I asked my sweet friend Courtney to share a little about her son’s eczema and how they have been dealing with it. If you are interested in guesting posting on a subject you are passionate about, please email me at email@example.com
Getting out of debt- no not that kind of debt…
Hi! My name is Courtney Vorel. I married my college sweetheart in May of 2000. Since then God has given us three precious children- two biological and one adopted. Our youngest has struggled since birth with severe eczema. Brandy asked me to write a guest post on the journey we have taken to find healing for him. If the funniest person you know asked you to do a guest post would you feel intimidated? Would you feel like if she knew that you’ve never read a single Harry Potter book that she might retract her invitation? But could you redeem the invitation by admitting you have solo dance parties in your living room when all the kids are at school? These thoughts and others went through my mind. In the end I felt like if I could even help a few families have hope in their struggle with eczema it would be worth the effort.
Oddly enough I feel like the theme of the story God is writing through our struggle with severe eczema centers on debt. When Jason and I were first married we set aside the first 6 months of marriage to just invest in each other. We married the week after Jason walked the stage at TCU, so we were coming out of a 4 year chapter in our lives of balancing ministry (we were both Young Life leaders and we both took a term as serving as chaplain for our fraternity and sorority), commitments, schoolwork, jobs, family, and friends. After six months of rest we decided to enroll in an equipping class at Watermark. Jason suggested we take the Crown Ministries class. I thought that sounded awfully dull. But I submitted. Thankfully because of my husband’s wisdom to get us into a class on Biblical stewardship we have enjoyed the sweet blessing of considering God the true owner of everything. In a world where stress over money and belongings can be sky high, we have enjoyed the peace of living by God’s plan.
The debt that God has been revealing to me lately has nothing to do with the traditional financial debt that first comes to mind. One type of debt that I am fighting to get free of is the debt of being overweight. When I am stressed (and the stressful days are frequent with a kid with severe eczema) I tend to overeat. To put that in terms of debt- I am overspending the amount of calories my body has to spend in a day. Instead of bank loans my deficit actually looks like stored fat cells. Fortunately God is layer by layer freeing me of this struggle as I learn to believe that He is enough to satisfy the deepest longings and needs of my soul.
Another type of debt is having a time and energy deficit. The week before school started in August I took my son to National Jewish Hospital in Denver to participate in their pediatric day clinic for kids with severe eczema. Because I didn’t want my 2nd grader and kindergartener to miss their first week of school and because of the strain it would put on my husband to miss two weeks of work, I traveled with just my youngest son. Being in a hospital setting in a distant city without my normal support network and playing the role of a single mom was more physically and emotionally exhausting than I had ever imagined. This trip to the hospital in Denver came at the end of a 3 year battle that included sleepless nights and frustration and heartache. The by-product of being “in the red” when it comes to physical and emotional strength is that you just get behind. For me I got behind on housework. I got behind on Bible study. I got behind onshopping for groceries. The hole that I needed to climb out of was intimidating. In finances the rule of thumb is to live well enough within your means so that when the water heater busts or the car breaks down you have built up enough cushion to absorb the blow. When you are working your way out of physical and emotional debt you are already below the line and just when you think you are about to get into “the black” it does not take much to push you back into deficit. The thing I am most thankful for as we fight to build up a cushion again is my community. Not just my official on paper community as wonderful as they are but my community at large as well. The outpouring of love, kindness, and compassion from friends and family has been a wonderfully effective salve to help soothe the heartache of being in a hard season.
What I am excited to share with you today is that my sweet young boy is at the healthiest place he as been in terms of his eczema, allergies, and itchiness. The doctors in Denver say that in several more months we should reach the magical place called “maintenance.” As of now regarding his skin we are still working our way out of the deficit of damaged skin that he has incurred since birth. But the good news is that we are on the right path and we are no longer where we were. We are steadily progressing and improving. Before Denver we had seen 2 dermatologists, 2 allergists, two pediatricians, used almost every skin product under the sun- over the counter, prescriptions, homemade concoctions of olive oil, coconut oil, and vegetable glycerin. We even tried Accupressure this summer. Our poor little guy was always itchy despite our best efforts to help him. He would wake up several times a night with what we called “cricket legs”. He would rub his little legs together to try and soothe the itchiness. We started putting ponytail holders around the ends of jacket sleeves to prevent him from scratching at night or in the car. He had to wear tights under onesies to prevent him from scratching his legs raw. We were truly in a dismal place.
In Denver the main source of help came from their version of hydration therapy. They believe that a kid with eczema has trouble retaining moisture in their skin cells. So rather than just adding a layer of a thick, greasy moisturizer on top of the skin, they seek to drive moisture in the form of water deeper beneath the surface of the skin. The way they achieve this is through baths and wet wraps. Ironically the plan they executed looked fairly similar to the plan that our current allergist had prescribed. The difference was in small details and especially having nurses give me hands on coaching and guidance to execute the plan effectively. We started with three baths a day followed by wet wraps after two of the baths. The wet wraps consisted of my husband’s old tube socks for arms and legs and a layer of cotton pajamas over that. We soak the socks and pajamas in warm water, wring them out, and put them on over a fresh layer of either thick moisturizer (we use Vanicream) or prescription steroid cream (we use triamcynalone). We also use Protopic following baths that don’t get a wet wrap. We then put him in a dry fleece footie pajama and sometimes wrap him up in a warm blanket fresh out of the dryer. By the time we left Denver we were down to 2 baths a day and just one wet wrap a day. We will stay at 2 baths a day for the next few months. We have dropped our wet wraps to just once or twice a week. Someday we hope to get on maintenace which is just one bath a day followed by lotion. It was truly amazing to me how quickly his skin improved in just a few days time when undergoing that rigorous schedule of baths and wraps. We were already doing 2 baths a day at home, but we were only doing wet wraps every so often. To bump up to three baths of 20 minutes a piece in luke warm water followed by 2 wet wrap sessions where he stayed in his wraps for at least 2 hours made such a huge difference.
If you have a child who struggles with severe eczema I would encourage you to clear off your schedule for a few days and just focus on baths and wraps. I think you will be encouraged by the progress a kid can make. Of course if you have never been tested for allergies that is also a great place to start. If there is an allergen that is triggering the eczema you will want to avoid that allergen- whether that is a pet or a certain food. The other thing that I have learned on this journey is that what helps one kids is not always what helps another kid. Wherever you are in your journey I hope you will take heart and press on. I hope and pray God reveals to you the steps you need to take to get out of the debt you are in- whatever form that is.
You can follow Courtney on twitter @mightypetunias
You can follow me @brandyb77
Let’s be Facebook friends! https://www.facebook.com/brandy.novakbutler