I was young and clueless when I had my first baby and I relied on the women in my family to help me navigate through my ignorance. I brought Britt for her first immunization shot when she was two months old as my brothers wife was bringing their daughter who was a few weeks younger. I wasn’t prepared for Britts reaction. Her little body tensing and the incredible screaming broke my heart. I felt like a bad Mom. A few months later I did the required thing and brought her again. I couldn’t even be in the same room. I handed my child over and sat outside as she was poked and her crying came at me through the closed doors. When they brought her out and placed her in my arms I was sobbing. What kind of mother can’t even comfort her own child while a stranger shoves a needle into her child. A monster! That is how I felt. Britt spent the first few months in a snuggli. I didn’t like when she cried so I found having her on my chest all the time kept her happy and content. Housework, shopping, even playing frisbee. She was in the snuggli. I breastfed for a long time so I could hold her more. It was a good excuse to get her away from others. After that second shot, I left the health unit clutching her close as I wiped my tears. Outside in the parking lot a woman stopped me to admire my baby. She was the first person to influence my choices going forward and I will always be grateful to her.
Her name was Mrs. Noel. Her oldest son was a year older than me and he actually married a girl who was my next door neighbour for awhile. She comforted me that afternoon in the parking lot and then shared her opinions about immunization. I was fascinated by her. She was so strong in her convictions. Here was someone who did what she wanted with her kids and was willing to let the world judge her. She wasn’t convinced the vaccines were safe and she was protecting her children the best she knew how. I left the conversation with more questions than answers and going forward I was reluctant to have Britt immunized. I dragged my feet and blamed procrastination. Her shots were incomplete and once she hit school age I stopped allowing her to be immunized. My next children had some shots as well but less and less through the years. It was hard as my mother-in-law was a health nurse and my husband was more the type to lean in the allopathic direction. That’s what we Natural Medicine types call Traditional medical Doctors. As more and more vaccines were developed I became more inquisitive and I started to research early vaccination. A fascinating trail of experimentation. I was vaccinated as a child and I do recall each one. The Small pox vaccine was covered with a small cap which was taped in place. It protected the scab that formed and eventually fell off leaving a small scar. I was quite young. Before school age. The smallpox vaccines weren’t actually smallpox but rather cowpox originally and in time horse pox. No one really knows how the transition occurred as the original experimenting was not well documented. The next was a polio vaccine. Again I was not yet in school and I received the “sugar cube” vaccine. Which of course was the Sabin vaccine which had the live virus. Polio is naturally spread through an oral fecal route and Sabins was a diluted form following the natural infection route. Anyone vulnerable handling the fecal matter could become infected. Finally, in grade eight I was given a shot for Rubella as it appeared a pregnant women with rubella could give birth to children with abnormalities. And that is it. Oops… No. At age ten I stepped on an old board and a nail punctured the skin and I was sent for a tetanus shot. In hindsight it would not have helped with any current infection as the shot takes a few weeks to develop antibodies. So… lesson learned.
In time I was struggling to conceive a second child. I went to the Doctor eventually and my physical showed all sorts of odd things which seemed to me to have nothing to do with conception. Some sort of elevated liver enzymes and also abnormally high cholesterol. I was told to eat stop eating fat and spit out anything that tasted good. The diagnosis was odd as I was five foot six inches tall and weighed 120 pounds. I was also athletic and ate mainly plant based and drank very little alcohol. I had been taking my temperature for almost three years to chart ovulation and I was on a waiting list for a specialist as well as the fertility clinic. I was frustrated and so, I made an appointment with a naturopath. We were young, broke and the treatments weren’t covered but we were determined to try anything. Initially I was exposed to very foreign concepts and I was a little concerned. Colonics, hypnotism, chiropractic treatments, diet changes, odd supplements, iridology. The list goes on. The naturopath also sent me for tests which of course were not covered by our health system. Interestingly enough I was told I had very high levels of estrogen. You know… The stuff in birth control pills. So we proceeded with treatments and after a couple of months I had lost a bit of weight, my skin was glowing, my liver was fine, my cholesterol levels had plummeted and I was pregnant. I was hooked.
In time my naturopath died and I started to see his son who was also a naturopath but who specialized in homeopathy. This is a treatment where the concept is “like cures like” so minute amounts of a substance that can cause disease in a healthy person can cure someone. To be fair, the scientific community has come down hard on this type of treatment and basically calls it quackery, witchcraft. pseudoscience and many other unpleasant terms. My current Naturopath uses a Mora machine which is a blend of electromagnetic therapy, homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine. When my son was young we found he had trouble hearing and seemed stuffed up all the time. An Ear, Nose Throat specialist suggested we remove his tonsils, adenoids and put tubes in his ears. When I asked what was wrong with Sam, the Doctor replied he couldn’t be sure but that these things would help. I responded with “So if he was limping would you cut off his foot?” We were ushered out of the office fairly quickly. In my defence I was pregnant and a little testy. So I took him to the naturopath who tested him for food sensitivities and we set about a course of treatment. After a few months we noticed that Sam could hear everything and when we took him to a different specialist. After his examination the Doctor turned to us and said “I’m not sure why you’re here. There is nothing wrong with this child.”
