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Best of Cathy Jameson: No Rest For The Weary


By Cathy Jameson

Ring. Ring.   Of all days. 
Ronan was up at some ridiculous hour the last two mornings in a row.  All I wanted was some peace, Ringing telephonea whole lot of sleep and for it to please come soon.  I’d just returned home from dropping off my children at school.  If I was going to survive a full day, and another possible night of no sleep due to Ronan’s frequent night waking, I had to grab that quiet moment now. 
Ring. Ring.
Crawling back into bed praying for rest in the form of a nap, I groaned.  I usually turn the ringer off if I get the chance to go back to bed.  Obviously I was too tired to remember to do that this time. 
Ring. Ring.
I recognized the phone number and knew I couldn’t ignore the call.  Forcing myself to perk up, I hoped I didn’t sound like the exhausted half-human I felt I was. 
“Mrs. Jameson?” a woman on the other end asked.
“Yes, this is.” 
“This is the nurse at Ronan’s school.”  Drat.
I was wide awake.  The nurse continued, “I was looking through Ronan’s files, and I see that he did not get the varicella vaccine.”
Double drat! 
I replied, “Yeeesss?”
The nurse continued, “Well, I need to tell you something.”
Ugh.  I was sitting up in bed.  Naptime over.  My mind raced as I reached for my imaginary mother warrior boxing gloves thinking, You wanna talk vaccines?  Bring it, sista.
“I’m listening,” I tried to say casually.
“Well, we have two cases of chicken pox here at school.  Ronan didn’t get that shot, so if you think he might be exposed you can come pick him up.”
I almost laughed.  How quickly I put myself in the vaccine boxing ring ready to put my dukes up!  I waited a second before responding.  “Oh, wow.  Thanks for calling.  You know what though?  Ronan had the chicken pox.  He caught it naturally a few years ago.  So….he doesn’t need the shot, and he should be fine.” (Please, oh please, oh p-l-e-a-s-e say that he can stay at school today because I really need to take a nap.) 
The nurse said, “Oh, wait. I think you did tell me that.  Yes, now I remember. Okay, then.  It’s been a really busy morning.”  I thought, I bet it has!  Chicken pox is no picnic.  I was guessing she was in damage control mode rifling through hundreds of other kids’ files trying to see who was and wasn’t vaccinated, and who might be susceptible to catching the chicken pox.

I said, “Well, thank you so much for calling.” I hung up and tucked myself back into bed.  No rest for the weary.  But, success.  Ronan’s rights are safe.  I don’t have to defend him, or me or the decisions that I’ve made about vaccines.  I snuggled under my covers and closed my eyes.  I was thankful for the quiet and for some peace once again.
I slept maybe 10 minutes.  Too much was on my mind.  When I woke I couldn’t help but think about the other parents who might also be getting phone calls about these two cases of chicken pox and some “missing” vaccines.  Were they given the same option I had been given, to take their child out of school for the duration of the incubation period?  Were they told they could still maintain their vaccine exemption if they had already filed one?  I even wondered, would they be told to hurry up and get the chicken pox vaccine now just to be on the safe side?  
When I picked Ronan up at the end of that school day I saw the nurse and thanked her in person for the phone call.  Over the years I’ve encountered more people uneducated on how devastating a vaccine injury can be.  Several medical folks top that list.  To have someone in such a position appreciate the information I’ve shared about Ronan and his vaccine status gave me a little bit of relief.  Thankfully this school nurse and I see eye-to-eye. I know other parents are not so lucky.  Nowadays, and for a long time now, putting my dukes up is an automatic response.  It’s what I did it that morning and what I’ll likely do it the next time I find myself in a similar conversation.  Getting that phone call reminded me that some people are actually listening to what I’m saying.  As I lay in bed unable to take the full nap I really needed I thought about a few recent encounters and conversations I’ve had about vaccines.  I had seven in the last week.  An average of one per day.  Surprisingly, because I’m not afraid to speak up anymore, none of these conversations were initiated by me.  I was on the other side of the story listening to someone else point out a vaccine-related concern.  I was the sought after “expert” who could weigh in with facts, statistics and solutions to their concerns because of my experience.  I was also being just a friend able to comfort and guide.  Sometimes, since not every conversation I’ve had about vaccines has gone over well, I wonder if the person on the other end of the discussion would pull out a quarter from their pocket, slowly slide it across the table while saying, “Woah. Woah, Cat.  Do me a favor.  Here’s a quarter.  All this vaccine and autism talk?  Call someone who cares.”  Lately, people have been all ears when I talk about Ronan, his issues, the autism that crept into his life, the discovery of too much too soon and how I keep ever hopeful that I can bring some of Ronan’s development back to him.  Those vaccine-topic encounters have become a full-time devotion because they encompass so much of my everyday life.
I’m thankful I can share Ronan’s past with people willing to listen.  Since I've also had to defend what some people view as controversial, I carefully plan how to state and share some information.  Being in a prepared-to-fight mode is tiring, but it’s necessary because it comes up so frequently.  My arms grow weak from the warrior stance I have been forced to take in the past, but I’m willing to keep that stance to further protect and care for my child.  
When the school nurse offered a solution to a potentially devastating situation for Ronan (to avoid contracting a disease that could do a number to his already compromised immune system) I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  She is well aware of Ronan’s situation with every piece of supporting medical information I have previously shared.  His medical needs were respected. I’m grateful that this one situation ended well and pray that we keep the lines of communication open.  I can’t say I won’t ever take those imaginary boxing gloves off for good.  What I know about vaccines, how they affected Ronan and how the vaccine schedule continues to be over-inflated is part of who I am.  I’d like for my initial response in future conversations to be something else rather than having me go into instant overdrive.  Someday, when more people know they too have rights about vaccines and their child’s health care maybe I’ll feel like I can rest.  Witnessing what I have with my own child and how his health affects every part of his life, I continue to be standing at the ready. 
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.

