Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chicken Pox, Part 2

Wow. There were lots of comments on my last post. I had absolutely no idea that it would cause such a stir. Mostly because I was just joking around. Mr. Frisby can verify this - I asked him to read my post before I posted it to see if he could tell I was just trying to be funny. Apparently this is a hot issue, though, and I actually do have strong opinions on it, all joking aside. Since you've all shared your opinions and comments, I will now share how I really feel about this issue.

I believe that trying to be germ-free is a good thing. Cleanliness is next to godliness, after all. I believe that vaccinations are a wonderful, life-saving little invention that has made the world a better place. I am also well aware (more aware than most, as a matter of fact) of the capacity of human beings to have an infinite number of variations in their health and function, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their development.

That said, I also firmly believe that we have a tendency to take things too far. The theory I mentioned in my last post about our immune systems becoming hypersensitive when they don't have to work very hard is completely logical to me. And, I believe, helps to explain the undeniable increases we see in our day and age in the number of people suffering from allergies (that includes hay fever type allergies as well as food or substance type allergies) and in the number of antibacterial/antiviral resistant organisms that attack human beings on daily basis.

In my last post, I joked around with the example of the chicken pox vaccine. However, it just represents all sicknesses that everyone wants to avoid even though they're almost never fatal. Let's use the example of the flu vaccine. (And, as a side note, I've never had a flu shot in my life - primarily because of my opinions on this matter.) I am aware that the flu can be a dangerous illness, especially certain strains of it. However, just the other day, I was reading about how there are now certain strains of the flu virus that are becoming resistant to the vaccine. So, they're scrambling to update the vaccine to try to cover these strains now (by the way, flu vaccinations only protect you against a few strains of the bug. If you've had the shot, pray you only come in contact with those few instead of the hundreds of other strains that are out there). The point is, you have to ask how beneficial the vaccine really is. So, maybe a bunch of people avoid being miserable for a week. It may even prevent a few deaths. However, on the flip side, we're creating circumstances which perpetuate the development of stronger organisms that have a much higher capacity to be lethal. We take medications to beat the bugs that our body can't take care of itself. If those bugs become resistant to our medications, where does that leave us? I'll tell you - up a creek without a paddle, to use the old saying. We're stuck.

Let's go back to the chicken pox example. I would rather all of my kids have the chicken pox and be done with it than to have what I consider another unnecessary vaccine. I had the chicken pox when I was little. I'm sure I was miserable. But, guess what? I don't remember it. And that's one more thing that I'm now immune to. Does this mean that I'm not going to have my kids get that vaccine? No. Society has made that decision for me. With so many kids now getting the vaccine, the chicken pox isn't really going around anymore. So, were my kids to not get the vaccine, it would still be pretty unlikely that they get the chicken pox as kids. However, if they got it as adults, it would be worse - and more dangerous. So, unless I could ensure that my kids would really catch the chicken pox, they've got to get the vaccine.

Now, let's bring this all full circle. I used to be a germ freak - I still am in some ways. Then I served my mission and spent seven months in a third world country. That taught me many things about health. First, vaccines are great. There are many illnesses which are fatal or crippling and sometimes your body isn't strong enough to handle them. Thank everything for those vaccines. Polio, MMR, Smallpox, Tetanus. Those are necessary because those are potentially fatal diseases. And I am thankful that I had those vaccinations because I know that not everyone does. Second, your body is a lot stronger than you think it is. Imagine being a germ freak walking around a third world country amidst diseases and germs of all sorts, sharing the roads (if there were any) with the local livestock, eating from dishes which cockroaches have been crawling on. I realized that if my body could handle those germs, then I really don't have a lot to worry about in relatively clean America. Let's be clear - I am a handwasher. Handwashing is the single most important way to prevent the spread of sickness. I work with stinky, smelly, sweaty athletes with athlete's foot and who knows what else. I am a handwasher! But, there are germs all around. There are germs on your body right now. You can't get rid of all of the germs around you. So, I wash my hands and do my best, but I realize that my body can handle a lot of what gets thrown at it. And, third, I learned that everyone's immune system works differently. This became obvious when my companion and I would eat certain things or be in certain situations and one of us would get sick and the other one would be fine.

With all of that said, I reiterate my point. Avoiding sickness is great. Vaccinations for dangerous and lethal illnesses are spectacular. But, with all of this effort to eradicate germs, we take away the natural processes for beating the bugs that attack us. We create an environment that makes us as organisms weaker and less capable of defending ourselves. We also create an situation which makes it easier for other organisms to become stronger and more lethal. They no longer have to fight against several billion slightly different immune systems. They just have to fight against one little vaccine. For those illnesses which our body can handle itself, I say let it do it's thing.

I told you I have strong opinions.


Molly said...

