Mind (click here).

This blog entry is a gift and ought to be read by every self-proclaimed Autism specialist, advocate, pediatrician, ABA therapist, teacher, special educator, parent, Autism advocacy agency, and anyone else whose lives might ever be touched by Autism or ABA.

This is so important.  When adult autistics speak, please listen.

 


White Tiger; this beautiful image courtesy of Harry Tan Photography on WordPress

I haven’t written about The Tiger in quite a while.  I’m sure that it shows up in my writing on occasion, especially in my more passionate posts.  I’m not writing it now because I’m depressed, but I have been more anxious than usual lately.  When my anxiety increases and doesn’t show signs of abating then I know that the risk of depression is much higher.  I feel it creeping up on me, actually, and having been thinking about it a lot so it’s probably touching me more than I think.

Sleeping at the foot of my bed.

Depression and Anxiety Disorders are Federally recognized as disabilities, as they should be.  They can be debilitating.  I’m one of the lucky ones getting treatment, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have challenging times in spite of the treatment.  Talk therapy and medication are both wonderful tools and the tools learned during therapy are helpful too, but they’re not a cure.

Depression and Anxiety Disorders are biologically based so I’ll say it again: there is no cure.

That means that in spite of my best efforts I may be able to keep The Tiger in its cage.  Most of the time it’s not in the cage, if I’m honest.  The Tiger might hang out around its cage, content to eat the morsels I toss it to keep it at bay.  With its hot breath and piercing, uncomfortable stare, making me feel like I’m always trying to catch my breath, I feel like it’s sitting on chest.  Sometimes it seems to think it’s a lap cat, and it makes itself comfortable curling up in my lap…. heavy, making itself comfortable and expecting to be petted and given the occasional scratch on the head and under the neck.  The anxiety you feel is prickly, catching in my throat, because I know that if I don’t rub and scratch The Tiger quite the right way it can turn on you in an instant with open claws and all teeth.

The Tiger might swipe in warning with claws retracted; I get knocked off my feet with my breath knocked out of my chest.

The Tiger might swipe in annoyance with claws out; I get a nasty gash in my belly from one claw, feeling as if my guts are falling out for all to see, feelings and emotions pouring out in a gooey, oozing mess for all to see.  I get a cross cut with the other claw in my vocal chords so that I can’t call for help; I’m left in a wrecked mess trying to recover in the best way I can until I feel capable enough to move on my own and ask for help.  The whole time, The Tiger is watching and in its own way is trying to help, but it’s keeping me down.  It’s licking my wounds, adding infection while it holds me down with its enormous soft paws.

It’s just a matter of time before I can wriggle enough to get close to the phone or push the The Tiger away to let someone else take its place.  Each and every time no matter what happens to ME, The Tiger comes out of it without a scratch.  She may have to lick some blood off of her claws and lick her lips, but the scratches and damage are all mine.  Occasionally someone else gets pulled in and gets scratched too.  I hate it when that happens.

The Tiger sleeps at my feet, purring deeply in its chest, one eye occasionally opening to check and make sure I’m still there.

I’m still there.

I’ve been having ongoing conversations with other people about how individuals who, even if they live with someone that has a Depressive and/or Anxiety Disorder, really can’t come from a point of view of Knowing or having full Understanding.

That doesn’t mean that there can’t be compassion, sympathy, or a level of understanding.  It doesn’t mean that we think you just don’t get it and resent us, logically speaking.

Emotionally and illogically perhaps, we fear that you do resent us.  We fear that the level of compassion and understanding we need isn’t present.  We fear that sympathy will dissipate, especially when what we really need is empathy.

It’s really hard to explain what it feels like and what the experience is like in the midst of a bout with depression.  I want you to understand that Depressive Disorders don’t look the way you think they look.  There’s a stereotypical portrayal of depression which is inaccurate, and which I think is really a portrayal of The Blues.  And is really more (d)epression than (D)epression.  The same can be said for (a)nxiety and (A)nxiety.  They can be equally difficult, but one can be “shaken off” and dealt with using all of those happy tips and food boosters and sunshine, and the other can’t.  The other is a process and has a biological, neurological basis.

We sometimes have triggers for depression and anxiety but sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes it’s situational and sometimes it isn’t.  I know that’s hard to understand.  I know that when someone tells you that they’re feeling depressed, you might not understand “why” because you see them smile, laugh, and you know that they’re happy.

The thing is, they … we… ARE happy.  We usually have a good life and we know it.  We may have a few problems or a lot; we might have a laid back life and personality or maybe not.  There are certainly times I feel more laid back than at others, and I try to appear laid back even when I don’t feel like it.  I usually feel like I’m failing at that.

We probably appear to do everything “right” in our lives because so very often we’re perfectionists.  After all, many of us who have Anxiety and Depressive Disorders will have additional diagnoses such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Agoraphobia.  We often appear to have everything; a loving spouse, great children, a great job, great friends, a loving extended family, general good health.  We look happy because we ARE happy.  Even in the middle of a Depressive episode we can smile and be happy and mean it.  We can enjoy ourselves.  It’s not quite the same as when we’re not in an episode, but we can feel it.  Things might be more hollow, more flat, or they might be more intense and hyper-sensitive.

Depression and Anxiety aren’t about our current state of happiness.  We feel everything, more or less intensely.  Anger, sadness, happiness, empathy, sympathy, joy, compassion, everything.  We can still be affected heavily by Depression and Anxiety even when we appreciate absolutely every single good thing we have in our lives because it’s not about appreciation.  It’s disordered thinking that we can’t control or snap out of.  Self-esteem, self-worth, self-view are all distorted.  We might appear more selfish, but we really are trapped in an inability to recognize the cycle.  We don’t see ourselves appropriately emotionally or even physically.  We can swing from one extreme emotion to another.  We can be full of contradictions.  We could be looking right into a mirror and our physical image often matches our current attitude of self-worth and our self-worth is often based in how we perceive, correctly or not, how others perceive us.  And we may or may not care what others think of us.  We are full of contradictions.

It’s a see-saw from hell.

It’s a vicious cycle, really.

You just can’t choose to shake it off.  You can’t just expect someone to get over it.  No amount of sunshine, exercise, vitamins, veggies, sleep, forced smiles, forced social interaction, herbs, spices, and wishful thinking can bring someone with a Depressive Disorder out of an episode.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a short episode or a long one.  All you can do is let it run its course and let that person know that you’re there without judgment.  You can’t shame someone out of an episode… in fact you will probably make it worse.  Just like if you try to fat-shame someone, chances are you’re harming that person’s self-image worse than it is and you’re not telling them anything they don’t already know; in fact you’re pushing them away from you and any desire to work toward weight loss goals.  Weight issues and Depression and Anxiety are very closely related.  Weight  issues, whether someone is over-weight or under-weight, are very often tied to Depression and Anxiety but also to physical illnesses you know nothing about… but will still trigger episodes of Depression and Anxiety.

Vicious.

It’s that heavy, breathing animal.  That Tiger waiting to sink her teeth into something hot or cold, it doesn’t matter.  She’s always there.  Breathing hot, moist, predatory breath on the back of your neck.  She’s so close you think you can hear her eyes blink and her fur rustling as she adjusts her haunches.  We feel like prey.  We feel alone.  We feel fear.  We feel everything intensely and at the same time, we’re trying to ignore it all and push it away.

We’re trying to ignore it, because if we acknowledge the Tiger, she might attack full force instead of simply injuring us.  And she doesn’t really need a reason to injure us to begin with.  She doesn’t need a reason to attack.  She’s a predator and she doesn’t need a reason for anything at all.

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