Anyone who knows me understands that I am not a proponent of drugs, and certainly not of the pharmaceutical industry. But, recent reports about an outbreak of measles is very personal to me because I lost 100% of the hearing in my right ear due to measles when I was nine years old.
The vaccine had just become available.
I remember my sister and I were so sick with measles my mom called my grandmother who traveled from the Pittsburgh area to Columbus Ohio to help take care of us. I remember all the drapes being drawn to keep bright sunlight from hurting our eyes. And I remember my grandmother pacing, wringing her hands, and praying over my high fever.
Since I was only nine years old the effects of having suffered through measles were not fully known for some time. My schoolwork suddenly declined, and I was moved to a slower group of children in my classroom. No one, not even I, realized my hearing had been dramatically affected by measles. I could hear, but it took awhile for anyone to notice I could only hear and understand someone if they were speaking directly in front of me, or on my left side. My right ear was, and is to this day, completely deaf as a result of a damaged hearing nerve from measles.
Today we understand how important hearing is to learning and childhood development. Although many wonderful teaching and learning strategies have been developed to teach the deaf, they aren’t available to children who are thought to be hearing.
You might wonder why it took so long for me to realize I was 100% deaf in my right ear. Simply put, I could hear all sounds on my left, so it never occurred to me, to my family, or even the doctors that deafness due to measles was the root of my sudden perceived learning disability.
For me, a simple relocation of my seat in the classroom solved the problem, and I learned to adapt in life. My son and my husband know to walk and talk to me on my left if they want to be heard. Others have accused me of selective hearing, or of being rude.
I believe in the rights of parents to decide what’s best for their children, including what medical care they receive. But, I also believe strongly that great responsibility comes with that right. Measles, and the risk of deafness and other side effects shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Please do your research before you decide not to have your child vaccinated against this preventable disease.