A shot in the dark

}Okay. I'm about to say something very controversial, something so controversial, in fact, that you may well think I'm a complete idiot for saying it and should be locked up in a nut house. But it's gotta be done.

Darrin and I have decided that our children, when they eventually turn up, will not be vaccinated. At all. And no amount of coercion, manipulation, threats, or scare tactics will move us from this decision.

And now I'll explain why, for all three of you who haven't left the website in disgust. ;-)

The first thing that got my attention on this subject was a few months ago, when I read what someone posted on a message board about the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, & rubella) containing thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative. This did worry me a little, since mercury does some nasty things to the brain. And then I found out that the Australian vaccines don't contain thimerosal anyway, so I thought, "Oh, okay, never mind," and didn't think about it again for a while.

And then a couple months ago I came across this article and man...the claims in that were astounding. The second bullet-point item about the Japanese vaccination age was very telling (if you can't be bothered going there yourself, let me sum it up: the Japanese health department raised the minimum vaccination age in 1975 to two years, and SIDS virtually disappeared - when they lowered the age again, SIDS came back). I pasted the link to the IRC channel I was on with Darrin, Josh, and I don't remember who else. And by the time I got to work just over an hour later, Darrin had read the entire article (and possibly some other ones linked from it), and when I walked into the room he said something to the effect of, "No way are we vaccinating our kids!" and proceeded to rant about some of the other statistics he'd read.

So now you know what started it. And we've read even more disturbing things about vaccinations since then that have only solidified our position on the whole issue. Such as the side effects from the vaccines are much more than the medical elite admit to, and heck, half the reactions don't even get reported, because people aren't switched on enough to notice that their kid's behavioural problem or fever or crib death happened right after they had a booster shot. Or if they are switched on, and ask the doctor about it, the doctor just says, "We don't know what's causing it, but it's definitely not the vaccination." These are the EXACT WORDS Darrin's brother heard when he asked the doctor about his daughter's fever just a couple months ago. Well gee, if you don't know what's causing it, how can you rule anything out definitely? Hmm?

Because everyone "knows" that vaccines work. Everyone "knows" that vaccines eradicated polio, and smallpox, and who knows what else. But if they have, then why do we still need a polio vaccine?

The truth of the matter is, all these infectious diseases that we get vaccinated against are recoverable in most cases. Sure, they'll knock you around for a bit, but if you get plenty of rest, water, food (that's REAL food, FRESH food, as in meat, fish, fruit, veggies, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds), and keep yourself warm, you'll recover pretty quickly. Darrin and I discovered this last week when we had a cold. We just kept ourselves warm, drank plenty of water, took NO DRUGS WHATSOEVER, and the worst of it was over in three days. This is the first cold in my memory where I've taken no drugs. Usually if I take drugs, the head congestion lasts about five days. This time it was three. So I dare you to tell me drugs will shorten the length of a cold. And then watch me laugh in your face.

Anyway, back on the vaccine subject. Have you heard of Guillain-Barre syndrome? Meningitis? Did you know they both used to be called polio? Now tell me again that we've eradicated polio.

Did you also know that SIDS did not exist in any significant number before vaccines came on the scene? Likewise with allergies, asthma, diabetes, cancers, autism, ADD/ADHD, ear infections, leukemia, lupus, Crohn's disease, arthritis, eczema, AIDS...all these conditions/diseases have either proof or suspicion of a link to vaccines. It's even suggested that Shaken Baby Syndrome is actually brain damage from a vaccine - where the child stops breathing or responding, and their parent or nanny or whoever shakes them just a little bit to get their attention, and then they get blamed for abuse when the damage was already done before they even touched the kid.

And then, inevitably, when people come down with these diseases, the doctors shoot them up with antibiotics, steroids, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and other drugs - which really only cover up the symptoms and make the problem worse.

It's enough to make you start believing conspiracy theories, I tell you.

