|Leaving for College
By Darrel Crain, DC
This week, my son John graduated from high school. There we sat in the stadium bleachers, my wife and I, crying, laughing, and feeling every shade of emotion in between. We were surrounded by hundreds of other proud parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and grandmothers of every shape and size all crying, laughing and getting emotional right along with us.
My wife and I assured each other more than once that our baby boy would be okay this fall when he moves away to college. "I guess he'll be all right, won't he?" she asked. "He'll probably be fine, stop worrying!" I said. And so on.
It seems like only two weeks ago we were sitting on a school lawn for the kindergarten graduation ceremony/picnic when Nancy turned to me and asked, "Do you think he'll be okay in first grade?" As I recall, I told her, "Don't worry honey, he'll be fine."
Facing the rapid passage of time as only graduations can make you do, I was reminded of the old saying, "Time flies like the wind, and fruit flies like the bananas." Actually, I was trying to think of a different saying, but that was the one that came to mind.
We have several friends with experience in sending their kids away to college who have recently offered us sage advice such as, "Watch out for the Empty Nest Syndrome!" Of course, whenever we hear someone say watch out, the Empty Nest Syndrome is instantly triggered and deepened.
Typically, my wife responds with a bleary, thoughtful look in her eyes and says, "Well, at least our nest will only be half-empty!" I correct her helpfully, "No honey, our nest will be half-full, not half-empty!" That is because our 13-year-old boy Charlie is still at home, dividing his free hours equally between quality time with his computer and pulling up a chair to rummage through the refrigerator for something to eat.
At any rate, there is no doubt that a pharmaceutical company somewhere is working on a new drug to treat Empty Nest Syndrome. Perhaps they will call the drug Imzolonsum, or Mykidsamisin. The marketing department is charged with giving the syndrome a scary sounding name befitting an expensive new drug, such as Acute Offspring Absentia Hyperdespondency Disorder, or something.
Our son has decided to major in engineering at college. Someone suggested the bumper sticker, "Don't drink and derive. Alcohol and calculus don't mix!"
Which reminds me of the other night when my wife and I were discussing the many marvelous experiences and opportunities awaiting our son along the path of higher education, as well as the perils, landmines and pitfalls he must navigate.
Pitfalls at college are basically the same pitfalls of regular life. They fall into one of two basic categories: those that result from dumb luck and those that result from poor judgment. As it turns out, poor judgment plays the leading role in the drama of life.
All who have attended college know firsthand that alcohol is a major danger in that setting. A Harvard study of alcohol abuse among college students concluded that the combined number of alcohol-related deaths of students is about 1,400 per year. This includes hazing, the time-honored fraternity tradition that claims the lives of several young men each year who end up drinking themselves into oblivion just to be accepted by their frat brothers.
Other college hazards include the reportedly widespread illicit use of prescription drugs. Ritalin and other prescription narcotics are commonly snorted as party drugs or taken as stay-up-all-night study aids. These drugs are dangerous too, accounting for an estimated 3,000 admissions into the emergency rooms of America each year.
Ah yes, the opportunity to experience the consequences of poor judgment abound, though not necessarily bad choices made by my son. Standard medical policies at John's new college stand out as a major danger to his health and well-being.
As Northrop Frye wrote, "We must reject that most dismal and fatuous notion that education is a preparation for life." No kidding.
For example, among the many risks faced by college freshmen, why is the risk of meningitis singled out as requiring special attention? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), students living in college dormitories have only a "modestly increased risk for meningococcal disease relative to other persons their age," not living in dormitories. Why is a vaccine recommended rather than acknowledging that the risk of meningitis is linked directly to risky behaviors the students should learn to control?
"Upper respiratory tract infection and crowding have long been known to be risk factors for meningitis. More recently, other factors have also been linked to the disease, including spending time in bars, binge drinking and smoking," according to the Southern Medical Journal.
Hepatitis B vaccine is also recommended by my son's new school, even though it is very difficult to get the disease. In fact, contracting hepatitis B requires astoundingly poor judgment. The vaccine was originally developed to protect a population that habitually uses heroin, shares needles with other addicts and has sex with multiple partners and/or prostitutes. Someone figured out too late that this population had zero interest in protecting its health with a vaccine. However, since the vaccine cost several hundred million dollars to develop, it was necessary to invent a market for the new vaccine to recapture the investment. This is why babies, teenagers and college students have been targeted, not because they are particularly at risk.
"Get your facts first, and then you can distort 'em as much as you please," advised Mark Twain.
If we ask the question, "Has a single disease ever been shown to be vaccine-preventable?" the answer is no. If someone tells you otherwise, please ask for the source of their information, where it was published and then share it with the rest of us.
"Whatever is good to know is difficult to learn," according to the old Greek proverb. It is a hard lesson to learn that well-intended medical interventions such as vaccines account for a large portion of the toxic heavy metals and chemical neurotoxins that limit our bodies' ability to be healthy. Reports of vaccine-induced degenerative diseases are widely published in the medical literature; diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, autism, asthma, multiple sclerosis and cancer.
For our society as a whole, the primary cause of the multiple epidemics of chronic illness is not genetic. Risk factors under our own control, such as self-destructive habits, poor nutrition and a lack of exercise in the fresh air are the underlying factors leading to heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes and cancer.
As George Santayana pointed out, "Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness." I would only add that knowledge of innate healing also makes healthiness possible.
And so, as we prepare to send our baby off to college, we shall remind him of the timeless wisdom so aptly expressed by Josh Billings, "As scarce as the truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand."
© Darrel Crain, 2006 All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Opinions? Rants? Call Darrel Crain at 619-445-0100