I just refuse to get into conversations that have to do with vaccinating children. People have really strong opinions either way. I'm surprised the comments in your last post were so mild. Hahaha. People get all riled up about this. But yes, do your research about vaccinations (lots of research from reputable sources) then stick with your decision. People will always disagree with you.

Molly said...

Oh, and just last week I read an article somewhere on the Stanford School of Medicine web site that talked about using antibacterial soap versus regular handwashing. Reader's digest version: it's better to wash your hands with regular soap (non-antibacterial) for 30 seconds than to use antibacterial soap. I can't find the link, but I'll send it to you when I do.

LJ and DC said...

hahahah! I thought you were funny JJ, sorry I didn't comment yesterday to say so. :)

It is definitely very interesting how many more kids and adults have developed peanut allergies than when we were kids isn't it?! Not once in elementary school did someone have a peanut allergy, but in my nephew's class he'll frequently have 3 or 4 kids each year.

And I'm anti-flu shot too. Mostly because I'm afraid of needles, but I also just plain don't think I need one.

Tammy said...

I have puzzled over the increase in allergies and asthma and I have come to the conclusion that it most likely stems from all the pesticides used now. And i never take all the medicines a doctor prescibes if I can help it because they prescribe too much. I.E. decongestants mess you all up! But when you've been up all night with a sick baby you rush to the doctor the next day and want the problem fixed! You will find this out and probably cringe at some of your opinions. Oh, and by the way, you should thank Mom for putting up with you when you had the chicken pox, not thank the chicken pox. You may not remember but I bet she does!

Ashlee said...

I read an article just recently about the allergy theory. It said the same thing you're saying, and I believe it's true. Especially concerning people who abuse antibiotics. It's no good.

Sharon said...

I was going to take the high road, and not respond, but we both know I'm not celestial material, so here goes.

Your first mistake was in consulting Mr. Frisby if people would know you were joking. You have been married just shy of a year, did you think he would dissent? He is, as you have so eloquently stated, better than any guest on the Maury Povich show. He's not likely to tell you if you have written a bad blog. Not even Steve would do that, if he were actually paying attention. If you need to okay your blog with someone, ask Tammy or I. Sisters are brutally honest.

Secondly, nobody cares if you vaccinate your kids (oops, I mean future kids). How you deal with their sicknesses is up to you. Just don't call me to come help you when you've been up all night with one child and have to get up in the morning with the rest of them after your little "Chicken Pox" party. I'm liable to be on vacation (with Tammy) relaxing and won't want to be disturbed.

The trigger in your blog was that you attributed your health to having the chicken pox when you were young. Now I know you said you were joking, but give credit where it's due. You have been blessed. You better thank the Lord before he reminds you where your health comes from.

And I've been thinking a lot about why some people get sicker than others. You were the ninth child. God was just being kind to Mom because he knew that you would be an even bigger pain if you were sick. JK.

Sharon said...

Sorry again. I am really trying to be a nice person, but as you can see, it isn't working out very well.

mommafriz said...

Once again I have to say I LOVE Sharon! You know there is also the gene-pool factor that was totally over looked...such as Jared gets his from a double wham-slam, my granny N. & my dad both had terrible asthma, both were from pollen. My granny would hack out a lung every spring & every fall…my dad, horrible from the time the snow started to melt until it fell again…I think we should thank the kind lord for our health, & look at those who are less healthy from as far away as possible, cause we don’t want what ever the blazes they have.

LJ and DC said...

hahahah! Well, I'll known miss JJ for far longer than a year or even a decade, though clearly not as long as the sisters. I thought it was funny, and knew she wasn't really attributing her excellent and enviable health to having had the chicken pox. It is true though that most of us made it through the chicken pox relatively unscathed. And yes, of course it is easier for us to joke around about childhood illnesses since we don't have any kids. I'm sure we'll change our tune someday. With any luck that will be some day soon.

eval6912 said...

My 9 year old step-daughter has been in ICU on a respirator since last Friday (today is Wednesday). If she lives, she might have brain damage.

She has chicken pox and from chicken pox you can get encephalitis, or inflammation of the tissues around the brain. We don't know if her brain was damaged from the encephalitis or not.

My step-daughter had a mild case of chicken pox in the past, but obviously did not obtain immunity to the disease. Now she might die from this disease.

Jenni, I suppose that you think polio vaccine is OK as likely you witnessed polio victims when you were a missionary. Unfortunately, you have not witnessed a bad case of chicken pox. I wish you could see my step-daughter lying in the ICU bed with tubes all over the place and those pustules all over her little body, inside her mouth, too.

In addition, did you know that adults, mainly older, who had mild case chicken pox as children,may end up with the horrible shingles? The same virus that causes chicken pox,reactivates & causes shingles later in life.