On Vaccines, Autism, and Andrew Wakefield

Let me tell you a story about a man named Andrew Wakefield. Former Dr. Andrew Wakefield patented a new, single virus vaccine. It was in no way better than the multi-virus vaccines currently on the market, and had the drawback of needing far more jabs and probably far more doctor’s visits to manage all of them. Wakefield wanted money, lots of money. He found a way to make his vaccine look more appealing than others; suggest the others were unsafe! For this he faked data in a fraudulent study which was printed in the British medical journal The Lancet. In this faked, completely untrue study, Wakefield claimed that the MMR vaccine was causing autism in previously neurotypical children.

Parents freaked. I was one of them! Moms I knew online in forums told me about their one year old who was developing right on schedule, and suddenly after their vaccines lost all speech. Who would want that? So I chose to delay vaccines for my son, or maybe not get them at all. I’d been born at home and was completely unvaccinated myself, so a “wait and see” approach seemed best to me.

At about 8 months old, I noticed my son was not responding to me talking to him the way other babies his age did. I took him to his pediatrician, and then to the Children’s Hospital for multiple hearing tests (one awake, one asleep.) I took him to Easter Seals for a developmental evaluation. He was diagnosed with a speech delay and started getting speech therapy and occupational therapy services.

In the years since then my son has been diagnosed with autism, my son has been fully caught up on his vaccines, and I’ve learned a lot about science and about Andrew Wakefield.

Wakefield had his medical license stripped for his fraudulent, money-grubbing, public safety destroying lies. The Lancet posted an extended retraction and many scientific rebuttals. Numerous studies have conclusively shown that no vaccines cause autism, and the MMR vaccine definitely does not cause autism.

Autism is most likely genetic. And you know what? It’s not something I would avoid, now that I know the truth about it. My autistic son is amazing and I’m ashamed to have ever wanted to prevent him. Even worse, I risked his life to do so. Because of bigoted fears about a neurological difference I knew little about and didn’t understand, I risked my son’s life. That appalls me today.

Vaccine preventable diseases are child killers. They are not mild. They are not rites of passage. They are not a normal part of growing up in the 21st century. They are child killers. Protect your children from actual threats, like measles, mumps, rubella, and polio. Don’t protect them from autism. We don’t even know how to do it, and even if we did, I think it would be the wrong choice to make. Diversity of minds is as good for society as diversity of bodies and cultures. My son is amazing, autism and all. I would not want to change him or prevent him. I’m glad he lived long enough for me to see the errors of my ways and getting him fully immunized.

To the “Intersectional” Feminists of Skepchick

Earlier this week, the atheist feminist blog site Skepchick put up a post that was ostensibly to/complaining about the people responsible for a recent DDOS attack, titled “A Love Letter to our DDOS Hackers”. However, they used multiple instances of unnecessary ableist language. When called out on it, they doubled down and insisted that none of the language they used is ableist. So, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend they really don’t get it and make it easy to understand.
The Skepchick post contained a text segment and an image with words. The text on the image on the Skepchick site is as follows:

FUUUUUUUUUCK THOSE GUYS.

I got shit to say

and you’re a fucking idiot if you think I can be shut up.

For real.

You are the stupidest mother fucker on earth.

Like, I’m literally impressed you remember to breathe every day

if you think taking down a few blogs

for a couple of days 

is going to do anything

other than prove us right. 

 This is ableist. “Idiot” has a history mirroring that of the term “retard”. It became so pervasive a slur it could no longer be used as a diagnostic label. The word “stupid” is likewise ableist, though so accepted that most people fail to recognize it. But the truly astonishing phrase is “I’m literally impressed you remember to breathe every day.” I have friends with a variety of conditions that cause difficulty breathing, including difficulty “remembering” to breathe. These are life threatening impairments, not a joke, and they have NOTHING to do with a DDOS attack or anti-feminists or whatever the hell these people did that was actually egregious (a point not actually established amongst all the ableism.)

