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Friday, November 21, 2008

Something Happy...

Some pictures of the girls and me from this summer. Celest is in the top photo and Lotus is in the bottom picture. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This Year’s People Who Suck

I know the year isn’t over yet, so there’s still time for someone to do or say something really stupid (with regards to autism). However, I thought I’d take a few moments to highlight some of this year’s People Who Suck. I thought about labeling them a**holes, but I thought that wasn’t really accurate…

Amanda Peet- I’ve already mentioned her, but I can’t have my list complete without mentioning her again. Here’s her insight on not vaccinating your children: "Frankly, I feel that parents who don't vaccinate their children are parasites." Yep, we’re mooching off of your immunity. Never mind that I am fully vaccinated. Never mind that my children had most of their vaccines (which, incidentally, sparked yeast growth over their torsos, private areas, and face; gave them diarrhea-like bowel movements for about three months; and coincidence or not, coincided with their regression in language and behavior).

Thanks for passing your judgment. Oh, but she did “do her homework”. More from her Cookie interview, where she tells us about how speaking to Dr. Paul Offit cleared up her concerns: "Once we had spoken, I was shocked at the amount of misinformation floating around, particularly in Hollywood," says Peet, who quickly boned up on the hot-button controversies surrounding the topic, including the unproven link between certain vaccines and autism; the safety of preservatives like mercury-based thimerosal; and the fear that the relatively high number of shots kids receive today can overwhelm young immune systems. Her conclusion? Well, not only is Frankie up-to-date on her vaccines (with no staggering), but her mom will soon appear in public-service announcements for Every Child by Two. "I buy 99 percent organic food for Frankie, and I don't like to give her medicine or put sunscreen on her," says Peet. "But now that I've done my research, vaccines do not concern me."

I put unproven in italics because the link is just that, “unproven”. Meaning it hasn’t definitively been proven to be or to not be a cause of some cases of autism. Then again, it’s more convenient to see only the side that proves your point…

Dennis Leary- In his book, Why We Suck, he has a chapter titled autism schmautism (not sure of his spelling on the second word). He tried to defend his paragraph that was “taken out of context” by media on the Daily Show, but he still comes across as a misinformed jackass. He contends that there is a big problem of incompetent parents getting their children labeled with “low level” diagnoses of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome so that they can have an excuse for having bratty, misbehaving children. He said that he has known a person with autism for a long time and that he understands that it is a serious condition, but that it’s the families who did a crappy job raising their kids and are looking for excuses, like unwarranted autismdiagnoses, that he is trying to bring attention to.

If he really wanted to do any kind of service for parents or people with autismhe could’ve left this chapter out of his book or written about how autismis a prevalent condition that is poorly understood and underfunded in research. No, he’d rather tackle an issue that he says is very prevalent: bad parents who shop for diagnoses that make them feel better about the poor job they do raising their children.

Where he got this information about fake diagnoses he didn’t really elaborate on. Maybe it’s one of those things you just learn when you are wealthy and famous.
Michael Weiner (aka Michael Savage)- In July Michael Savage spoke about autismas if he had some clue as to what it is. Here is his definition of autism, “You know what autismis? I'll tell you what autismis… In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autismis."

He also said that if we just told our kids to suck it up and act like a man that they’d be fine. I’ve been keeping up on “cures” for autismfor some time now, so I decided to give his theory a try. One night when Lotus was lying in bed trying to pull her hair out by the roots (which she does to fight off sleepiness), I told her to quit being a putz and act like a man. It didn’t work. I guess I must have one of the 1% of children with “real” autism.

