Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Baby + Eczema & Allergies = Miracle Mum!

Today I welcome Morgan to my blog. When your friends have babies you just develop a new level of love and respect for them. After reading Morgan's story I got a little teary - what a journey she has been on - but what a spunk of a boy she has! Very proud of the amazing mum she is! 

Take it away Morgs!
I know I’m one of many thousands of Mums, who has a child dealing with the frustrations of Eczema.

I have become all too familiar with the sleepless nights, scratching until bleeding, countless doctors & specialists appointments and the expense involved with trial and errors of both oral and topical medications.

Here’s My story.
In May 2010 we welcomed our beautiful baby boy ‘Ryder’ into the world. From day one he had a small patch of eczema above his eye.

I, like all other Mums wanted to give my child the best start to life, so tried to breastfeed. I persevered through all the pain & screams of my poor boy for three months. Even though I was a new mother, I didn’t think it was ‘normal’ for a child to scream after every feed. Numerous trips we made to the doctors (only to be told it was probably reflux, so to try the oral medication Nexium). I did this up until the 3rd month of his life –when we gave him a formula bottle, each time he had formula his reactions began to worsen. This one day he continuously vomitted and became quite unresponsive…this was scary and I knew there must have been more to it than “reflux”.

 Ryder age 7 months
Ryder was prescribed formula from the Doctor called Neocate (which I since found out is generally prescribed to babies that are allergic to both dairy and soy). Instead we should have been told to try him on the soy formula which you can buy off the shelf in supermarkets, then if he reacted to that then go to the Neocate. At the time I wasn’t to know, I did as the doctor said because they are qualified in that field, and I knew no different. However Ryder’s stomach didn’t agree with with the Neocate and it was a very expensive way of buying formula. At around 5 months his skin was showing no signs of improvement so our local doctor referred us to a Dermatologist in Adelaide.

The dermatologist told us that Eczema, allergies and asthma go hand in hand, and are unfortunately genetic, therefore there really is no cure. She did a swab of Ryder’s nose for staph infection, then prescribed him with cortisone creams and referred us onto an Allergist who would be able to test for allergens that could be a contributing factor to the eczema. 

Looking back I wish they had referred us straight to the Allergist, and we could have got on top of it straight away, instead we were again put on a waiting list.
By this stage I reckon I would have bought every sensitive skin product that can be bought, in both the chemist and supermarket.

For months I could never seem to find anything that helped with my sons condition. Everything seemed to only be a short term fix. I had to go back to work to help pay for all the trips to Doctors and specialists, plus all the creams, ointments and naturopath and chiropractic appointments, believe me we tried everything to help our boy stop the itch, and give him a chance to see how good it feels to have a good nights sleep. 

Finally in July 2011 we were able to see the allergist. He informed us that our boy had a severe form of cows milk protein allergy, called Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES).

He explained to us that topical treatments could be improved using a greasy moisturiser such as Dermeze or QV intensive, rather than any sorbolene creams or any lotions (as these can sting anyone with severe cases). He recommended more regular use of a moderate topical corticosteroid, that is Celestone rather than intermittent use of mometasone. Naturally I was concerned I was over using the cortisone creams, as I thought it could strip his skin, however, given his current untreated eczema skin damage is much more likely to arise from uncontrolled eczema rather than steroid use.  Dr Gold explained to us the correct procedure for applying the creams, and incorporating wet wraps with the QV intensive moisturiser, which we continue to use to this very day.

Ryder  would require a bath twice weekly in QV flare up, given that it contains an antiseptic. Every other night he is to be bathed in normal QV oil. Lastly the Allergist recommended giving Zyrtec (an oral non-sedating antihistamine) twice daily on a regular basis, then if worse came to worse we could use Promethazine (a sedating oral antihistamine) at night time.

The allergist then decided to do an allergy prick test, this showed Ryder was allergic to Dairy and egg. Which meant more trips to Adelaide for food challenges at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital to determine if he would outgrow these allergies (which the allergist believed he would by age 3).

