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Whisper to a Scream

By Cathy Jameson

A few weekends ago my husband and I were sitting near his shed while the kids played in the backyard. He’d been on a business trip the week prior, so we were catching up on news, bills and future plans.  Toward the end of our conversation, I shared some sad news. A friend told me that her child was recently diagnosed with autism. I had just finished rambling about how much we had paid for some of Ronan’s treatments when I said, “Oh, and listen. S__’s son went to the specialists, and he has autism.” I didn’t actually say autism; I whispered it like the mother did in the dinner scene in “St. Elmo’s Fire.” About to reveal bad news, the actress leans toward her dinner guests and whispers, “Cancer.” Did I just do that? Whisper the bad news?

I can’t fully describe the emotions that take over when I hear about another autism diagnosis.  It is similar to the emotions I feel when I see the flu vaccine advertisements on television--disbelief. I hardly ever get to watch a TV show.  When I do, it's after I’ve pretty much mentally called it quits for the day. All I want is for some show to temporarily whisk me off to LaLa land where I do not have to make decisions or get caught up in real life struggles.

Watching TV shouldn’t have me go from zero to sixty toward another emotion—anger.  But that's exactly what happens when my elusive TV time is interrupted by some pharmaceutically funded advertisements.  Ads that tell me how wonderfully wonderful the flu shot is, how quick, harmless and cheap it is.  Why, the cheeriest of all cheery actors and actresses are proudly showing me their band-aided “badge” on their freshly vaccinated arm--looks perfectly harmless, right?  Or is it? 

The flu vaccine, like some other vaccines, is not one size fits all. Not that a Pu-Pu platter of choices exists when it comes to the flu shot, but there are some options.  The options are the ones you won’t likely find in a 60 second television commercial. Newspaper headlines won’t be shouting, “Hey, ask for the alternative vaccine, why don’t you!” Nor will you learn about them from a reader board at the local drug store that's been advertising the seasonal/H1N1 combination flu shots. You probably won't be given options, but you may get lucky and be offered a $3 discount on your total purchase if you do roll up your sleeve at the drug store. Woo-frickin-hoo.

I want to bang my head and scream expletives out the window when I drive by these kinds of operations. Maybe I should hold off on screaming and instead direct some questions to the average American shopper who is about to roll up his sleeve. I imagine this shopper hasn’t read the things I’ve had to read every day for the last seven years since my son's vaccine injury.  So I’ll make sure I cover the basics:  Do you know about single vial vaccines? Do you know what thimerosal is? Do you know that thimerosal is in the flu shot typically offered to the public? Do you know that you can ask for thimerosal-free vaccines? Do you, or someone in your family, have a history of allergies? Do you know that some vaccines are egg-based and some use latex in the production? Do you read the labels on the foods you buy? Would you think to examine the label (package insert) on the vaccine as well?  Then, I’d walk away muttering to myself while screaming in my head, “Just don’t do it!”

Now it's Fall 2010, and like clockwork the flu shot advertisements abound.  You can't walk into a Big Box store or corner drug store without being bombarded by "fabulous" flu shot offers.  But what I want to know is when the flu shooters are going to offer me and other parents what we really need - information!  I wonder if I'll ever be able to just walk over to the flu shot techie to ask questions that test their knowledge and their willingness to give me real information.  Could I really do it - play the ignorant mom just to see what they say?  But the thing is I'm not the ignorant mom anymore.  Ronan's injury changed that, so I am armed with helpful information. What of the parents who just don’t know more than what those ubiquitous commercials and displays tell them? Adverse reactions do happen. Exemptions to the vaccine schedule do exist. Plus flu shots are elective, but the excessive advertising doesn’t clarify that. Unless people know to question, how will they ever learn what could be life saving information?

This time of year is usually magical and mystical with an air of happiness floating around my home - as long as I keep the vaccine ads at bay by keeping the TV and radio off.  I try to give myself some extra Me time by getting cozy on the couch to read, nap or watch some mindless TV.  I guess commercials touting the prevention of the flu by vaccine are pretty mindless, eh?  I'm sure I will be immune to hearing about the upcoming flu season by the time we are introduced to the next Hollywood Vaccine Poster Child Wannnabe. But no matter how immune I might be to hearing about the flu, I can't imagine that I will ever be indifferent to the way drug companies work the flu season circuit like the dog and pony show that it is.

