I apologize for the delay in posts. I know that you have all been waiting with bated breath for my next rant. I started a new job on January 20 with a demographic that hits right at the nerve center of my mission for MollyROCK. For two weeks, I was a nomad. I moved around from hotels, to friends’ homes, to corporate efficiencies, and my parent’s house. I am happy to be settling into a cute house in a great area of Atlanta; even happier to be in a cute house, in a great area of Altanta, that is a mere 3 minute commute from my new school! In the midst of moving my things from Nashville to storage in Carrollton, living the transient lifestyle, setting up utilities, moving my stuff from storage to my house, getting acquainted with a completely different school and position, I have also been worried about the measles. Now, I probably should have prioritized that worry to a lower-level, but instead I decided to be slightly obsessed and give an evil eye to anyone who sneezed within a one-mile radius. To be honest, I had to put MollyROCK on the back burner for a few days, although it was never out of my heart.
I have a confession. I do not heart Jenny McCarthy. For one thing, she married my favorite New Kid on the Block. I’m sure she’s nice, and she’s pretty in an obvious way. But, I laid claim to him in my diary in 1990. I will find it soon and give proof. The other reason that Jenny is not on my list of favorite people is this “immunization causes Autism” craze. I know that she is not the sole culprit, but she certainly took advantage of the large platforms that she has access to make her thoughts known. Although she recanted some years later, the damage was done. Parents couldn’t unhear what she’d said. I’m no scientist, in fact I probably could not pass a 6th grade science test. I am an educator, and I do know that we are aware of more children on the Autism spectrum than ever before. I am pretty sure that the number of children with Autism hasn’t increased significantly, but our advances in research and the availability of testing in schools has increased the documented cases. Think back to your childhood. Aren’t there some kids that you grew up with that were/are totally on the spectrum? Aren’t we all on the spectrum somewhere?
I am lucky to be a survivor of childhood cancer. I beat the odds, and I know that you are all thankful because who else would you make fun of for running into large objects? Who would entertain you with ridiculous Facebook status updates? Who would make you feel better about your own bad vision? One of the most awesome perks of surviving cancer, is having a “special” immune system. (I mean special in the way that your Mom told you that you were special when you didn’t get asked to a school dance, or when you came home with a terrible school picture.) A few years ago, I had a fun encounter with Shingles and Chicken Pox. You can’t get both at the same time, you say? Tell that to my special immune system. I had the chicken pox as a child. You can’t get them again? Tell that to my special immune system. Luckily, the ShinglePox nightmare introduced me to the fact that they make Morphine in pills, it afforded me a 2 week staycation at a great hotel in Nashville because one of my roommates hadn’t had the disease, it gave me the wonderful opportunity to spend Easter in the scariest hospital room you’ve ever seen, and it gave me the opportunity to watch Princess Kate and Prince William get married whilst doped up on those Morphine pills. A few months later, I had to get my immunization and titer records. Upon reading the record, I learned that not only had I had the disease as a kid, I had the immunization twice, and my titers showed that I was immune. Clearly, my titers forgot to tell my body that we are immune to things.
Why do I share the highlights of my ShinglePox shenanigans? Well, because I have a fear, irrational or not, that these stupid Measles are going to hunt me down. I have had my MMRs, my titers say I’m immune, but clearly my titers don’t communicate with my immune system. More than anything I’m mad, because now I live in Atlanta. When I was struck down with the ShinglePox, I lived in Nashville and found great joy in requesting Dr. Travis Stork at every point (3) that I was admitted in Vanderbilt. Dr. Travis Stork, please move to Atlanta so that I can request you if I get struck down with Measles.
The reason you get your children immunized is not just to protect them, they might have immune systems of steel. It is to protect those who are too young to be immunized, it is to protect those who are not able to be immunized because of medical conditions, it is to protect those of us whose titers and immune systems need to go to couples therapy! Today I read this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jennifer-hibbenwhite/anti-vaxxers_b_6661014.html?ir=Parents&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000037. It sucker-punched me. (Whoever said, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was probably Jenny McCarthy’s doctor who told her vaccines cause Autism) This mother has experienced the greatest pain a parent can experience. Now, she is on pins and needles, desperately praying that she does not experience it again, because someone exposed her already sick child to the measles. This is stupid and sad and horrible and no good. (Can you tell I now work with hormonal adolescents?)
How does this tie in to MollyROCK? (I know, you probably have quit reading at this point. Sorry, I’m a little wordy today. Just ask the ladies at SCANA Natural Gas.) Here is how it ties in: by NOT doing something, we could be putting lives in danger. By NOT vaccinating children we are putting countless lives in danger. By NOT opening up and having real conversations with the children in our lives, we are putting their lives in danger. By NOT letting our kids know that we all make mistakes, we are putting their lives in danger. Crimes of omission are not typically done in malice. (I definitely just made that up. I didn’t fact check that, I am not a lawyer, and I don’t even watch Law & Order. It feels like it’s right though.) People who don’t vaccinate their children aren’t abstaining because they want to infect a lot of people, they are abstaining because they are scared of the effects of the vaccines on their child. Parents who don’t have open conversations with their children about drugs, sex, alcohol, peer pressure, etc., are not keeping their mouths closed because they want their children to just figure it out themselves. They aren’t talking about it because it makes them uncomfortable. Who wants to have those conversations with their kids? It’s awkward and it seems to take away some innocence. Well, I know four people (me, my mom, my dad, and brother) who would give ANYTHING to go back and have those conversations with our kid. If you don’t vaccinate, people could die. If you don’t, conversate people could die. (Been doing some lessons on internal rhymes…. sorry)
Seriously, I don’t detest Jenny McCarthy. Singled Out was one of my favorite shows in high school. I need to thank her. She has made me more aware that as we build this platform of MollyROCK, we need to be certain that we are speaking truth and are clear that we are not experts, merely people with experience. It’s not about telling people how to communicate with their kids. It’s about giving them options, and having a place where kids and adults can word vomit, mess up, and figure out life together.
Keep MollyROCK in your life every day, vaccinate your children, have your pets spayed or neutered (unless you want puppies for me to come gush over), eat your veggies, cover your mouth when you sneeze.
More than meat loves salt,
*** Sidebar (below bar?): I have heard from a VERY reputable and knowledgeable source that Georgia has a much higher vaccination rate than many states! Whoop whoop! I hope that one day someone will say that the Peach State has a much lower maternal mortality rate than most states!