Tuesday, August 9, 2016

If They Start the Shots Early Enough Part 2…..
The Vitamin K Shot

As I said in earlier posts, there are moments that I look back on, where I read something that defied logic, heard something that made me suck in my breath, saw a report that made me slap my forehead. Things that in retrospect make me wish I had followed my gut and done more research – moments when I wish I had been able to figure out what was going so wrong. When I wish I had just grabbed my kid and run.

When my oldest was 10 and half years old, he fell off the high dive at the local High School pool, landing on the pool deck. His skull fracture and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) almost killed him and left him in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Georgetown University Hospital in DC for a month. With no voluntary movement – he couldn’t even make his eyes track together - and dependent on both a feeding tube for nourishment and a trach tube for breathing, we left Georgetown by ambulance and headed to Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) in Baltimore to begin his very painful and arduous rehabilitation journey.

Our time in the PICU had made it abundantly clear – leaving a severely ill person in the hospital without an advocate 24/7 was to court disaster. At Georgetown we had been there continuously, along with my mom and sister and our son was never left without one or more of us in his room. But after 4 weeks, my husband needed to get back to work and be at home with our then 8 year old daughter, so moving forward we agreed I would live in our son’s room at KKI. Once installed there, I joined a cadre of amazing warrior moms. Smart and fearless, they were always a step or two ahead of the staff. Moms who knew their kids’ every medical issue, medication and treatment. Moms totally in tune with their children.

In addition to being a rehab hospital for those who had suffered a TBI or spinal cord injury, KKI has a feeding program. It’s a therapy program for kids who, for various medical reasons, have difficulty eating. Several of those moms had children with autism. And to a one, they told me their children had regressed into autism – losing speech, no longer making eye contact, losing motor skills. All these years later I remember their stories and how they worried me. Before our time at KKI, autism had barely registered on my radar. And to the extent I had any awareness of autism, it did not include regressive autism. What I don’t remember about those conversations is whether in their stories, did those mothers link their child’s regression to vaccinations? Whatever they told me, I am embarrassed to admit, it was not enough to prompt me to question vaccines for my third.

His birth may have been 10 years after our daughter’s, but sadly their birth stories are not all that different. Despite my insistence that I was ready to push, and despite my doctor’s many notes in my chart about my short pushing phase, my youngest was born after two pushes onto the birthing bed with only my husband and daughter in attendance. Instead of being by my side, our nurse was across the room with her back to us admonishing me and insisting that I was absolutely clueless about what stage of labor I was actually in and refusing to go wake the doctor at 4:11 am (lest you think I am misremembering this in some sort of birthing-room fog, we have photographic evidence to prove it!)

Like his sister he was serene at birth and had great Apgar scores and sadly, like his sister, I sent him off with his father for tests and whatever else the hospital had in store for him. When I first started writing this post about his vaccine injury I was certain it would be about his Hepatitis B shot like his sister. But it is back-to-school season and I was looking for his records. I was shocked to see he didn’t get Hep B until his 1 month checkup. So what did he get that first day that made us all miserable - the thing that started us down his road of vaccine injuries? His vitamin K shot…

But wait, you say, how could the vitamin K shot lead to vaccine damage – it’s not even a vaccine? The Vitamin K shot is just that – just some natural, straight up Vitamin K like you would get from the deep green leafy veggies that come weekly in your box from your organic Community Supported Agriculture – right? That’s certainly what I believed until recently. But no. Turns out the vitamin K shot not only contains 22,000 times the level of vitamin K that newborns are typically born with, it is not a natural version of vitamin K, it is a synthetic. The shot also contains aluminum, a known neurotoxin, polysorbate 80, a toxic chemical which has been proven to cause infertility in animals and propylene glycol, a chemical which is also used as a solvent in antifreeze, engine coolants, varnishes and the like. Really.

