Sunday, March 15, 2009

Thank You, Chicken Pox!

I'm currently getting over a cold. However, that current issue aside, I think I have a pretty strong immune system. I don't get sick often - in fact, I can probably count on one hand the total number of sick days I've ever taken in my life. I also don't have any allergies except one (I'm allergic to Mangoes. I know, it's very sad). I recently read an article in a magazine which brought up the theory that sometimes allergies are caused by a, shall we say, trigger-happy immune system. Your immune system is on the lookout for invaders in your body. In our current germophobic society with hand sanitizer at every turn and vaccinations for anything you can imagine, our immune systems get a bit bored since we're taking care of the bad guys for them and so they look for any little offender that gets in their way (sort of like the cops in Sunnyvale). Hence, your body overreacts to things, like peanuts or bee stings, etc, etc, etc. I'm not going to try to convince you either way - I'm just saying, that's the theory.

Back to me and my immune system. As I said, I feel like I have a pretty strong immune system, and I'll tell you why. When I was growing up, we didn't have vaccinations for everything. I didn't have a Chicken Pox vaccine like most kids today. I had the Chicken Pox. I didn't come home from school and wash/hand sanitize my hands before I ate or played with my siblings. I kindly shared and ingested all of the germs I picked up at school. So, my immune system had to work. And because it has had to work, it doesn't waste its time on little things like peanuts or a bee sting. It takes care of the real bad guys. And I am thankful for having had the Chicken Pox!

This is not to say that hand sanitizer is bad (I use it often) or that vaccinations are bad (thank goodness for the MMR and smallpox vaccines!). I'm just saying that maybe we should give our immune systems a little credit and let them do their thing. When I have kids, I think that instead of the doctor giving them a shot of the chicken pox vaccine, I would actually like him to give them a shot of the live virus to ensure that they get the Chicken Pox. I would like to prance them around the waiting rooms of hospitals during cold season so they catch some germs or two. I want their immune systems to work! Bacteria and viruses are evolutionary. They adapt to withstand the the medicines we create to destroy them. Now we have bugs that are resistant to many of our medications. I say, let our bodies adapt to become resistant to those bugs. We can become invincible!

11 comments:

garyleah said...

I heard on Good Morning America that they have found one thing that may be causing such an increase in allergies is that we are too clean. Using antibacterial soap kills good germs as well as bad. Using listerine mouthwash does kill germs good as well as bad. Our dentist said don't use it. I agree with you Jenni. One thing though, if you have had chicken pox I do advise getting a shingles shot because shingles is on bad thing and can last forever. The shots are expensive but you can get them at Kaiser for free. Our doctor here got shingles and he is advising everyone to get the shot.

Mary Pat said...

Hey Jenni, My friend's little girl got vaccinated for chicken pox, and she is ticked off at the doctor for not telling her. She found out 5 years later! They pulled a fast one on her, and she is pretty testy about vaccines. She claims, you must educate yourself because you don't have to get all the vaccines that a doctor or nurse will try to push on you. I liked your comments.

Hilary said...

Jenni, you just explained why I believe in the 5-second rule.

AJ's a germaphobe and I'm gross, and I firmly believe in this theory.

Sharon said...

Little nuts, Jenni. Small pox, mmr, tetanus vaccines, just to name a few - I'm certainly glad for. Just because our bodies can fight off disease, doesn't mean the diseases won't leave lasting effects. Though chicken pox is usually more annoying than dangerous, it does cause problems. Steve's brother is deaf in one ear because he got the chicken pox as a baby. And having five kids, once one kid gets something, so do the others. I've had Maddie stay home for a week because of chicken pox. Kind of wrecked my life. Can't imagine multiplying that by five. And I would advise the vaccine because if you are lucky enough to have a daughter, and all her friends are vaccinated and she isn't, but she is never exposed, and then gets exposed when she is pregnant someday, there are serious complications from that. Maybe you don't get sick that much because you exercise and eat right. Also, we grew up in the same house and my allergies are such that I can't even smell. As I recall, I had the chicken pox. Theory is just that, a theory. I'm sure some things are true, and some aren't, but trying to understand the human body is an evolutionary process. Just like back sleepers are getting deformed heads and now it's normal to see babies at Costco with helmets. Doctors change their minds all the time! So give your kids the chicken pox vaccine so nobody has to wonder if they can let their daughter be a flower girl at your wedding because she just came down with the pox (Heidi, at my wedding).

