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Swine flu

In to the Wind

October 12, 2011
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

I never know what column will pique the reader’s interest. I had a lot of response to my Poor Wink column. I was lamenting about my decision to have my cat Wink, the one eyed huntress, inoculated. She suffered some sore muscles and general malaise from the experience, but has recovered just fine. She is back to hunting and carousing, and being uniquely Wink. It is the right thing to do to get your pets their shots. Even thought last week I seemed to be regretting that decision, I am not now. Wink has recovered.

Instead of Poor Wink, that column should have been entitled Poor Mike. It is apparent now I suffered as much as Wink. Maybe I should explain.

I have to admit I really know very little about inoculations and the science involved. Because we live in the information age, scary stories of how some have adverse reactions to inoculations tend to rise to the top for me. I always approached having the kids vaccinated for the various things they must with certain trepidation. There are a small percentage of reactions to such things which are life changing, if not life threatening.

Part of my personal angst regarding vaccinations stems from a horrific experience I had with a certain vaccination I had administered to me once.

It was 1976. Gerald Ford was president The CDC had identified a virus with swine components thought to be similar to the 1918 flu pandemic which killed 20 million people worldwide. Predictions were that 50 to 60 million Americans could become infected. A vaccine was prepared. People stood in line at the urging of the Federal Government, and in my case, the urging of my employer. I was vaccinated.

In short order I couldn’t have been sicker if I had actually caught the swine flu, with a cold, and some other flu, and a hangover all at the same time. I thought I was going to die. Actually, I wanted to die. I could barely raise my arms, my legs wouldn’t work right, I had a fever, and it felt like someone beat me half to death with a two by four. If I remember correctly, and that ability is sometimes in question, it was a whole week before I was able to function somewhat normally, and the effects lingered for weeks.

So not only do I pay attention to the scare stories regarding vaccinations and inoculations, but have my own personal scare story to add to my angst. If I will never subject my body to another inoculation of any sort, how can I cause the kids, or the pets to take similar risks? I have not taken a flu shot since that fateful day in 1976 I will not take a flu shot again, period. Not only that, but I will take my chances with any illness or malady somebody else decides I need protection from, instead of being immunized. They would have to hold a gun to my head and force me, and I’m not so sure I wouldn’t just let them shoot me instead. I was so sick in 1976 and never want to repeat that again.

If this was 1976 again, and medical science knows what they do in 2011, and I know what I know now, I would think the diagnosis of what ailed me would be Guillain-Barre syndrome. Fortunately mine was a relatively minor case; there were many people who died that year from this. I had several of the symptoms, and my recovery took much longer than it would have from the flu.

You have to understand it was my employer at the time that pushed to have all of us immunized. I believe I was the only one who had a reaction. I don’t think they really believed I had a reaction. I remember my boss coming to my apartment to assess my state of health. I also remember extreme muscle pain. I remember going back to work way sooner than I should have. But, if you are young, and need a paycheck, and others are depending on you to perform, you do what you have to do, right?

After people began dying of the vaccination, and not the swine flu, the government stopped the program. There was no pandemic. There was no repeat of the 1918 events which killed so many. I think this fiasco was at least partly the reason Jimmy Carter, with his “new south” agenda beat Ford in the presidential race of 1976.

I wonder some times if the damage done to my body because of the reaction to the swine flu vaccination is the cause of the migraine headaches I’ve suffered from since about that time. Damage to nerves can be a result of having Guillain-Barre syndrome. But maybe I’m just a hypochondriac and just happened to catch some other strain of the flu coincidentally at the same time I was vaccinated for swine flu.

I have learned however there are certain triggers for my particular brand of migraines. I relay this information merely in the hopes others might learn or gain some insight into their migraines and a possible cause.

Mine have been minor compared to what they had become, once I realized I had food allergies or sensitivities to corn products. That’s a heck of a thing for an Iowa boy to admit, but it’s true. I don’t think it’s any corn either, but the genetically modified varieties, or GMO corn.

I can eat sweet corn crown from legacy seeds with no ill effects. However, if I eat GMO sweet corn, a severe migraine is sure to follow. If I eat corn chips, or any corn product which contain GMO corn, I get an almost immediate migraine. The very worst is anything containing high fructose corn sweetener. If I drink a pop with corn sweetener, bang!

It takes a lot of label reading and careful shopping to avoid these products. Not only do you have to look for high fructose corn sweetener on the label, but corn meal, corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose, lactic acid and others.

And no, I am not the only one who has identified GMO corn as a cause for their migraine headaches. There are web sites dedicated to disseminating such information, and there is a growing awareness that twiddling with plant genes just might not be a good thing to do, especially if the products are going to be consumed as foodstuff.

Until next time--

In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2011 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342.

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