My least favorite time of year came around recently – the season of yearly checkups for my kids. Yes, to me it’s a season because my two girls have birthdays one month apart. Conveniently, they’re both on the 12th day…one in August, one in September. I totally planned it that way, and for those who know me, they wouldn’t be surprised. JK
It’s also the time that I’m reminded to make that decision of whether or not my kids will receive the flu shot. Last year, they both received it and naturally, my oldest got a terrible case of the flu. In bed with a fever for 6 days. She missed an entire week of school and lost weight her slim frame couldn’t afford. Luckily, we didn’t have to visit the hospital but the episode did leave me wondering about the benefits of the flu shot. I realize that the shot cannot cover all types of flu, but this left me wondering if injecting my child with unknown (to me) substances can really benefit in the long run.
Each year, I have this internal debate – do we or don’t we. I was raised in a family that very much believed in regular checkups and following doctors advice – don’t question, they know what they are doing. And for the most part, I think they do – but I learned to question doctors with my husband’s heart issues a few years back. That’s a whole separate post in itself, but suffice it to say, I’m thankful he taught me that lesson. Don’t take for granted the power to advocate for your own health.
So my 7yr old went for her checkup in August. Thankfully no boosters, vaccines, shots, torture for parents – whatever you want to call it – were needed. I was fervently praying that the same would be true for my newly minted 5 yr old, but since this is the age for kindergarten, in the back of my mind I knew it would be too good to be true. And of course, come that lovely visit to the dr. in September, it was all my DD could think about going into that office.
Let’s take a step back…when you’re expecting your first child, it’s all rainbows and butterflies right? For the most part? Except for maybe some morning sickness and blood tests, and oh yeah, giving birth. But nothing can really prepare you for the coming years when you’ll actually have to pin your child down while a relative stranger jabs multiple needles in your child’s arm(s). It’s hard to get that look of terror on your child’s face out of your head, knowing that they’re wondering why YOU are doing this to them.
Talk about traumatic for all involved – except for said stranger who probably does this all day and has become desensitized to the point that they forget that all the parents want to do is get it over with. But somehow they think that talking about the shots for a good 5 minutes while brandishing the needles in front of the terrified child is a good idea. “Let’s get the show on the road!”, I tell the nurse as politely as I can while trying to shield my daughter’s eyes. So, DD #2 received her standard vaccines but we’ve foregone the flu shot and in fact we’re supplementing with some traditional Chinese medicine tea to boost immunity. We’ll see how it goes. That pretty much sums up the doctor visit last week, but she’s recovered and all is well.
What kind of advocating have you done for your own health, or the health of a family member? Have you gone against your doctor’s advice – and if so, how did it turn out?