Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Contagion—Part Deux: The RECKONING (Or The Vaccination Recommendation)

            I know it's been a while since I posted that rant about wisdom teeth and their lack of valid purpose, but I had take the time to recuperate and clean my apartment.  Which I did.  A lot.  By sleeping in and taking the proper amount of pain pills and getting hooked on the new CBS docudrama </scorpion>, after Mom refused to let me watch FOX's Sleepy Hollow on their LCD HDTV.  But the break was worth it, even though the Pre-Op Gremlin Diet was a pain in the ass, I had to chew on one side of my mouth for a while, there was no liquid diet (so as to not let my jaw lock up, according to the doctor) and I'm stuck being round with no way of getting a Nutritional Counselor through the Adult Autism Waiver.  Yippee.
            On the bright side, I now have a real doctor (a Primary Care Provider and not a pediatrician, if you will) and he's genuinely concerned about my health.  And after the initial new patient appointment, I'm ready for this year's flu season.  And if I'm ready, and you're not ready, well….you're fucked because I'm not going to be your nursemaid unless I'm the only healthy person left in the world and left with no choice.  Especially if you're against vaccinations for various reasons; which brings me to offering this (optional) full Contagion soundtrack for this blog post on the importance of vaccines, Autistic Spectrum Disorders not being caused by them, and how everyone is panicking over frickin' Ebola.

            If you're like me, you rely on modern medicine and science to keep you alive and healthy for a lot longer than the Dark Ages of childhood.  Seriously, science has been advancing medicine and medical practices to the point where we can treat diseases with proper procedures and improve the outlook of cancer patients without the application of bloodletting and establishment of haunted quarantine facilities located on islands made of human ash (*cough, cough, whisper* Povegliaaaaaaa…..).  Anyways, unless you have a compromised immune system that requires careful monitoring and drug cocktails that turn druggies green with envy (and nausea), we're doing great!  Mostly….  Unfortunately, there are always crackpots (on pot) spouting bullshit from both ends.

            Let's address the first issue: the Ebola Panic Pandemic!

E-BOLA: Not Just a Bowling-Themed Computer Virus

            Lately, there has been a lot of uncertainty with a particular virus that manifested in Western Africa.  Ebola has been the subject of news channels for the past few days (maybe even weeks), and with the help of idiots of the Fox News Channel, panic is being spread faster than the flu virus in a room full of phlegmers.  Seriously, just tune in at any point of the day and you'll see them talking about either ISIS (a valid concern, but only if it's without the Obama Blame-a-thon) or the Ebola virus, saying that it'll make you bleed from every orifice, that it will cause delirium, that it will make your dick sprout wings and fly off!!!!  (Thank you, South Park gluten episode, for that joke.)  Seriously, the experts are saying that it's not super, super, super airborne contagious, Fox News Idiots!  Why continue with the fear-mongering even after their repeated statements that basically translate to "CHILL DA FUCK OUT"?!

            And before the conspiracy theorists start flooding the comments box with statements of, "They are just saying that to make it so you can get sick and the doctors and medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies can get a lot of business and profit from this outbreak," please do yourself a favor and read the fucking Hippocratic Oath carefully; lying to hurt us or get us sick is a violation of that oath.  I kid you not, it is often believed that part of that oath says, "I will do no harm."  Any deliberate actions to cause harm (even to make money off of it, though most of the money comes from the insurance companies) is considered malpractice.  Or fraud.  Or something along those lines—Dr. Drew, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, back me up here, please!

            So, even though there was one case of Ebola in Dallas, Texas (and many more in Africa), I doubt that it's going to spread like zombie wildfire.  There could be one other person, but only if they have been exposed to an Ebola-infected individual's bodily fluids, including but not limited to blood, feces, urine, or spit.  Just calm down, breathe and stop reading WebMD; you'll just freak out more.  (That goes double—no, triple for you, Jenny Lawson!)  Unless you're a doctor or nurse, stay away from yellow people you see bleeding weirdly—and call emergency services, because even though they appear to be the victim of the Horseman of Pestilence, they're still human and deserve a fair chance at surviving this illness.  (Unfortunately, it's too late to save the Simpsons' universe; they're all jaundiced!  OH MY DAVROS, THEY ALL HAVE CANCER!!!!!)

            Which reminds me: who is the last person to touch my hand sanitizer?!  *flails*

Vaccinations: A Good Defense Makes a Mighty Fine and Painful Offense

            Vac∙cine—n. (vak'-sēn) a modified and hence harmless virus or other microorganism for inoculation to produce immunity to a disease by stimulating antibody production.

