Today the word that sums up the week that was is:
Arthur had his final vaccinations in the seemingly never-ending first year cycle this week. Every time he’s had a jab, right from those very first ones when he was eight weeks old, he’s reacted badly. Not the extreme but very rare allergic reactions you read about thank goodness, but still enough to make all of our lives miserable in the aftermath.
These latest jabs seem to have had a particularly lengthy impact. He had his MMR at the beginning of January: after I voiced my concerns to the nurse about the reactions he’d had previously she suggested that I might like to ask for these ones to be split up, delaying the boosters until his system had a chance to recover from the live MMR vaccine.
I gratefully followed her advice – one of my main concerns has been about the effect of the combination of vaccines on his system – and I’m glad I did. About a week after the MMR vaccine he developed a cold, which turned into croup (terrifying) for which he was prescribed a course of steroids, after which he developed vomiting and diarrhoea which resulted in him losing almost a kilo in weight. He had an on and off fever for about a month, and a niggling cough which still hasn’t quite gone away – and which has regularly made him retch and vomit over the past six weeks. On the basis that he had no actual fever we went back for the booster jabs this Monday (we’d already delayed them again once), and he then had 48 hours of feeling rotten with new cold symptoms and a fever. Through all of this he wouldn’t accept calpol – the smallest amount makes him vomit, something which is possibly our fault for trying to avoid it entirely in the early months – and was almost permanently attached to the boob.
I would still rather have all of these side effects than the potentially devastating effects of the illnesses he’s been vaccinated against – I am not for one second suggesting that I’d rather we’d skipped the vaccines. But I still can’t help feeling guilty for putting him through all of this – especially as with the most recent jabs he was fully aware of what was going on, pulling against me as we went into the nurses office.
I wish as well that I felt more able to speak openly about vaccination side effects without feeling like I’m promoting the anti-vaccination camp. Neither the nurse nor the doctor I saw whilst Arthur was suffering would really engage in conversation about his symptoms having anything to do with the jabs, even though the only times he’s been ill in his fourteen months have mysteriously coincided with vaccinations. I understand that they need to promote the vaccination programme, especially in the light of all of the damage done by Andrew Wakefield’s unfounded claims about the MMR vaccine. However I’m not sure a ‘one size fits all’ approach is appropriate – and as someone committed to vaccinating my child, I just wish I could have an intelligent conversation with a healthcare professional about my concerns.
Anyway. I’m not going to turn this into a rant. The whole vaccination trauma is over for us – at least for another couple of years – and what I’m left with now that Arthur seems to have recovered is an overwhelming sense of relief.
And on the plus side, this week’s feverish insomnia did bring with it some very cute middle of the night storytelling sessions. I’m strangely relieved to see that breastfeeding and books rather than calpol seem to be my baby’s medicine of choice!