Dr. Paul Offit- You’d think that he got paid to reassure the public that vaccinations are safe, very, very safe. Oh, wait a minute. He sort of does! Let’s look at Dr. Offit’s credentials (underlining mine):

Paul A. Offit, MD is the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Offit is also the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology, and a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He is a recipient of many awards including the J. Edmund Bradley Prize for Excellence in Pediatrics bestowed by the University of Maryland Medical School, the Young Investigator Award in Vaccine Development from the Infectious Disease Society of America, and a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health.Dr. Paul A. Offit has published more than 130 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety. He is also the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, recently recommended for universal use in infants by the CDC; for this achievement Dr. Offit received the Gold Medal from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Jonas Salk Medal from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

Dr Paul Offit was also a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is the author of four books titled Vaccines: What You Should Know (Wiley, 2003, 3rd Edition), Breaking the Antibiotic Habit (Wiley, 1999), The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to Today’s Growing Vaccine Crisis (Yale University Press, 2005), and, most recently, Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases (HarperCollins, 2007). A fifth book titled Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure will be published by Columbia University Press in the fall of 2008.

Hmm, do you see any sort of connection? Like, maybe why he is such a fierce defender of vaccines is because his whole career and livelihood depend on the sale of vaccines? And do you sense just a hint of animosity towards those who disagree with him? I mean, “Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure”. That title is more than a little offensive to me. How about : Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for Prophets: An Industry More Concerned with Money than the Well Being of Children? I think that would be a good title for an investigative journalism piece that delves into the world of vaccine creation and pharmaceutical companies.

Take for instance, just this one example of the due diligence of pharamaceutical companies. This pertains to the “safe” preservative thimerosal, you remember, the one Offit convinced Amanda Peet is perfectly safe. Thimerosal’s safety was tested on adults with meningitis. The following information is from a lawyer’s investigation into thimerosal for a case:

In 1928, Dr. G.H.A. Clowes, Director of Research of the Eli Lilly Co., assigned Lilly scientists H.M. Powell and W.A. Jamieson the task of completing animal toxicity studies in anticipation of plans to sell the product for human use as an antiseptic and/or antibacterial agent. Exhibit 4 (Exhibit ELI-392FF). Powell and Jamieson performed a series of short-term experiments on animals to ascertain what acute and immediate toxicity might be observed. They made no effort to determine what injuries would results from longer term or lower level exposures.
On July 24, 1930, Powell and Jamieson submitted their results for publication to The American Journal of Hygiene, and their article was published in January 1931. Id. In one section of the published paper, Powell and Jamieson noted:

Toxicity in man. Merthiolate has been injected intravenously into 22 persons in doses up to 50 cubic centimeters of 1% solution. . . The toleration of such intravenous doses indicates a very low order of toxicity of merthiolate for man. This information has been supplied through the kindness of Dr. K.C. Smithburn of Indianapolis who has had occasion to use merthiolate in a clinical way. Dr. Smithburn stated in these cases ‘beneficial effect of the drug was not definitely proven. It did not appear, however, to have any deleterious action when used in rather large doses intravenously when all the drug entered the vein.
Nevermind the fact that these patients would all later die from meningitis; whoops, no source of information on long term effects!

After this “study” was completed Eli Lilly went on to tout thimerosal, or merthiolate as it was then called, as being a safe, non-toxic substance. However, ten years later, the military decided it didn’t agree:

v. The 1940’s: Additional Recognition of Potential Hazards, Especially for Sensitive Persons
In 1941, the Lilly staff received an article entitled "Chemotherapy of Bacterial Endocarditis." The article advised Lilly scientists that merthiolate should never be given more frequently than once in 10 days due to its toxicity and potential hazards. Exhibit 12 (Exhibit ELI-392P(2)). Lilly also sold large amounts of merthiolate to the United States government for use in the war effort from 1941-1945. "Merthiolate was an army standard issue and 22 tank cars of the popular antiseptic were dispatched from (the) McCarty Street (plant) during the war." Due to military regulations, and as a result of the toxicity of the ethylmercury preservative, Lilly was required to label the product "POISON." The "POISON" language was only added to cartons of products in certain instances, as when required by the government, and Lilly continued to fail to warn about known hazards of the product for its non-military sales and for sales related to vaccines. Exhibit 13 (Exhibit ELI-228).

