Friday, July 30, 2010

Unexpected Consequences

Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you are afraid.  Being a mother takes courage.  Encouraging a child to be brave takes courage.  Unexpected consequences take courage.

There is tons of negative hype about vaccines.  I know all the reasons why I shouldn’t immunize my kids.  I know sometimes healthy children have developed cerebral palsy as a result of immunizations.  I saw a man who owned that story.  It’s tragic.  It’s also the exception rather than the rule. 

Many vaccines have been around long enough that I have not personally dealt with the disease they are preventing.  But I have seen people who were not so lucky.  My dad had a friend who suffered from polio as a child.  I do remember having chicken pox when I was 6.  Now there’s a vaccine to prevent it!  Parker had a nasty case of rotavirus as a baby.  When the pediatrician’s office explained to me that there is now a rotavirus vaccine and I could have Gwen get it I jumped for joy! 

I’ve heard people say that they know their kid doesn’t need vaccines.  They’ll just watch that child closely to make sure they don’t get sick.  No thank you.  There are ways to prevent horrible diseases – diseases that can even kill people.  Who wouldn’t want to prevent disease?  With all three of my kids I have taken my chances with vaccinations.  And until Tuesday, there have been no negative consequences. 

Parker was not enthused about getting shots.  I told him he needed it done so he could go to kindergarten.  I encouraged him to be brave even though it might hurt.  I swallowed my pride and told him it was ok if he cried but he needed to be brave and let the nurse give him the shots.  He agreed. 

The nurse prepped Parker’s right arm for a TB test as well as a shot.  I tried to get Parker’s attention so he wasn’t watching the needle go in.  I was unsuccessful.  The nurse did the TB test first and Parker was mesmerized by the whole procedure.  As soon as the nurse pulled the needle out Parker had the biggest smile on his face as he excitedly yelled, “I did it!  I was brave!  It didn’t hurt!” 

The nurse told Parker he still needed to do one more shot.  He had Parker look at me which I was grateful for.  Not that it would have mattered.  I just think it’s best not to watch someone shove a needle in your arm against your will.  So Parker stared at me for the brief second the nurse did the last shot. 

Now I could be making this up, and I probably am, but I swear the nurse rubbed the alcohol prep on Parker’s arm several inches lower than where he actually injected Parker.  I noticed it that day but because I couldn’t think of a reason why it was worth worrying about my brain immediately shoved the thought in the dusty box of useless long term memories in my brain. 

So we get home, I pay the babysitter and take her home, then we eat lunch.  Blah blah blah.  Parker announces he wants to play in the pool.  Cool.  I put sunscreen on him.  Now here’s where my memory is rusty.  I know Parker and I had an exasperating conversation about how the pictures on the band aid were just pictures and that they didn’t come from a movie.  Not everything needs to come from a movie!!!  But I’m also pretty sure the band aid was gone by the time I put on sunscreen.  I vaguely remember wondering if it was such a good idea but it was a small puncture wound in his shoulder and I have been injecting or infusing insulin into my body for 22 years now and never worried about something so trivial as touching the site or putting sunscreen on it later. 

So Parker plays and life moves on.  That was Tuesday.  On Wednesday I’m lathering up my kids with sunscreen so they can all splash around in the pool while I talk to my sister on the phone.  Parker winces and says his arm hurts.  I look and the injection site is pretty red and big and basically looks weird.  In fact his right shoulder was noticeably larger than his left.  I kind of panicked and really hoped Candi was home so I could ask another person’s advice about whether or not I should worry. 

Candi suggested I call the pediatrician’s office.  So I did and silently prayed they wouldn’t make me take him in.  The girl I talked to said that about one in four kids can have a reaction to vaccinations.  She said not to worry unless the swelling got worse, he had a high fever, or was extra “fussy” (her word).  She also suggested I draw a circle around it so I could easily see if it was getting smaller.

Thursday it had grown beyond the circle I drew.  I second guessed myself and thought maybe I couldn’t see clearly since I drew the circle on him when he was in the bright sun. 

I drew another circle and gave him some ibuprofen per Heath’s suggestion.  The “fussy” thing stuck out in my mind like a sore thumb.  Parker woke up determined to be grumpy and fight with everyone.  He whined all day long.  He refused to play at the park.  Whining to go home was more fun for him. 

Should I worry?  He’s kind of been a pill all summer.  They all have.  Too much family togetherness, I think.  I looked at his arm again when he was ready for his bath last night.  The redness and swelling had grown beyond the second circle I drew.  Awesome.  Heath and I agreed I better take him in. 

Oh, and did I mention the fact that Parker has been saying every day that he doesn’t want to go back to the doctor and he never wants any more shots?  The worst part is that he does have to go back for more shots.  For some reason I am unaware of, they had to split the shots over two different  appointments. 

Courage is being earned in our house this week.  Hopefully there will be enough excess to get through the next round of shots. 

I took my kids into the doctor’s office this morning.  I was irritated that I was charged another co-pay.  The appointment was related to the appointment I took him to on Tuesday.  The recepti0nist didn’t care.  I couldn’t help but wonder if the whole thing could have been avoided if the nurse had injected where he prepped.  Too mean?  I don’t know.  I am well aware that babies can get feverish and act sick after immunizations but I have never heard of anything like this happening.  Ever.  One in four kids have a reaction?  Really?  Where was that warning on Tuesday? 

Parker's-arm-003

Anyway, I’ll stop being so mother bear in my writing.  I just wanted him to be seen so I could know what to do to fix it.  The doctor measured the red swollen mass.  It’s 8 inches by 8 inches.  Pretty impressive for a skinny little 5 year old boy. 

She said that she had seen another child this week with a similar issue but it turned out to be just a simple site reaction.  She never went into much detail but she made it sound like Parker’s problem was a little more complicated.  He really did have an infection although she said there was no puss pocket that she could feel.  Then she prescribed antibiotics.  She said she is pretty sure that it will start to go down in a couple days but I should make him finish the ten days of antibiotics. 

She also said to call if he gets feverish with chills and vomiting or if there are red streaks down his arm.  I like specific symptoms to look for.  “Fussiness” didn’t do it for me. 

So back to the vaccination question.  Will this experience change my mind?  No.  It won’t.  And I would never encourage someone to skip vaccinations.  I just wouldn’t.  What happened is the exception to the rule.  The benefits definitely far outweigh the risks. 

2 thoughts:

Dawn said...

Extra kisses to Parker today. Reactions are no fun but I do think you are right about vaccinations.

sugarpierdh said...

I agree with you on the vaccinations. I'm glad you took Parker to see the pediatrician again. And, I'm glad to hear he is doing better.