Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu Pandemic - Part 3 (Back To Basics - Fever)

**As with anything, I urge all to be prayerful when considering information found on the internet. As we are told in Moroni 10:5: And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.**

Back To Basics - Fever

I have SO much I want to touch on with regard to the swine flu hysteria. I think today I’ll start by going back to the basics regarding fevers.

I can’t adequately express how often I’ve heard mothers around me say, “Yeah, Timmy’s got a fever. I just keep giving him Tylenol and ibuprofen and try to keep him comfortable.” To me, this is like nails on a chalkboard and it takes everything in me not to shout, “DON’T DO THAT!”

When SARS was the big scare of 2003, I was pregnant with my second child. I remember doing a lot of research on the topic because I worked in a hospital and we had patients on isolation precautions if they had any suspicious respiratory symptoms. The only time I ever got scared was the night I was working and 6 different patients and nurses (myself included) got bloody noses in the same shift. At Mike’s bidding, I went on maternity leave after that. It was the last shift I worked before having my baby.

In the next post, I’m going to post an article I read back then entitled “Murder In the Medicine Cabinet”. The title caught my eye and I read it with great fervor. I will admit that there were parts of it that seemed a bit outlandish but overall, I got a distinct feeling that I should straighten up and pay attention to what it said. Basically, it talked about how the flu epidemic of 1918 may have been perpetuated by the use of antipyretics (fever reducers), specifically aspirin. The way the human body fights viral infections is by raising the body’s core temperature, resulting in a fever. The fever stops the viral RNA from replicating, giving the body’s own defenses the opportunity to seek and destroy the virus. The premise of the article was that if we reduce the fever, we also knock out the body’s natural defense system against the viral attack. We feel better for a time but we run the risk of allowing the virus to replicate unchecked. This leads to pneumonia and can be deadly. Pneumonia kills a LOT of people each year.

The article made brilliant sense to me and I felt the spirit whispering the truth of it to me. I was so confident in its explanation of things that I decided to use its principles to govern the way I care for my own sick children. I began “experimenting”, if you will, with their illnesses in an attempt to see if the principles were correct. I should note that I did this prayerfully and felt confirmation that what I was doing was right. It made sense to me... I asked myself why the body would get a fever. I also asked myself why we cough when we are sick. If we stop and think about the simple answers, it really seems odd to treat those things.

The first time my children got a viral illness and ran fevers, I left them alone. I followed the spirit in how I treated them. Ethan was a toddler. I knew he was sick because he slowed down.. WAY down, and this was uncharacteristic for him. A fever followed. Evan was just a baby and all he wanted to do was nurse and sleep on my chest. So I dragged out the pillows and blankets and camped out on the couch with my children. I felt prompted to leave them completely alone. I was inspired NOT to force fluids or give any medications, as is so often the advice given. This was a complete test of my faith because it went against everything I had ever been taught. I wondered if I was harming my children and at one point almost gave in and medicated them. They were hot. Truth be told, I didn’t have a thermometer and so I had no idea just how hot. I know that their faces were red and they even LOOKED hot. But each time I felt like giving in, I felt prompted to again leave them alone. I offered fluids, but did not force them. Occasionally, Ethan would sit up and ask for a drink and I obliged. Then he’d lay back down and fall asleep.

This experiment went on for 13 very long hours. But something magical happened in the 14th hour. The fevers broke, my children woke up, and they were happy and well. Ethan hopped off the couch and acted like nothing had ever happened. I was stunned. I just couldn’t believe it was that “easy”. Now when I say “easy”, I just mean that I really didn’t have to do anything but stay with them and monitor them. Thirteen hours is a relatively very short period of time for a viral illness. I know so many mothers who say it lasts for days. My faith had been tested... and my testimony strengthened.

Since that time so long ago, I have always treated my children’s fevers the same. I do nothing. It’s a free day. They get to lay on the couch and watch TV and sleep. I don’t force food or fluids. I allow them to dictate when they need to eat or drink. And every single time my experience has been the same. The viral illness is short lived and they are fine, typically the very next day.

Because of my experience with fevers, I also treat coughs the same way. I don’t believe in cough suppressants for the most part and my children have never had them. If we cough, it’s because our lungs are trying to get rid of something. When we suppress the cough, we allow that “something” to fester and worsen in the lungs. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and yes, our children lose sleep over it. But it’s necessary. I have said over and over and over that pain is purposeful. Pain motivates us to do things to get better. (As a side note, I often educate people about the pain involved with pregnancy labor. It is very, very purposeful. Labor pains make women MOVE. They instinctively move around in different positions to alleviate the discomfort and these movements also allow their babies to get into proper positions for birth. When we knock out the pain, as with an epidural, women then lay in bed for labor. It’s much harder for their babies to position themselves properly and we see an increase in the use of forceps and vacuums and an increase in cesarean section rates. PAIN IS PURPOSEFUL.)

So often in the world of allopathic medicine, we treat symptoms and not causes. A fever is a symptom that is sending us a message. We should treat the cause and not the fever. Coughing is a symptom that is sending us a message. Treat the cause, not the cough. The fever and the cough are vital actions that are necessary for a return to good health. I can think of so many other example. When we sprain a muscle, it hurts. The pain prevents us from relying on that muscle anymore, thereby allowing it to heal. When we medicate that pain, we may not be as careful with the muscle and that may prolong the healing process. Again, pain is purposeful.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where pain is really not appreciated. I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, suggesting that I enjoy pain. Nothing could be further from the truth. But I do try to stop and figure out what is causing the pain rather than just blindly eliminating it. We live in a world that doesn’t believe in pain. If we have an ache or a pain, we want a magic cure. There must be a pill or a potion we can take to get rid of it. Until we learn to accept discomfort, I fear we are going to continue to see illness be lengthened and worsened to some degree.

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