Monday was my eldest son’s fifteenth birthday! Wow! In the crazy times of his childhood, I would dream that there would be a time when a sense of calm would settle over us and the madness of our life would be a distant memory. I can honestly say that the time has come! Many would disagree with me on this–from the outside, it still looks hectic–but then again, they have not lived my life.
Strangely enough, it wasn’t Michael’s food allergies that initially troubled me, as much as the atopic dermatitis. Food allergies I could control. Just don’t feed him his allergens.
Believe me, I know it is much more than just that. At the time, though, I was more frantic and disturbed by his skin. At the age of 2, he looked like he had third degree burns. (His skin was so awful that my friends would tell me they were astounded we weren’t being questioned by child services!)
The atopic dermatitis was a different kettle of fish. I could not stop it from erupting on his skin! It is difficult to put into words how sick it made me feel to see my son suffering. He had trouble falling asleep, so I would rub his back and sing to him. He would wake up in the night crying and scratching till his skin bled. He never seemed to wake up happy, ready for the day. His sheets would need changing every day as they would be covered in blood and flakes of his skin. His bedroom floor, as well as the rest of the house needed to be vacuumed every day. His skin would sting while soaking in the tub and he would cry in pain as I administered the creams. Inside all the while, my heart was breaking. I felt like I was torturing him rather than nurturing him.
That’s really how I became the mad scientist! Was it something he was eating? Was it the detergent I washed his clothes and bedding in? Was it the dog? Was it dust? The list of variables could go on!
We sought medical advice from dermatologists: bathe him 3 times a day with an oil in the bath, apply prescription cream, apply lots of Vaseline and give him Children’s Benadryl. We followed their directions to the T, but the eczema would just not go away! Eventually, the dog died, the carpet and curtains were eventually taken all out, hard wood and shutters replaced them, I washed all clothing and bedding in a scent free, hypoallergenic detergent and we limited food that we could visually see caused his eczema: canteloupe, oranges, grapefruit, picking apples, and Coca-cola.
In Grade 6, we tried a different approach. Michael’s skin always seemed to be better in the summer. Why? Was it the sun? Was it the chlorinated water? Was it all the swimming in the lake? Was it the stress free environment of the summer? Was it the change in fresh fruits and vegetables? Again, so many variables!
I brought up with our pediatric dermatologist the option of light therapy. He agreed that it was an option worth trying. Luckily, a clinic that offered light therapy was near at hand. Off we went, 3 times a week for mere minutes of treatment. Michael would dress down to his bikini underwear, done a pair of protective goggles for his eyes and step into a machine the size of a stand up shower filled with lights. A painless treatment that would prove to be the miracle we were looking for! Michael started the treatment in the fall and continued through the winter until the beginning of the summer holidays.
By this time, his skin had cleared, he was sleeping through the night leaving no blood or skin residue on his sheets, his school marks took a leap and best of all……………………………….he was happy!
Michael has not needed to return for further treatments. He occasionally has a small break out of which, he is able to get back under control with his prescription cream, Protopic and moisturizing cream, Aquaphor by Eucerin.
I cannot explain how liberating it is to not have to worry about his skin to the extreme that we were. My advice to others is to try to stay positive. I know it is not easy but it is the only way to keep moving forward. This line of treatment along with other factors unknown, worked for Michael. Each case is its own case and one must keep on trying to find the formula that works best for them.
Michael’s diet may have taken a bit of a back seat for a time. (I have to admit, I was nervous to expand his food repertoire.) Luckily, over the past few years now, Michael has shown an interest in exploring new tastes. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing around in the kitchen with recipes to make them allergen friendly for my boys and their friends. I am excited to continue my quest and to share recipes with others seeking yummy dishes for their loved ones with food allergies!
PS. Any products mentioned in this post are my own personal recommendation. No one’s paying me to include the links! I’m just sharing what works for our family. Your needs and preferences may be different.