 Above the image there is a block of text trumpeting the social justice creds of Skepchick, which I have to seriously call into question now. Here is that text:

This time of year, like every time of year, we draw a lot of attention to ourselves at the Skepchick Network for being a fierce and outspoken, lady-run blog. We bring up controversial topics like, vaccine awareness and the need for harassment policies at conventions. We talk about the lack of women in STEM and we organize events like the Science Track at Convergence (a.k.a. SkepchickCon) to encourage more women to get involved in those fields. We have the brazen nerve to discuss things like equality for women and minority groups and the highly controversial topic of simply wanting to be treated like a human both online and away from the keyboard. We say hey, you don’t need a god or even a spirit guide to be a great person and to love this one, precious life you have found yourself in. We think life is worth living and learning about without superstition. We support a science based perspective that helps us make decisions on medicine and social science and economics. We think women are funny and valuable. With hot-button topics like the need for safe abortions (a.k.a. reproductive healthcare for women) and the idea that religion is simply unnecessary, we expect and even welcome vocal criticism from people who disagree with us. It’s one reason why we have a blog with a comment section.

But we have set standards. You have to be able to hold a conversation with us. You have to be able to argue your point rationally. You have to be able stand up to us with intelligence and a quality argument. You have to actually add to the conversations being had instead of derailing or just shouting in SUPERCAPSLOCK teenage angst.

And over the years, what we have noticed is that a few of you simply can not do this. These few resort to harassing us on twitter and other social media, they make fake blogs in an attempt to mock us, they email us death and rape threats or tell us to “kill ourselves” or they produce poorly photoshopped images of us doing things they want us to do. We have become their obsession.

Some of our self-proclaimed “critics” have launched multiple year, ongoing harassment campaigns. These people go so far as to make up complete lies about us and contact our employers and patrons with these lies. We have seen these same people post our home addresses online in an attempt to frighten us and hobble our ability to communicate- or sleep well, or to peacefully exist. And every so often, when the photoshopped photos of us and the rape and death threats don’t get our attention to their liking, this same quality of “critic” takes the route of frustrated-cyber-silencer and we see our blog network start to load slow or in the case of last weekend, it goes offline all together in yet another successful Denial of Service attack.

It happens. We expect it.

The thing is this, we actually have feelings about our relationship with these cyber warriors fighting to maintain the status quo. They have a hard time understanding the issues we bring up and their place in the future seems uncertain. We know they are upset and they disagree with us and they want to be heard. We want them to feel special and acknowledged.

And it’s ok.

Really.

In an effort to put what’s wrong with this in words Skepchick editors can hopefully understand, here are their own words, edited to omit ableist (and ageist!) bigotry and suit the topic. You may notice a striking similarity between the above and below, and that is my point. The silencing tactics used against feminists are used against disability advocates. The threats and violence and abuse are too.

This time of year, like every time of year, we draw a lot of attention to ourselves as disabled self-advocates for being fierce and outspoken, and unapologetically disabled. We bring up controversial topics like, Social Security standards that make it financially impossible for many disabled people to marry the person they love and the need for accommodations at conventions. We talk about the lack of disability representation in media and we organize events like Boycott Autism Speaks to encourage more disabled people to get involved in self advocacy. We have the brazen nerve to discuss things like equality for disabled people and the highly controversial topic of simply wanting to be treated like a human both online and away from the keyboard. We say hey, you don’t need a body or mind that functions in the most typical ways to be a great person and to love this one, precious life you have found yourself in. We think life is worth living and learning about without bigotry and ableism. We support a science based perspective that helps us make decisions on medicine and social science and economics. We think disabled people are funny and valuable. With hot-button topics like the the dangers of adult guardianship (a.k.a. healthcare and other life decisions for disabled people) and the idea that ableist language is simply unnecessary, we expect and dread the inevitable endless vocal criticism from people who disagree with us. It’s one reason why we most of us who have a blog with a comment section heavily moderate it.

But we have set standards. You have to be able to hold a conversation with us. You have to be able to argue your point without resorting to ableist slurs. You have to be able stand up to us with integrity and a quality argument. You have to actually add to the conversations being had instead of derailing or just shouting in SUPERCAPSLOCK ageist angst.

And over the years, what we have noticed is that a few of you simply can not do this. These few resort to harassing us on twitter and other social media, they make fake blogs in an attempt to mock us, they email us death and rape threats or tell us to “kill ourselves” or they produce poorly photoshopped images of us doing things they want us to do. We have become their obsession.

