3rd anniversary since starting on Corey’s Healing Plan.
Every year in May I get a photo montage from Google photos showing Corey’s eczema at it’s worst. This year I feel strong enough to finally face these painful memories head-on. Maybe its the fact that I have not taken a rashy body shot in more than six months, sans those of his stubborn thumbs. Or the fact that my growing support group of allergic families shows me that I am not alone, giving me the courage to share my story.
2016 will forever be a year marked by difficult memories. With these images, I am transported back to those tough days and even tougher nights.
How it took 3 people on average to give Corey a bath, one to hold his hands to prevent him from scratching, one to distract him with toys and one to carry out the washing.
How this same team effort was required for each diaper change because he would cry in pain.
Or how I would doze off exhausted holding his hands next to his cot, only to be jolted awake at his slightest movements because I feared he was clawing at his skin.
Fateful meeting of the right doctor for Corey that almost did not happen
Exactly 3 years ago this week, we met Corey’s now regular allergist for the first time. Which almost did not happen.
2 months prior to this, we had seen multiple pediatricians, pediatric allergist, saw a renowned dermatologist. Nobody could give me a clear treatment plan that worked. I would leave these visits with more questions than answers. And all the while, Corey’s eczema worsened.
It was at this point of hopelessness that a friend asked me to see an allergist in National University of Singapore. I called to make an appointment and was told the doctor was fully booked for another month.
I remember the feeling of disappointment at hearing how long a wait it was going to be. At this point, the combination of emotional and physical exhaustion of juggling Corey’s eczema was finally hitting home hard.
Was seeing another specialist going to really give us the answers we needed? Or would it just lead to more questions and confusing conclusions? Crestfallen and burnt out, I left it at that and wondered how we would survive till the appointment date.
The sign I needed to forge on – our appt brought forward
I must have forgotten about the appointment because when the hospital staff called me back two days later I was clueless at what the lady on the other line was saying.
She asked me if I had booked a timing to see an allergist at the National University of Singapore as “a patient has canceled and Doctor will see you this week.”
It was music to my ears. And we were off to see yet another doctor.
This time it was different and why it worked for us
Straight off the bat, this allergist was different.
He took a scientific logical approach to investigate Corey’s triggers. We started with a skin prick test of the common 5 allergens in Singaporean babies, eggs, milk, peanut, soy, and wheat. Corey’s showed positive results of allergy to eggs, milk, and peanuts so we were told to strictly avoid these 3 items (and ONLY to avoid these 3 items).
He gave me a simple straight forward skin care treatment plan that was easy to execute.
I had an open channel of communication with him directly on Corey’s response to the treatment plan.
We worked together over those first few months to investigate Corey’s triggers.
I would collect data on Corey’s eczema, diet, and exposures through notes to share with our doctor. Doctor would then tap into his decades of experience in treating childhood allergies to formulate a diagnosis of Corey’s condition. Using this method, he was able to hypothesize that Corey’s egg allergy was possibly airborne.
Corey’s eczema was continuously being reinfected by exposure to eggs in the air. His skin never had a chance to heal properly. The key was full avoidance of eggs anywhere. So we made the decision to cut eggs and any egg by-product at home. Along with our simple but rigorous skincare treatment plan, we started to see radical improvements to Corey’s skin.
A collaborative relationship with a trusted doctor is key to understanding your child’s allergies and chronic eczema,
Corey’s allergist has been the central figure in Corey’s healing journey. He set me on the right path of understanding how complex allergies can be. He made me realize that a strong, collaborative relationship between patient and physician is the crucial element in learning how to manage severe allergies.
Each child is different so food allergic reactions can vary greatly. I can safely say having gone down this difficult journey that learning how to live with allergies it is a process, and not a magic cream or pill. Speaking of creams, here are a few more lessons I learnt the painful way in our first year which I hope others after me can avoid.
There are no magic moisturizers and creams to cure eczema
After pinning my hopes on countless moisturizers promising some radical results, I was disappointed more times than I can count. Thus I learned the hard way that what works for one person may not work for another.
A good skin care treatment plan should be simple, use minimal products, and should be easy to remember and execute. Frequent repetition of the same simple skin care regime was what reduced the intensity of my baby’s eczema in the first year of our battle. You can read about the skin care tricks we use My Eczema mama’s Top 5 Skin Care Tricks.
Getting Through the Denial
I was in denial for a good part of that first year after Corey’s allergies were diagnosed. Nobody else in my family has food allergies, how can his be so severe?
Everyone around me would tell me he will outgrow them. Outwardly, I would agree with them.
But on the inside, I was shouting
“I needed him to outgrow them yesterday!”
And “then what do I do in the meantime? put him into cold storage like Captain America and wait till the science can find a cure then bring him back?”
I know their words mean well. But having false hopes of him outgrowing these allergies only delayed my learning of how to cope with our current circumstance.
So the faster you accept your child’s condition, the sooner you can begin to construct a conducive environment to help him or she thrive with these allergies. That is my secret in giving my baby the best chance to outgrow his allergies.
Why not delete these photos then?
While painful to look at, these photos are a humble reminder of how far we have come. I am now able to view them as a source of hope instead of an origin of anguish.
It is a reminder to me (thankfully Corey will never remember the discomfort he went through), that I will never allow my baby to go through this again. And that no baby should have to go through this kind of discomfort.
Our healing journey is unique to Corey’s allergies and his eczema condition. Not all food allergies are alike, and no two allergic reactions are exactly the same. No two doctors are alike either, so ask questions and work closely with your healthcare professionals to come up with an appropriate healing plan to suit your situation.
I hope I have given allergic families another perspective to consider, and if some of my tips are able to help lessen another baby’s discomfort by even a day, it would make this sharing worthwhile.
It wasn’t all bleak in our first year and we even had a few smiles once we got over the hump of the initial steep learning curve.
I may not have kissed Corey much in his first year for fear of making his eczema worse, but I more than made up for it in our second and third years.
Here’s a precursor to my next post on our second and third year of eczema and allergy progression 😉
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