A Grain of Salt: A health column… sort of

A non-vaccinator gets vaccinated

By Ammi Midstokke
Reader Columnist

As a natural health practitioner, it seems rather reasonable that my expectation of the human body is as follows: give it what it needs, and it will probably chug right along with the occasional maintenance issues. 

Not surprisingly, I feel the same about my generator, children and marriage. 

Inasmuch, I have few vaccinations for a host of personal reasons, both physical and ethical. This is easy to do when you live in a country that has relative limited risk, good health care and you’re not malnourished. I recognize all of those things are a privilege. 

As a science-based practitioner and member of society, I’ve watched this pandemic roll through the world with an open mind and a blatant kind of curiosity that I hope is not mistaken for lack of compassion. I wondered what the disease might feel like for my healthy (although auto-immune compromised) body. 

The author receives a COVID-19 vaccination at Bonner General Health. Courtesy photo.

When I got COVID-19, my body became a petri dish for my latest case study, while my kitchen turned into a veritable supplement warehouse. I did all the things and took notes on symptoms and, by around day five, gave up on the whole shebang and just let my poor sick body rest. It sucked. And I was grateful that I had known of my exposure early, that I did not expose anyone else and that my kid knew how to log me into Netflix. 

I don’t mind being sick. It’s rather a fascinating experience, because I see the pain as a remarkable physiological response to outside invaders. The body is a miraculous creation, and that is just going on the stuff we actually know. There’s a lot happening that is still just magic to me. I recognize this is also a privilege. 

So when it came time for me to decide whether to vaccinate or not, I found myself looking down a confusing list of values and beliefs — many of them absolutely juxtaposed. Could my body fight off COVID-19? Yes, it just did. Would the vaccine thrust a host of unknown chemicals into my body? Certainly not any more than that time I tried dirty meth or drank a Mountain Dew. Would vaccination cause a delayed immunological response? Genetic mutations? Will I be microchipped? (If the latter, then at least my Amazon recommendations should be highly accurate in the future.) 

I don’t know all the answers, but my curiosity and broader socialist tendencies ultimately won. I felt better about taking on personal risk than inducing social risk. This, too, seems rather a privilege, both that I have the choice and a faith in my body. 

The lessons that came to me in this process (which has lasted months for me) were not in a debate about vaccination or in heath care policy, but rather in the profound internal struggle of something we so often resist: Changing our minds. 

What I have learned is that absolutes do not really have a place in our lives. They force us to overcommit to a belief and then stubbornly cling to it with a vice-like grip and information bias until we identify solely with our conviction. Worse, dissenting from those beliefs confuses us about what we actually stand for, so we avoid contemplating the alternative altogether.

I decided I stand for compassion, both for myself and others. Our community embraces the entire spectrum of values that are challenged as we navigate the outcomes of this surreal experience. As individuals and a society, we’re forced to re-evaluate some of our rigid beliefs, and that is scary territory. The kindest thing we can do for each other right now is acknowledge how hard that is, and have patience with the process. 

Ammi Midstokke can be contacted at [email protected]

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