Some of our self-proclaimed “critics” have launched multiple year, ongoing harassment campaigns. These people go so far as to make up complete lies about us and contact our employers and patrons with these lies. We have seen these same people post our home addresses online in an attempt to frighten us and hobble our ability to communicate- or sleep well, or to peacefully exist. And every so often, when the photoshopped photos of us and the rape and death threats don’t get our attention to their liking, this same quality of “critic” take other routes to discredit and silence us.

It happens. We expect it.

The thing is this, we actually have feelings about our relationship with these cyber warriors fighting to maintain the status quo. They have a hard time understanding the issues we bring up and their place in the future seems uncertain. We know they are upset and they disagree with us and they want to be heard. They want to feel special and acknowledged.

And it’s not ok.

Really.

 

Are you listening Elyse, Amy and Rebecca?

Issy is the Victim, Not Kelli

I have started and erased this post more than a dozen times. I do not know exactly what to say. On Tuesday evening a mother, Kelli Stapleton, decided to end her life and the life of her 14-year-old autistic daughter, Issy. Her husband called police after Kelli left a disconcerting voicemail on his phone and once he discovered she and Issy were gone, along with the family van. Police discovered them both unconscious, in a van with two portable coal burners, dying of carbon monoxide poisoning. Kelli has been released from the hospital, but Issy remains, with the extent of permanent brain damage still unknown.

I confess, I cannot understand Kelli Stapleton. I understand stress, and autism, and autism parenting, believe me I do. What I cannot, and perhaps do not want to understand, is the murderous impulse behind her actions and decisions.

My own autistic child turned 8 this week, amidst the turmoil of moving cross-country and trying to get enrolled in new services and a new school. The stress of that caused me to have a panic attack in the Chicago train station. I understand stress.

I understand the frustration and hopelessness that comes from having a child you don’t yet know how to effectively communicate with; my son didn’t start talking till he was 4, after 3 years of speech therapy, and we struggled with finding non-verbal means to talk to one another. (Homemade flashcards were a huge help.)

I understand the crushing weight of poverty, and trying to find money for one more thing while life itself seems too expensive to continue paying for. As a former single parent and as a parent currently living across the country from my co-parent, I understand the endless feeling of having too much to do and not enough emotional reserves to keep going.

As my son begins 3rd grade at his fifth school this year, I understand the weariness that comes from IEP meeting after IEP meeting after IEP meeting. I understand the frustration and grief from discovering that yet another program has failed to adequately meet my child’s needs.

As a very petite barely-over-100 lbs mother, I understand the concerns parents have about children who are bigger, stronger, and can hit them or hit them back. This is why I’ve never relied on physical strength to maintain peace and harmony in our home.

I can understand feeling suicidal; I cannot understand feeling homicidal, not to anyone who has hurt me and certainly not to my son who I owe everything to.

Much of the media, and a lot of the “autism community” blog posts have centered on Kelli as an understandable figure, driven to murder by the stress of having an autistic child. These voices are not helping. They won’t prevent the next murder or attempted murder. Instead they will excuse it, as they are attempting to excuse this one.

Autism Speaks released a statement that said, “We are deeply saddened by the incident involving Issy Stapleton.” That sentence would not indicate to someone unfamiliar with the story what happened – that Issy’s mother knowingly and intentionally planned and attempted to execute the murder of her 14-year-old child. The “incident” was a criminal action that could have cost Issy her life, and may very well cost her higher mental functioning.

Issy had been separated from her family, her friends, her school, and her cat so that she could live in a residential “treatment center” for autistic children between the ages of 7 and 17, called the Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research. Their own About Us page paints a negative, fear-mongering, and above all dehumanizing view of autistic children with this unsourced claim, “The average cost to society of a child diagnosed with autism, through age 55, is currently estimated at $3.6 million.” This way of talking about autistic people is atrocious – it contributes to feelings of worthlessness in autistic individuals, and it gives parents a doom and gloom mentality they really do not need to have.

One of Kelli’s online friends has blogged that, “If we do not understand what caused Kelli to break and work like hell to fix it in our own communities and in the system, we are all at risk for it. All of us.”

This is bullshit. The community did not try to murder Issy. The “system” did not try to murder Issy. Kelli Stapleton tried to murder Issy. Can we at least keep this most basic of facts in the case straight?

