|image from babesabouttown.com
You’ve all heard by now that there has been an outbreak of 59 confirmed cases of measles at Disneyland recently. This has fanned the flames of the embers of the debate between the vaxers and the antivaxers, which meant the topic was right at the front of my brain this morning.
Twenty-two years ago, when I was about to become a mother, I had a limited viewpoint. Sorry. I just didn’t realize. I think at least part of it was just from being egocentric. All I could see was my own special snowflakes. And what I heard about vaccinations and their dangers scared me a lot. So, I took my time on getting the kids vaccinations. They got them, but not usually on the timeline of the doctor. I was mostly unaware about the existence of children who would not be healthy enough to tolerate the vaccination and/or the disease. Having a child with special needs was my entrance into the world of understanding that those who choose not to vaccinate can put those who do not have the choice at grave risk.
Fast forward to today. My phone rang. Whenever my caller id says “Primary School,” I brace myself for bad news. They don’t call me unless there is a problem or Kepler is sick (also a problem). Sure enough, the nurse tells me she thinks Kepler has chicken pox. Kepler, the kid who has had his vaccinations, and who really does NOT qualify as a good candidate to get the pox.
My inner volcano erupted. What does this mean? Greg is out of town. How long will Kepler have to be off school? Didn’t I get him vaccinated??? (Nurse said I had not) OMG, what if he is miserable with the itching? What if he has terrible complications because he has Down syndrome? And, OH YEAH, why didn’t my sisters get their children vaccinated, since three of Kepler’s cousins just had chicken pox very recently? The molten lava poured out in tears of fear because I have been with Kepler when he is sick. Like most kids, he doesn’t really understand why he is in pain. In two minutes, I had created quite the worst-case scenario.
I am a card-carrying Judger of All Things and People, although I am losing my card more and more often. Apparently, I had left my card elsewhere this morning, because I suddenly calmed myself. The eruption stopped; the lava slowed. I didn’t even know if he had chicken pox. I was borrowing a boatload of trouble. I was crying about difficulties with itching that maybe weren’t even going to materialize. The presence of chicken pox in my child did not mean my sisters were mistaken in their vaccination choices, because it is not up to me to decide what is best for someone else.
Two lessons learned:
1. Expressing my feelings as I did, allowing the tears, got the intense feelings out, instead of keeping them inside where I would turn them inward and get depressed (anger turned inward). And once they were expressed, I had the emotional space to then think about the next thing.
2. Saying yes to what is sure feels better than saying no to what might be.
And the rest of the story: I arrived to pick him up at school expecting to find him all weak and puny and sad, curled up on the nurse’s couch, absolutely covered in spots from head to toe. Reality: Bouncy, happy, glad to see his brother and me. One spot on face, two on back. Doctor diagnosed strep and thought the spots were related to the strep. He’ll miss school tomorrow. Time will tell for sure that this is not chicken pox, but for now, I believe the Great Chicken Pox Crisis of 2015 has been dismissed for lack of evidence.