Posts Tagged ‘criticism’

My Baby Has Eczema: Emotional Emergency

Friday, January 21st, 2011

By Heo2035 on Flickr

The emotional frustration of watching my child suffer began to manifest itself in troubling ways. My husband’s work was an hour away, which meant that I had to get up early and get his meals ready. Manny wasn’t sleeping through the night, and he and his sister rarely napped at the same time, so I was gradually becoming more and more sleep deprived. And on top of it all, Manny continued to get worse. I felt like I was headed for a breakdown. I just couldn’t take much more.

I felt like I needed some kind of outlet–some way to just forget the problem I was facing. Facebook became an obsession–especially the games. I alsodiscovered that I could watch movies online for free, and I wasted hours watching things I wish I had never watched. Nothing really horrible, mind you, just I wish I hadn’t wasted my time there. I justified it at the time by telling myself that I didn’t have the energy for anything else, but I still felt very guilty about what I was doing, and especially for all the things I was neglecting to do. That guilt began to eat away at my self respect, which which just made me feel worse. It was a vicious cycle.

My daughter was getting out of control during this time. The girl that had been so cheerfully obedient before age 2 was becoming just like every two-year-old in the world. It was very discouraging, because I didn’t have the the motivation to do what I knew what I knew I should to get her back to where she had been.

Vacation Made It Worse

Thinking that getting away for a while would help, I went to visit my cousins who had come out from back east to stay with family who lived just a few hours away. I took the kids with me for the 3 hour trip, and my husband joined me a week later. It was a nice change of pace, but thanks to late-night games and visiting, I got even more behind on sleep, and Manny was as bad as ever. This made it very hard for me. I actually hunted up a doctor nearby to see if there was something I could do to help him. I was leery of going to a regular MD (I’ll discuss this more in a future post), so I found a naturopath. She was very nice, but not very helpful. I came away with an expensive skin cream and advice to go gluten free. But I just couldn’t go gluten free yet–not on vacation–and the cream didn’t really help in the long run.

When I got home, things really got out of control. I was more sleep-deprived from the vacation than I had been before, and I couldn’t catch up. Fatigue from lack of sleep combined with emotional distress to make my life almost unbearable. I wasn’t coping anymore. So I retreated deeper into myself, spending more and more time on my coping mechanisms–movies, games, etc. Of course that didn’t help. I began to resent my son, which of course made me feel even more guilty. I would break down and cry for no apparent reason. This really frustrated my husband; at times he didn’t want to come home from work to face the turmoil he knew would be there.

Trying to convey exactly how I felt is difficult. Of course, if you are reading this blog, you just might know exactly what I was going through! It was such a complex mixture of guilt and frustration that I haven’t even yet sorted it out. All I know is that watching my little boy suffer was the hardest thing for me. Nothing was working. There didn’t seem to be any natural cream available that would calm the itch, and figuring out what was causing the eczema in the first place seemed futile.

Fear of Steroids

During this time, I was in mortal dread of using steroids of any kind. I used hydrocortisone .5% as sparingly as possible, and only on the worst areas. I had read of people who cleared their child’s skin with steroids, only to have the rash come back with a vengeance once they stopped. I had heard that there was a connection between eczema and asthma, and I tended to believe the theory that the suppression of the skin inflammation pushed the reaction inward to the lungs, thus causing asthma. I do not known if this is true or not; I’m sure allergists have some other fancy explanation for it. All I knew is that my son didn’t have asthma, and I didn’t want him to get it.  Suffice it to say that I was very leery of using any steroid at all–even one as minor as hydrocortisone. Also, I kept hearing from other eczema sufferers to avoid steroids at all cost, and wanting what was best for my baby, I took their advice.

My husband supported my choices of treatment for the most part, but from other family members and friends I got a lot of criticism. “Why don’t you take him to a real doctor?” was a line I heard many times. Apparently a naturopath wasn’t considered a real doctor. “He needs to see an allergist; maybe you can figure out what all he is allergic to.” No one seemed to understand my desire to exhaust as many natural, alternative options as I could before I submitted to a more traditional approach. We tried homeopathy, a form of acupuncture known as NAET (acupressure, actually), various creams and lotions–I even made my own skin cream! Nothing worked.

I got to the lowest point just shortly before we moved. We had decided that we would move to the city where my husband worked so that he could spend more time at home and less driving. So my husband started looking for a house to rent near his work, and I tried to pack.

Near Breakdown Decisions

Around the time we were making the decision to move, I had one of my mini-breakdowns–crying uncontrollably and just needing reassurance. I called one of my friends from church, hoping she would point me to the Lord, since I felt so disconnected from God. Instead, she did her best to wake me up to the fact that if I didn’t do something, I was not going to be able to care for my children much longer. She even got an appointment for me at some clinic so my son could be seen by a “real” doctor. I resented that, as did my husband, and we asked her to cancel it. However, I realized that with the upcoming move, I needed to find a local doctor, so I began hunting. And I also realized that my friend had a point. If I had a mental breakdown, I wasn’t going to be able to function even the little that I still was.

That week I started using the hydrocortisone .5% wherever there was irritation, not just in the worst spots.

Next week I will share about how I picked a new doctor and the changes that we made as a result.

Can you relate to my pain? What was it like for you to watch your child suffer and feel so helpless? If you want to talk about it, this is the place. Feel free to share in the comments or join the blogfrog community and start a discussion. And don’t forget to subscribe so you won’t miss the rest of the story.

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Breaking News!

One of my readers just contacted me about a skin cream that has helped a couple of eczema sufferers that she knows. She graciously offered to send me some samples. I am going to test itfor two weeks and take notes on the effects. When I’m done, I will share the results with you right here on this blog, so stay tuned!