Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chicken Pox Revival?

Chicken Pox look a little like this
(if you were wondering)
My son has the Chicken Pox. 30 years ago, nay 15 years ago this would be entirely unremarkable. However these days most children are vaccinated, and when my Dear Husband took our polka-dot-boy to the pediatrician the doctor went back to office to look in "the book" to make sure she was diagnosing properly.  As it turns out, without any secondary skin infections or complications from fever, the Chicken Pox aren't that dangerous.

I'm sure a few of you other mom's are immediately wondering why I, the mother of the year, did not escort my itchy offspring to the doctors office.  Well the sad truth is, that despite an other wise normal childhood, I have never had the Chicken Pox.
So, since I discovered little red blisters all over him on Thursday, I've been trying to avoid my own son. For the record it has not been working, and the doctor told my husband that, in all likelihood, be dreadfully ill in the next week or two.  The real kick in the pants is that I got the vaccine. Some time in my twenties, when I found out it was available, and assured my doctor I had never had them. Because there was some outside possibility that I could get them while pregnant, I'm sure the other script I got that day was for birth control pills, I was given the a shot.

Sorry we can't play with anyone
Mom might get the Chicken Pox
So why should I be so afraid that I could now get the chicken pox, since I was vaccinated. Well no one ever asks about these things until you do get pregnant. So 6 years ago when I was expecting K-dog, I distinctly remember the midwife asking me if I had had the chicken pox, and when I said that I was protected by a vaccine,  I remember some kind of test to confirm this. All good. So when Princess-A was on the way, 2 years later, they did the test again. No dice. I was given strict orders to come in for a booster if I was to come within 2 miles of any infectious person.  So every time I took K to the sandbox, or saw anyone who seems under the weather I had to announce that I was trying not to get the chicken pox. So much for HIPPA.

Which brings me back to my son's case of the chicken pox. I mentioned our quarantine on Facebook, and got a variety of responses. Including, fond memories of they're own chicken pox,  gasps of surprise, and even a few suggestions for a Chicken Pox Party*.

Suddenly I realize is that this one infection has branded our family as some of those anti-vac nuts who's are going to revitalize polio, and bring the end of civilization.  Is vaccination the third-rail of motherhood discussion? I have had heated debates with very close friends and family who think its crazy to get any jabs, and I have heated debates very close friends and family who thinks its crazy not to get them all. Actually,  the only thing I think is crazy is this totally polarized view of something that is simply, not that simple. 

There is a theory that mothers would never been able to work (out of home that is) if it were not for vaccines because, small children used to spend so much time quarantined with things like chicken pox and measles. The feminist in me would suggest that family friendly work policies for men and women would make this irrelevant. Others think that vaccines, and/ or the sheer quantity of them are the a toxic danger to our public health and the well being of their child. My thoughts are somewhere between the two.  Some infections are common and dangerous enough to make them worth the risk, but then again I can blog and paint from home even if all I'm painting is calamine lotion.

Guess who will get them next.
There is no place for being in the middle. When we told the pediatrician that we did not want to vaccinate "on schedule", I know for sure they put a little red dot on on K's chart. When we decided certain vaccination made sense for us, I suddenly endangered the "conscientious and religious" exemption letter that we had submitted to school.  Damned if you do, damned if you don't. In either case our doctor doesn't seem willing to help us weigh the usefulness vs risk to us (or our community). It has been an all or nothing proposition, and to me that is not good. Having to chose sides in a debate like this makes absolutely no sense. Mothering Magazine* has probably been a voice of reason, even if they seem to tend to the non-vaccine side.

Just to put this all in perspective, my mother was probably a test subject in Dr. Salk's polio vaccine trials. K-dog will forever associate the chicken pox with all things Titanic, it will be part of the story of his life. I've always been proud of my no-pox streak, but ask me that again on Sunday. What was your childhood chicken pox story?

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