This has been a hard road for me and my husband. While he was working full time, I was  trying to work 3 days a week, trying to maintain house work, and cook foods that my son was able to eat (that didn’t contain dairy or egg and that looked like foods everyone else was eating).

I felt guilty every time I would drop our little boy off at child care, knowing that he was itchy, and half the time he had open sores from scratching, therefore picking up germs and bacteria a lot easier than a child without a skin condition. This would then lead to staph infections, which require antibiotics and would sometimes take months to clear up.

I felt like such a failure at times, because I absolutely love our dear son and wanted to spend all the time in the world with him, and take him to the playground, swimming pool, and do all those fun things that parents should include their child in. But because of his skin condition I have avoided chlorinated swimming pools, and on my days off I felt I was running around catching up on day to day chores, researching what there was left for me to do to minimise the severity of eczema, I even found myself doing this in the early hours of the morning whilst trying to comfort our poor little boy.

Symptoms of staph with eczema:

* Crusting of skin with a yellow to brown layer
* Infected blisters or eruptions
* Redness, swelling, inflammation or puffiness
* Heat in the general area, or heat in the body as a fever

If you notice anything like this on or around the area of your eczema , you should seek medical advice to get the infection under control before it causes too many problems.
I have now quit work to spend quality time with our beautiful boy, focussing on what he eats, and helping him get into a good routine before we welcome a new addition to our family in June this year. Our boy will be three in May, to this day I wouldn’t say Ryder’s skin is 100% clear, but it is definitely better  than it was from 6 months of age. This has taken a lot of trial and error, and definitely put a strain on the relationship between my husband and I. But through patience, perseverance and good family and friend support, our relationship as a family is only going to get stronger, as we continue to watch our boy grow and see what the future holds for him. Hopefully one day he will experience what its like to have a scratch free day!! 

Ryder swimming January this year – the first time he has been laying in the sea water – which is good for his eczema but also very drying so therefore we need to apply more moisturiser! Also when out in the sun we use a sensitive sunscreen and even that makes his skin quite itchy after. But our boy loves being outdoors and we wouldn’t stop him from doing things he loves.
If I can give any advice to the Mum’s out there who are starting from the beginning, it would be to not give up.  Keep reading, researching, emailing,  everything. Even though you feel as though you are not achieving anything, remind yourself that you are trying and you are doing everything you possibly can to help your child.

I'm still learning new things now, for example in the middle of last year I saw another Naturopath and she explained the benefits of Rice Milk over soy milk. Luckily Ryder didn’t notice a change in the milk and is still enjoying his cups of Rice milk to this day; also I am swapping dairy milk to Rice milk in my cooking.

Lots of people will give you advice (even if they don’t know you but they see your child has ‘a rash’) but be selective in what you choose to try, because what has worked for some does not always work for others. You will probably spend thousands of dollars (as we have) trying products but you will soon work out your child’s skin and how it reacts to different products.
Last but not least remember you are not alone and there is help available!

Thank you for letting me share our story.

Morgan McDonald

January 2013 I may have eczema but I'm still a spunk!


Samara said...

Morgan, as a child who grew up with eczema, rest assured that, as an adult, you do not despise your parents for the creams they made you put on, the painful baths you had to have etc but instead can see how frustrating it must have been for them and the love & care they showed by doing these things. While I still have it as an adult, it is nowhere near as bad and reasonably under control with a gluten free diet. Learning will power as a teenager certainly helped the itching and stopped it flaring up...hopefully your son experiences the same improvements and that the best is yet to come. Keep persisting, there is light at the end of the tunnel :)

christine said...

Oh, no fun. We have lots of food allergies in my home too. When my daughter was an infant, I went against all medical advice and gave her goat milk instead of formula. It was the only thing she didn't react to and she did very well on it. Haha, I think that was the very beginning of my mistrust in the American food supply.