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October 2009

To Flu Shot or Not to Flu Shot

This is my pediatrician's stance on the flu shot.

The flu season and the unusual occurrence of so much flu illness in the summer has brought a lot of issues to the forefront. Pandemic preparation, health dept. preparation, and the media blitz while necessary and helpful, they create a level of anxiety that is not always so helpful.

I want you to know how grateful I am to have patients who maintain their focus and realistically evaluate their risk and alternatives. I will have the flu vaccine in the next 10 days and the H1N1 when it is released for anyone in a high risk group especially those with a chronic medical condition.

I just want to share some observations that relate to flu and viruses in general to help you make a decision, I hope, about getting the vaccines for your children. While all viruses are obviously infectious I think it is likely that because they are DNA/RNA they can be released out of our own cell structure under certain stresses. Herpes viruses like cold sores release sporadically. Chronic mono becomes active disease like chronic fatigue syndrome when the EBV virus is activated. Different stresses seem to activate and even cause new viruses. Getting chilled causes some to catch a cold .Sleeplessness decreases our immune strength, etc. In the past viruses seemed to have a season of increased activity, indicating weather plays one part in allowing a virus to take hold. Chicken pox and hand, foot and mouth disease used to be spring viruses. Diarrheal disease was mostly in the summer; cold and flu viruses were mostly winter viruses. With weather patterns changing things are shifting and flu appeared more this spring and summer than usual. I think we probably had H1N1 as early as April and May before reports of spread from Mexico. Certainly the flu-like symptoms of cases then were similar to those seem later.Viruses do tend to change or mutate. However, they still follow the trend that the elderly, the very young, those with a chronic medical condition are more susceptible to complications.  Because H1N1 was primarily a summer virus it might be too soon for it to mutate or do whatever it needs to do to become more active in the winter also. This is just a guess, but it doesn’t matter because there will be some other strain we still have to deal with anyway. People not in a high risk and even those who are but maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet weather the flu better. Adding the right homeopathic remedy adds to the success rate greatly.

I know it’s a small number but some people who get the flu vaccine get a bad reaction. This actually follows the homeopathic principal-if the vaccine is too strong or concentrated for some they get flu symptoms. Some of these reactions have been very significant with a downturn in a patient’s health for some time. Again this is a small percentage but I’m just uncomfortable recommending something when I can’t predict who it might affect adversely. If there were no other alternative it would be different.

With these latest outbreaks of regular and H1N1 flu, homeopathy has been just as effective as in the past. So, I feel homeopathy is still a viable safer alternative. Just like the standard flu vaccine not being perfect, neither is homeopathy, but at least it doesn’t cause any problems and it still works very well most of the time. I heard a tv interview with a man from the village in Mexico targeted as the epicenter of the original spread.  He reported arm, back leg bone pain 6 weeks after the onset. These are some of the symptoms of the remedy Eupatorium and indeed that helped a lot of patients this summer along with other remedies, such as China, Phytolacca, Gelsemium and Mercurious Vivus.

Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic remedy made from a patient who had the flu-the same idea as the regular vaccine but made homeopathically. So, you could proactively give it or Influenzinum(another brand of the same idea)1/wk or every other week at the beginning of the season and maybe 2/wk if there is a lot of exposure like at school or day care. Some people feel given 2/day during a case of the flu it helps get rid of it as well. Also keep on hand the above remedies. They can be used to treat according to the specific symptoms (see attachment).If you know from me if there is a remedy that seems to be helping the most with current active cases you can help prevent them by using those remedies in a 200c 1-2/wk.Remember Oscillococcinum dose is 15-20 pellets not the whole vial and remedies can be obtained at your health food store or  NE Homeopathic at 1-800-551-3611. 

Hope this is helpful---Dr.K

I can't see chasing something down that I'm still not sure about.  I am giving the whole family Oscillococcinum once a week.


Explaining God to my Kids

I had the following conversation in the car with my boys the other day. Hopefully, I haven't said anything to offend here. And obviously, this isn't word for word. My memory isn't that good and it's paraphrased.

LT: How old is God? Is he one hundred?

Me: God is much older than that. At least thousands of years old. Nobody knows how old God is. He made the world. He was here before anything else.

LT: Is God alive?

Me: No. God is not alive and he's not dead. He's not a person. He's just God.

T: But God was alive once, right?

Me: No. God was never alive. Jesus was alive. He was God's son.

LT: Oh, so God is Jesus's son?

Me: No. Jesus is God's son.

LT: Is there only one God?

Me: Yes and no. Most people you know will tell you there's one God because they're Christian. But there are many different types of religions and some people believe there is more than one God. Most of those religions are older, but some people still believe in different gods. The Greeks and Romans believed there were all different gods - a sun god, moon god, god of love, god of war. They had gods for everything. And the American Indians believe in lots of different gods too.

    T, do you know what we call a religion that only believes in one God?

T: No.

Me: That's monotheism. And religions that believe in more than one god are called polytheistic. So there's monotheism, and polytheism. Most people that we know are Christians and the are monotheistic. And Christianity is made up of different religions too. Most people we know are Catholic or Protestant, but there is also Judaism and Islam. Catholics and Protestant are similar in what they believe. Jewish people also believe in God, but they do not believe that Jesus was God's son. People who believe in Islam are called Muslim. They believe in one God too, they call him Allah, and they believe in the Bible, but they also have another holy book called the Koran.