I don’t like that I get so worked up about the flu shot, but I like it even less that it hurts so damn bad to hear that another child has been added to the ever-increasing autism spectrum population.  If big pharma would donate even a small percentage of their advertising dollars to treatment for people with autism (the result of vaccines or not), I’d more likely buy into their efforts of lending help and health to the public in the form of a vaccine. Sadly, my friend with the newly diagnosed child with autism will soon discover that it will take hundreds of thousands of her own dollars to care for her child’s needs. 

Money, services, medicine, equipment, therapy and extra time - these things won’t be handed to her by any public health or government agency or by the cheerful folk from the commercials who advertise affordable and quick "prevention." I want to help this friend handle the changes she and her family will be facing and the fights for services that she'll have to battle. I want to hold her hand through the upheaval because it shouldn't be as hard for her as I know it is going to be.  I have thought of hundreds of things I want to tell her, but for now all I can do is sit here and whisper, “I’m so sorry.”

Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.

 

 

Comments

Vicky

Enjoyed your article Cathy. We gave up tv years ago here, so I'm not even aware of the ads you mentioned. When flu shots first came out, my elderly parents' friends all ran to get them as their doctors advised. My parents, being more skeptical of so-called new advances in medicine, did not. Interestingly, they never seem to get the flu but many of their flu-shot-taking friends seem to come down with the flu nearly every year. When they pointed that out to their friends, many of them had to admit they were right.
We are blessed with an old-fashioned doctor who isn't really big on shots. He has concerns about many of them and allows his patients to choose which ones they want - if any. I dread the day he retires.
My heart goes out to all of you who are dealing with shot-injured children.

Vicky

Nora

Poor Minda is not very smart or informed ! Lee Silsby Is not a BIG Pharma add .
Cathy ,just ignore her .

Randy

The Cochrane Collaboration tells me that the flu shot for me is likely at best benign and at worst a relatively unknown risk. CBC tells me that the Canadian federal gov't entered into some kind of indemnification agreement with the manufacturer of the H1N1 flu vaccine prior to the "rollout". 2 colleagues complained at that time - 1 can hardly move his arm and is in a significant amount of pain for close to 2 days, another has a child who develops a full body "rash" that lasts almost 24 hours, following the H1N1 flu shot. These things are somehow considered "normal". I thought I actually heard some comments from / references to the provincial health authorities on the west coast on a regional news show recently - I do believe they were chastising the Canada Health Agency for spending more time and energy congratulating each other on a "job well done" (40% coverage, and even that much they admit based on hype) than they spent on any real postmortem analysis after the fact. Basically a call for a reality check in this flu season. It was refreshing to hear but I'm still not sure what to make of it.

For now, when I see an ad for flu shots, I think of Tom Jefferson.
http://www2.cochrane.org/influenza/press.html
or Chris Shaw
http://www.straight.com/article-353763/vancouver/aluminum-under-microscope
Just like when I see an ad for the anti depressant du jour, I think of Irving Kirsch
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/irving-kirsch-phd/antidepressants-the-emper_b_442205.html.

I wouldn't sign up / line up for any other product or service under the terms and conditions, or smoke and mirrors, that accompany flu shots. Unlike Arthur Caplan, I don't believe that vaccines are that "special". In fact, it's that very same (frightening) ideology combined with the PR and drama and hype and exaggerated stats and emotional blackmail that ultimately forces me away. How could it not? The effect would be the same for any other medical product.

I think people beyond Cochrane and Kirsch are starting to see the difference between fluzone, abilify, and cotton candy. In that light, the ads are becoming even more ridiculous.

Kristine

It's sad how little people know about the flu shot. Some people think it even protects against a stomach virus. I've never had a flu shot. Even before I was a non-vaxer, I knew that the flu shot was just a guess with regard to the strain of flu. Of course, in the last ten years or so, the flu shot advertising and pushing has risen dramatically. My 10 yr old asked me "do i have to get a flu shot?" and I said "no, flu shots cause autism" I explained it a bit more, but it's pretty simple that the flu shot has virtually no benefit and can seriously harm a person.

KFuller Yuba City, Ca.

I just found out the pharmacist at the pharmacy we use ordered mostly single dose vial flu shots this year. My boy is making a difference. One pharmacist at a time.
No Vax for this family though.

Aasa

Perhaps this is the year to take care of ourselves, and our closest ones. Many of us have spent way too much of our time extending ourselves in various realms, and have likely neglected our closest loved ones in various ways. I still feel like a total dud, since I did not realize that the complications my mother was sufferring from, when she was having what turned out to be a bladder infection, which contributed to her delirious state at the time, shortly before she died, could be deadly.