These murders can be prevented, but that prevention won’t take the form of more funding for the residential facility where Issy’s parents had her housed up until last Thursday, five days before her mother tried to kill her. That prevention must start with us, the parents. We are the ones responsible for our own actions, and if we cannot claim the minimum responsibility to not murder our children, we do not deserve to have these children in our lives.

If you sometimes fantasize about killing your child, get help. If you find it all too easy to empathize with Kelli, but don’t empathize with Issy, get help. Stop demanding more autism services for your child and start finding out what is wrong with you, and start fixing it.

As parents we should demand a better world for our children, not that our children fit better in this world. Autism is not a death sentence, unless a parent or caregiver decides to make it one. Decide better.

Dear Jenny McCarthy

Much to the dismay of public health professionals across the nation, you’ve been given a new chance in the spotlight thanks to your new co-hosting gig on ABC’s The View. Congratulations! From MTV icon in the days when they still played some music to public menace, you’ve come a long way.

We all know you’re not a fan of vaccines; some days you blame them for your son’s autism and some days you claim you just want them “safer”, but you’ve contributed to a world where fewer children are vaccinated against preventable diseases. According to JennyMcCarthyBodyCount.com there have been 118,794 cases of vaccine preventable diseases in the United States since you started telling people vaccines were scary.

And how did you make vaccines seem so scary? Did you tell people vaccines would kill their children? No, you told them vaccines would break their children, that they would make their children defective rejects – like yours. I often get offended by the way you speak about autistic children, on behalf of my son and on behalf of my autistic friends. But the way you speak about your own son makes me weep.

Whether your son is autistic or has some other condition or is an “indigo baby” like you once claimed, dear Jenny, you speak of having him as if it were some cross you had to bear. Children listen – even non-verbal children – and they pick up on how their parents talk about them. Speak to and about him kindly now, while there is time to repair some of the damage.

Accept your son. Love him for who he is. Stop publicly flogging him for failing to meet your expectations. This may not be the child you asked for or the child you wanted, but this is the child you have and you owe it to him to love him with all your heart. You brought him into this world with the intention of parenting him. You owe it to him to see this through and to do it right. He does not owe you being a different child, the one you really wanted.

I had planned to write you an angry letter, about how your attempts to use autistic children as scare tactics makes the world a more hostile place for my son and the children and adults like him. But honestly, I just worry about your son. I worry that you having a fresh new microphone on The View will only give you more opportunities to let the world know you don’t think your son is good enough.

Please reconsider everything.

Sincerely,

Mother of an autistic son

My Birth Story

Trigger Warning: My birth was a traumatic ordeal and may be upsetting to some readers.  

When I was pregnant with my son, my firstborn, my one and only, I was entranced with romantic ideals of natural birth and blissful, effortless love. I was involved in online mothering and pregnancy communities that promoted unmedicated, home, and even unassisted childbirth. I heard exaggerated risks associated with birthing interventions, and rates of intervention use disconnected from any data reflecting how many of those interventions were needed. Beyond all that, I was born in an umedicated unassisted home birth myself, and had been raised with a deep, intentionally cultivated fear of doctors and medicine. I was an ideal candidate to get suckered into the birth story ideals.

And today it occurred to me that I never did write my birth story, more than 7 years ago. So today, I try.

My labor started early in the morning two days after my due date. I was excited, and ready to be done with pregnancy, which had been frightening and exhausting and hard. My alcoholic husband delayed our setting out by a few hours, needing to have a few beers first before I drove us, while having mild but frequent contractions, 45 minutes out of town to my OB/GYNs office.

She met with me and gave me an exam. Well, she explained, I was in early labor, but my cervix had not yet dilated beyond one centimeter, and she didn’t think I needed to be admitted to the hospital just yet. Deflated, we left and picked up some fast food at a clown themed local restaurant. Eating a cheeseburger and shake at the picnic tables outside, I started to worry about my labor.

I drove us home, and my husband grumbled about going to work. He left. I called my mom and sister, to update them on my lack of progress. I watched some movies from the rental store, though I can’t for the life of me remember what they were. I couldn’t get comfortable. I was having contractions every five minutes, over and over and over again, but not moving into active labor.

I spent the night sitting upright on the couch, the closest position to comfortable I could find, nodding off between contractions, and waking up again with every one. The next morning, after a few more beers for hubby, we were on our way back to the doctor’s office.

