I’m a great user of facebook (too much, in fact) and one of the features I like is the ‘On this day’ memories showing my posts from years gone by. What I show on my own facebook profile is, however, selective and I don’t share much about the ‘bad stuff’ that goes on in my life. This got me thinking about my many, many posts in closed eczema facebook support groups prior to July 2014 when my now 8 year old daughter started on the Aron Regimen (AR).
Below, I share a small selection of these posts and compare my situation in the first half of 2014 to how things are now. Apologies for the self-indulgent nature of this blog post, but today has found me in a nostalgic mood.
1. The itchy dozen
In January 2014, Anna’s increasing and incessant itch led me to buy “The Eczema Diet” book and a quest for feeding her only ‘eczema safe’ foods and avoiding ‘the itchy dozen’. Anna cheerfully went along with whatever I served up (the girl will eat anything – although she did later admit to not being too fond of antihistamine-rich papaya). Unfortunately my dedication was short-lived. I still have a cupboard full of strange ingredients (rice bran oil, Celtic sea salt, carob powder, citric acid anyone?) to tell the tale of my half-hearted efforts.
Today: We still avoid Anna’s known allergens (dairy, egg, nuts, sesame) as she’d vomit otherwise. I try not to give her too much sugar or junk food as I believe these can aggravate her eczema. Certain foods that used to cause her to flare she is now able to tolerate okay in small quantities eg. tomato-based sauces.
2. The guilt
Bad mum alert – daughter chooses to give herself a punishment for scratching because she was itchy (and used to being shouted at for it). Poor love!
Today: Anna still gets itchy sometimes but nothing like before. And the daily antihistamines and pleas/cries of “stop scratching” are a thing of the past.
3. Restless sleep
I’ve never shared much ‘bad stuff’ on my personal facebook profile (the posts in this blog are all from a closed eczema support group) but, for some reason, I did share this video in March 2014. It popped up in my facebook ‘memories’ a couple of days ago and gave me the idea for this post.
Today: Fortunately, Anna now sleeps peacefully like a baby.
4. White gloves
We moved from Anna wearing scratchsleeves every night to sometimes wearing white cotton or silk gloves during the day, including trips outside the house. Luckily, she has never been a particularly self-conscious child.
Today: No more gloves, yay! Although Anna’s hands are still her problem area and the most prone to flares, she no longer scratches at them and so can go glove-free.
5. Spring assembly
What jumps out at me from this post is that Anna was still itchy all over despite most of her skin looking fine (thanks to the steroids).
Today: I still have to pinch myself that today Anna uses diluted steroids once a week and is near itch-free whereas 3 years ago she used NEAT steroids once a week and was frequently itchy. It’s all down to the antibiotics (and the way Dr Aron uses them). We haven’t used antibiotics in Anna’s AR compound for nearly 2 years but, after getting we on top of the staph infection in that first year on the AR, the itch has thankfully more or less stayed away.
6. Hospital dermatology appointment
This was our first dermatology appointment since Anna was a baby. The dermatologist told me it was like teaching me how to suck eggs and to keep on using the steroids as instructed. I wasn’t reassured, as things were getting progressively worse.
Today: We cancelled our follow-up dermatology appointment a few months later as Anna’s eczema was by then brilliantly controlled on the AR. With the exception of one GP appointment (localised infection) she hasn’t had to see a GP or dermatologist about her eczema since she started on the AR almost 3 years ago.
7. The Vicks Experience
Warning: do not try this at home! There are all sorts of weird and wonderful (or not so wonderful) things that people will try in the hope that it helps their eczema. For example, emu oil, ‘Egyptian Magic’, colloidal silver; things that your ‘man in the street’ will not even have heard of. The strangest thing we ever tried on Anna was a household name but an unusual choice of eczema treatment nonetheless (I read about it somewhere!) – Vicks Vaporub. Fortunately just a little experiment behind the knees. It did not help! But a tickly experience apparently.
Today: Phew, our search is over. Now all that Anna needs is her AR compound, Bepanthen ointment (yes, the stuff for baby’s bottoms) and occasionally calamine lotion.
8. Still scratching
I hate what happens in the video I shared in this post (to see the actual video, go to part 2 of my blog – https://annaanddraron.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/part-2-the-itch/) and the fact that the itchiness sometimes drove Anna to tears.
Today: There have been no more eczema tears since Anna started on the AR.
9. Wet wraps
This post was about Anna’s red, hot cheeks. But when I read it again now what I spot is her (soggy) bandaged arms. It was not uncommon for us to ‘wet wrap’ her in those days and so I thought nothing of it at the time.
Today: Wet wraps are another thing of our past. We don’t need them on the AR.
10. ‘Natural’ is not always a good thing
“Try bathing in dead sea salts”, they said, “they really help soothe the skin”. Except Anna seemed to have an allergic reaction to her first and only Dead Sea salt bath.
Today: Anna’s skin doesn’t need soothed and she has fun-filled baths in … just warm water. When she gets to the smelly stage we shall use Dove Sensitive soap-substitute bar (which her skin is fine with).
Some of you reading this might be thinking that Anna’s eczema didn’t seem that bad, and I agree that it wasn’t nearly as severe as many of the cases I read about on facebook. However, worrying about it really did seem to be taking over my life that first half of 2014 and it was increasingly impacting on Anna’s quality of life. The difference that the AR has made to us as a family is immeasurable.
Facebook has found a great way of reminding me of this today as it’s easy to forget that dark place we have come from. So thank you once again to Dr Aron, who today celebrates 50 years (and counting) in his career in dermatology.