I watched for years as my mother took care of my younger brother throughout his fight with leukemia. I marvelled at how strong my brother was, but never really put much stock in my mother’s strength. She was a superwoman, still is, but I didn’t understand the suffering she went through watching her child as he was beaten down. I never thought I would understand it, at least not until now.
Davey isn’t suffering from any life threatening disease, but he is suffering from the painful and uncomfortable side effects of being diagnosed with atopic dermatitis. And watching him as he vainly scratches and rubs his face and head, shatters my heart into a million pieces.
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin disease that mirrors severe eczema. It is a triad that includes asthma, hay fever, and eczema which means that my child may suffer from all or just one of these conditions. At this point, it’s just the eczema.
Yesterday morning found us at the dermatologist’s office, at a mere 4 months of age, as my husband and I were at our wit’s end as we have attempted to find ways to get his dry, scaly, itchy, and sometimes bleeding skin under control. To this point, all of our attempts have been futile and I’ve become disgusted with myself as a mother.
Nothing is more painful than knowing that your child is suffering and there’s nothing you can do. I find myself wanting to take his pain from him. Let me carry that burden upon my shoulders, not him. He’s a child and shouldn’t have to suffer.
Cuddling him in my arms doesn’t make him better, since contact with my skin and any sort of topical creams I have put on seem to exacerbate his discomfort. He sleeps with socks on his hands at night because mittens won’t stay on and his unconscious efforts to relieve the itching have found him looking like he’s been thrown into a fight with a cat.
Lukewarm baths of baking powder, an old wife’s remedy to relieve itching, have also failed. I look at my son most mornings and want to cry for him, and not because his poor face is scarred from the remnants of his scratching, but because I can’t do anything to help him. I have failed him as a mother and nothing is more painful that not being able to comfort your child.
Today we’re awaiting a pre-authorization for a topical steroid type cream that should put the disease into remission. Unfortunately, the insurance company is refusing to pay for the cream (which will cost us $200 out-of-pocket) until they have received some frivolous paperwork from our doctor. The pre-authorization could take up to 2 days to complete and even then it’s not guaranteed that insurance will pay for it. So, until that point, I continue to lose sleep at night and cringe with disgust (not at my son) each time my child cries out in discomfort.