Yeah, that definition excerpt is from the Webster's Universal English Dictionary that I got as a gift one Christmas.  It's been handy for looking up words I don't understand or want to share the definition of.  And this definition definitely has the demand for sharing.

            Ever since the dawn of the commercially available Interwebz, there has been a rise in a virulent strain of crazy people who insist that vaccines are more harmful to children (and other people) than the illness it "supposedly" helps the population create an immunity in response to.  I'm serious, with Jenny McCarthy (Wow, that name sounds familiar!) writing books (that get published) about how she "discovered" the "link" between autism and vaccines—which is complete bullshit—there has been a rise in stubborn ignorance and stupidity!  And I'm on the Autism Spectrum; I can verify how bullshitty this reasoning is!

            Let's start from the beginning: I have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder diagnosis of Asperger's (under DSM-IV, and I can keep it thanks to the fine print in DSM-V); up until now, only about….90?.....people know I have it, including family members and friends.  (Due to this, I'm also a recipient of services through the Adult Autism Waiver—YAY GOVERNMENT!  But that's not what we're here to discuss.)  And since the diagnosis, we (meaning family members in addition to myself) have been able to identify that I inherited the genetic trait from my father.  Yes, my father has an undiagnosed case of Asperger's; why else do you think I call him the non-Leonard Nimoy, non-Zachary Quinto Mr. Spock?  But if you take a closer look, it's possible to trace that back to his father (my grandfather), who believes he, too, has Asperger's.  So, yes, Autistic Spectrum Disorders have a genetic root in all this mystery—but that's not the entire answer to this Paladin-level puzzle people have been trying to put together for years.  It could be caused by something in the environment, the amount of oxygen we're getting at birth, etc.  So far, we don't know what the source is—we're still looking for it.

            But with the Internet came false information: "Vaccines have chemicals and harmfullevels of lead that WILL cause your kid to get autism!"  It is to the best of my (probably faulty) knowledge from an English college course that this theory came from a fraudulent research paper, with a message popularized by Jenny McCarthy and Oprah and the series premiere of Eli Stone (remember that TV series?)—truth be told, the whole damn cake was a lie!  And yet, the idea spread and connected like-minded vaxxers to create this movement based on this lie.  And after a while, there are now Autism organizations that are working to promote this idea and saying, "Let's get rid of vaccines for good!"
            Everyone.  Please.  Cue the facepalms.

            How about we set this allll straight?  First of all, lead in vaccines is completely bullshit to me.  The FDA and whatever other organizations that are in charge of regulating drugs that require injection is not going to let any drug onto the market if it has any harmful levels of lead in it, including levels that  "cause autism."  Not to mention that I have no idea if any other drugs or chemicals cause autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorders.  From what I've learned, it's not about the blocking of chemicals to certain areas of the brain like lead can (Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey episode 7, "The Clean Room"), but rather a different way of wiring the brain.  We think differently, process information differently, express ourselves differently from neurotypical (NT) people due to this "faulty" wiring.  And even though it's frustrating to a lot of people (especially mothers like mine), it doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with us—we're just a lot more different from everyone else.

            But anyways, vaccines do serve a real purpose.  It helps your body identify what viruses and bacteria are not good for your cells and organs to metabolize.  Once identified and eradicated, the body then knows (how) to produce the correct antibody for that particular virus or bacteria so you don't wind up hospitalized and getting your food and air through a fucking tube shoved down your throat.  This way, you can't get SUPER sick from flu or chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox….   For a while, these diseases were only found in the virus vaults of the Centers for Disease Control and developing nations.  Now, with the anti-vaccine bullshit spreading through the masses faster than Bubonic Plague at the Olympics in Autumn, they are making a comeback.  Which is not good, because not only will we get sick (from POLIO—DO YOU WANTPOLIO?!) at worse levels and intensities, but it will also mean that Mama Squirrel's contribution is completely moot.  She was one of the vaccine pioneers, which makes her sound older than she really is, but I'm pretty sure that she is part Gallifreyan, so she can't really age like you and I do.  The only people who shouldn't get a vaccine are the ones with compromised immune systems for whatever reason: immunosuppressants, HIV and AIDS, etc.

            In the end, the fear of having a child with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder should NEVER take priority over keeping yourself and your family healthy (and alive).  Besides, what is there to fear?