Managing Editor's Addition: A hymn from Bruce. I saw this tour - Devils and Dust. Impossible not to think of this as a prayer for all of us - and our kids.


Carolyn Flannery

Cathy, keep talking. Everyone reading AofA, keep talking. If everyone can stand to tell 1 person a day, even 1 person a week, your vaccine injury story, like Cathy does, no matter how painful it is, it will change.

We have ONE weapon in our arsenal that pharma does not have. We are real, we are neighbors, we are fellow parents, we are in our communities, and we are eyewitnesses to vaccine damage. When they have those big articles making us sound crazy, they are hoping we will stay inside and not say anything. The reason they are attacking us is that that is all they can attack. When you don't have the facts on your side, you attack the victim. You make them sound crazy. You belittle their suffering. You make them sound stupid. You question their motives. . And that is what the pharma-drunk media has been doing for years. But this cruel and painful approach backfires on them every time we speak out, and the person listening realizes we are quite sane, the suffering is quite real --and pervasive, we are not stupid (we are actually very smart) , and we are motivated by compassion ---WE DON"T WANT THIS TRAGEDY TO HAPPEN TO ONE MORE CHILD.

10 years ago, I got "the looks" when I spoke about vaccines. The "she's crazy-she's pathetic--she's dangerous" looks. Now I get concern, questions, stories about children they know who also had reactions. Now I get compassion. Now I even get thank yous. Not every time. Maybe half the time. But that's enough. That's a start. That's because other parents have been speaking out, too.

If we keep talking, keep speaking our truths, it will change. We actually not only have a right to speak out, we have an OBLIGATION to speak out. Yes, we have enough on our plate. I am not judging anyone who doesn't have the energy to speak out, or truly can't due to the threat to their livelihood, this is not meant to inflict guilt on anyone, only to encourage those who feel bullied by the media to consider speaking out. It feels GOOD! I am saying that, once you know, you cannot go back. You cannot see those horrible Flu Shot (FLUSH shot) signs without feeling assaulted. We know the truth, and it is a kindness to other families to tell it, it is necessary for us to tell it, and it is a path by which this can finally this change. Even if we are sometimes met by stares or anger or snide, arrogant comments, keep speaking out. Because there is always someone overhearing or taking it to heart, who might make a different decision for their child or family member because of what we said. Each time we speak, it is a ripple, and all the ripples will form a tidal wave .(to borrow a wonderful RFK metaphor and use it badly--sorry!) I truly believe this will work, and it can work quickly to bring down the entire house of cards in a flash, if all of us who can, start talking like Cathy does. I truly believe this will work, and its the most powerful weapon we have.

cia parker

It's just more of what we have come to expect from the Dark Side. I had chickenpox when I was seven; my father avoided me since he had not had it, but eventually caught it years later when he was 43, but it wasn't a bad case at all. I had shingles (a mild case with two short lines of lesions on the left side of my chest and left arm, with no pain at any time) when my daughter was almost two, and she caught chickenpox from me. I took her to the doctor when I saw the first spots on her back and chest, not for treatment, but to have it on the record that she had had the natural disease, and I wanted to do it before she felt sick to avoid the added stress of a doctor's visit at that time. She had fever and vomiting for one day, threw up her lunch that day, and had hundreds of lesions all over her body, but for some reason they were not itchy at all. And then she got well. With one chickenpox scar next to her nose which remained for years, and then disappeared.

Solution one for the problems mentioned is to absolutely refuse the Varivax. Tell everyone you know that, if they or anyone they know gets shingles, you'd like to let your child catch chickenpox from them, so they're protected before they're adults, when it's often much more serious.
The JAMA in Wise RP, "Postlicensure safety surveillance for varicella vaccine," Sept 13, 2000, 1271-79, reported the results of the CDC and FDA analyzing over 6,500 adverse reactions to the vaccine occurring in a 42-month period. Many of the reported reactions were serious, including death, seizures, encephalitis, blood, neurological, and immune disorders. Children under 4 had a serious reaction at a rate of 6.3%, those under 2 9.2%, and babies under one mistakenly given the vaccine (?) 14%. The FDA admitted that substantial underreporting meant that there were probably many more serious adverse events than were reported. This is another no-brainer.


Parent- same with mumps vaccine. They've messed with nature and taken away an illness that was better to get young.