Years ago my husband was told he had high cholesterol. Now, this is not a disease. It is a symptom of something wrong in the body. My hubby had a partial blockage in his heart and was put on statins to lower the cholesterol. Of course I argued that he should try something natural as I was convinced that the statins were harmful. The years went by and he saw a cardiologist now and again but there was never any testing done to find the cause of the high cholesterol levels. He was a high stress kind of guy. He once admitted to me that growing up he felt he was always in a state of anxiety. Looking over his shoulder. He was raised in an aocoholic home. I believe this contributed to his cholesterol issue. Stress. One day he was convinced he was having a heart attack and we rushed to the hospital. It turns out he had pancreatitis which is quite painful. After ten days in the hospital it was determined, through ruling out all other causes, that the statins were causing the enflamed pancreas. He was taken off all meds and in time the pancreas went back to normal. But the cholesterol levels shot up. Finally I convinced him to go to the Naturopath. A few months later he was tested again. His levels were way down and his regular Doctor was amazed. Rene was then put on a lower dose of his meds and he stopped seeing the naturopath. And then there was another pancreatic attack. As I researched the drugs he was taking I was extremely alarmed. I knew in time his pancreas would start to digest itself and eventually that could lead to cancer. We argued. We fought. But Rene’ trusted his Doctor. He entered a cycle. Take the meds. Pain. Enflamed pancreas. Stop the meds. Pancreas settles down. Cholesterol goes up. Take the statins. Pain. Repeat… After almost two years, after being taken off the meds once again… he went back to the naturopath who insisted Rene’s liver was in bad shape. Rene’ argued but he finally requested an ultra sound through his allopathic Doctor. There was cancer in the liver but it was not the primary source. Which meant it was stage 4. It was pancreatic cancer. He died 45 days later. CT scans from eight months earlier showed no signs of cancer in his body. I truly believe the meds caused his death.
My experience with the medical community wasn’t always that great. Like the time I had a D and C after I miscarried yet for a month I could barely walk. The pain was unbearable. Upon seeing my Doctor it was found that I had an ectopic pregnancy. The baby had died and was no longer growing but the pressure was extremely painful. He checked the post surgery results of the D and C which showed no placental or fetal remains. Yet there was no follow up done by the gynecologist who performed the surgery. I was lucky. A live fetus would have ruptured the tube and caused a very dangerous situation for me. My lifetime battle with a congenital kidney defect has had me researching most of what I know. Turns out spinach isn’t good for me. No one told me though. I was told by a kidney specialist that I wouldn’t die but I would have a lifetime of pain. I was twenty six. He was right. Still alive but there has been a lot of pain through the years. Most treatments are after the fact which is my main issue with traditional science based medicine. The first time I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the specialist used to make me cry once a week as she threatened insulin injections. I finally learned how to get my blood sugar under control with no help from her. Nasty woman. Some good things have happened though. When my retina in my right eye detached my sight was saved by a surgeon. However a tear in the retina was missed by my eye Doctor and went undiagnosed. In 1985 a pap test and cervical laser surgery saved my uterus and allowed me to go on and have more kids.
Two years ago, March 2020 I was sick. Headache, fever, sore throat, diarrhea. Although I wasn’t tested for covid at the time I did have antibody testing done later which showed positive results. Meaning I had been infected although no one knew exactly when. I was betting on the march illness. Three weeks ago I tested positive. It was a totally different illness from the first time. Head and body ache for three days. Since I was never vaccinated I quarantined for ten days but I was just bored for seven of those days. Because I felt fine. I find I am a little more tired. My 4 mile daily walk takes about 10 minutes longer. Weight lifting is a bit harder as I think I can still lift the same even though it has only been 21 days since I tested positive. But I am on the mend. I hear often that because of my age the vaccine could have made my illness less serious. It could also have kept me from having long term health problems. I also read that getting the vaccine will boost my immunity. But I took my chances before and will again and time will tell. Throughout the last few years I have faced some tough criticisms. I have been excluded from things, avoided by some and verbally abused by a few. One girl yelled at me on the golf course. Accused me of not caring about my grandkids. Yet I was also made fun of for wearing a mask. Another golfer. A rift was created between the vaxxed and unvaxxed by the media and the government in order to get the vaxxed numbers higher. I don’t think anyone was prepared for the damage that would be done to relationships. But we live in a dualistic world and the “if you aren’t with me you’re against me” mentality is everywhere. It is extremely divisive.
There is a reason I chose Natural medicine. My life experiences have helped lead me in that direction. I see my naturopath for a “tune-up” every six to twelve months just like my Dentist. No matter what the issue is I do find I feel better. My husband used to say it was because I believed the treatment was helping. It was all in my head. A placebo affect. I’ll take that. Whatever works. I have what I believe to be a healthy distrust which makes me question any treatments that people suggest. I need to research and dissect medical information so I can be as informed as possible. I do not blindly follow anyone. I have learned in this life that no one truly cares about me but me. I know I am responsible for me and that is a fundamental core value in how I live. If something seems off I trust my gut. I am a firm believer that the current state of medicine in the world is based on the treatment of symptoms. They focus too much on fixing you after you are broken. Frankly I am distrustful of the Pharmaceutical industry and they are so tightly wound into allopathic medicine that I have become a bit of a conspiracy theorist. The mRNA technology was a little too new and untested for me to be used in such a massive experimental way. You don’t have to agree with me and my choices. I get it. I am outside the mainstream and I do seem kooky to some. I am all about choice though. For me. For you. For everyone. I won’t berate you if you decide vaccines are the way to go. Please extend to me the same courtesy. If you have it in your mind that the unvaxxed are the problem, then we have nothing further to discuss. And that is okay. I have seen a whole other side to people during the last two years and I must say I have been surprised at times. In good and bad ways. But what I have learned is that I have some good friends in my life. Who love me warts and all. My inner circle has shifted dramatically and covid was responsible for some of it. But most importantly, I have changed in a very deep and profound way. I have learned so much about myself. Covid came on the heels of my husbands death and gave me space to grieve in peace. Alone. Secluded away from people. My house was swept clean and my life is full of contentment. Time will bring some people back to me. The difference now though is I’ve learned I don’t have to let them back in. There is power in that.