So the military warranted merthiolate a “poison” while Eli Lilly kept selling it to the public as “non-toxic”. Hmm, that seems a bit unethical, at the very least…
How about this information:

The 1970’s: Lilly Lies to the FDA in a Bid to Avoid Regulation
In 1972, Lilly received an article that confirmed that its product, used as a preservative in vaccines, caused 6 deaths from mercury poisoning. Exhibit 29 (Exhibit ELI-392K(1)). "The symptoms and clinical course of the 6 patients suggests subacute mercury poisoning."

Shortly thereafter, the FDA required Lilly to provide all the information at its disposal concerning the potential toxicity of thimerosal. Lilly reported to the FDA, in a February 14, 1973 letter, that "as with other chemicals of its generation, information relating to safety and efficacy of thimerosal in animal models is sparse." Exhibit 30 (Exhibit ELI-392). But Lilly went further, advising the FDA that the product was non-toxic and cited the fraudulent Jamieson and Powell study of 1930 as its supporting scientific evidence. Exhibit 31 (Exhibit ELI-392QQ). Despite its knowledge to the contrary, Lilly continued to use the incomplete Powell and Jamieson version of the Lilly/Smithburn experiment to support its conclusions that the product was safe and "non-toxic."

ix. 1976: One Example of Lilly’s Efforts to Convince the Public that Thimerosal is Safe.
On April 27, 1976, Lilly’s Manager of Industrial Sales, W. Orbaugh, responded to a letter from Rexall Drug Company in St. Louis, Missouri. Rexall Drug had been concerned about the potential hazards of merthiolate/thimerosal and had requested, pursuant to the trademark/marketing agreement maintained with Lilly, permission to place the following warning on the product:

Frequent or prolonged use or application to large areas may cause mercury poisoning.
Okay, so it’s “non-toxic” but it can, and has, caused mercury poisoning and death. Oops! That’s just a minor “fact” that we can sweep under the rug.
That’s all of my people who suck, for now anyway. If Bill Frist hadn’t crawled under a rock, he’d be on my list too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Fun Continues (or Why I Really *love* People!)