Again she checked me, and again she informed me, my cervix wasn’t doing its job. I felt shame wash over me in that moment. I wasn’t birthing right. I wasn’t performing on command. I wasn’t connected to ancient women before me doing something natural and beautiful. I was terrified, and I was failing.

My doctor sent me home again. My husband left for work again. I stayed home. I called my mother and sister again, to inform them of my lack of progress. Again. They came over with yoga balls to lean on, tea, and sympathy. My sister was a few months behind me in her first pregnancy, and watched on seemingly serene.

When my husband got home from work, and my mother and and sister had left, I dragged my whining mate along with me to the hospital, again driving for 45 minutes, again having contractions every five, but by now so exhausted I was periodically bursting into tears.

I went to the labor and delivery ward at the hospital we’d planned to birth in. An abrupt nurse took my insurance information, shoved a hospital gown at me, and drew curtains around the bed. I did my best to change myself, in my tired and weeping state. Someone else came in to put on a blood pressure cuff and a fetal heart monitor. After about ten minutes, a doctor – not mine – came in and gave me a vaginal exam. She told me that I was still at one centimeter. I had been in labor for two and a half days, and I hadn’t progressed at all.

She sent me home.

No rejection I have ever received – not from an employer, or audition, or romantic prospect, or friend – has ever made me feel so bad about myself as being sent home for failing to progress. They called it failure, and that’s what I felt like. Birth was supposed to be this natural thing, this thing that I as a woman could just do – and here I was, mucking it all up. I’d gotten the contractions part down, and failed to do anything beyond that.

The doctor sent me home with a sample packet of a sleeping aid, and recommended I have a glass of wine with it. I spent another night on the couch, not even trying to sleep, but sobbing into a pillow and petting the new kitten my husband had insisted on having, despite our inability to provide for ourselves competently.

My husband went off to the bar the next day while my mom and sister came over. I told them he was at work because I was too ashamed of his uselessness and obvious lack of respect for me. At this point, I got the brilliant idea into my head that I would just have a home birth. The hospital didn’t want me. I started looking up home remedies to make labor progress, and wondered if I could make it to the health food store to get any of them.

My mom was not pleased by the sudden change in plans. My sister, who was already planning a home birth with a midwife herself, voiced no concerns, but my mother did. She pointed out that all my planning had been around a hospital birth, that I didn’t have a midwife, and that she really, really did not want to serve in that capacity. I am grateful for her intervention at a time when my critical thinking abilities had been stretched to a breaking point by pain and sleeplessness.

When my husband came home and when my sister departed, my mother drove us both to the hospital. The same nurse who’d been abrupt the night before was almost sneering, You again? And my mother, a quiet, reserved, non-confrontational woman by nature, became my fierce advocate in that moment. She insisted I have a different nurse assigned to me.

I was admitted to a labor and delivery room – at last! My own doctor came in then to break my water, and agree on a time to start a Pitocin drip to progress the labor if necessary.

Finally, blessedly, after three and a half days, I was given my first bit of pain relief in the form of an IV of Staydol. The Staydol was necessary to get an epidural needle in, because by this point my body was wracking in convulsions with each contraction, and I couldn’t keep still enough for the anesthesiologist to give me an epidural without that pain relief.

I slept for a few merciful hours of labor I didn’t have to consciously experience.

Throughout the night, doctors came and went and examined me. At some point in time my mother-in-law showed up, determined to watch the show, though I am quite certain I don’t remember inviting her. Still, I didn’t progress. My goddamned cervix was going to be the death of me, and my son, I was convinced of it.

I hadn’t eaten in a few days by this point, and I was hungry, but even more so incredibly thirsty. The nurses wouldn’t give me anything to drink, just IV fluids, though my mom did sneak me tiny sips from a water bottle she had secreted in her purse.

The contractions weren’t so bad once I had the epidural, though I kept having to lean forward to get another and another. I had four epidurals in all, thanks to my non-progressing labor. Somewhere in there we started Pitocin, though it didn’t seem to do much either.

I drifted in and out of fitful, worried sleep. At 6 in the morning, four days after the start of my labor, my OB took my mother aside, having figured out for herself who my real birthing partner was, not that feckless husband of mine chain smoking outside, and told her it was time to start thinking about c-section. There was a limit on how many epidurals it was wise for me to get before the risk of side effects became a concern, she said, and enough hours had now passed since breaking my water that infection was a cause for worry. If I wasn’t dilated to ten centimeters within the hour, she’d begin preparations for transferring me to surgery.

