Thursday, April 05, 2012


Events today had steam coming out my ears.  And I was not charitable.  Which I suppose is just as bad as being condescending and bullyish.  Rhiannon says I was rude.  I say I was furious.

Rhiannon has been sick a lot in the last 2 years.  The last year she has been sick more than she's been well.  She's well for a week or two and then she is sick again for 2 or 3 weeks.  She's missed two dance performances and several lessons and play dates.  I started to wonder if she had allergies.  Eryn was tested when she was 3 and is allergic to wheat, milk, dust mites and the kind of mould that comes from decaying leaves.  I am pretty sure I am also allergic to milk although I have never been tested.  Dean has severe seasonal allergies.  Although she did not have his kind of symptoms, I started to wonder if there was something going on for her.  We went to the Doctor back in January and got a referral to an allergist.

Today was the day.  We went to Kelowna.  I forgot to bring the paper with the address.  I couldn't remember the Dr's name.  Maybe that was a sign...  And when we found the office (I remembered the street and asked someone), the receptionist (who was wonderful!) said that there had been confusion and that our Doctor had said the appointment was cancelled...  Perhaps another sign I should have heeded and gone home...  Nevertheless, we went through with it and filled out the intake form.

A very nice and personable nurse took us into the room and administered the scratch test.  Another nice nurse took us into another office and debriefed the test.  Rhiannon did not test positive for any pollens, trees or grasses or any animals like rabbits, cats or dogs.  She also didn't test positive for any food allergies however I don't think the scratch test is especially accurate for those - a blood test for antibodies is more accurate.  She did test as being very allergic to dust mites - two different kinds. 

This actually made sense to me because she started sleeping with Kaetlyn's old duvet 2 years ago.  She also sleeps on a 30+ year old futon of solid cotton (the brute weighs more than 100 lbs!) and her room is carpeted.  We will be making some big changes around here!

If I had left at that point, I would have left feeling enlightened.  However, we had to wait more than an hour to see the actual Dr.  She was the type who does the closed-eye fluttery thing when she talks to you.  Her bedside manner with Rhiannon consisted of grunts and cursory pointing and abrupt and incomplete commands.  Going over our history, she fastened onto the fact that Rhiannon has never been immunized.  She insisted that Rhiannon's frequent illnesses were not a result of allergies but instead a result of not being immunized.  She said that immunization protected children from all infections and that children who were immunized got sick less often.  When I challenged her on this she was very condescending and went into a lengthy explanation of how immunization works.  I listened politely and told her that I understood how vaccinations were supposed to work.  She then went on about how people in olden times used to die from infections (huh?!) and that because of vaccinations small pox, etc. had decreased.  This was about all I could take.  I stopped her there and reminded her that actually there had never been a study that proved cause; that this was actually a correlation and not a causal relationship.  She went on to tell me that it was ridiculous to think that Rhiannon's allergies caused her illnesses.  She pointed out that she did not have immuno-defficiency.  I stopped arguing with her.  She recommended two drugs and gave us a prescription for one - both for symptoms Rhiannon does not have (one was for asthma, the other a steroid nose spray).  She also insisted that Rhiannon was a mouth breather (Rhiannon is just getting over yet another cold) and wouldn't listen to me.  Mouth breathers get sick more often.  Heh.  By this time I was so furious from being talked down to and bullied with misinformation that I just bit my tongue.  She hustled us out of the office (her shortest appointment since the time we had been there!)

Basically she was telling me that although Rhiannon had just tested positive for a severe allergy to two different dust mites, this had no effect on her health.  It was illogical for me to think that her immune system that was dealing with an allergy to dust mites would be further weakened and more vulnerable to colds and flus.  These symptoms were rather a result of not being immunized.  Just in case you agree with her, please check out this recent German study using more than 17, 000 children.  Or check out this less formal compilation which actually finds that non-vaccinated kids are sick LESS often.  You will notice that according to this study (which has its weaknesses: relying on self-reported data, very small sample size for non-vaccinated children [.7% of the population], etc.) there was no statistically significant difference between rates of colds and flus between immunized and non-immunized children.

I might have been wearing jeans and a hoodie but I am actually a well-informed, educated woman.  Would she have treated me different if I was wearing a power suit with an expensive handbag?  As a mother, I have made an informed decision for my children. And one I do not regret.  One that I believe in.  What is worst in the medical system is the lack of logic and science from a discipline that claims both.  What is worst in the medical system is abuse of power and authority to forward a particular agenda.  I think this push on more and more vaccinations comes from the interests of pharmaceutical companies and not scientific evidence or logic.  I think that if we suddenly stopped immunizing we might be surprised at what doesn't show up.  I also believe that vaccinations have their place.  Developing countries without sanitation and clean water and good nutrition might benefit.  I am far more curious about the damage being done to immune systems with all these vaccinations - basically man-made immunities.  I think there is no substitute for strengthening the immune system through fresh air, good wholesome, non-processed foods and getting sick once and awhile.  And yes, I've had: mumps, both kinds of measles, chicken pox, whooping cough and hepatitis A.

Not that she asked...


Delanie C said...

Agree whole heartedly! Soooooo frustrating when people assume you are too stupid to be able to research things on your own. So very sad that more people don't even try to research the info and are just sheeple following along because some expert declared they were safe.

Andrea said...

Del, I was wishing you were here!

amyleigh said...

I whole heartedly agree with you Andrea. It's too bad you had to have that kind of experience - I totally felt your frustration, I would have wanted to punch the doctor in the nose.. that being said I am of the hopeful opinion that more and more people are becoming informed these days. You really feel "normal" being that way here, in Tofino.. it seems to attract enlightened people. There's a lot of us out there who know better these days, and it's only going to snowball!

Bethany said...

yes, I agree with Amy. Community awareness and enlightenment about health is expanding everywhere. I felt your frustration and anger, oh my goodness. So rude! People have attacked Ben and I for not vaccinating in the past, but actually I find that most people sense that it's a personal decision and respect it.It's too bad there are people like that doctor out there.

Laura said...

too bad that dr. treated you that way. if she had actually listened to you, and been respectful of your choices, despite her own personal beliefs, the whole situation could have been so much better and productive. i absolutely hate being talked down to and bullied. i don't know anyone who likes it and it's not a very good way to influence people's thinking, so she won't get far with those kinds of tactics.