Talk about fun for your birthday! I didn’t just have a *fun* birthday I had a whole, fun birthfortnight! Oh yeah!
Let’s start at the beginning, so to speak. The day before I was supposed to go out of town for the weekend, I started to feel a little sick. My voice was getting crackly and I was feeling a little congested. My mom and I ended up staying up until 6 am working on my Halloween costume. I was going to an anime convention for the weekend, and I was going as Sailor Saturn (from the Sailor Moon anime).
So, I’m a bit grumpy that morning when I have to get up an hour after I fall asleep to get the girls ready for school. I took a nap after they left and was feeling a little less grumpy. Yay! Unfortunately my congestion and cold had worsened some.
Most of the day Friday I just napped. On Saturday I napped the first half of the day, then dressed up and walked about the convention with my friend. I felt okay, but I could only whisper, which was annoying.
So, early Sunday afternoon we head home. When I get there I find out that Lotus decided to crawl into the dryer while my mom was folding laundry in another room. My mom heard the girls get into the laundry room, which had a sliding lock on it, and she went to get them out; unfortunately Lotus had just enough time to get a nasty burn on her arm. I put burn medicine on it later some antibiotic ointment.
I took the girls to school the next morning because I overslept and missed the school bus (again!). I showed the teacher and aides the burn, and I told them what had happened. I didn’t think anything would come of the incident, but I was wrong. The school nurse decided that Children’s Services needed to be called, even though later, other school officials assured me that they didn’t think that I was a “bad” mom or that I could have done anything differently. Hmm, yep, I think that’s the mission of children’s services; to investigate accidents. No? Oh, I must have been confused. This certainly could have been filed as an unusual incident, and I wouldn’t have minded. But neglect? Especially when I am told by the people who made the call that they don’t really think that I was negligent. Hmm, maybe I’m just silly in the head, but they either lied to me or they lied to children’s services; either you think I’m negligent or you don’t. It’s not really a “grey area” type of thing.
I kept missing the social worker when they stopped by unannounced, so I had to call and make an appointment. He said that the complaint was filed as "neglect" because of the accident. Hopefully it will be an open and closed deal, since there wasn’t any neglect actually involved. Anyway, I have installed a key locking doorknob on the laundry room, so the girls will have to be able to pick that before they could get in the room. Also, I’ve been shutting the breaker to the dryer off when it isn’t in use.
To add to the fun, I had a fever from my cold-turned-sinus-infection, and I was very tired and felt like crap. Wee!
When I took Lotus to the doctor on Tuesday there was a screw up at the sign in desk, as a lady came in after us and talked to the receptionist but didn’t write down her child’s name. The receptionist scratched off our name without pulling our charts, so we subsequently sat there for 45 minutes before I asked how long it’d be until we were seen. We were called back pretty much right away. Lotus was agitated and didn’t want to cooperate with the doctor, who repeatedly chastised Lotus and me for not being able to hold still while he examined her (hmm, restraining an anxious, frightened ten year old with autism isn’t as easy as you might think, especially when you are exhausted, sick, and near tears).
Okay, so after the fun at the doctor’s office, you’d think I’d had enough for the day. Nope, not me! I took the girls to pick up the medicine at Kroger later that day. Unfortunately Lotus decided to lie down periodically and not get up. I had to haul on her to get her to move. The nice, friendly community folks who were shopping that day were so helpful. They slowed down to stare, point, shake their heads, laugh, and make knowing glances at one another. I was obviously a bad mom with spoiled brats. Yep, that covers it. My kids and I look “normal” so we must just be spoiled kids with an inept mom. I ended up leaving without getting the prescription because I couldn’t keep the girls waiting for twenty minutes while they were agitated and uncooperative. (By the way, thanks to all of you who laughed at my family in front of your own children; you set a great example of tolerance and understanding for our future generation!)
There was one person who offered to help, but even he looked skeptical when I told him no. I appreciated the offer, but having a stranger get into the mix would most likely have only made it worse. Or Lotus might have hit him to get him away, which I didn’t want to happen.
On to more fun! I am probably going to have to use the money I was planning on using to get the girls' Christmas presents to buy a dryer, since my old one keeps getting clothes stuck in around the edges and when you pull them out they tear (and it keeps making a squeaking noise). I haven't bought them a single thing yet but... when it rains, it pours. Also, my car's heater has quit working. Yay! Pretty much all summer I was without AC, and now no heat. My car doesn’t like anything outside the 60-70 degree range, I guess. Also, when I got back home I had to snake my toilet because the girls (probably Celest- she's generally the instigator of these sorts of things) flushed at least one, if not more, whole bars of soap down my toilet. It's still not running perfectly, but it's better than it was. Someone told me to try putting a pot of boiling water down toilet, and I think I'll try that to see if it helps clear out the last little bit of soap. Also while I was gone, my garbage disposal quit working. I was thinking that I might have to get a new one, but it turns out that it just blew the fuse on the bottom of the unit. When I ran it, it did seem to be running more loudly, so I think I'll just try to avoid using it. We just put in a new disposal unit about two or three years ago though, so I don't know what the deal is.
And today I got a call from the psychologist that oversees the girls' ABA programming, telling me that we need to have a meeting to see where we go from here because my team and I haven't been cooperating with our new consultant. We missed a team meeting because the consultant insists that we have the meeting from 3-5 on Tuesdays (which is the only day we could all agree on). Problem is, the therapists can't get here at three and the girls are still at school. Argh! Why, why, why? Also, "it would be more convenient" for them if I could meet them at their office since they are so busy. Nevermind that it takes me about 35-40 minutes to get to their office. I don't have anything better to do. Nope, not a thing.
/end bitching