I'm A 'Crunchy' Mom And My Family Is Getting The Covid Vaccine

by Rachel Garlinghouse
Originally Published: 
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I have hesitated to write this for a long time, mostly because I’m not a medical expert. However, I am someone who values medical experts. I didn’t plan to share my vaccine vibes with anyone outside my family and friend circle. However, with the new school year and the raging Delta variant, I’m going to go ahead and put my experience out there. I am a crunchy mom, and my family is getting the COVID vaccine.

In fact, two of us were vaccinated back in the spring, the week after we were eligible. How I decided to get vaccinated isn’t a pretty story. I was re-diagnosed with breast cancer in January. I became eligible to be vaccinated in March, and I simply went for it. I had a four week window between when I was eligible and when I was going to start chemotherapy. Once I started chemo, I couldn’t get the vaccine. I was feeling a lot of pressure to make a decision, and I decided that after talking to my doctors, I was choosing to be vaccinated.

I readily admit that I’m one of those crunchy moms. When we bought our current house, I had it painted with the very low VOC paint, even though it was far more expensive than the regular stuff. I turned my nose up at toxins, knowing how damaging they can be to not only adults, but also developing children. I refused to let any of the lawn companies come over and spray my yard with bug or weed killer, either. We don’t wear shoes in our house, knowing that dirty shoes track in far more than just dirt. I didn’t want pesticides in my landscaping or on my floors. No, thanks.

I research all the beauty products we buy, including shampoo, makeup, sunscreen, lotion, and deodorant. I also only buy green cleaning products, those made with natural and non-harmful ingredients. We eat mostly organic and vegetarian. I know that reading this list, you may think I’m some sort of uppity lady. I’m not. I have had significant health issues in the last fifteen years, and it’s very important to me that I treat my body, and my family’s bodies, well.

Toxins add up, and I do my best to stay educated and make good purchases. I want my kids to grow up and do the same. I truly believe that what we put in and on our bodies matters, so I do what I can to protect our health. I have learned over the past fifteen years, after my type 1 diabetes diagnosis, plus two breast cancer battles, that our health is a precious gift, one we should never take for granted.

This is the very reason why I ultimately decided to get vaccinated. Every single one of my specialists, who are all brilliant and trained at some of the top hospitals in the country, recommended the vaccine. I listened, and then I did what a writer does. I researched. I researched for hours, reading studies and investigating vaccine ingredients.

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Now, I am that person who refuses antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. I won’t take an anti-inflammatory unless I’m in dire need after trying an Epsom bath, stretches, rest, and hydration, plus a trip to my chiropractor. I take supplements, and I believe in the power of yoga, meditation, prayer, therapy, and journaling. I told you, I’m crunchy. I’d rather practice grounding than pop a pill.

But COVID? COVID scares me. It terrified me as a type 1 diabetic, despite having excellent blood sugar control and a healthy diet. It terrified me as someone preparing to begin twelve weeks of chemotherapy for my breast cancer reoccurrence. It terrified me as mother, because my protective instincts tell me to take the best care of myself so I can take care of my kids.

I also want to be a mom who leads by example. If I’m taking my kids to church, where our faith tells us that we are to love God, love ourselves, and love our neighbors, wouldn’t I be a total hypocrite if I refused to protect myself and also protect others? Taking COVID precautions, I’ve told my children, isn’t just about us. It’s about the person in the chemo chair next to me, the people in the same aisle at the grocery store, their school peers.

I’ll be honest. Modern medicine is far from perfect or magical. After all, I’ve had breast cancer twice, doing everything I could to prevent it from coming back. However, I am very, very thankful for amazing medical professionals, research studies, and new, hopeful treatments. I am of the belief that the vaccine, like all types of modern medicine, has some possible issues. There is no such thing as a perfect vaccine—or any other medical intervention. There are potential side effects, such as lymph node swelling that has caused some confusion with mammograms, for example.

However, when I weighed the risk versus rewards and made my pros and cons list, the answer was staring back at me. Getting vaccinated was the right decision, not only for me, but for my family. I admit that I felt a bit guilty, like how can I call myself this proponent of crunchy living, while jumping on the COVID-vax bandwagon? Am I a hypocrite? A failure?

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If you are on the fence about the vaccine, I’m not here to harp on you. I get it. I really do. My cancer diagnosis forced me into making a decision. I had a deadline. Either I got the vaccine by the time I started chemo, or I’d have to wait four months. I knew that during chemo, I would be immunocompromised, which put me at a much greater risk of getting COVID and getting very ill from it. I simply couldn’t bring myself to deny the opportunity to vaccinate. I realize you are likely (and thankfully) not in the same position, but please hear me. Your health is sacred, and COVID is serious.

I know several women who have long-lasting COVID symptoms. One friend has significant hearing loss. Another has a strange, ongoing rash on her feet and issues in her legs. I’ve read accounts of people with brain fog and fatigue that are so bad, they have had to stop working and can’t take care of their kids. These are people who were considered fairly young and healthy, and now they are no longer feeling very healthy. I’m not sharing this to scare you, nor am I placing blame on my friends. Some of them got COVID before the vaccine was available. Others waited a little too late to get vaccinated—as they waited for more research to come out.

There’s so much conflicting and polarizing information right now. I thought the 2016 and 2020 elections were rough, but I’m beginning to wonder if this pandemic isn’t far worse. I understand if you are confused, if you don’t know who to believe. Again, I’m not a medical professional, and I don’t plan to talk anyone into getting vaccinated. However, I do believe it’s my personal responsibility to share that if you are someone who lives a crunchy life, it’s OK to consider that the vaccine is something you can get to help protect you and your family.

You’d better believe we’re still taking our supplements, cooking wholesome meals, and getting outside into the sunshine for exercise. I believe that taking a layered approach to staying as healthy as possible is a great plan. The vaccine, for our crunchy family, is part of that plan. Modern medicine, as I shared, is not perfect. However, it can be pretty darn good. I am living proof of that. Maybe you will be, too?

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