Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

27 Jul

Numbers, numbers, numbers.  I have spent six weeks in the hospital with my elderly mother, who is very ill.  I watch the numbers on the machines to which she is hooked up.  Blood pressure, pulse, respiration, oxygen saturation.  When do I need to get up and get a nurse.  Is she being monitored closely enough.  It reminds me too much of 13 years ago, when my older son contracted meningococcal meningitis, a deadly form of bacterial meningitis.  For 26 days, my husband, younger son, and I spent our days watching numbers.  It was one of the few ways we could get a grasp of the disease destroying our beautiful son’s body and mind.  It is a feeling of total helplessness, seeing your child so sick, and knowing you can’t do anything to help. 

I don’t want any other parent to sit in a hospital room and watch numbers, panicking at any change in the numbers, waiting for something good to happen, and then it doesn’t.  Your son dies, and then you find out it could have all been prevented with a vaccine.  How do you go back.  You can’t.  You’ve lost.  The only thing I can do is work as hard as I can to prevent this from happening to other families.

Now there are other numbers, numbers which upset me as a parent.  Discussions on how many infants have to die before an infant meningitis vaccine, approved by the FDA, is recommended by the CDC.  Is it 10, 15, 20?  Shouldn’t all infants be protected?  Ask a parent who has lost a child, and you have your answer.  What is your child’s life worth?

What I have learned in these 13 years, “Vaccinate, Vaccinate, Vaccinate.”  Not just for meningitis, but for all vaccines for which your infants, adolescents, and teens need.  Vaccines are the key to protecting our children.

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