Walking through Whooping Cough
My Thoughts on Vaccinations
Let me start out by saying if you haven’t read my post about vaccinations, start here. I don’t tell you what I decided to do. It’s a hard decision for so many parents, and there is a lot of strongly opinionated information out there. I give you a few resources from both sides of the argument and hopefully help you see that it’s important to know both sides of the story. That being said…
I decided to not vaccinate my kids for whooping cough (pertussis). I’m not going to get into all the reasons, but it’s not the most effective vaccine (in my opinion), and I don’t feel comfortable with the ingredients in the shot.
A couple of months ago, all three of my kids came down with whooping cough. It was going around our city. My six-year-old daughter got it first, but it really didn’t disrupt her daily life. My four-year-old son coughed during the day but was mostly able to do his normal routine. But at night, he would cough so hard that he’d throw up. He also woke up quite a bit really panicked, because he wasn’t able to catch his breath. It was definitely scary for him, but I could tell that we wouldn’t end up in the ER. He had one bad week but steadily improved after that. Then our 6 month old came down with a cough. It wasn’t too bad for about a week, but then it really started disturbing his sleep at night.
By week 2, it was intense, and the pediatrician diagnosed him with whooping cough. I didn’t actually realize that the other two had had whooping cough until this point. Once she diagnosed the baby, I realized that was what the older two children had as well. She prescribed antibiotics. I really didn’t want to do them, but I was desperate for any help. Day by day he was getting worse and worse, and I didn’t want to end up in the ER. His coughing fits were every 45 minutes to an hour (a sign of whooping cough is the predictability of the time between coughing fits) and lasted 2-3 minutes. He never turned blue, but he did get very dark red, and it was extremely hard for him to breath. I was very scared. After two days on the antibiotics, I didn’t see any improvement. He actual seemed to be getting steadily worse. I did a little research, and the CDC said that the antibiotics don’t help the symptoms (coughing) of whooping cough; they just make him not contagious and fight off secondary infections that can set in.
That’s when my fear really kicked in. I needed help with the symptoms (extreme coughing fits where he couldn’t breath), or I knew we’d end up in the ER in a day or two. I really didn’t want to go that route. Hospitals aren’t fun, but they especially aren’t fun when you have to tell doctors and nurses you don’t vaccinate. Sadly, you don’t often get treated well, or you at least feel looked down upon. Not fun when you are in the midst of an already stressful situation.
An Alternative Solution
I spent some time online researching any ideas for helping with his cough. I ran across an article by Dr. Suzanne Humphries about treating whooping cough with vitamin c. I had read some of her stuff in the past when I was researching whether or not to vaccinate my children. I knew she was anti-vaccine, but I didn’t realize that whooping cough was actually something she specialized in.
I emailed her and ended up doing a Skype consultation with her. She immediately got me to start him on high doses of vitamin c. I was to give it every hour and/or after every coughing fit. Within 12 hours, there was a very noticeable improvement. It was extremely significant. He still had intense fits, but they weren’t nearly as scary. And for the first time in two weeks, he was improving instead of getting worse. For the first time in two weeks, I had hope again. I realized I actually might not have to go to the ER with him.
It took about a week to figure out the dosage that worked best for him. We had to keep increasing it for a few days to get him to the point where the long coughing fits disappeared. At his peak, he was at 3000 mg per day. We started out using this kind but switched him to this kind. The second kind stayed more stable in his bloodstream. The thing about vitamin c is that you don’t want drastic spikes in the levels in your body. Your body will just get rid of (through diarrhea) any vitamin c you can’t process. That’s how you know you have too much… you are on the toilet! But oftentimes, it’s not the total amount that is too high, it’s the amount that you are taking at once. That’s why Aero got small amounts every hour for 24 hours a day. We had to keep it stable in his system.
I can’t explain to you the relief and hope we felt as a family. We really were in a scary place with Aero for about 2 weeks. But as soon as we started the high doses of vitamin c, everything turned around drastically. I wasn’t 100% sure that such high doses would be okay. From my research, it appeared that it would be okay although there isn’t much out there about it. A few years ago, I had read about using massive doses of vitamin c to treat cancer so the idea wasn’t totally new to me, but it was out of my comfort zone.
When I decided to try the vitamin c route, I knew I was taking a risk. If we ended up in the ER, the fact that I didn’t vaccinate him for whooping cough, didn’t finish his round of antibiotics, and that I had tried an alternative solution of high doses of vitamin c probably wouldn’t have gone over well with the doctors. But in my heart, I knew that the vitamin c went along with my beliefs about health and medicine. And I could tell that Dr. Suzanne really knew what she was doing. She had successfully treated this over and over again in infants even younger than Aero. She wasn’t worried or concerned at all. It gave me the confidence I needed to try this alternative form of medicine, and I’m so glad I did it.
Random Thoughts About It All
She had me take him off baby food. Honestly, I kind of rolled my eyes when she asked me to do that. I didn’t think it would make a difference, but I did take him off. After his coughing fits had been gone for a full two weeks, I started him back on a banana and peas. Within 8 hours, his whooping had come back! I truly could not believe it. I hadn’t heard him whoop in two weeks! The only thing I had changed was the introduction of food. Wow. I immediately did only breastfeeding again. It took full week for the whooping to disappear again. I don’t know why food had this effect on him and his cough, but it definitely did.
I barely slept for about a month. With whooping cough, the phlegm builds up and forces a person to cough. It happens like clockwork usually about every hour. So at night, Aero would cough himself awake once every hour. The only way to get the coughing fit to stop was to nurse him. I’ve never co-slept with my babies, and I had Aero sleeping 10 hours at night before he got the cough. Let’s just say all that went out the window for a month, and we are still trying to get back on track 6 weeks later.
The second kind of vitamin c did give him a rash when he was on the 3000 mg per day. We think it might be a soy allergy, because it does have some soy in the formula. Once the rash showed up, that’s when we started to slowly back him down, and the rash immediately went away.
To sum everything up, whooping cough was very scary until I found alternative medicine. I generally lean that direction anyways, but it’s sometimes hard to find knowledgeable doctors who know about alternatives to conventional medicine. I was so thankful for Dr. Suzanne through this whole process. I had someone recently ask if I regret not vaccinating. You don’t know what you will feel until you’ve been thrown into a situation, but now that I’ve walked through it, I can say I am still very confident in my decision to not vaccinate for whooping cough. I actually never second-guessed myself even in the midst of the scariest time. I’m thankful I didn’t vaccinate, and I’m thankful I used vitamin c to treat Aero. I am also VERY glad that he’s immune to it for at least another 30 years!