A young woman presented at my office recently along with her two-year-old child. The child, a beautiful little girl looked tired and weepy. The mother looked stressed. After I greeted them we sat down to discuss the reason for her visit. The little girl immediately began to wail and buried her face into her mother’s chest. She'd already had a bad doctor experience and didn't want another.
The mother expressed her anger and dissatisfaction with a recent visit to her medical professional and was seeking a second opinion. (You will notice that I do not use the term doctor here, and I will explain shortly.) The child had been scheduled for her periodic immunization vaccines and her mother had dutifully reported for the appointment. The toddler was teething, pushing out her two-year molars and had spiked a fever and a mild ear infection. As a result mom was reluctant to have the vaccines administered as she feared, (rightly so), that the child might have an adverse reaction, or become ill outright.
The health professional subsequently launched into a five minute lecture, berating the mother as both ignorant and irresponsible, threatening to report her for non-compliance to her immunization schedule. Though the mother held her ground, this person who is granted supreme authority by our society, brow-beat her sighting both her parenting, and the danger she represented to society in general. Pointing out that he/she was an educated well-informed individual who must not just be trusted, but must also be obeyed.
So—let’s take a look at this for a moment shall we.
First of all, I couldn’t agree more with the mother of the child. There is a good reason for her position, and it is not just based in common sense, but also in scientific evidence. Here it is:
Teething, although a completely natural process for a two-year old is traumatic. The jaw bone is erupting a tooth which is hard enough, but the tooth is actually cutting it’s way to the surface through the gum line. Our bodies are amazing healing machines and as soon as this process starts it releases a substance, histamine, that alerts the defenses that something needs looking into. Healing agents and bacteria fighters rush to the scene and begin making sure that the process doesn’t get out of hand. Occasionally, due to the increase in activity and subsequent swelling brought on by the presence of histamine, increased circulation, and other agents, the eustachion tubes that equalize pressure to the inner ear will become compressed. This results in an ear ache, and sometimes it can be quite painful. It is not however a bacterial infection, and does not require antibiotics.
Bacteria and viruses are very sensitive to heat and cold. Our bodies have long ago developed the defense mechanism of raising our internal temperature a few degrees when we are trying to fight off any type of bug. This is called ‘running a fever’. The elevated temperature weakens the bacterial invader, and makes it less able to defend itself against our immune system and the body is then able to defeat them. In addition, our bodies remember the bacteria and make a record of it so that it will respond even quicker and stronger the next time it comes in contact with it. By prescribing an antibiotic medication for a minor infection, if it is one at all, doesn’t allow the immune system to react, suppresses our own response, and overall weakens our ability to fight off sickness. In the end we become dependent upon antibiotics, instead of ourselves.
The way our body responds to sickness is essentially what might be called an allergic reaction. When we have a sinus allergy for instance, the sinuses detect a foreign invader, histamine rushes into the area, the sinuses swell up, our eyes become red and puffy, our head gets stuffy, we sneeze, cough and our ears ring from the pressure. All of these responses are our bodies attempt to expel the foreign agent. For some who have high sensitivity to particular stimuli, pollen, pet dander, etc, this is particularly annoying because there can be so much of it that it overwhelms our ability to respond in a healthy manner. So, we flush our sinuses, take anti-histamine and try to function. But what if we actually make ourselves allergic to things by accident?
The process of vaccination although extremely complex is simply the process of injecting a known disease into the body so that the body will have an allergic reaction to the disease. The disease is a weakened strain and in most cases the body not only fights it off but, in the process, learns to recognize it so it will be able to defend itself again should the occasion present itself with a much stronger strain. Our wonderful, amazing bodies doing their job.
A two-year-old who is teething and spiking a mild temperature has an immune system that is already on high alert. It is dealing with bone, gum and ear trauma, and is plenty busy. To introduce a vaccine strain at the same time can, and often does, result in the new immune system to over-react and start recognizing all kinds of stimuli that it thinks it needs to react to. Stimuli that we often consider to be normal every day contacts in our lives. The two-year-old body learns to react to it every time it comes in contact with it, for the rest of its life.
The word ‘doctor’ comes from the Greek word ‘doctore’ which means “by the teacher”. Literally to doctor someone means to teach them. In ancient times teachers brought wisdom and thought, however there has been a shift in our consciousness these days. The term doctor has become a name for an authority figure, a person with an expensive education, but not necessarily one who engages in free thinking, or philosophy. That may sound cruelly descriptive, but in fact nowadays our physicians have become engines of commerce, not necessarily the healers of the past. Hidden behind the white coats of science that tout advancements in every aspect of medicine these days, we have become professional sickness managers, and the healer is now scoffed at as unscientific. Sickness care is not health care. Drug companies driven by share holder profit greed push every new product into the face of MD’s on an almost monthly basis. Medico’s are now time-studied to make sure that they move patients through their clinics with maximum efficiency, and they are performance rated upon the number and quality of the tests they order and the number of specialty referrals that they make. The teacher, has no time to study the lesson plan in the mad rush to make every patient as vanilla as they can in order to move on to the next one.
In short, the young mother was right. She was a good mom. The ‘health professional’ was inconvenienced, that was the bottom line and had become so accustomed to dogmatic obedience that the attempt was made to get the young mom back in line. The appropriate thing to do was to wait. Nine times out of ten, watchful waiting is the best medicine. The little two-year old is a very lucky young girl to have such an awesome mother.