When our son was diagnosed with eczema at just 14 weeks, it came as a kind of relief to discover that his worrying skin condition was relatively common and not life threatening, as we had at first feared. At such a tender age, we immediately thought the worst when red patches appeared on his face and arms. However, doctors reassured us that many babies can display symptoms of eczema, and in some cases the condition can just disappear as the child grows older.
At the time, we could never have imagined the kind of frustration, stress and anxiety we were going to have to experience before we would finally accept the fact that this was a condition we were all going to have to live with, and somehow manage. However, nothing could have prepared us for what was about to unfold over the coming months and years.
What could be the cause?
The first problem we encountered was when the condition began to get noticeably worse. So another visit to the doctor, who incidentally was a different doctor from the one we had seen previously, followed by yet another examination. Subsequently a different opinion was offered. A differing opinion was less than helpful and only added to the confusion we already felt as parents. This particular doctor talked about food allergies, skin allergies and inherited conditions like asthma and even hay fever.
Dealing with guilt
My wife had suffered from hay fever all her life, so did that mean she was directly responsible for our son’s worsening condition? Well, now we had another problem to deal with. Guilt is a feeling that is not easy to control, especially where a tiny, defenceless child is concerned. It didn’t take long for the feelings of guilt to engulf us both, which then became the catalyst for us to find out exactly what the underlying cause of our baby’s problem really was.
Feeling totally helpless
Tests for food and skin allergies proved inconclusive, although we were told allergies might become a problem in the future. Meanwhile, our baby is obviously suffering. At seven months, when most babies are beginning to sleep through the night, our little boy is waking up crying because his skin is painfully irritating him. All we could do was apply more cream and comfort, which was of little consolation. There were many times when we felt totally and utterly helpless.
What other people were thinking
As tiredness crept into our daily lives and our son dominated our every waking thought, we had become like strangers, albeit with a common goal. We had over the months worked out routines so that one parent could at least function coherently, whilst the other was on virtual auto-pilot. Then, whenever we went out as a family we would try to act as normal as possible. It wasn’t always easy though, especially when people would notice our little boy crying, and because of his red and scabbed face would assume he was either sick or had a contagious disease.
Psychological & emotional stress
Despite what the doctors had told us some years previous, our son’s eczema didn’t get any better. It just got progressively worse. Although the creams and lotions did manage to keep it under control, the psychological problems it caused were less easy to resolve. When our son started school, our emotional stress gradually rose to a whole new level. At first, other children would tease him about his condition. Then later came the cruel taunts and eventually the bullying. There was just so much for one little boy to cope with, and as parents, we feared for his future.
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