a danger within us?

Way back when Calvin had tried and failed his first several antiepileptic drugs, I learned about the VNS (vagus nerve stimulator), a device much like a pacemaker surgically implanted under the collar bone with a wire that wraps around the vagus nerve in the neck leading up to the brain. The device, as I understand, sends regular electrical impulses to the brain in an effort to thwart seizures before they begin. When it was suggested as a possible therapy for Calvin's epilepsy, my gut told me, no way.

My misgivings and questions were many: How effective is it? Are long term side effects yet known? How long do the batteries last? What happens when they fail? I don't want my son to go under the knife; on account of his fucked-up brain, his flawless body is most sacred to me.

I've stuck with my position all these years, having heard since then about mediocre results and nagging side effects of the VNS in children whose parents I know.

Yesterday, my dear friend Elizabeth Aquino alerted others in her blog post about some dangerous findings—cardiac and otherwise—resulting from implanted medical devices, in particular the VNS.

You can listen to the Fresh Air interview below, in which medical journalist Jeanne Lenzer, whose recent book, The Danger Within Us, exposes these risks. You can also click on the title of the episode to read the transcript from the show.

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