And if all of that isn’t horrifying enough, the vitamin K package inserts warn that it should be given subcutaneously (under the skin) or really bad things could happen – like anaphylaxis among other side effects. That’s because phytonadione, the synthetic vitamin K used in the injections, can cause allergic reactions and hasn’t really been studied for safety in pregnant women and babies. In fact, pregnant or nursing women are counseled not to take synthetic vitamin K as its effects on unborn or nursing babies are not known. It’s also not to be taken by anyone with compromised liver function (like maybe babies…..) or anyone known to be allergic to it (how would we know about a minutes old infant?) So, of course, you would think hospitals are super cautious and always take the time to deliver the injection subcutaneously…..but no, most of the links I cite within this blog suggest otherwise. My husband is certain our son received an intramuscular injection into his thigh.*

When my son and my husband returned to my room, my baby wasn’t howling in horrible pain as his sister had been, but he was cranky. Then he became so sleepy he was basically unresponsive. While his siblings had been eager, successful nursers, I could not rouse him enough to even try. I have since learned that sleepiness and deep unwakeable sleep are signs of a vaccine injury. When, the next day, he became so dehydrated he only had urine crystals in his diaper, the nurses absurdly started pressuring me to offer him a bottle – which I refused. If he wouldn’t/couldn’t wake to nurse, how/why in the world would a bottle be any different? My husband and I tried over and over to wake him with a cold wash cloth to the back of his neck and then on the soles of his feet and when that didn’t work we progressed unsuccessfully to ice. While my husband and I worried about his unresponsiveness and dehydration the nurses and doctors shrugged it off – some babies just found birth very tiring they claimed…..(???) It was more than week before he really woke up. In the meantime I went through excruciating engorgement as my milk came in on time for a baby who was perpetually, unresponsively, asleep.

Clueless to the possible reasons for his lethargy and totally unaware how many shots had been added to the infant vaccine schedule during the intervening 10 years, I was floored when at his 2 month checkup the nurses ambushed him with 4 shots – giving 2 in each thigh simultaneously - representing 6 vaccines. As I look back on his vaccine record and his ensuing medical and developmental issues I can now see that he either regressed, developed new medical issues, or both after every round of vaccinations.

The stories from the mother’s at KKI lurked in the back of my mind during this time, especially when I sensed a change in him after his 4 month vaccines – the same toxic onslaught he endured at his 2 month checkup. When I raised concerns with his pediatrician about autism (I wasn't even linking my worries to the vaccines - I was just worried about regression!) she poo-pooed my concerns – chalking it up not to real changes in my child, but to my maternal paranoia as traumatized mother. All those rumors swirling around about vaccines and autism? Nonsense she insisted! And I guess as a parent, analyst, proud bureaucrat, a political science major who completely believed in the integrity of journalism as the 4th estate, I just did not, could not, believe that all those parties involved would be willing to put so many lives in such horrible danger.

Then she said something that turns my stomach to this day - the whole regression thing she declared, was bogus. She had worked with autistic children during her residency and to a one, she insisted, the parents had just missed it. Mothers just didn’t realize their children never made eye contact, never pointed, didn’t speak. Their children simply had not really acquired the developmental skills - and then lost them - these mothers thought they had. I was speechless – like the wind had been knocked out of me. This was a doctor I had been with for years. She had cared for my twin nieces after they arrived fragile and tiny 8 weeks too soon. A doctor I really, really respected and trusted. I thought of all those warrior moms at KKI. Moms fighting for their kids and the skills and health they had lost. Those moms who missed NOTHING. Looking back, I just should have grabbed my kid and bolted. Instead, I stood there dumbstruck as the nurses descended with his 6 month vaccines…..

*All this begs the question – do babies really even need a super-infusion of any kind of vitamin K – synthetic, natural, injected or oral? Might nature have some reason for babies to naturally be born with low levels of vitamin K, since it seems to be universal the world over?  Don’t doctors – and Pharma – lecture loudly and often that buying vitamins and supplements for adults is a waste of time and money? Don’t they spend a great deal of time warning us all about the dangers of mega doses of vitamins? Some of the links here address some of those questions. I hope to cover this topic in a future post.

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