Andrea said...

I heard a really interesting story about immunizations on NPR (This American Life or some other program). One of the people they interviewed in their story said something about not minding if people don't have their children vaccinated if they go live on an island (or something like that). Her child had contracted an illness (measles?) from an unvaccinated child who exposed a lot of children (I think it was in the San Diego area). Her child nearly died. Things were tricky at the hospital (trying not to expose others), and once her child was discharged, they were not allowed to leave their house for quite awhile (again, to protect others from exposure).

I do think as a society, we tend to overdo the drugs and shots. Like you said, we didn't have this or that vaccine and we're alive. But, the likelihood of outbreaks must go up exponentially when more and more people choose not to immunize.

I guess it's just important to learn all we can about it (I know I've been fairly clueless about everything that is on "the schedule").

Kim said...

Wow, looks like you got people fired up:). I have mixed feelings on the subject. On one hand I make fun of people who use sanitizing wipes on grocery carts. Do they think that the debit card machine is germ free? That the food they touch is germ free? I think society has turned too ocd about things. However, when it comes to immunizations, I'm all for them. Number 1--I'm not immuned to chicken pox and I actually did have them (a too mild case). The risk is low that I get it now but if I did it could be dangerous for my baby and probably very physically scarring for me (so I wish I could take the immunization, but can't right now). Number 2- Ryan got Rotavirus before they made the immunization and he was hospitalized for 5 days because he was very, very sick. If that is preventable (which it is now), I'd rather have the immunization. However, colds and stuff from just life (grocery store, school, church, etc.) aren't really preventable. We fool ourselves into thinking they are but just because one surface is sanitized doesn't mean the thousands of others we touch are. There's my 2 cents.

Sharon said...

Sorry, Jenni. Didn't mean to get so opinionated with you. It is after all, your blog and you can write what you want.

Nicole said...

I asked my doctor about getting the chicken pox vaccine once, because I had had such a mild case of the pox when I was a kid. He said even a mild case of chicken pox provides a better immunity than the vaccine.

mommafriz said...

I love the idea that children can skip the chicken pox, it would not be bad if they were all like Jared, 7 pox on his whole body, but Rob was covered, down the throat, in his ears, 85 on the bottom of one foot, too many to count on the other foot, & since Jared had so few who would guess that he would be the one to suffer such nasty cold sores? No I say save the baby the pain any place you can...please...& I wash my hands a ton, I Clorox door knobs, keep the bathrooms clean, I wipe off the shopping cart if I am putting a child in the cart, I hate it when someone puts their purse on my kitchen counter, & for the record, I seldom catch anything, I have had one case of the stomach flu since I was eight... that's right one, I do catch a cold about every other year, not too bad for a hand washing germ freak. I think we are what we are; some are made f more fragile components then others.

Dalene said...

I will freely admit that I am a germ-a-phobe. I don't know why or how I became that way, but Kim would have to make fun of me because I sanitize the grocery cart and my hands several times a day. I also sanitize Zoey's hands - gasp! - because I figure she is getting plenty of germs from places and people I can't sanitize. It is not that I never want her to be sick - she has already had a few small colds - because I know that is good for her, it's just that being up all night long with a sick baby is EXHAUSTING. As for the vaccinations, I am all for them. Even WITH the chicken pox vaccine many kids get a mild case which, as mentioned, is a good inoculation itself. Anyhow, that's my two cents.

Tammy said...

Please don't prance your children around the waiting room to get a germ or two. They will get plenty on their own. And I don't think that having the chicken pox is what has made your immune system so strong because what about the rest of us who had it and suffer through colds and flu and allergies. I have found that the best way for me to avoid getting a cold is to wash my hands thouroughly and often during cold season, especially when around others with colds. And the best way to strengthen my immune system is to eat healthy, exercise, and reduce stress! I think it's cruel and unusual punishment to let a child suffer needlessly with chicken pox. Poor Alyssa had them in her eyes, ears, and mouth. She spent a week in the tub because that was the only way to keep her happy and not scratching. All my kids had chicken pox before the vaccine came out and after going through it I would be the first in line to get them vaccinated if I had the chance to do it again! Luckily you are a woman and can change your mind often. I'm pretty sure you will when it comes to trying to keep your children well.