At 7 o’clock when my OB performed her final exam, my cervix finally performed. I was elated. Sure it had taken me longer than any birth I’d heard of, but I was going to have the oh-so-goddamn-important vaginal birth after all. Hooray!

A lot of people I didn’t want anywhere near my vagina suddenly crowded down there. My doctor was having her elbows jostled by my mother, my husband (who by this point of the labor, I actively hated), my mother-in-law (who I have always hated), and a nurse standing there with a full length mirror so I, too, could witness the glory of my bloody crotch.

One problem though, the epidural was wearing off. I could definitely feel my legs, and everything else. These active labor contractions hurt a lot more than the contractions I’d been dealing with for four days. These took my breath away and left me without the strength to cry. Birth wasn’t something I was doing. Birth was something being done to me. And it hurt, horribly.

I started to lose the will to go on at that point, deliriously convinced it was my fate to be in labor forever, and to never hold my baby. The nurse holding the mirror encouraged me to look at my baby’s head starting to crown. Somehow that sight did provide motivation, and I pushed. I pushed with all my might. I pushed as hard as I could. I pushed so hard I dislocated my right hip, which was already prone to such injuries.

Three or four more pushes after that and the baby came out. And I was supposed to be happy. I wasn’t supposed to complain. I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone how horrible that was, and that while I LOVED my son, that was one of the worst experiences of my young life.

I never wrote my birth story, because I felt ashamed. I felt like I had failed at the essence of womanhood. I thought I was the one who fucked up, instead of the people who told me pretty, merciless lies about labor and childbirth. I’m amazed I got through this, and I have tears streaming down my face as I am typing now.

I’m glad I got it out.

Edit: I realized after writing this that I left two elements out of the story. The first was that my labor was back labor, and the second was that I had a first degree tear resulting from delivery.

Age 7

For the first six years of my son’s life, I felt incredibly close to him. I could see so much of me in him, and our development had similarities – I didn’t speak till 3, he didn’t till 4. I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming, but his age 7 year has been so hard for me, and brought up so many of my old demons. We’ve reached the fork in the road where my life changed irreparably, and so do I.

When I was 7, my best friend’s dad molested me. It went on for about a year, till I finally overcame the choking silence in my chest and told my mom what had been happening. She believed me instantly and had a police officer out to the house the next morning to take my statement. But the damage was already done.

My son laughs easily. He is joyful, and spontaneously affectionate with his parents. He is not bothered by frequent nightmares. He does not have PTSD. I am supremely, astonishingly grateful my son’s life isn’t just like mine. I am amazed and awed by how happy a child who is not abused can be. But it makes me weep for the lost chances of the little girl I used to be.

Stuck in Bed

“I wish I could spend all day in bed!” This is something able-bodied people sometimes say to disabled people. I think I understand where their confusion lies, in confusing spending the day in bed with being stuck in bed all day.

I spent most of the past week stuck in bed. While there, I had a lot of time to ponder the distinction between spending the day in bed and being stuck in bed. For me, one of the biggest differences is probably found in relative freedom of movement. When I’m spending a day in bed, such as when on vacation (hey, I haven’t always been *this* poor), I can get up at any time for a snack or a drink or to take my book outside for awhile. When I’m stuck in bed, I try not to get up for anything less urgent than the bathroom.

Getting out of the bed is a simple matter of rising, when simply spending a day there. Getting out of the bed requires planning, preparation, and a sturdy chair stationed beside me, when I am stuck there. Spending a day in bed, voluntarily, is refreshing and relaxing and restful. Being stuck in bed isn’t any of those things, because whatever got you stuck there in the first place is sapping all your energy, and quite likely distracting you with highly unpleasant symptoms like nausea or pain.

If I’m spending a day in bed, I’ve probably already carved out this slice of free time to do nothing. If I’m stuck in bed, I likely have a to-do list growing by the minute, which I can’t even begin to address. This failure to keep up with my life responsibilities adds both stress and guilt to the experience of being in the bed all day.

I love spending a day in bed as much as the next person, but please, the next time a disabled friend tells you they’ve been stuck in bed all day, understand it wasn’t a restful vacation day. It was a sick day.