Wednesday, September 06, 2006

tale of two pediatricians

I have a job! I'll write for a bleeding disorder publication, and my boss is someone who really understands the concept of tikkun olam* - but I digress. The point is that I have a part-time job, my first assignment is due a.s.a.p., so naturally I'm celebrating with writer's block. And procrastination. Gee, feels like being back in college..

So hear ye, whilst I can still bear to waste time, the tale of two pediatricians. (And yes, I'm going to be paid by the word, but no, unlike Dickens I have an upper word limit. Lower, too.)

I come from a traditionally medical home, in which too many of the males in our family are doctors. This meant that we kids were never impressively sick enough to stay home from school, and I remember distinctly my father explaining away a broken bone as a 'bruise.' Nonetheless, we all survived, and robustly so, which taught me a certain amount of skepticism for the aggression with which American medicine is practiced, inconveniently combined with an automatic respect for the practitioner.

However, over the past couple of years I've been watching western, or allopathic medicine, and noticing where it's fallen short. Or where it's failed to customize itself fully to the needs of the individual. Especially where allergies are concerned. Here, allopathic medicine is, as my father says scornfully, more like "voodoo" than science. After consultation with our allergist who produced clinical evidence to urge us to do so, we'd decided to explore alternatives, and so here we are.

Two complementary medicine practitioners later, I'd been advised that the boys' immune systems were hyper-sensitive, and told repeatedly to avoid things that might irritate their immune systems, such as unnecessary chemicals (found in household cleansers, conventional produce) and to avoid immunizations. Oddly, I wasn't shocked by this. As a layperson, I have an oversimplified idea of the immune system. I'm aware that the immune system has a variety of parts, one of which created the antibodies to the Eldest's clotting protein, another of which creates the various antibodies to food and drugs. However, taking an ignorant step back, what I see is that these are parts of a pretty ticked off whole. Why prod the whole with a stick?

From this perspective, immunizations seem to be a real risk. When you add that we've steadily increased the number of immunizations and speed at which we give them (some given in the first 6 months of life aren't given in Europe until age 2 or older), and you correlate that with the rise in allergies, in autism, in other chronic conditions, there are some disturbing parallels, not all of which can be explained by better testing mechanisms. So what do we do? Pick the most useful sticks, the ones with the greatest protective power, and poke?

Homeopathic methods for immunizations are slower and gentler. Are they as effective, however? Honestly, I don't know. I could find out, though. And so, here we are, with the babes' first birthday mere hours away, a milestone that comes with any number of well-meant perforations of the leg...

homeopath vs allopath. Familiar vs. unfamiliar. What to choose? And why do I think I'm being honest by phrasing this as a question?

* tikkun olam: the idea that each of us has a responsibility to work within the world for healing, to create rather than destroy, to rebuild and restore that which is broken.

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