I’m sickened by the story of the family in Alberta whose child died of viral meningitis, and my heart goes out to the parents. There but for the grace of God (or whomever) go I, and each and every other person on the planet. Perhaps the parents did make a mistake in not taking him to the hospital earlier. Perhaps the child would have died no matter what. No one knows for sure–not the doctors, or anyone else, and it makes me feel sick to my stomach that there are so many people–my own Facebook “friends”–who seem to be revelling in such a sad and tragic event, by sharing nasty and misleading news stories that vilify the parents. I cannot understand why there seems to be so little compassion for this family. They did what they thought was right, and the outcome was awful. I do not think they should be prosecuted, or persecuted, any more than should parents whose children die after “proper” medical treatment should be prosecuted or blamed–for being so stupid as to visit doctors who also are not always right, perhaps?
It’s disgusting that biased and cruel stories, along with photos of the family, are being circulated, the purpose of which seem to be entirely to make the adherents to allopathic medicine feel superior, and to condemn and shame and incite fear in those who avoid doctors as much as possible (and I certainly fall within the latter category). And of course, the references to vaccinating or not vaccinating that go along with many of the nasty reports about this family are ridiculous and moot, as there is no vaccine for viral meningitis anyway.
Not one of us has room to opine as to whether or not the parents sought adequate medical care. I give birth to all my children at home, and I have “treated” all of their (mild, innocuous few-and-far-between) illnesses at home, without seeking the advice or care of doctors, because in my view, that has never been warranted. And my children all happen to still be alive, and thriving. But I’m sure there are scores of people out there–the majority of people out there perhaps–who would view my health-related parenting decisions as neglectful.
Maybe it is the case though, that we all suffer as a result of parents who drag their kids to emergency or to their doctor’s office for every cough and sniffle, and that in doing so, people who are actually sick and who require emergency medical care, are being deprived. Perhaps if there were fewer hypochondriacs happily taking up the time and energy of emergency response health care workers in this country of ours with socialized medicine, the little boy in this news story might have lived. We don’t know.
Several people responded when I shared my thoughts about this case on my Facebook page. It was pointed out by many that doctors also make mistakes that result in death, and that in particular, viral meningitis often claims the lives of children who are hospitalized. Another mother shared her story of watching her child struggle through (and ultimately survive) viral meningitis, and she reported that it was quite terrifying, particularly because the disease is so rapidly changeable.
Another mother pointed out that it is in part because of the cruel mob-mentality that is so evident in regards to this story and others like it, that many parents who do choose alternative healing methods, or who choose not to have their children vaccinated, often are extremely reticent to seek out medical care when it really is warranted, and for good reason. The backlash and blame that parents are faced with when their choices do not correspond exactly with mainstream views, can sometimes be extreme. I know this to be the case, and I have experienced and witnessed first-hand the condescension and intimidation tactics that are used by health-care professionals towards parents whose views do not align with corporate ‘wisdom’.
I’ve had enough. Let’s all stand up for each other with some compassion. The vast majority of parents are doing the very best we can. And no one chooses home birth, or herbal healing, or whole foods, or to keep our kids’ immune systems intact by refusing vaccines, because these choices are easy, or simple, or as a result of laziness or apathy. It’s actually the opposite.