Monday, March 14, 2005

All fired up about the Imus interview about possible link to mercury in vaccines and autism, ADD, ADHD

Last Thursday was not a good day for me at all. I woke up in a good mood and was bravely bracing myself to forge ahead with a very busy day. I had not yet finished planning a 75 minute presentation that I was to give on Saturday at a breastfeeding and parenting conference on the subject of breastfeeding past the first birthday. I vowed to not skip homeschooling in order to get the work done lest I be irresponsible and possibly inflict negative repercussions to my children’s home education due to my procrastination. I was doing alright up until breakfast time, when my husband called me to the television to see an interview taking place on the Imus in the Morning radio/television simulcast. He knew the subject was one that I am deeply convicted about.

My husband has been an Imus fan since the 1980s, before we met, way before Imus was talking about parenting tactics on his show. We were already practicing some non-mainstream parenting choices when Imus and Deirdre’s first child was born. Right from the start of their parenting journey, Imus would share with his audience, various choices they made and why. My husband would listen and think “Deirdre is just like my wife” and because they did some of the same things we did, he wasn’t criticizing them for their choices but was nodding in agreement. I still think he is surprised that someone such as Don Imus talks about these lifestyle choices on the air, when the show used to be mostly centered around politics and current events.

Apparently Don Imus has discussed his worry about an autism/mercury link in the past, and my husband mentioned it was again a topic of discussion on the show last week. I was interested in hearing the interview but it ended getting me all wound up and upset. I just discovered that the full-30 minute interview, which was done on March 10, 2004 with author David Kirby can be heard on line for free.

Kirby’s new book is called “Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy”. From what I heard on the show, the book seems been researched thoroughly and cites medical studies from reputable medical institutions.

The interview was alarming and disturbing to me because it reinforced and repeated what I was already aware of, due to past articles published in Mothering magazine. (Their online archives bring up 102 hits on articles about autism and 61 hits on the topic of mercury and 89 on the word “vaccine”, so if you want additional free reading, you can start there.) When I first read this theory in Mothering, it was upsetting, but a part of me was comforted in the idea that since the mainstream was not embracing this theory, that perhaps it was erroneous. Hearing this interview underscore what I’d already read, was scary and upsetting to me.

The gist or crux of the problem with the mercury/neurological controversy is that some children/people are thought to be born with a physical defect that does not allow their bodies to process out, the (toxic) mercury that is taken into the body. When a newborn baby receives vaccines that contain mercury (in the form of a preservative with the brand name thermerisol), if the body is not ridding itself of this toxic metal, a problem may result. (For that matter any ingestion of mercury adds to the problem, such as the thermerisol in over-the-counter nasal saline sprays for babies and children or in fish). The mercury is thought to stay in the body and the levels rise as more mercury is put into the body (vis-à-vis different vaccines and booster vaccines and other sources). When mercury levels are at a certain level, Kirby said that autism and other neurological problems, i.e. ADD and ADHD may develop.

Kirby called the mercury in vaccines issue quite possibly “the largest medical mistake in American history”. Kirby is calling for national attention to this issue and calling for discontinuing the continued use of mercury in vaccines. The alternative to using mercury as a preservative is to package vaccines in single use vials, which Kirby stated represents a $4 per vial increase in cost. The cost of $4 per vial SEEMS VERY LOW TO ME when we are talking about preventing harm to children and adults vis-à-vis preventing the development of autism and other neurological problems. Kirby also stated he wondered what would happen if the vaccines that contain mercury which American companies are currently still manufacturing and are shipping to third world countries cause autism, ADD, ADHD or other neurological problems in those countries….

I got all wound up about this and could barely think straight. I was so angry about this issue. Fortunately for me, just then a friend phoned and I was able to vent about it, which helped the haze of anger, which I was surrounded by, dissipate. We had an interesting discussion which included that the only thing that saves us from rage or depression or despair—“what is this world coming to?”--is the notion that we’d like to think that any harm inflicted was not intentional. We both thought that a $4 increase in cost of a vaccine was reasonable and that if there is any question whatsoever that mercury is harmful to people of any age, that we’d prefer to have it removed completely (from all vaccines) and we would all gladly pay $4 more per dose. We also both agreed that it is best to err on the side of caution. We should all be open-minded and think critically about issues and take whatever precaution is necessary to protect ourselves and our children. I’d like to save the world but can only do so much.

Presently I am pondering how I can affect some change in this area. I remember very clearly the day when I first saw the sayings on some coffee mugs that were in a psychologist’s office that I used to work in which stated in bold lettering: “Make Something Happen”. These mugs were all over the office. I was in a pretty low place in my life at the time, living hand to mouth and desperate for extra money, to the point where I was doing what I hated most: cleaning! I was grateful for the extra money I earned job cleaning this office on the weekends. I remember being surprised by that idea that anyone could “make something happen” and wondered what kind of people lived their life thinking they were powerful enough to affect change in anything? Perhaps at the time I was in a victim mode, but I digress. Seeing these mugs and their messages each week gave me something to ponder while I scrubbed floors, vacuumed and dusted. At the time I was quite cynical and feeling pretty powerless about what I could accomplish in this world. In the 15 or so years since I first read that phrase I can definitely say that my life is driven by the notion to “make something happen”, and I am very comfortable and happy to be able to live that credo. I have accomplished a lot in my past (paying) career and quite a bit in my volunteer work. A recent adjustment to this notion is that I, alone do not make things happen or control everything, but that God works through me, with my thoughts and actions either opening the door or closing the door of possibility.

Anyway, I feel the need to do something to voice my opinion. Even if it gets nowhere, at least the venting would make me feel better. Perhaps a letter writing campaign to legislators, voicing opposition to the current problematic Federal Senate bills regarding vaccines will be the best that I can do.

A favorite saying that I have posted right on my computer monitor, so I can see it daily is: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” by Margaret Mead. The other quote on my monitor which I first read on a diner’s sugar packet by an unknown author is “It is better to have tried to do something and failed then to have tried nothing and succeeded”, which is another wonderful philosophy to live by.

ADDENDUM: I just realized that "Evidence of Harm" is ranked as #99 on Amazon's sales ranking. I would bet that Don Imus's attention to this matter is a driving force behind it! Let's hope this book gets people thinking!