I’m not trying to debate vaccines or push my opinions on anyone (that is soooo new-mother-ish! ;-)), but for the sake of understanding this silly story, here’s a quick background:
We’re a selective and delayed-vaxing family. After much careful research, we chose to skip vaxes that aren’t crucial for babies who aren’t in daycare: Hib, Prevnar, rotavirus, etc.; as well as the (*coughcough*asinine) chickenpox vax. But we did choose do give the (IMO) crucial vaxes, for diseases that are either a real risk (whooping cough, anyone?), and/or very dangerous: DTaP, MMR, and Polio. Based on my research, I don’t consider measles particularly dangerous for children, but it does have potentially serious risks, and it’s also out there…and I don’t want to be part of its resurgence by not vaccinating.
However, for the MMR vaccine, because of all the controversy & risks associated with giving babies three live viruses all at once, I chose to delay it. We delayed it quite a bit, actually: Desmond just got his very first dose of MMR last week, and he’s just about to turn 6 (his 6th birthday is next Wednesday, to be exact). I actually didn’t intend to delay it this long. My plan was to give it just after his 4th birthday—sparing the risks associated with giving three live viruses to a still-developing baby, as well as eliminating the need for a booster until college age—but since I got sick right about that time, it kind of got pushed aside while we were trying to cope with dealing with my situation.
Now that things are at least somewhat under control with me (not that I’m not still very sick; unfortunately, I am. But I’ve learned to cope with the symptoms to the degree that, most days, we can focus on other things), we wanted to get him in to have his MMR shot.
So, Philip took little Des in to the health department last week. The whole thing was uneventful, as it usually is for him. He’s a tough little guy, and never cries for shots. He just purses his lips and takes ’em like a man. He always has! The vaccine nurse at the health department is really sweet. She’s always remembered us and our boys when we come in. She always gives a sticker or small toy, and even though Gray wasn’t with them that day, she told Des to pick a sticker to bring home to him.
After the shot, Philip stopped at a convenience store and let Des pick out his choice of treat, for being such a trooper. Des took forever to choose something, but finally settled on “Fun Dip”, which is today’s version of the old “Lik-M-Aid”. It’s basically sweetened kool-aid type powder that you eat by licking a candy stick and dipping it into the powder, licking it off, and so on. The powder is blue, and it stains the tongue and mouth blue. He had some of it when he got home, and saved the rest for later.
Then, at around sunset, we all went out for our evening walk—something I’m so grateful to be able to do now, after spending over a year bedridden and unable to walk outdoors. I’m slow, and I feel horrible while walking & for a while afterwards, but I can do it, praise God! It’s a thousand times better than being stuck on the couch staring miserably out the window every evening, wishing I could just go outside and walk (yeah, that’s what I did all last year).
Back to the MMR shot, and its risks. I’ve dreaded him getting this one for a long time, again, due to the controversy and the higher risk of potential side effects. So I was watching him closely that day for any sign of reaction (with this one, adverse side effects are actually most common around a week after the shot, so I’m still watching him). Mind you, I wasn’t expecting a reaction, but was simply watching him in the unlikely event there was one.
So we had walked halfway around the block, where there’s a site where some land was recently cleared. Des likes to veer off into the newly-tilled ground there on our walks each night; apparently it’s great fun to run and jump on all the deep tractor tire ridges. He ran around like a wild man for a few minutes, and then we went on our way down the road. He came running up to us, out of breath from his exertion.
He said something to me, barely understandable because of his heavy breathing, and I looked down at him. I was horrified to notice that his lips were blue! Immediately, my mind went to that day’s vaccination, and I thought, “Blue lips! Oh my word, something’s wrong!”
“PHILIP!” I cried, “His lips are blue!”
Philip looked down at him and said with a chuckle, “Yeah, they sure are!”
Philip never panics. Never. Nothing shakes him. Clearly he was not grasping how serious this was.
“It’s from the shot today!”, I insisted, “Philip, he’s not breathing right…look, he’s gasping for breath! And HIS LIPS ARE BLUE!”
Philip looked at me like I was crazy and said, “He’s out of breath because he was just running around like a fool. And of course his lips are blue. That’s from his Lik-M-Aid powder. He had some after dinner, just before we left.”
So now he tells me.