"But, but, but...the shots are mandatory!" No. Not really. Even in America, where you can be fined and/or jailed for not vaccinating your kids, you can get an exemption based on any of four categories (such as religious grounds or personal conviction - the Amish don't vaccinate their kids). And here in Australia, even though everyone at Centrelink and your pediatrician will tell you that you have to do it to get child care benefits, you can opt out by simply downloading this form and getting your GP to sign it. This is what we'll be doing. And if the GP refuses to sign it, or tries to bully us into vaccinating, we'll be finding another GP pretty darn quick.

"My kid(s) had all their shots and they're fine." Are you sure? Do they have food allergies, specifically peanuts, dairy or eggs? A lot of the vaccines are cultured on eggs and dairy foods, and some contain peanut oil. So when they get the shots, the child's immune system is focusing on killing off what's been injected, including the food culture. And next time they eat something with eggs, dairy, or peanuts - instant allergic reaction, sometimes fatal.

I am fully convinced that my recently discovered peanut allergy - which I was having symptoms of as much as six years ago, but never connected it with anything - is from a vaccine, most likely the tetanus booster I had in August 2000. I'm also 90% sure that my suspected soy allergy happened when I had my tetanus & MMR at around age 14, because that's about the same time I started to get really bad hayfever - and we lived right across the road from a soybean field. I also had a flu shot a few years ago - and a week later, came down with the flu. Coincidence?

"You're a complete nutcase." You know, when we had a speaker in high school who was saying these same things, and that she decided not to vaccinate her daughter, we all thought she was a nutcase too. We thought she was a hypocrite becuase she was so concerned about environmental issues, but she still drove a car. And how dare she attack our favourite foods, Coke and potato chips and all our other lovely junk food, saying that the companies didn't care if they made us sick, they were just out to make a buck. The horror! And now here I am twelve years later agreeing with her.

If you have kids, or plan on having them in the future, please look very closely at this before you do anything. Don't just go with the flow, whatever the flow happens to be in your peer group - look at both sides of the coin and make up your own mind.

For more information see the National Vaccine Information Center and Vaccination Information South Australia sites. Both have links elsewhere, and there's always Google.

We finally took the plunge.

So I've talked about our plumbing troubles a bit on here already. I've lost count of the times since I've lived here that we've had to unblock the drains in various creative ways - sticking a garden hose up through the drains, getting the creepy landlady to bring out a cheap plumber, all those kinds of things. And we kept saying things like "If we just had a plunger" and "Man I wish we had a plunger right about now."

So last Friday night the drains got blocked AGAIN, and flooded the bathroom & kitchen AGAIN, and we were due to leave on our trip first thing in the morning. So we didn't bother doing anything with them. And since we got back late on Monday night, we didn't bother doing anything then either. And then when Darrin got up Tuesday morning for work (an hour early due to both of us forgetting the alarm was still set for 6 instead of 7 - oops) he tried to get it moving again with no luck.

And so we discussed various options, including calling the landlady (definitely the last resort, since we really don't like her), calling a plumber ourselves (expensive), borrowing a plunger from someone. Finally decided to drop in on Darrin's brother on our way home from work and see if he had a plunger. And as luck would have it (or not), Craig did have a plunger. But he couldn't find it, because Tyron (our 6 year old nephew) likes to play with it. Apparently it makes a good gun.

So off we went to the hardware store, which was still open for five more minutes, and bought a plunger for $2.50. And Darrin plunged the shower drain while I held the plug in the sink, and the clog was gone. Hooray.

The end. We hope.

How I Spent My Holidays

Saturday morning the alarm was set for 6 am. Blech. But I think I was actually awake before that, so no matter. Neither of us bothered showering, because a) we knew we'd be sweating in the afternoon anyway, and b) the night before we noticed there was a block in our drains after the washer flooded the bathroom & kitchen. Lovely.

Stopped for petrol/gas, drove through McDonald's for breakfast, drove on north of the city through all the towns along the gulf. Got to Port Augusta around 11 am and had lunch at Hungry Jack's (Australian Burger King).

