Friday, December 02, 2005

Cure Quest: A Maternal Reading Emergency

Last week I read David Kirby's Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy and had my own reading emergency.

I'd been postponing reading Kirby's book because I was afraid that it would throw me in paroxysms of panic about poisoning and send me on what I call "cure quest." And sure enough, that's what happened. Well, that's almost what happened . . .

I was about 1/4 of the way through the book when I finally couldn't stop myself from digging out sweet M's vaccination record to calculate her mercury exposure. I haven't ever seriously thought that M's language delays are a consequence of mercury poisoning, but reading Kirby's narrative really got me going. That's what muckracking journalism is meant to do, and Kirby has done it very very well. I even phoned M's doctor to get the brandnames of the vaccines from her chart so I could calculate her Hg load at each appointment in the first three years. Her doctor seemed to think I'd lost my mind, but begrudgingly pulled that info from her chart.

For several days I was back to entertaining the idea that there really might be an autism epidemic—all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding—and that M. might really be suffering from mercury poisoning. Afterall, I thought, what about that study that correlates mercury emissions from powerplants with neurological disorders?

And, of course, this is the hook for parents: What if . . . what if . . . what if . . . her neurological challenges really are a result of mercury poisoning and I could have done something to help her and didn't?

Damaged—diseased—disabled—different: these are the four d's that dominate the thinking about sweet M. More on them shortly.

No comments: