A youngster gets his vaccinations at North Shore General Practice. (Pic: News Corp)
A youngster gets his vaccinations at North Shore General Practice. (Pic: News Corp)

My anti-vax mother-in-law from hell

SHE unwittingly married into a family of anti-vaxxers who not only denied her children vaccination against childhood diseases, but also refused them conventional medicine when they were sick.

Her husband even placed her under surveillance to ensure she did not follow a legitimate doctor's orders and her mother-in-law, an alternative medicine practitioner, administered a known poison to her children in the delusional belief that it was a natural remedy.

"Holistic medicine" destroyed this Queensland mother's marriage, and her ability to safe guard her children is a constant struggle.

Kelly, not her real name, has gone to authorities, but they have let her down because the alternative health field is badly, if at all, regulated. It operates in a grey zone despite a growing body of evidence of the harms that have come from naturopaths, homeopaths and other alternative practitioners.

That body of evidence includes the near death of a baby who nearly starved to death after Sydney naturopath Marilyn Bodnard advised the mother to go on a raw food and water only diet. Bodnar pleaded guilty earlier this year to aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the mother to fail to provide the necessities of life.

Homeopaths dish out magic water claiming it can vaccinate against killer diseases, and despite health authorities putting them on notice, they continue to do it. In other words, someone has to die before something is done.

When Kelly married her husband 12 years ago, she thought they shared the same values and beliefs. They even had pre-marriage counselling that explored their expectations, but the one thing that was not explored was the topic of vaccination.

"We married believing we were basically on the same page. I got pregnant on the honeymoon and soon after I was forced to confront the reality of the family I had married into," the mother in her 40s says.

Kelly's mother-in-law is an alternative practitioner who offers an array of unproven therapies and concoctions, including banned products like black salve, an indiscriminate corrosive product that burns flesh, and colloidal silver, a toxin when taken orally.

People rally in Melbourne’s Flagstaff Gardens for the return of deadly, preventable diseases.
People rally in Melbourne’s Flagstaff Gardens for the return of deadly, preventable diseases.

Early in the piece, Kelly accepted a treatment with her new mother-in-law and was a little alarmed. There was talk of AIDS being a man-made virus and vaccination used to spread the AIDS virus.

Things got worse after the children came along. Kelly had wanted to vaccinate her children, but her husband, and mother-in-law would not hear of it. Kelly went along with their wishes to keep the peace.

"I wasn't proud of my choices and I was upset I had succumbed to family pressure and failed to advocate for my children. I felt like a fraud," Kelly said.

But both her children had medical issues. Her first born son, had serious behavioural problems identified as ADHD.

"When he started childcare, kindergarten and then school the truth became undeniable. Grade One was a disaster. My son was suspended back-to-back seven times for violence towards his classmates, teacher and destroying the classroom.

"I knew when our son was diagnosed with ADHD I could no longer avoid the fundamental ideological differences between my husband and I."

On a pediatrician's recommendation, stimulant medication was prescribed as a trial and it turned her son around. The violence stopped and the learning began.

"He could finally focus long enough to begin reading and he could control his impulses in class. He was paying attention, raising his hand and receiving positive feedback for the first time in his young life. I was so relieved. And yet, my husband refused to allow me to continue with the medication.

"He told me if I was a better parent our son wouldn't have these problems. He accused me of causing (Tom's) ADHD because I played high energy games with him when he was a toddler."

Kelly continued to secretly give her son the medication for another year before her husband found out.

"I simply could not bear to watch my son struggle and suffer at school so I continued to give the medication secretly. When my husband found out he made my life a living hell. He put me under constant surveillance. I was crucified and my marriage broke up," she said, adding in hindsight, it has been for the best.

"I realised I could not walk the slippery tightrope of trying to please everyone any longer. My children deserved a strong mother who would advocate for their best interests."

Secretly, on a week when she had custody, she vaccinated the children.

"I went ahead and vaccinated. I've and the children have got rights. I told him after the fact."

Their daughter also became a battle ground. Born with, a developmental condition which required surgery to correct their daughter suffers from recurrent infections that usually require treatment with antibiotics. Kelly's now ex-husband refuses to administer them whenever she has an infection and because they share care week on week off, course of medication is never finished in her father's care.