Drove on through Quorn and Hawker, on toward Wilpena, got to the end of the asphalt and onto dirt road into the event. We found the start and got registered, got our maps, started our courses. (Side note: I never used to have to think about where north is. I just *knew*. Now that I'm in the southern hemisphere, I'm always thinking south is north, and vice versa, so I really have to pay attention to where the sun is so I know where I am.) I figured out where I was going, found the first three markers with little trouble, and then I went the wrong way down a hill and had no clue where I was. So I went back to number 3 and tried again, and got lost again, and went back again, and found marker 9. Sure, it looks similar to a 4, but it ain't a 4. But now at least I knew where I was, and there was a creek I could follow right up to number 4. And funnily enough, I ended up somewhere I'd been before, and didn't realise I was close. Dang. So found number 4, and found the rest with little or no trouble. I was out on that course for two and a half hours when it should've taken an hour and a half. But I got back before they had to look for me, so that was a good thing.

So we'd made reservations for a room in Hawker, about 40 minutes from where we'd been. Got our room, sat around for a while, had showers, went to the restaurant and had schnitzels (which weren't that great, but they filled us up). Back to the room, sleep.

Sunday morning. Woke up before the alarm. Had breakfast delivered. Ate breakfast (bacon & eggs & toast...mmmm). Got going early because it's funny how fast you can get ready in the morning when you don't have cats or computers to distract you. Got to the start again, which was a bit closer than Saturday's, and the road to the start went up a steep hill, and back down just as steep on the other side. And we were actually early, so we just sat in the car and tried to stay warm till our start times (Darrin 10:14, me 10:30). Our friends Colin & Aaron showed up, and they had start times right after each of us (10:16 and 10:32). So at about 10 we went down to the starting area, waited for our names to be called, and lined up behind everyone else who was going. Got maps, started, yada yada yada. This one was much easier than Saturday's, partly because the person who set it up was a little more forgiving than the previous one, and partly because I'd done the previous day and I was getting used to the terrain. And I had very little trouble with the Sunday course, except for marker 6 where I got off the track too soon, but I found where I was pretty quickly and finished in a reasonable time. Had some hot dogs & drinks, hung around till they were ready to pack up in case they needed help, but they had enough people so we left. And went up to Pugilist Hill lookout. Which is a big hill right next to the event. Very steep road up there, but we had a good view. Nearly 360 degrees of mountains. I took some pictures, they'll be in the gallery in the next few days.

Back to the hotel. Hung around there for a bit, had showers, changed clothes, went back toward Wilpena and the Woolshed Restaurant, which had been booked out for the orienteers for a buffet. And we stuffed ourselves. We ate till it hurt. Hung around chatting with Colin & Aaron till 9 or so, then drove back to the hotel and watched a bit of Die Hard 2 on TV before we went to sleep.

Monday morning. Had bacon & eggs for breakfast again. Checked out of the hotel. Drove to the last event, which was right next to the one we'd been to on Saturday. Got our start times, maps, and off we went. And I was doing great till marker 9 (out of 14), where I went down the wrong side of a hill (went south instead of east) and ended up almost at the bottom of the map. And I looked around for that stinking number 10 for at least an hour, then I finally decided I'd had enough, and it was getting close to the course closing, so I had to go back anyway. Got to a wide creek and realised I'd been at the OTHER wide creek further south. Found my way back to the finish where Darrin was waiting for me. Got back just over a minute past the closing time with sore feet, sore knee, and kicking myself for messing it up.

Drove back through Hawker, where we'd intended to get petrol again, but being the last day of a long weekend, everyone and his dog was there waiting already, so we drove on, since we were doing pretty good already anyway. Stopped at a bakery in Orroroo (I hope I spelled that right, can't be bothered checking the map) for lunch. Drove on to Riverton where Darrin's mum has moved to, and had tea with them. Drove back from there at about 10, got home around 11:15, got unpacked a bit, crashed in bed.

We'll definitely be going back when they do a 3-day event again, so I can beat the map rather than the other way around. And Darrin loves the area because it's HARD, and none of the maps around Adelaide compare to that.

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