My children, now 15, 18, 21 and 22, were 3, 6, 9 and 10 … when chatter became mainstream about the Chicken Pox vaccine. I’d heard a lot about it: that it was cultured from the cells of aborted fetuses (a repugnant thought to me), that the immunity it conferred wore off in adulthood, leaving the person vulnerable to catching Chicken Pox. It’s been generally known for a long time that the older the person is when they contract Chicken Pox, the greater their vulnerability for having a severe case. I was really conflicted about what to do with my own children, who had not had Chicken Pox, who were unlikely to contract it from normal sources as they were homeschooled … yet I felt very uneasy about the idea of the vaccine.
Then … THEN … I received a phone call from my best friend in college. Her husband, who had never had Chicken Pox as a child, caught it from their child. They then endured the most unbelievable ordeal … her husband had the worst case of Chicken Pox that (to that date, anyway) anyone had ever survived. He first got very sick, then was hospitalized. His illness went from Chicken Pox to Encephalitis of the brain. His head swelled. His eye lids split like swollen grapes. His neck grew to an unbelievable thickness. He lost all the skin on his body. His brain swelled so much they had to put a shunt in his brain to drain off the fluid. He sustained a temperature of 109 degrees for over a week, and the doctors told his wife that he was unlikely to survive, but that if he survived, he would be severely brain damaged. I forget how many different kinds of doctors there were attending him at the time, but it was in the double digits. He was hospitalized for almost a month. Midway through this ordeal, the Chicken Pox virus attacked the muscle in one of his calves, and a team of surgeons had to be assembled for emergency surgery on his calf muscle.
Miraculously, he lived, and he’s normal today (depending on what you call “normal”) lol. He had the WORST case of Chicken Pox that anyone has ever survived, and was written up in two medical journals. It took years before his recovery was complete, but he did survive. Praise God. For even though I’ve only met him but a couple of times in my life, I know his humor, his intelligence, and his value to his family. He’s a train conductor today. What a cool job. Chooooooo — choooooooooooo ……
Anyway … after hearing about my friend’s husband, there was no way I was going to let my children have that Chicken Pox vaccine, only to have it wear off as they were becoming adults, (forgetful adults, no doubt, taking after their mother) who would never remember to go and get a booster shot for their childhood Chicken Pox vaccine. I determined the necessity of my children contracting Chicken Pox at that moment.
Imagine my delight when my sister called me a few weeks later, and in the course of the conversation, informed me that her children had come down with Chicken Pox, having contracted it at Preschool. Three cheers! Woo-hoo!
So …. this is what we did. She had her most infected child wear a tee-shirt large enough to fit my oldest child for twenty four hours. Then she removed it from his pox infected body, double sealed it in zip-lock bags, and then she overnighted it to me via Fed Ex. God bless Fed Ex.
The package arrived, I immediately opened it and placed the “infected” tee shirt on my oldest child for an hour, then my next oldest, then the second to youngest, then the youngest. One, two, three, four.
Two weeks later, like clockwork, my children came down with Chicken Pox and boy, was I ready. We had the sofas arranged, the Aveeno Oatmeal bath additives purchased, cortisone cream, special food treats, etc. all ready. I arranged sofas, recliners, daybeds, mattresses and sleeping bags in the living room in front of the television, and rented every Shirley Temple movie the video store had to offer, which was just about all of them. And we dug in for the duration.
As a result, none of my children ever had to have the Chicken Pox vaccine. They all came down with a decent case, and we all had the BEST TIME … there was nothing like planning to have it and being prepared. It’s one of the best “fond memories” that we all share of their childhood years.
And the very best part of all? Lifetime immunity. No medical journals for my kids, thank you very much!
If Fed. Ex. only knew.
Photo is of my youngest, around the time of the Chicken Pox Incident.