* * * * *
I've never had an immunization shot. I think it has benefited me in some ways. Yes, I did get some bad diseases that could have been prevented and were potentially fatal, but my immune system is much stronger for having gone through those illnesses.
When I was four years old, my oldest brother caught Whooping Cough from a schoolmate who’d had a live pertussis (whooping cough) shot. I think most of the things I came down with (maybe all) were caused from the medical interventions of others. My case of whooping cough was particularly bad and my parents were seriously worried. I was given small doses of red wine and anointed with olive oil while my parents prayed for my recovery. I think they suffered as much as I did – maybe more – they had five kids down with whooping cough! I remember those days, maybe weeks, when my then five-year-old brother and I slept in our parents’ bed and stayed in bed most of the days. I spent hours staring at the popcorn ceiling and imagining different objects, animals, and shapes moving around. They had a Japanese painting hanging over their bed of a sailboat on a moonlit night, but I kept imaging that the sailboat was really an evil witch.
I will never forget my first day of ninth grade. I woke up feeling off and assumed it was first day of school jitters. I couldn't stomach the thought of eating my normal breakfast of cheerios (the breakfast I have eaten nearly every day of my life from the age of four until now), and decided that Ramen noodles would be just the thing. I had Spanish second period and I remember sitting in my plastic chair feeling like the teacher was speaking from miles away. My head was spinning and I was sweating. I couldn't get her attention to ask to leave the room, but I was so ill, that I left anyway. I walked into the school office and asked to call home, but the secretary just waved me off and said it was just nerves. She told me to sit down and went back to her work. I immediately began vomiting in the metal wastepaper basket. By time all of my undigested noodles were out, the secretary had my mom on the phone.
It was disappointing to miss the first two weeks of school. I had planned to take school seriously when I got to high school. I always heard that grades don’t really count until high school, and here I was out sick. My teachers sent work home, but I was in no position to focus on anything. I had a bad case of the mumps. Even when I returned to school, I had swollen glands and a misshapen face.
In eleventh grade, I came down with German Measles. That knocked me out of school for nearly three weeks. Whenever an outbreak of German Measles came about, the women at church who were pregnant, might be pregnant, or might get pregnant had to stay away from church and the public, in general – unless they’d already had German measles. I guess I also had Chicken Pox when I was a toddler, but I don’t remember it.
I don’t get sick much now. I have traveled in twenty countries and on four continents and have never had to get inoculations. My immune system is strong. Last summer, I got a notice from my graduate school adviser stating that I needed a current physical and a record of shots. Although, it is no longer against my religion to get immunizations, I didn't feel that it was a necessary procedure, so I requested (and was granted) an exception. I have natural immunity to most infectious diseases, so why have extra chemicals forced into my system?