By Cathy Jameson
Ronan’s brother, Little Buddy, was struggling with some math homework on Thursday night. After checking his work, I reached for an eraser and erased the incorrect answers. Little Buddy went back to the table to redo the problems. He redid them, but they were incorrect again. I asked him to fix them one more time, but Little Buddy was getting frustrated and started to cry. I asked him why he was crying. “Mom, I made so many mistakes!” I told him, “Mistakes are allowed. That’s why God invented erasers,” and then handed him the eraser.
I could tell that wasn’t the answer he wanted. I sat down with Little Buddy and said, “Honey, is Mommy perfect? Daddy? Anyone? No, only God is. He makes no mistakes. Man does. Man makes mistakes all of the time. Some of those mistakes can be fixed—like this math paper. You’re lucky that you get a second chance to work on this. So erase the mistakes and try again. And remember, when this homework is done, move onto something else.”
Erase the mistakes, try again, move on.
If I could only take my own advice.
As the parent of a vaccine-injured child, moving on is hard to do. Before that sounds like an excuse, if you are not the parent, sibling or in some way provide personal support to a family raising a vaccine-injured child, it is hard to erase what happened. Negative effects of a vaccine injury linger for a long time afterward. Those negative effects don’t just go away. They complicate the situation. They add to the problem. They have the potential to multiply too.
The negatives of Ronan’s vaccine injury—the delays, the secondary illnesses, the behaviors, the emotional trauma that crept in, that seeped in and that stuck around—may never be erased. But, like so many other families who have a child like mine, I do what I can to reduce some of the negatives and what that they brought with them. I’d rather erase a lot of what happened to Ronan and have the chance to start over. I know that that isn’t entirely possible, but other people have the opportunity to not even have to start over. The following is a message for them:
When it came to getting my child vaccinated, I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t prepared to ask questions about the vaccine process. I wasn’t prepared to ask about each and every vaccine suggested. I wasn’t prepared about what happens when there is a problem post vaccination. I wasn’t prepared for what happened after saying yes to vaccines. I wasn’t prepared to say no, thank you to vaccines either, something that I had the right to say and now wish that I’d said.
To those who are contemplating having children, to those parents who have already started their parenting journey, and to those who are blindly following the recommended vaccine schedule without question, before the needle goes in, use your resources for there are plenty of them now. Research the vocabulary for there are words and terms you will have never known existed until after a vaccine injury has begun. Learn how to navigate the system for there is a well-paved path that other parents, parents of vaccine-injured children, have left for you. For if you do not research, if you do not learn and if you do not navigate well, I fear that you may one day experience vaccine injury firsthand. When that happens, you will realize that not only is vaccine injury is real, it is painful, costly, and sometimes deadly. Its effects can last a lifetime. For some, it will last a lifetime while for others, vaccine injury will cut a life short.
But when vaccines are fully investigated, when every fact is taught ahead of time, when the entire vaccination process is taken seriously and when it’s completely understood, I feel that only then will parents know that vaccine injury is preventable. Make no mistake about that. Vaccine injury can be 100% preventable.
What happens when vaccine injury wasn’t prevented? With intervention, therapy, on-going treatment and loads and loads of support, I will be able to help reduce some of the effects of the vaccine injury that continues to alter Ronan’s life and his health. But I will never have the opportunity to wipe the slate clean. Because of that, I sometimes feel stuck. I feel stuck emotionally and cannot move on.
Little Buddy got a redo with his math homework. By the time he finally understood what was being asked, he had had not one but three chances to fix his mistakes. He also had three chances to ask for help. He got to try, try and try again. In doing so, he got to wipe the slate clean. Completing that homework took a lot longer than Little Buddy expected, but once he was done, he was able to wipe the tears as well as breathe a huge sigh of relief. Looking at me and at his now perfect math paper, Little Buddy offered a sheepish smile. He asked if he could go play. I said yes and sent him off to join his little sister who was playing with LEGOs.
Little Buddy’s math homework was one tiny setback. It’s hardly a comparison to vaccine injury and what his big brother has endured. But to him, it was a big problem. Fortunately, Little Buddy got to start over. He used that eraser. He removed his errors. Little Buddy got to start over, and he got to move on. If only I could find an eraser big enough to make vaccine injury completely disappear, then maybe I could move on, too.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.