Our oldest daughter was diagnosed with asthma around two years old. It started out with multiple trips to the emergency room for what local doctors diagnosed as bronchitis. Along with “bronchitis” that never cleared up, we also started noticing her hands and feet were constantly blue; local doctors told us is was normal and nothing to worry about. No explanation or anything was given to us. I like to think of myself as a fairly educated person, and having fairly extensive knowledge of biology and physiology, I didn’t think that blue extremities were a “normal” thing for a child. We ended up finding an awesome pediatrician, who was not necessarily concerned, but directed us to a pediatric cardiologist to rule out any heart problems. Thankfully, the cardiologist was awesome too, and put our minds at ease after to ultrasounding her heart to make sure nothing was wrong.
Needless to say, the bronchitis still hadn’t subsided at this time. Finally our pediatrician determined she had asthma, and put her on medication that got her breathing issues under control. For a long while, our little girl was healthier than she had been in months. But then suddenly, we noticed she had patches of skin that were itchy and weepy. We also started to notice she was wheezing a lot, and had random rashes and hives on her body. Mosquito bites would swell up the size of quarters. There were no lotions or creams that seemed to help. Our ped doc decided to do a blood allergy test, just to rule out allergies. Instead of ruling out allergies, we found out that she was allergic to a bunch of random stuff I didn’t even know people could be allergic to. Who is allergic to tomatoes anyways, for crying out loud?
As a follow up to the blood allergy test, we ended up being recommended to an allergist in the same town as our pediatrician. The actual testing was by far the best appointment that we would ever have with said allergist. We found out Macy was allergic to a handful of foods and outdoor allergens, and were given a plan of action. I officially became that parent that had to carry an Epi-Pen and start reading food labels. Thank God her allergies are relatively minimally- invasive; none of her allergies appear to be life threatening. With the exception of oats, she doesn’t blow up in hives when she eats foods with eggs or tomatoes in them. This first appointment was incredibly helpful and left us with high hopes that we were on the right track and would be able to keep her healthy. Wrong...
For a while, it seemed like her allergies were under control. I had learned to scour the ingredient labels on everything; started relearning how to cook without eggs and tomatoes. With a tear in my eye, I threw out the hundred-dollars worth of Aveeno skin products and replaced them with homemade concoctions of DoTerra oils and liquid Castille soap. I started slathering her skin in coconut and olive oil. And then we had, what I like to refer to as, the “game changer”. Unbeknownst to all of us at the time, Froot Loops number one ingredient is “oats”. Without even thinking about it, we let our daughter have some for breakfast a couple days, until I noticed that she was covered in hives. I tore our house apart trying to find the culprit; had a “discussion” with my mother about her dog that ended with both of us in tears, and grilled my daycare provider like it was the Inquisition. And then I found that damned box of cereal. It took about a week for her body to detoxify from the oats; Benedryl became our best friend. I call this situation the “game changer” because ever since this incident, her skin had gotten so bad that the poor child was practically molting. It ain’t been purdy, that’s for sure.
Long story short: six different prescription steroid creams, one steroid ointment, a staph and strep infection, multiple antibiotics, two rounds of Prednisone and three doctors later, we are finally on the road to recovery. I have made more trips to our state’s capital city more in the last two months than I had in the 29 years I have been on this earth. We are finally starting to see some improvement; I admit that I almost want to send this new doctor a dozen roses and ask her out to dinner. I now understand why some parents completely lose their shit on doctors and hospitals- to be honest, I feel like we have been doctor shopping lately; at least we finally found some gems. Medical professionals are almost as frustrating as used car salesmen; the difference is the amount of money they get paid.
I cannot imagine being covered in hives. I am lucky, and the worst allergy I have is a very minimal discomfort from hay dust. I have never had hives; so I have a really hard time relating to the constant itch that comes with being covered in eczema and allergic hives. Unfortunately for my daughter, she inherited all of this from her father; so I have found he has more patience for her and seems to be able to talk her back away from the ledge a lot easier than I can. I am not going to win any “mother of the year” award for how I have dealt with all of this. I admit that after spending 45 minutes on bathing/medicating/moisturizing/ and otherwise trying to pacify a four year old that doesn’t understand that itching makes it worse, my patience runs rather thin. I often feel like I should get a job working for the government as a terror negotiator due to all the practice I get day after day. I find myself exhausted at the end of the day; having two little girls is a recipe for drama anyways, but then to add a level of illness on top of it makes it close to unbearable at times. I love my children more than life itself, but I swear there are times I could lock myself in my room with a case of beer and a blaring stereo and never come out.
All I can say, is that for all the times I think I am being a terrible parent who is completely screwing up my kid, I am learning that being a parent is a tough gig- there ain’t no instruction manual for these little critters. It is a lot of try, try, try again; relax, and try to pick your battles more wisely next time. If I have learned anything else, it is that is important to talk about it with others and be willing to try stuff that the doctors don’t bother to tell you. I have learned to take charge of my child’s health, and realize that she is my first priority. I am excited that we have had some really awesome doctors on our side; the few crappy ones we have dealt with make me appreciate the good ones that much more. I know we are going to have a long road ahead of us. I apologize to anyone that has to bear the brunt of my frustration with my inability to cure my baby. It sucks, and makes me feel inadequate and useless at times. But I know that this has made me a heck of a lot more aware of other people’s struggles and a lot less judgemental of how other parents are dealing with their kids. Allergies are unfortunately one of those things you really can’t understand the magnitude of until you have to deal with it every day. I hope to God there is a cure for all of this stuff someday, but until then, you can bet you’ll see me standing in the aisle of WalMart reading the ingredients of everything from the applesauce to the vanilla ice cream. And probably leaving the pharmacy with a giant tub of ointment in one hand and a giant bottle of Advil in the other.
May the good Lord bless you and the ones you love with good health, and may you keep it that way.
Until next time,