Monday, September 2, 2013

Boiling Buckets of Water, Wearing Wreaths of Garlic and Bloodletting at the Local ER

I've noticed a problem with risk assessment and time periods when it comes to discussing the necessity of intervention in a variety of parenting topics.

For example, when people debate homebirth versus hospital birth, for or against, they inevitably refer to historical rates and cases of things such as post-partum hemorrhaging or true cases of CPD perhaps due to malnutriton and pelvic/back injury that healed without hospital management. (Side note, tragically severe cases of true CPD still occur in other areas due to impoverishment and injury from early, hard labor.)

It reminds me of a birth story in Marilyn Moran's book, Birth and the Dialogue of Love. In the story, the woman experiences a complication so they rush to the hospital parking lot, where the husband uses a phone to call a local doctor, waking him up in the night. They then wait in the parking lot until the doctor dresses and drives over to the hospital, unlocks the doors and turns on the lights. Do you have a local hospital staffed with one doctor and closed at night?

Another common topic that misuses historical cases: vaccination. In addition to widespread vaccination, our entire country also experienced changes in everything from basic living conditions, food production/storage/preparation, medical care and knowledge about disease. We began to treat our water as one example. Refrigeration and food sterilization are two more.
Bottom's up!

If your child, vaccinated or vaccine-free, contracts pertussis for example, you won't hold him over the fire in your log cabin in the wilderness and hope for the best. The thing is, any risks that exist TODAY cannot be compared to the experiences of 50, 100, 150 years ago. No, that doesn't mean they are automatically dismissed and I'm not discouraging discussion. But I am pointing out that the factors contributing to your individual situation need to be assessed within your time period (and geographic location and economic status for that matter, although that goes into other topics).

Do you lie awake at night, fearful of cholera coming to get your child
because he isn't vaccinated for it?

Newsflash: you're not hundreds of miles in the wilderness, in a log cabin without electricity or running water. You're not pulling drinking water from the river, the same place you use as a toilet. You're not completely ignorant of disease pathways and healthcare options. You're not decades away from standardized emergency health care. You're not overworked, half-starved from the long winter and scarred/impaired from numerous injuries that had to heal on their own. You don't eat the same exact food, limited vegetables and fruits from the same geographic location, rationing them out through periods of drought or harsh winters.

Maybe some blood letting would have saved you.

"Bloodletting Scene."
Cintio d'Amato.
Nuoua et vtilissima prattica di tutto quello ch’al diligente barbiero s’appartiene. (Naples: G. Fasulo, 1671).
Probably not.
Anyone recall the stories in the Little House on the Prairie series, such as when they eat a potato and bread as their meal every day during winter, or how Pa was so starved, he couldn't carry a bag of grain across the street? How do you think a person in that situation responds to disease compared to you in your current situation of excess, varied, nutrient-dense food, supplements and medicines?

Where we are right now in history and in our culture of accessibility is something new. We have at our disposal limitless information available online, or limitless resources that can direct us to people who have information in real life. We can network across the country and world in an instant. We can send photos on our phones for diagnosis and scrutiny. We even have "drive-thrus" to pick up medication and health supplements at local stores, stores that are so numerous they tend to have one on every block.
And this is only Walgreens.
In addition to the stream of information, we also have a mind-boggling array of interventions available to us, whether natural or allopathic. Historically, the interventions people used were based on location. Depending on where you lived, you used the herbs or healing foods available in that area or you hoped to stay alive until traveling businesses came by to sell their wares.

That's not true now. You can throw everything at an illness. Superfruits from around the world are in your local grocery every season. You can buy essential oils, herbs in every form, homeopathics of any kind, aids from all countries such as manuka honey...the list goes on...and you can pay for overnight shipping if needed. If you suspect nutritional or mineral deficiencies, a quick pop into the local doctor nets you complete testing.

Heck, you can even order custom-made vitamins these days based on lab reports or do substantial genetic testing. You can stop by your local naturopath for advice on a condition, then hop over to a chiropractor for adjustment, then stop by your local urgent care clinic or pharmacy for medications. Then go home to dig your essential oils out of the mailbox.

In addition to people over-emphasizing outdated risk profiles, they also then tend to dismiss or minimize current risks. For example, a person might oppose homebirth due to fears about bleeding out like "in the olden days" but the person won't exhibit fear towards the idea of bleeding out on the surgery table. Fear of the conditions largely uncontrolled or unpredictable, conditions of "fate" such as prolapsed cord, placental abruption and uterine rupture are strong and lead people to avoid homebirths. But then complications that could be avoided or reduced such as those caused by exposure to pitocin, epidural or other obstetrical interventions are almost accepted as normal, not even mentioned.

Or to use the second topic, vaccinations: A person might fear the rare complication called encephalitis that can occur with various diseases. But will ignore the listed warning of encephalitis on the vaccine pamphlets. With the advent of newer vaccines such as the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, we now have generations growing up with an intense fear of dying from the chickenpox, but showing little to no concern about things such as shifting epidemiology, a more invasive strain from the vaccine and increased shingles cases.

People do this in other topics, too.

In other words, the risk assessments used to make decisions about the level of intervention in these topics is not accurately adjusted for the person's time, location and resources. This is leading people to make decisions that aren't evidence-based or tailored to their individual needs and circumstances. Powerful imagery and phrases encourage this short-sighted way of thinking. When you see images making a plea to outdated fears, stop and think twice about the underlying messages. Decide if they are truly relevant to you and if so, to what extent based on the myriad of other factors in your life.

It's coming for you.

Just in a different way than you've been taught to fear.


Custom Vaccines for YOUR Child:

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