Blog — Notes of a Plastic Surgeon

Welcome to my blog. I am a plastic surgeon in Seattle and have been in private practice since 1991. I've seen more than a few interesting faces and cases through my years spent in the exam room, the operating room and the emergency room. And I have an opinion on just about everything relating to plastic surgery (and a lot of unrelated stuff). If you like my blog, let me know. Thanks for reading! Lisa

I’m anti anti-vaxer

Anti-vaxers have been on my mind lately.  I recently had a nasty comment directed at my @breastimplantsanity Instagram telling me I should be ashamed of myself for promoting these “toxic bags of death”.  Those who follow @breastimplantsanity closely know that I am not a huge breast implant fan and much prefer other options for breast enhancement but I digress.  This particular detractor’s Instagram was militantly anti-vaccination   I just about choked on my Diet Coke.  So, breast implants are to be feared but not smallpox, polio, diphtheria, mumps, rubella, measles, chickenpox, meningitis, shingles, genital warts, cervical cancer, tetanus, pneumococcal pneumonia, etc?  Give me a break.

I am being generous here when I say anti-vaxers are misguided and so very coddled and sheltered from the reality of communicable diseases of childhood in and adulthood.  They don’t know what they don’t know but they don’t know even know that. 

Take a look at this photo.  This is from a book called Sleeping Beauty which consists of medical photos taken during photography’s earliest era and curated by Stanley B. Burns, M.D.  The book was published in 1990 and unfortunately is out of print.  This photo, “Mother With Her Dead Daughter”, was taken in the early 1900’s.  This may strike the modern reader as really sicko but most working class families of that era could not afford to have a photographs taken but would often splurge for a photo of a dead loved one.  Take a closer look at the photo.  Does the daughter look dead or even ill?  Doesn’t she just look like she is sleeping in her mother’s lap?  The real give away is this poor mother’s face.  It’s just haunting with its steely resolve. The daughter looks so normal because she died so fast.  Childhood mortality in this era ranged from 30 to 50 percent (!) with most children dying quickly from a wide variety of infectious diseases.  Those diseases so common then now make the news and are almost always associated with pockets of low vaccination rates.

It wasn’t so long ago that the whole world was a low, no really, a zero vaccination rate pocket.  Back in 1990, I was touring The Breakers, the mansion owned by transportation magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794 –  1877) in Newport, Rhode Island.  Our little touring group was ushered into the mansion’s library to await our tour guide.  There were many family plaques hanging on the library walls and I was really moved to see how many family members, members of this rich and elite clan who could afford the best medical care of the time, died in early childhood.  But this was before the modern era of vaccination.

I am old enough to sport a smallpox vaccination scar on my upper arm and to remember lining up in a local grade school gym to receive one of the first oral polio vaccines.  These two scourges of humanity are all but wiped out thanks to world wide immunization.   And I am old enough to remember being sicker than a dog with red measles and I still see my faint chickenpox scars when I puck my eyebrows.  And I had a college dorm buddy, only one year older than me, with legs crippled by polio.  He missed the vaccine by a year.  These are real diseases that the young whipper snapper anti-vaxers have been spared because their neighbors do vaccinate themselves and their children thereby providing herd immunity.

So little miss smarty pants anti-vaxer Instagram diva, I could wish the pox on you, but I won’t.  I wouldn’t wish the pox on anyone, not even an anti-vaxer.

Boy, I feel better having written this and thanks for reading.  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

I’d be honored if you followed me on Instagram @sowdermd and @breastimplantsanity.



Category: General Health, This Makes Me Cranky.

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