Monday, April 05, 2010

Who has the power? A minor rant

I would like to know when parents gave away their power. I have LOADS to say in this matter with regards to school. Today, however, I will be ranting about healthcare. Maybe too-much-info, but I guess I feel like processing this in a public sphere . . .

Today we went to the doctor. A little background. I have nothing against well-child visits exactly, I just don't think they make much sense. We are well-aware of how to monitor our health, growth etc. We have a doc who is cool with that. The system? Not so much. I called a few weeks ago to make appts. for Evie and I for tetanus boosters. The first nurse I talked to gave me quite a lecture about how I was endangering the health of my child but not following the usual vaccine procedures etc. etc. I told her I wasn't looking for her opinion, I was calling to make an appt. Funny, I had to get a call-back! The second nurse I talked to was much calmer (the actual nurse for our doctor). I asked her if she could understand that I wanted to model active participation in one's one healthcare as opposed to relying on an "expert" to tell me if I was okay. She admitted she had never thought of it that way and she would talk to our doc about just writing the order for the vaccine. Our doc (as I knew she would) said "no problem." I have to admit I had a bit of a change of heart too. I realized that touching base occasionally was probably a good idea in case we ever did need major medical care, at least our doc and Evie would recognize each other! (Evie hasn't been to the doctor since she was 3.) So we went for a "well-child" visit. First I got my vaccine, then Evie went through the whole rigmarole. Now, I don't think I would have even done that if I hadn't first asked Evie and she allowed as how she didn't really care, and seeing the doctor might be interesting.

The history nurse was fine . . . she told me I would need to sign something saying I declined the normal schedule of vaccines. Finally we saw our doctor. She was great, asked lots of questions and clearly stated that Evie was taking very good care of herself, all was well etc. Then came the interesting part. She said she would only recommend a "check-in" visit about every 3 years for someone healthy who is an active and who was an "informed consumer." Then we talked about vaccines. We chose her as a doc because she agreed to be an expert partner when we needed one and would help us get info if we wanted it and other than that, we were on our own. I think vaccines are life-saving inventions. I also think the AAP schedule for immunizations in this country is criminal. So, we have chosen our own path. Our doctor says, "Well, you certainly have done a thorough job of using the vaccines effectively." And then lays out what she would recommend for the future. It was what I was planning anyway. Never a mention about signing anything.

Now the rant. Healthcare providers are obliged to cover their butts because of insurance rates etc. etc. Consumers have been duped into thinking they need an expert opinion to tell them if they are healthy or what to do when they have a minor illness. In this sphere, as in so many others, common sense has gone out the window! No wonder obesity is an epidemic and children are routinely drugged in the name "focus." Parents have completely given up their job to outside "experts." There are always exceptions.

Not sure how to narrow-down what I am saying. It think it is something along the lines of, "WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!! Pay attention to your inner-voice, watch your children, follow your children, inform yourself, use common sense!!!"

All for now. Thank you.

7 comments:

Stephanie said...

I'm not a doctor kind of girl.

mk said...

Okay--- at the risk of stoking the fire... some questions.

Can you tell me more about your approach to vaccinations and their schedules-- what have you researched? What did you decide? I see that you haven't taken the more extreme stance that vaccinations aren't necessary, so I'm trying to understand your view. One that I've not heard before when it comes to the issues on vaccinations.

I have a lot of sympathy for your situation--being lectured. I fired a number of health care professionals before finding a group of people that would work with me on my particular issues. Maddening.

Lynch Family said...

Okay. The vaccine discussion is definitely one to have in person, so let's chat next time you're in town. Here is a short version. Babies are born with incomplete immune systems. Bombarding their systems with a variety of active and inactive immunizations is a) probably not good for overall immune development and b) (this is the really interesting one) not all that effective. I started doing research by reading the package inserts on vaccines provided by the vaccines manufacturers. Take the tetanus vaccine. The AAP schedule calls for vaccination at 2, 4, 6, and 16 months and 5 years. That is 5 doses. If you read the package insert, the mfg. states that if given to a child over 12 months of age, two doses provide immunity with an efficacy rate in the 90s (%). Given on the AAP schedule the first three probably don't take at all due to immature immune system and residual immunity from the mother. So, why does that schedule exist? 1) Liability 2) Compliance. When I posed the question to our doctor she freely admitted that new parents are more likely to bring their kids in blindly because they are scared to do otherwise and that is the best way to get the most kids immunized. (We had Evie receive two doses, the recommended amount of time in between. I then had them do a blood draw for lead testing and had them draw enough for a titre test--what do you know? 100% immunity for tetanus and diptheria, just like the package said.)

One more note about efficacy. The original varicella (chicken pox) vaccine (single dose) was only about 75% effective and had an effective duration of 7-10 years. That meant the girls receiving the vaccine would be losing immunity right around potential child-bearing age. Chicken pox can seriously complicate pregnancy. The new double-dose vaccine does have a higher efficacy rate, but it has not existed long enough to have good data on duration. If girls take the varicella vaccine they must maintain booster doses and/or have titre tests to check for immunity. Getting the actual disease provides 100%, lifelong immunity. It is interesting to look at the vaccination schedules fr other countries (Google for Japan and Sweden for example). They are not the same worldwide. The US has significantly more vaccines for younger children, including vaccines for diseases they have almost 0 chance of contracting until they are much older (if at all).

As I said, I think vaccines are amazing and life-saving. I am vaccinated against a lot of things, I took some very exotic vaccines when I went to live in Africa because I knew the risks and benefits. Evie is vaccinated in a way I think makes sense for her health. Basically, I am following the guidelines for efficacy, risk and benefits outlined by the vaccine manufacturers themselves. Funny what you can learn when you read the fine print.

Please ask more questions (anyone!) if you have them.

denise said...

With my severe allergies & a son with immune system issues, we follow our own schedule and make our own informed decisions of what we allow in our bodies too. There is so much information out there, and knowledge is a good thing when it comes to this stuff.

mk said...

Seriously fascinating. And overwhelming. But ultimately, yes, about taking your power back.

Lynch Family said...

@MK Exactly. The phrase I keep repeating, regarding ALL facets of life, is that people have lost their ability to accurately assess risk, common sense has been thrown out the window and people have been robbed (or have given away) their ability to self-reflect and ask real questions and then make their OWN decisions. You only get one life and one you. Wish you lived closer!

jtikkun said...

I like your approach! And, I would love to get together with you to pump your brain of more knowledge. I have a 3 and one year old and still struggle with what I find...