Friday, October 23, 2009

The one thing I can't get off my mind lately...

...is my fear of the flu. Of course, I'm trying not to get caught up in the swine flu hype, but at the same time I'm trying to not ignore it because it's a serious issue. Jacob got his flu shot last week when we went to the pulmonary specialist (which, in case I didn't mention it, went ok. He's down another dose of his Reglan, to two a day. I think at this point it's mostly preventative, since we haven't hit cold and flu season yet and that's when his cough really seemed to take hold last year. I'm still not particularly happy he's still on it, but how do you argue with a doctor at a really good hospital?). He got one last year (actually two...the first time they get one there's a booster), so I really didn't hesitate when it came up this year. I'm still sort of torn on the H1N1 vaccine. There's lots of stuff that makes me nervous...particularly talk of the amount of mercury in the shot and what the potential side effects could be on something that hasn't been rigorously tested over a number of years. Half of the stuff you read makes you think you're an idiot for not getting one, and the other half makes you think you're an idiot if you do. It's hard to figure out what's hysteria and what's the truth, and where the risk exceeds the reward.

On one hand, I would do anything do keep Jacob safe. The thought of losing him to anything, let alone something so seemingly treatable, makes me crazy. Absolutely out of my mind. The flu makes me nervous because it's pretty easy for kids to get seriously ill. And when you've got a kid that's too young to really communicate what's wrong with them, it's extra scary. I have a feeling that a lot of damage could get done before you really figure out what the problem is. To make matters worse, they say that H1N1 preys on the lungs more than the regular flu. And thanks to all of his issues last year, I'd have to think Jacob would be particularly susceptible. He's been healthy for a while now, but I'd have to think that his previous illnesses would either contribute to his potential to have problems or are indicative that he could be at risk for problems. And that is just scary...because on the other hand, the vaccine is scary in and of itself. When you hear what side effects there can be or think about the mercury that you're putting into your innocent little child, that, too, can stop you in your tracks. Just the other day I saw something online about a Washington Redskins cheerleader who was the picture of health and fitness who ended up with a debilitating illness as a result of a regular flu shot. Nothing is wrong with the batch of the vaccine she got, but for some reason it really screwed up her brain. She ended up with dystonia, which involves seizures and general difficulty doing much of anything. It's horrible. And sure, it's a one in a million thing. Then again, it's also rare (but more common) for someone to die of the flu. But when you think that the flu is usually treatable and something like dystonia is not, it creates quite a dilemma. Either way you'd end up kicking yourself, whether you got the vaccine and it caused problems or you didn't get the vaccine and the flu created problems of its own. It's sort of like the difference between riding in a car and riding in a plane. If you ride in a car the chances of an accident are higher than in a plane. But if the plane has an accident, the chance that you're going to die is probably higher than your average car accident. And no, neither option is good...in either scenario.

Neither Craig or I have gotten the regular flu vaccine yet. Flu shot clinics here are getting canceled and/or swamped, and neither of us have called our doctors yet. Craig sometimes can get his through the Amerks, but apparently healthy hockey players aren't on the priority list right now so that's not an option at this point either. Assuming Jacob's vaccine takes okay, he'd be protected in the event either of us did get a regular case of the flu. But H1N1 seems to be cropping up more and more lately, so I have a feeling it's only a matter of time before it starts hitting this area and the people we know...whether at work, daycare, or elsewhere. And I won't lie...it scares the crap out of me. But so does the vaccine. And is it bad if Jacob gets it and we don't? I just don't know. You can never be too careful with your health or your child's, and in this case there's no clear answer.

Regardless, have a nice weekend!

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