Parent, I completely sympathize with your position. They have taken some choice away from parents and I don't think this vaccine was a good trade off. Increased risk of shingles seems to be happening as well.


It sounds like you have a great nurse at Ronan's school!

It doesn't seem like CP exists where we live anymore. One kid I know of had it in 2005, a few other kids had it in 2006, and since then, only one (back in 2009). That was a child who had been vaccinated three times. (I didn't expose my kids since I was pregnant at the time, and couldn't deal with the thought of sick kid or kids then.) My kids didn't even catch it from husband who had shingles.

So, my question is: what do we do? Adults I know who had CP as adults found it to be a horrible experience. Yes, our memories are better of illnesses we experienced post-childhood, but it makes me question never having my kids get the CP vaccine if they're not going to get the disease naturally while still in childhood.

There is no logic to this vaccine. I gave into it for my oldest, and now wonder whether her immunity will wane at a horrible time, like pregnancy, causing birth defects. Crazy to insist on a vaccine that doesn't last for a disease that was never considered dangerous until about 10 years ago.

barbara j

I've received that letter twice in the last five years, both cases were in newly vaccinated children. This year I've been told my children "can not come to school" in the event of an outbreak of vaccine preventable disease. Okay..but the cases were in the vaccinated?


Exactly, Linda. I remember an older American doctor on tv telling people it would mean less sick time for parents from work! That got my antennae up and I called up a vaccine co. like Connaught or whoever and I asked them if they had any plans to make one up and include it on the schedule. I was assured it was not in the works. Now, of course, 16 years later, it seems to be mainstream in Canada too. I have hear MMR-V has more side effects. One of the guys at Chapters told me his kid reacted badly with it when I was there getting a book. Both my kids caught it naturally and one was swimming in some fairly toxic lakes at the time- miraculously no strep A or whatever they were fearmongering could happen.


As always there is someone in the crowd that says -- but wait a minute -- I had a really hard time with that disease!
A friend told me how hard she had had the mumps -- how sick she was and for how very long it lasted.

And yet, another friend who later became a doctor - thinks it caused her to start having problems with her thyroid when she had it at age nine.

Oh yeah, I was there with her getting a DPT shot at age 21,that we thought was a tetanus shot. A short time later she started having real trouble with her monthly and thyroid, I thought I was going to have to carry her off the mountain in a foot of snow.

But here we goooooo ---chicken pox was a major disease for me. I was covered from head to foot, I ended up in the hospital for 2 weeks - in a delirious state pretty much . and it left a lot of scars, but not as many as the doctor first thought and advised my mother - there was always plastic surgery. --

My face cleared up just fine-- one little scar on the edge of the chin, that is not noticeable. .

I wonder why, I had such a hard time?.

They thought at first it was small pox.
And it could have been -At the end of the school year; I was standing on the school balcony over looking the gym, watching them give vaccines to the little kids in the gym, and they still gave small pox vaccines then????

Except I had had the small pox vaccine at age 5 -- I still have that scar from the vaccine too - on my arm.

Or I could have been too old when I got chicken pox - kind of like maybe the mumps --- I was 12 -- maybe that made a difference.

30 years ago; I have had grown women say they never had chicken pox --nurses as they cringed when I brought my kids in - that had chicken pox -- Oh please! They have had it - it was just so mild they did not even know it. That is about the way mumps went for me. I feel like I played hooky on that "ONE" day, a knot came up on one side of my neck. I sat over the heat registrar that day and read a really good book and had a really good day off.

And so I do wonder if I had had such a mild case of chicken pox and then actually caught small pox.

But you know --in spite of those two weeks in the hospital and how just very bad I felt that night before I went in -- I still lived and went on to college --and neurologically - I am above average - I think. I am pretty sure I could have carried my friend off the mountain if I had to. I have the balance, the strength, the stamnia. That is the end result and that is what counts.


I remember when chicken pox vaccine came out, it was sold as a economic rather than a medical necessity in that it would prevent lost days from work and school which amounted to a lot of money saved. It was at the time acknowledged by all parties to be a mild disease of childhood and not a threat to most. Interesting how in the years since the vaccine has been introduced, how the marketing of the vaccine and the perception of the disease has changed. Now a couple of cases means the sky is falling.

Cat Jameson

Exactly, Vicki. 4 out of 5 of my kids have gotten chicken pox naturally (I do wonder, though, if it was wild or came from someone else shedding the virus post vaccination...). Either way, catching it naturally sure does sound better than acquiring it by injection along with tons of toxins via a vaccine.


Vicki Hill

I keep shaking my head at the hysteria in the U.S. about chicken pox. Not sure where my son with ASD picked up his chicken pox, but I intentionally (successfully) exposed his younger brother when he was 4 years old. That was just before the chicken pox vaccine came out, so I could say "no" to that vaccine.

I never understood the logic of the chicken pox vaccine. Why give a vaccine which may give only partial immunity (or immunity that doesn't last a lifetime) rather than letting the kid experience chicken pox and be assured of immunity that lasts a lifetime? As the school note above says, even if your child has had the vaccine, he can still catch chicken pox.

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