Friday, February 19, 2016

Dr. Aron - One Year

This is part of a series of posts about Penny's eczema story.  To start at the beginning, go here.

One year ago today, I first emailed Dr. Aron.  It's hard to think about what life was like a year ago.  I wrote about that time...

I ripped all the carpet out of our house since the previous owner had a dog.  We bought a new couch. Bought her a real silk pillowcase.  A vaporizer for her bedroom.  A HEPA air purifier and vacuum.  Tiny gloves made from 100% cotton.  New panties with no elastic showing.  New panties with a different cut in case the first ones were rubbing.  (Her waist and panty line was another trouble spot.) 
Replaced all clothing made from synthetics, including my own. 
Wondered if the most recent hand flare was from touching her friend with a dog.  Or the Christmas tree.  Or the homemade (gluten free) play dough. Or the new Christmas gift that I let her play with without washing. 
Was it the soy yogurt we tried instead of coconut?  The polyester gloves I let her wear outside when I couldn't find any cotton ones?  The new throw pillow?  The dress up in the dusty closet? 
My mind was constantly racing with these questions. 
Her care routine was so much work, and our clothes were all stained  and coated with lotion.  Everyday I had to evaluate which steroids to apply where.  I never knew when we would wake up and see a flare starting and have to spend the day in and out of baths and wet wraps.  
Even though I was so glad to have better tools to help her itching, I began to dread her coming so many times a day and asking for "a lotioning."
Her skin was so much better than the previous summer, but there were times when I was out alone for a cup of coffee or errands, and the thought would flit through my mind, "What if you just didn't go back?"

A year later, Penny still has eczema, but you would hardly know by looking at her.  Her treatment is so simple.  And the quality of life for our whole family has drastically improved. 

We sleep! No sedating antihistamines, wet wrapping, or sock-covered hands required.

We use Dr. Aron's cream every other day on spots prone to flare like an ankle, knees, wrists.  We've stopped completely on many areas like her face.  We make sure to lotion the rest of her body with Vanicream once or twice a day depending on the season, and that's it. 

Every once in a while, she'll show us an itchy spot, and we put some cream on it.  Maybe have her put some pants on to help her leave it alone.  (Four year olds aren't really known for their love of pants!)  
Penny and Lydia as flower girls.
Clear skin and no scratching!

Pants alone could never stopped her before though.  I never see her tear off her clothes, scratch uncontrollably, or draw blood.  I think what we are dealing with now is just plain, normal eczema without the aggravation caused by staph.  It's the eczema most people think of--a bit of dry, itchy skin. 

This year, I'm not on a constant search for triggers.  

Penny can swim and play in the sandbox.  We're still careful around grass although with spring arriving soon we'll see if that has changed since last summer or not. 

She can lie on a throw pillow (no allergy cover) without getting a rash.

Penny still sticks to a very strict diet to avoid all cross contact with her allergens.  Eating foods made on shared equipment with her allergens does cause eczema flares for her.  Companies are not required to label whether or not food is made on shared equipment, so I have to contact the company about any new food.  I am able to make her plenty of treats, but we can't toss a fun looking new food into the cart while shopping, and we can't let others cook for her.  

But the good thing is that we know what she can and can't eat and don't have to consider time-consuming, soul-sucking elimination diets.  

The tiny tree we made to replace the tree
for their room that I also threw away last year.
A year ago, we stopped going to any houses with pets or even old carpet because they made Penny itch, sneeze, and cough almost as soon as we walked in.  She could only visit one friend and a cousin.  Even the library made her face turn red and her skin itchy.  

With environmental allergies causing her so much trouble, Penny started allergy shots last spring.  These caused some extra itchiness for a while, which would've been impossible to handle before Dr. Aron.  Since her skin was in much better shape, we were able to keep going at a very slow, but steady pace, and this has made a big difference in her quality of life too.  

Now Penny can go to houses with pets or to the library for a few hours with no symptoms. Although we home school, I used to worry that she wouldn't be able to tolerate a traditional classroom due to her environmental allergies. Whether we continue homeschooling or not, I'm thankful she has options.

This year, we bought a new Christmas tree.  Penny played with the ornaments all month without ANY flares on her hands. My only worry at Christmas time was making sure I baked plenty of Penny-safe cookies.

What a difference this last year has made! Happy "Aronversary" to Penny!