Neurodiversity: When It's OKAY to Have Autism

            So, to quickly recap, Autistic Spectrum Disorders are a bunch of "disorders" that vary in symptoms and intensity, is NOT caused by vaccines, and has more to do with neurology than the immune system.  Oh, and I should mention that there is no cure for this.  (It's also NOT caused by Ebola, for the confused readers.)  No diet (gluten-free or otherwise) is going to heal/cure/"manage" the symptoms of an ASD, no matter what the vaxxers and gluten-phobes claim.  Seriously, I think y'all are crazy for saying, "OMG, GLUTEN-FREE PRODUCTS, I NEED YOU!"  I'm sure that soon, there will be markets for "gluten-free" toilet paper, underwear, feminine supplies, condoms, soap, cars, houses, tanks full of oxygen…..  Please don't start that; I'm forbidding anyone from using this "idea" (read: crap) as an excuse to keep the phobia alive.
            Much like pi, this fear is irrational, and it doesn't seem to end……

            Anyways, people haven't exactly understood what it means to have an ASD; growing up (and going through hell school) in a small town in the middle of FUCKING NOWHERE (in a place that Verizon can't seem to find on the map), I was ostracized by about 85% of the student population for being different this way.  At first, I couldn't understand why, but now we know; it was a tough battle to get the diagnosis, though, as I didn't get it until I was 15 and in high school. (What's worse is that it was initially "Asperger's tendencies"—what a way to half-ass your practice, Dr. [name hidden]!)

            Anyways, yes: we're socially awkward, we're highly intelligent, we can have laser focus on topics of interest…..which is funny, because isn't that the definition of being a nerd????  Oh my Davros, it actually is!  Nerdism can have neurological and developmental causes!  Clinical nerdism—what a breakthrough!  I should totally blog/talk about this—at another time!

            Well, besides that, there are a lot of us on the Spectrum who find it very difficult to think of living without an ASD.  It is a part of us, a part of our identity, a part of who we are.  Yes, ASDs have their drawbacks (which sometimes makes it frustrating to interact with the members of society on the spectrum), but it doesn't mean that ASDs are a bad thing to have; it's simply a different way of functioning in the world.  However, it also doesn't mean that ASDs are what define us as who we are: we have them; it doesn't mean that we ARE the disability, that they have us in their tight grip and there's no hope for us.  There are lots of resources out there that can help you understand your daughter/son/sister/brother, and it isn't really that hard to accept ASDs as a part of life: You have to live with it, rather than suffer from it.

            Acceptance is the first step.  That's what's key to being a happy parent of a child who's on the spectrum: just accept it.  I'm not asking for you to surrender (actually, I sort of am, but only by a factor of 5%), but rather to realize how you can't create the perfect child; so they have an ASD—so what?  Do you see any Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding through the streets?  Is the diagnosis of an ASD so earth-shattering that it literally causes an earthquake in your area that registers at 12.0 on the Richter scale?  Is it so horrifying to have an ASD that it's akin to terminal cancer or lupus?  (Is it Obama's fault?  Is it the work of the Freemasons or the Illuminati?)  The correct answer is: HELL NO!  All it means is that you should learn how to speak their language and understand them on a deeper level.

            (Also, any diagnosis of an ASD should be double-checked.  That's what second opinions are for!)

Medical Dalek says "VACCINATE!"

            So, let's wrap this up: FOR FUCK'S SAKE, JUST GET THE VACCINES!  There should be legitimate medical reasons why you shouldn't, like real allergies to eggs or any other ingredient in the vaccine, or compromised immune system, or some other legitimate issue.  (I do not consider money to be a legitimate issue; there are places out there—and I'm referring to "outside of my home base but still in America"—that offer free vaccines.  I'm serious!  Even my college, Marshall University with their free basic healthcare for full-time students, would hold free flu shot clinics for the students every year.  Just locate one near you, and go there!)
            As for the whole "fear of needles," that's a bit understandable: it can hurt, it's frightening, etc.  But I've had to deal with needles my whole life (most recently with an IV needle for my oral surgery) for medical reasons.  I can tell you from experience: all you're going to feel is a painful pinch, and then it's over.  If you need to, bring a good friend.  But you can do it!  I believe in you, even though I don't really know you!

Good places to check out for more information:

~Bad Astronomer:  He's a blogger, a skeptic, a pro-vaccine critic, a scientist, an astronomer, a nerd, an all-around smart and funny dude, and he's worked on the Hubble Telescope—SQUEE!!!  He can weed out the bullshit and get you the truth.
~Centers for Disease Control: They're the master experts in America on infectious diseases and other sick-making stuff.  'Nuff said.
~Mayo Clinic: More top-notch medical people.  (Warning: their pages cast a negative light over ASDs.)
~Autism Speaks: Even though I initially thought that this organization was anti-vaccine, I took a look and I was wrong.  However, I'm still a little leery...but I recommend them!

            That's all I can come up with for now.  Let's just hope that the Ebola virus doesn't evolve into a zombie virus and DESTROY US ALLLLL!  (If you're a zombie, I'm sorry: just stay the hell away from me and my human colony.)