    And these are just the Christian religions. There are all different kinds of religions - Buddhism, Hindu and many others.

LT: So there's lots of gods?

Me: Most people we know believe in one God, and they will get angry if you say there is more than one.

T: Why will they get angry?

Me: Because people want to think that what they believe is right. Lots of religious people think that their religion is best and that everyone else should go to their church. Not everyone, but lots of people. So you have to be very careful what you say about God, religion and church around other people, especially people you don't know very well.

    This is why Mommy doesn't like religion very much. Churches do lots of great things, like soup kitchens where they feed people who are poor and don't have a home, they raise money for people who are sick. But they do some bad things too. Sometimes they're mean to people who don't believe what they do. And sometimes they even convince people to go to war and kill people who don't believe in their religion. Many, many people have died because of religion. I think we should be able to have all the good parts of the church without all of the bad parts.

T: I never knew that.

He has an excuse. He's only eight.

Don't you wish you had time to prepare for these huge, existential conversations with your kids? I mean, it's not like I haven't given this topic some serious thought, and have some historical and religious knowledge to explain this. But I would have done some reading the night before if I'd known I was going to give a twenty minute lecture on God and religion the following day.


Yes, I'm Seriously Inappropriate

I probably shouldn't let my eight-year-old watch horror movies, but I do. And since I let my eight-year-old watch them, well, the five-year-old watches them too. Usually he falls asleep five minutes in before anything scary happens. Usually, but not always. I guess I just only have so much fight in me, and since Blackstone and I just love a good horror movie, I figure it's just encoded in his DNA.

When Trouble was maybe three, he walked in on me watching Thirteen Ghosts. Pretty gruesome movie if you haven't seen it. I didn't realize he was in the room right away, and as soon as I did, I changed the channel. He had a fit. "Put it back! Put it back!" he yelled.

He started watching Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings movies around this time too. He was one of very few three-year-olds asking to watch Frodo over and over again I'm willing to bet. Nothing ever scared him. Nothing gave him nightmares. Still, I've tried to curb him from some of the more terrifying movies, or at least what I'd consider scarier. I know plenty of grown adults that are scared watching Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. But Blackstone and my dad are even less restrictive than I am. So they were watching Alien vs. Predator and Eight Legged Freaks, and who knows what else, years ago. They absolutely love it. I still try to keep it to the lower end of scary. I'm fighting a losing battle. I lose more and more ground every year.

They had been playing outside a couple weekends ago and happened to walk in shortly after I flipped on The Mist. That was gruesome. I'm going to give away the ending here, so if you haven't seen it, and don't want me to give it away, stop reading now. *SPOILER*. Honestly, had I known it was a movie about huge, killer bugs, I might have never put it on. Bugs are seriously not my thing. It's based on a Steven King story. One I probably read, but don't remember. I read a lot. I forget at least half of everything I read. The boys were enthralled. The only thing that appalled them was the ending, which was not so scary but seriously, ironically tragic. It certainly sparked some interesting conversation. Not just the ending, but the demented, religious zealot, offering any unbeliever to the giant, other-worldy bugs as offerings to appease God, who obviously unleashed them on us as punishment for our sinful ways. Perhaps Trouble has a slightly better understanding of my opposition to church now. So that, and the ending in which the main character shoots all the other passengers in the car, including his son, so they don't have to be eaten alive by the bugs, raised some questions. He would have shot himself too, only there weren't enough bullets. So he goes outside awaiting his terrible fate, only to have the mist begin to clear and the army arrive. Now that's something difficult to explain to a child.

It hadn't really occurred to me after having watched all of these scary movies, that I would eventually find one that scared Trouble. Really never thought it would happen. It did. And oddly enough, I didn't think the movie was that scary. No one actually died in the time span of the movie. Oh there were ghosts of people, bodies that had died long ago. But none of the main characters in the current story died. Again *SPOILERS* people. The Haunting in Connecticut has had Trouble sleeping with his light on for a week. At the end of the movie, the poor, sick kid tormented by all the ghosts is cured of his terminal cancer. I mean, yes, it was scary. Yes, there were dead bodies in the wall. Gross. Not nearly as gross or scary as watching spiders hatch inside a person and eat him alive. At least, not in my mind. Trouble seems to have a different opinion.

I figure it must be because huge killer bugs seem so outrageous, so far out of our reality, but maybe spirits of the dead, are a little too easy to imagine as real? I guess I'd better be sure not to let him know that it's supposed to have been based on a true story. Of course, I take all that with a grain of salt, but something tells me Trouble wouldn't.

So has that stopped me from letting him watch scary movies? Not really. I've started watching the series Supernatural recently and they love that. And they saw Coraline this weekend. *SPOILER* A kids movie, but pretty scary, and honestly, another scary spider. EEeeww. I've had enough with the damn bugs lately. Animated, mechanical, or otherwise. I've always had a spider phobia. Nothing terrible. But I do yell for Blackstone to come kill them for me. Apparently, that's nothing compared to my babysitter. I had to take down some of our Halloween decorations; the spider web and fake spiders, and the large mechanical one that drops from the ceiling when you clap. Now that's some serious arachnophobia.

So this Halloween will be spider-free and will probably still find Trouble sleeping with his light on. At least I bought some of the new energy saving bulbs. You can get them in soft light now, too. They're not nearly as terrible as they were at first. I can't stand flourescents and these are do-able. Peace of mind for me. Peace of mind for him. And we can still have our horror movies. Everybody wins!