Aasa

Anonym

I inform all my patients about the ingredients.They also know my son has autism.
I encourage them to do their own research.
I close my eyes when I see the hospital flu advertisentment and think of a beautiful place where no lies exist. I speak up and fight back and stay always brutaly honest about vaccines.
Cathy,take good care of yourself.
I pray and meditate to survive and stay strong to provide care for my patients and and my son.Do some activities that makes you happy.I barely turn on the tv. junk box anymore.I listen to relaxational music and read books or paint.All the best Cathy,I wish you strengh.

patrons99

GH - "every country in the world, except for two, has a ban on advertising prescription drugs".

You are correct! I've read that too. In fact, I've got an article to that effect, if I can find it. The U.S. and New Zealand. We're leading the pack with DTCA "direct to consumer advertising". First, it came in dribs and drabs...some was likely even subliminal. But now, it's completely abhorrent...no shame whatsoever! At dinnertime...why not? We also lead the pack in mandated vaccines and world mortality rank. Go figure!

It's fair to say that we are drugged-out, doped-up society. A veritable beacon of light for the rest of the world to emulate. The generation that will follow ours has so much to deal with. The unsavory legacy we leave them is not very pretty. Maybe there's still time to do something about it.

Autism Comic

Me too Cathy, me too. I'm proud to report that my last trip to BJs (a warehouse club for any of you who don't have them) included laying the "GET YOUR FLU SHOT HERE!!!!!" sign in a stand quietly on the ground when no one was looking. That is typical of the small rebellious acts I engage in to help keep me sane during these stressful times.

Michael Forbus


Hello, My name is Michael Forbus and have worked with Autistic adults and younger folks with Asperger's on an organic farm. They responded so amazingly, I and their handlers were amazed. I also have a photo/computer digitized imagery program that involves portraits and the adult of child painting with Photoshop the image. I print it immediately and show them not only what they look like, but they paint what they think they look like, and lastly they paint what they would like to look like. The images are framed in a tryptych and auctioned off for various charities having to do with Autism. I am writing a book about my experiences and would love to include your stories. Please write me at milagrorey@aol.com and we can converse about the project. The remapping of the neurotransmitters is amazing. Read "The Brain That Changes Itself" by Dr. Doidges if you have an oppurtunity. It is my life's work to find out what we can do to remap what controls this malady. Blessings to all you folks that are dealing with this and stay strong. Miguel

Anne McElroy Dachel

My comment on Cathy's story...
I hear you Cathy Jameson. My son is 24. It took me years of research to uncover all that I now know. It'll take a while for "new moms" to discover for themselves the truth about what happened to their children.

Doctors continue to blunder on, claiming to be clueless about the cause of autism. Lots of time, they try to take credit for all the autism, announcing that it's "better diagnosing" by the same doctors who were in practice 20 years ago. And I guess that one percent of kids now have autism because they're finally getting it right.

My son was first diagnosed 17 years ago. SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO........................and doctors are still stupid?

About 10 years ago, I first heard about the link between vaccines and autism. The pile of evidence is now a mountain, yet the medical community and health officials still refuse to see any of it. They willingly allow more children to descend into the abyss called autism.

My son was the tip of the ice berg. What's coming now is the impact from the rest of the ice hidden under the water. Just like those on the Titanic failed to see the danger ahead, no one is prepared for what autism will do to this country when one percent of adults as well as children have autism. I'm wondering how much longer officials will be willing to go down with the ship.

Anne Dachel
Media

Denice

I think the thing that GRINDS me the most this "flu season" is seeing millionaire Dr.Oz's mug in large advertisements for the flu shot on the door of my local Walgreen's.

Knowing that he doesn't vax his own children (says his wife won't let him) but is being paid (doesn't have enough $$$?) by Pharma to hawk them to us makes my blood boil!

What a hypocrite!

Jen

Don,t know if my last post got in got a new iPad and learning to use it. Minda, even if I didn't, do any reasearch myself it would really bother me that so many medical researchers and peds are actually against the vaccines- they risk a lot of abuse and shunning. I was at a Zamboni (liberation procedure) fundraiser last night and boy it struck me how MS sufferers have had to grapple with the very sad, brutal reality that the MS societies, neuro's (basically pharmacy) have not only abandoned them but are actively trying to prevent this whole discovery that a simple surgery may be the answer to end a lot of people's suffering. to me it reinforces that pharmacy only cares about money and they will do whatever it takes to that end. So sad for those people with MS to have to come to grips with that.

