Thursday, February 13, 2014

A breakthrough in the Battle with Eczema

  When Olivia was about 9 months old, I noticed rough patches on her arms and legs.  After she turned one it had gotten a lot worse and she had a really bad spot on her shoulder.  Her pediatrician told me it wasn't eczema, but I thought he was wrong so I took her to a dermatologist who confirmed that it was.  He prescribed a cream that cleared up the worst patch, but did nothing more than keep her from peeling.  Basically, we have been dealing with it ever since.  At times it can be heartbreaking.  There are mornings when her sheets are blood-stained from her scratching all night.  We dress her in the long footie pajamas every night, but she can still get to her back and arms. She has to be dressed at all times, and can only take very short baths in lukewarm water once every 3 or 4 days.  I have to pin her down twice a day to rub lotion or oils on her that barely do anything at all.  We have run the gamut of lotions and oils, and tried cutting out certain foods.  There have been days when I have been changing her clothes and have cried looking at the scabs criss-crossing her tiny back and arms and the angry red patches on her legs.  I worry that she will carry scars for the rest of her life that will make her self-conscious to put on a bathing suit.  Every Sunday I carefully dress her in long sleeves and tights so her teachers won't speculate about why she looks so beat up.

  A month ago it got even worse.  I even had to start holding her hands while she went to the bathroom to keep her from tearing at her thighs with her nails.  We had just switched to a new pediatrician when Berlin was born, so I called him.  He referred me to Primary Children's and told me to set an appointment at their Riverton clinic so I wouldn't have to drive up to Salt Lake.  I called them, but they didn't have an opening for 3 weeks, and the opening they did have was on a Monday, which is Jack's busiest work day of the week, which would make it hard for him to watch Berlin while we went I confirmed the date and time, put it in my phone, and proceeded to count down the days.  I kept thinking only two more weeks...only one more week.  We'll finally get something to help her.  Jack had a lunch date with his brothers for one of their birthdays on the day of the appointment, but planned to take Berlin with him so I could take Olivia and not be frazzled.  I packed up all of Berlin's stuff, made sure I had insurance, ID, snacks, and anything Olivia would need in her bag.  That morning I got up early and got all three of us ready.  I asked Jack to make a quick call to the hospital to ask where in the building her doctor was located so we could save time.  They didn't have us scheduled.  Jack handed the phone to me and the (very rude) man told me that I was nowhere on the records and that the dermatologist was not even at the Riverton clinic on Mondays.  He asked if I would like to reschedule.  The next available appointment was in the middle of March.  I burst into tears and hung up.  To tell you the shortened version of it, we called Primary Children's in Salt Lake and they were able to fit us in at 3pm that same day.  Jack had a conference call, but my friend Brooke was able to take Berlin for an hour for us.

SO... at 2:10 Olivia headed up to Primary Children's. She asked where we were going and I told her it was time for a checkup and sang her the Doc McStuffins song.  She got a kick out of it, I think she was curious.

First of all, they had free valet.  I pulled up, took Olivia out and was able to walk right in to the building!  Second, the receptionist didn't even ask for my insurance.  They had already confirmed it with the company over the phone! There was no paperwork so fill out and we went right into the waiting room.  They had the best waiting room I've ever seen.  I with all waiting rooms looked like this one.
We only waited for 3 minutes before we were called back.  Liv was weighed and measured and the nurse took us to a waiting room.  Olivia was mad because she had been taken away from all of the fun toys and tried to get out the whole time we were waiting for the doctor, but before long a med student came in and asked us all of the preliminary questions.  Olivia was very intrigued by him, it was pretty funny.  He was a young guy, but had very hairy arms.  Liv walked up and said "What is that?!" and petted the hair on his arms.  It was a little awkward, but he laughed.  When he asked to see her worst spots, I pulled down her pants and showed him the backs of her legs, he said "Oh, wow!  That's pretty rough, I'm glad you came in!"  

The Pediatric Dermatologist came in after a few minutes, she was great.  She checked her skin, asked a couple more questions, and told me that eczema was hereditary and that if people in our families had hay fever or eczema, it was easily passed on.  Olivia is of moderate severity.  2/3 of kids outgrow it, but usually not until puberty.  She recommended pouring 1/4-1/2 of a cup of bleach in to her full bath when her eczema got bad (the bleach helps kill the bacteria associated with eczema), and prescribed an ointment to use twice a day (called triamicinolone acetonide ointment).  She said the stuff we had been prescribed when Olivia was younger was not as strong as this she was prescribing now.  She said that cutting out certain foods wouldn't help because food allergies had nothing to do with acute dermatitis (eczema).  She also recommended a gentle detergent, soaps and lotions with no fragrance, cotton or cotton-blend clothing, and making sure she doesn't get too warm.  

I picked the big tub of prescription ointment up that night, then gave Olivia a bath and slathered her with the stuff, which had the consistency and odor of Vaseline.  The next morning, the redness was vastly diminished.  When I changed her clothes she didn't scratch at all.  It has been amazing.  It has only been a couple of days now, but I think it is really helping:

The scabs on her back are starting to heal she hasn't cried from itching or bleeding.  I feel like I can breathe and relax a little; the unbearable weight in my chest has been lightened a bit.  It sounds like we've got a long road ahead of us (puberty!)  but are finally getting something that helps our sweet girl :)
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