At the age of seven (1953), I caught varicella zoster virus or chickenpox and in 2005 I caught whooping cough (pertussis). Little did I realize these two childhood diseases could affect my life and intertwine…but they did. Not only did I have chickenpox, I developed a staph infection afterwards and was given massive doses of penicillin. The lesions from staph lasted about 2 months. My parents had to take me to have all the boils lanced, drained, and packed for several weeks. That was so traumatic for a seven-year old.
When I came down with whooping cough at the age of 60, my entire life changed. I was forced into retirement, developed COPD and asthma, lost my voice due to damage to my vocal chords, and developed fibromyalgia. My immune system became compromised and I’ve had shingles 3 times since 2005 (resulting from chickenpox), and I’m now dealing with chronic postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). I catch everything coming and going. I had to see doctor this morning due to an episode of the PHN. I had all of my vaccinations as a baby, BUT THEY WEAR OFF.
I will always believe I caught whooping cough in my workplace where I worked in the office that children from out of the country came through to get permission to attend Union County Public Schools. My office was in one of the most public places in the county…the courthouse. I was the third case in the county. I was at a school board meeting taking minutes when I started getting sick. These two childhood diseases have drastically affected my life and had a profound impact on my family. Once I contracted(pertussis) it weakened my resistance, therefore the chickenpox virus that was stored in my body reactivated and caused me to have shingles. I’ve had shingles three times and the PHN will never go away. The nerves have been compromised and damaged. Don’t let anyone tell you that childhood diseases are not dangerous. They have changed my life.
My children came along before the vaccine was developed and they both had severe cases of chickenpox. One of them was an adult when she caught it. That’s the sickest I’ve ever seen either of them. My prayer is that neither of them will develop shingles.
I am currently dealing with and episode or flair of shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. It has been going on for about three or four weeks. The pain is excruciating. Had an unvaccinated child or a person with a compromised immune system gotten around me, they most likely would have contracted chickenpox. Because of this situation, I’ve not even been able to attend church or go out in public. I would never want to be responsible for another human being going through what I’ve been through. I have several friends going through chemo, and they are prime candidates for the disease.
I think you can see why I have such strong feelings about this issue. The schools tell parents not to send peanut butter sandwiches to school so that children allergic to nuts will not be exposed to peanut butter. My belief is that a child should not attend a daycare or public school without vaccinations and out of respect for others they should leave peanut butter at home. I believe in medical freedom, but when it infringes on any other person, that becomes another problem. Like I said, had I come in contact over the last few weeks with a person undergoing chemo with a compromised immune system or an unvaccinated child I could have given them chickenpox. I care about my fellowman and I would never intentionally expose anyone to this disease. I developed a flu type virus six weeks ago, and due to my compromised immune system, the varicella zoster virus reared its ugly head. The only thing that will take this away is when I leave this world…so for now I just have to deal with it.
The measles has returned to America and next I look for smallpox and polio. I came along in the midst of the polio epidemic of the 1950s, in fact, I was exposed to it. I have a friend who had polio as a child, before the vaccine was developed. She is crippled even today and walks with a cane. I’m quite familiar with the ongoing argument about vaccines, but from my experience I wish I had never had the diseases and want to urge everyone to vaccinate. It’s your right to disagree with me, but my experiences have led me to feel the way I do. Only God Himself will change my beliefs on this issue.
So for now, my mission on this earth is to point people to Christ and promote vaccinations for all communicable diseases. One way I have been able to deal with life’s issues has been through music. Sometimes when I can’t pray, I go to the piano and play an old hymn and go over the words in my mind. I’m a proponent of the old hymns of the church. I guess you might call me a traditionalist, and yes I still use the King James Version of Scripture, especially in my writing. That version has stood the test of time since 1611. Under the auspices of King James I of England, we were given this great translation. Even though I can’t sing anymore, there are many old hymns that have sustained me over the last few years and this is one of my favorites…God Leads Us Along by George A. Young…written in 1903. I can close my eyes and almost hear my mother singing these moving words.
“In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet, God leads His dear children along; Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet, God leads His dear children along.
Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright, God leads His dear children along; Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night, God leads His dear children along.
Though sorrows befall us and Satan oppose, God leads His dear children along; Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes, God leads His dear children along.
Away from the mire, and away from the clay, God leads His dear children along; Away up in glory, eternity’s day, God leads His dear children along.
Refrain: Some through the waters, some through the flood, Some through the fire, but all through the blood; Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, In the night season and all the day long.”