Jen

Minda, along with what other people said, doesn't it kind of bother you that reasonable, respected researchers like Hewitson, Wakefield, Dunbar, Herbert,Harper along with many, many peds have a concern with vaccines? Even if I did zero research myself that would bother me. I was at a fundraiser last night for the new Zamboni treatment for MS and pharm.'s reaction to that has been predictably underwhelming. Those poor people seem to have had heir bubble burst. They are finding it hard to face the self interested agenda that pharmacy has but gradually they are accepting that pharmacy has comlete bias toward their products and profit and zero actual interest in helping MS sufferers.Sad. The neuros and MS societies are involved, too, and MS sufferers are really shocked by the magnitude of the abuse of trust.

Cherry Sperlin Misra

Everyone is worried about the innocents who accept the mercury laden flu shots. But Rita thinks that fewer people are now willing to take them. Oh OH ! Now we have something new to worry about- Imagine friends, if our pharma masters cant make money with flu shots ...WHAT WILL THEY TRY NEXT ??????

Deb in IL

@Tim - we can't encourage theft, but I'm in the ballpark of your idea. Just like campaign season has all the rival signs on the lawns, why not have our own lawn signs? Simple words to promote thought (not encourage fights), such as "Mercury is still in some vaccines (or flu shot, or Hep b, etc)", "Mercury has an MSDS because it's harmful", "What's in that syringe?" and "Everything made by a drug manufacturer has potential for side effects".

SarahS

Great story Cathy. I get mad everytime I see flu shots ads in Wal-Mart and other places that quite frankly, shouldn't be injecting people with anything.
I have no idea what caused my son's autism, but, I know enough from his test results (and egg allergy) to know that his immune system cannot take any more insult. So, we stopped vaccinating.
There are however, other parents of kids with autism that have seen their children descend into autism immediately after vaccination. Literally witnessed it. I have heard too many of these stories from good, honest, decent people to dismiss them. Now these same people are out there getting the message out, not to not vaccinate, but to educate yourself first on the potential adverse effects of vaccines. There are children out there that should not be vaccinated. Those kids with mito problems should absolutely not. The government might be able to silence the details on the Hannah Poling case, but they can't silence us. Big Pharma needs to understand that our children will not the be sacrificial lambs of their protected herd.
People should be entitled to the truth about vaccines, they have their place in public health, but why can't they just clean the rotten things up and be honest that some people just shouldn't get them.

Benedetta

Minda;
You said,"what actual proof do you have that vaccines caused your sons autism?

You were talking to Cathy but she does have an audience that is able to respond too.

So, I will respond.

My son's first DPT shot- he ran a 104 temperature and developed a heart murmur that was not there in his previous well baby visits. They sent us to the University of Kentucky to get it checked out.

Meanwhile: Both of my children came due their DPT shots at the same time. Since my daughter had suffered from high fevers with her previous DPT shots - and had developed Kawasaki disease shortly after her fourth DPT shot I could not handle two kids sick at the same time, So I just got her's instead. She was five years old. She passed out on the our bed 30 minutes after receiving her last DPT shot with a temperature of a 105. I have a short story about how she was rechallenged years later by a Hep B when she decided to become a nurse but it might muddle the story.

My son's second DPT shot -6 months old and 30 minutes later after his shot, he was playing on the kitchen floor when he passed out with a 105 temperature.

His third shot was delayed because I decided not to get it. He was having continuous ear infection, so we visited his damn peds a lot. When he was nine months old he started walking. We - my family are athletic and so this was no surprise.Two weeks later I took my son in for well visit - to discuss this DPT shot I was brow beaten like I have never been before in my life, by a professional doctor. I was told to get it done that day in the ped's office because we were behind. I refused and left, I did not follow my son's ped advice. I was miserable what was I suppose to do. I was young, so in the end I did what he told me.

Six hours later my son was doing okay, no fever, and I was religously giving him Tylenol to keep that fever down. Well it did not work, he spiked a fever as I was giving him another dose of Tylenol - and he had a stroke.

The next day he only got up on his knees, he did not walk again untill he was 12 months old and then it was a very wide gait.
He was intensly interested in spinning wheels. He looked out of the corner of his eyes, he did not respond to his name, or people. It was full blown autism.
His speech was delayed - not speaking in sentences untill he was nine years old.
Today he has improved - he is 24 years old. He can pass for normal but he has epilepsy, tourettes, obssessivie compulsive behavior, PDD-NOS, sensory issues, anxiety, a wall flower that will stay in his room and line up plastic toys and video games.

