I've had a lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach since I read this story yesterday about a 5-year-old boy with autism who died in his doctor's office during chelation therapy. I don't know this boy or this family, but I just can't stop thinking about them.
This is a scenario that plays on all of the darkest fears that I try to keep buried in the furthest recesses of my mind and heart. We have not pursued chelation with Bud. In fact, though the thimerosal/ mercury link rings true to me on an intellectual level I find that I have been unable to deal with the possibility of it on an emotional level.
How can the universe possibly make sense if something I did to keep my son safe actually did him irreparable harm?
When I allow the anxiety to surface, this is the form it always takes. Because we know so little about autism - because we don't know what causes it - because we don't know what helps it - because we don't know what could cure it - how can we as parents be anything other than immobilized with fear?
Who do we trust? How do we trust? If I hadn't gotten him vaccinated, would Bud be healthy and happy now? Or would he have died from a complication brought on by chicken pox? Or would he be just as he is now: happy, healthy, and autistic? I can't know. I will never know. And that is what makes the dark days almost unbearable.
Because if I can't even see the path that brought us here clearly in retrospect, how can I possibly envision the road ahead?
When I give Bud his daily dose of Strattera, I experience simultaneous hopefulness and dread. Am I giving him a fighting chance? Or am I making a horrible mistake? Is Bud's doctor our greatest ally? Or is Big Pharma our most insidious enemy?
And so, as I follow this unfolding story I cannot help but cast myself in the role of mother to this poor little boy in Pennsylvania. I can feel to my core how much I love him. I know that I will do anything in my power to give him every opportunity to have a full, rich life. And then I watch, as in a nightmare, while I stand rooted to the floor, unable to speak, unable to move, unable to scream, as the very action I took to save him somehow, cruelly and inexplicably, takes him away from me.
How can this possibly be?