"He believes I should be able to prevent her infections with natural remedies at home rather than treating her with prescription medication. In his eyes I am a failure because she continues to experience infections."

Kelly knew her mother-in-law was a fan of colloidal silver and she was treating the children with her go- to 'magic potion'.

Before he died from poisoning himself with colloidal silver, Paul Karason’s skin turned blue. “Kelly’s” mother-in-law was feeding it to Kelly’s children.
Before he died from poisoning himself with colloidal silver, Paul Karason’s skin turned blue. “Kelly’s” mother-in-law was feeding it to Kelly’s children.

Colloidal silver is a natural antibiotic and healing agent when applied topically. Oral ingestion can literally turn your skin blue. Paul Karoson from Washington, died in 2013: he was called the blue man after self-medicating colloidal silver.

It can be toxic and harm kidney and liver function. There are no oral products licensed for sale in Australia and the Therapeutic Goods Administration has recorded several cases of poisoning from oral ingestion.

Kelly's mother-in-law recommended her clients drink it. And she administered it to her grandchildren without Kelly's consent.

"When my ten-year-old son told me she was giving it to him behind my back I knew I had to do something. My children needed me and I had to speak up."

Kelly went to Queensland's Health Ombudsman who contacted the mother-in-law.

"She denied everything and they said they did not have enough evidence to proceed," Kelly said.

Kelly had her son's blood tested. The normal level of silver in the blood should be less than 0.02 molar units per litre. Her son's was 6.43 - 320 times the normal level.

The public health unit investigated and again the mother-in-law denied all. No further action was taken.

Kelly's mother-in-law, on the other hand attempted to take out an apprehended violence order.

"She sought retribution. Twice she has tried to obtain domestic violence protection orders against me - claiming I was harassing her, and that I was a malicious and unfit mother. The purpose of domestic violence protection orders are to protect genuine victims. My MIL has abused and misused the legal process in an attempt to bully and silence me. Speaking out to protect your children is not domestic violence! Thankfully the magistrate threw her applications out," she says.

Kelly is now a single mother and only works part-time. She is applying to legal aid so she can take the issue further, but she is still stuck with having to let her children, who are both in primary school, return down the rabbit hole every second week.

"She believes I am poisoning my children because I chose to treat them with legal, prescription medications. She lives in a topsy-turvy, upside down, opposite world. Sunscreen is toxic, vaccines are deadly, and fluoride is being used to dumb us down," Kelly says.

What is becoming apparent is that the alternative medicine field is very adept at reinforcing conspiracies about western medicine.

“Kelly’s” son’s silver readings were alarmingly high, 320 times the normal level. (Pic: Supplied)
“Kelly’s” son’s silver readings were alarmingly high, 320 times the normal level. (Pic: Supplied)

"Fifteen year old Alex Radita died when his parents refused to treat his diabetes with Insulin. An autopsy revealed he died from bacterial sepsis from complications of neglect and starvation, due to the Type 1 diabetes.

"My mother in law has her own clinic and presents herself to the public as a "Health Professional" and "Learning & Behavioural Specialist". In this trusted role as a self-proclaimed "expert" she advises parents not to immunise their children, diagnoses children's behavioural problems as vaccine injuries and sells various unproven, unregulated and illegal goods and services."

Naturopaths and kinesiologists and the like are not registered medical professionals. Anyone can hang out a shingle and practice and therein lies the root of the problem.

"The bottom line is it is unprofessional and unethical for unqualified people to "play doctor" and endanger people's lives and they need to be held accountable," Kelly says.

"I am one voice trying to protect my children from a family member who has been duped by pseudoscience. It should not be this hard to stop charlatans and quacks. I should not be dealing with this alone. It shouldn't be my responsibility to discipline my mother-in-law as an altmed practitioner and compel her to practice ethically. I am waiting for the day someone other than me will tell her what she is doing is wrong and illegal.

"I am sharing my story hoping I can make a difference. Please don't let another mother go through the hell I have been through. If you have concerns about an unethical alternative practitioner contact the Health Commissioner in your state and report them," Kelly urges.

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