How kind of proof do you want? Nothing from me I am sure. Do you think I am the only one to experience this in the whole universe? Do you know that if was not giving my son his Tylenol that I might not have known he had a stroke, becaue he fell asleep afterwards, and looked so peaceful and was cool too. My experience is the only one because we do not live in that kind of world. My family is not special. I am not a liar.

Teresa Conrick

Minda,

Your comment has much emotion attached and zero science. If you want to make a comment that is reasonable and maybe not so confrontational, try reading some actual, real historical evidence. The history of mercury and thimerosal, for example, in the book "The Age of Autism", would be very helpful for you. Most of the vaccines being given out at the locations Cathy brought up do contain thimerosal.

To approach a parent who has a child with an autism diagnosis in such a hostile manner reflects a bias. Maybe you have a child with autism and cannot fathom that you didn't know about the vaccine dangers and are angry? Maybe you were warned and did it anyway? Maybe you work for an agency or company that promotes vaccines and cannot accept the reality of damage done and continuation of lives being horrifically changed? Maybe, you, yourself just got a flu shot and there is a tiny voice questioning its safety and you must stop that by denying Cathy's post? I do know that to deny and condemn what thousands upon thousands of families have witnessed; is biologically plausible; is being compensated in and out of vaccine court, with the word "autism" not always getting top billing....well, your comment is your entitled opinion but it is without any real merit.

Lastly, the pharmacy that you point out is not a chain store money maker but a unique compounding one that individualizes vitamins and supplements without ingredients that many of the children are allergic to - ie, casein, gluten, soy etc.

Comments are welcome here but to use such disregard for suffering and instead defend vaccines, well that borders on an absence of an ethical and humanitarian approach. Individuals are just as important as the herd and need to be protected.

Minda

what actual proof do you have that vaccines caused your sons autism?? And you bash pharma ads but there is one placed on the page right next to your article. hmm..... I believe we need to question everything not just vaccines... ever thought it might be a combo instead of just one thing causing autism. hope this doesnt get deleted as is says comments are moderated and author has to approve.

MelissaD

Nice to know I'm not the only one who wants to throw things at the TV during program breaks or rip down all the signs in front of the drug and big box stores. My blood pressure shoots up just about every time I go out shopping now, thanks to these "great offers." I think if only I had the time to stand there and tell all these people what's being done to them in those shots...but, sadly they won't listen until it is too late and they join the ranks of the vaccine damaged.

Laura

You are my hero, Cathy. Your voice gave me a voice. What I had been whispering to doctors for two years with my ignorant thoughts ("Could it be the vaccines making her so sick over and over and over - she's hospitalized after each one?" and they pat me on the head and say "you're a new mom. Trust us, it doesn't work like that. Your daughter is fine. Here's another vaccine."), you gave me the courage and grounded knowledge to start screaming about.

We walked out of the doctor's office last week and plastered to the door were not one, not two but three pharma ads for various vaccines. I see the flu shot posters in every store, the library, the bank...everywhere someone is offering to stick me or my kids. My husband works at a hospital and there's a pool of secretaries who received the flu vaccine. All eight of them called in sick the next day with the flu (and Lord knows what other long term, unseen but damaging consequences).

Been there, done that with commercials or random web links that cross my path. I go from perfectly sane to ranting for an hour about stupidity, greed and insanity. You could always try Hulu or Fancast for less commercial interruption?

But we can't shut the world out and the world is screaming in our face about vaccines, so we will keep on screaming right back until someone hears us.

TannersDad Tim Welsh

I have played the information gatherer many times and you would be amazed at the how ignorant even some of the pharmacists are. I have quoted insert packages to blank stares. I have called the hotlines and thrown them off their script and force them to be human and think.

I would love to go to every chain Pharmacy and steal the get your Flu shot sign on every corner. Too bad we didn't think of it sooner. We could of had kids do it as a Halloween prank. TannersDad Tim

Rita

I think the flu shot numbers will be drastically lower this year. I am seeing & hearing about far less people getting them.
My son is in a Residential school. They vaccinated last week. This week they are all sick, disgusitng noses and coughs. My son is fine. He obviously did not have a flu shot, or any other in a few years.

GH

I read somewhere that every country in the world, except for two, has a ban on advertising prescription drugs. The other of the two is New Zealand.

There is a reason.

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