If you are new here, you can find all of the posts in our Overcoming Eczema, Food Allergies and Night Terrors series here to get caught up!
Where I live, the first Saturday in May is one of the most celebrated days of the year. Weeks before the big day, the town comes alive with grandiose displays of fireworks, hot air balloon races, steamboat races, parades, marathons, concerts and parties galore. Celebrities fly in from all over the world to watch the “the greatest two minutes in sports.” As the daughter of a horse trainer, I know all about chasing The Kentucky Derby dream, but the Kentucky Derby is not why I will celebrate this weekend.
It was the first Saturday in May 2012 that I got to bring my 5 year old baby girl home from a two week hospital stay in Denver. As we anxiously walked off the plane to reunite with her Dad, brother and two sisters, I took her little hand in mine. For the first time in her life, her hand was soft and smooth. I choked back the tears as I remembered the last time we were in this airport.
Just two weeks earlier, we sat waiting to board the plane to Denver. Bella was crying from the overwhelming and constant itching she felt especially on her hands that day. She rubbed her hands back and forth as hard as she could on the coarse fabric of the airport chair. Her hands were raw and bleeding as tears flowed down her cheeks. When it was time to board the plane, I reached for her tender hand, and she pulled back in pain.
Bella was just 6 weeks old when the angry, hot and itchy rash appeared covering her body from head to toe. The itching was so bad that she would scratch uncontrollably, causing open wounds all over her body. The itching would wake her up several times per night. Her lack of sleep triggered night terrors that lasted for hours. All of her pajamas and bed sheets were covered in blood stains. Her suffering broke our hearts.
After years of prayer and research, I stumbled upon the two week outpatient Atopic Dermatitis program at National Jewish Health. Through the power of wet wrap therapy and intensive allergy and nutritional testing they have given us our life back.
They did not cure her eczema, but they got it under control. They taught us how to maintain her new skin and what to do when there is a flare up. There have been many random setbacks, but none of them put us back to where we were a year ago. Thanks to National Jewish, we have been able to get all of the flare ups under control within a day or two.
With healthy skin, we were able to find her true triggers and allergens. It turns out that she only needs to completely avoid nuts and limit fresh dairy. After years of eliminating the top 8 allergens (egg, dairy, wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish) this has drastically opened up her diet.
I can’t describe the freedom we are feeling. I am no longer obsessed by food. I no longer worry that there won’t be anything safe for her to eat at the next meal. I no longer worry when she rolls in the grass with the dog. I no longer worry when her brother buries her under the fall leaves. I no longer worry about the sting when she jumps into a swimming pool or ocean water. I no longer worry that I will fall asleep while driving. We are all sleeping for the first time in 5 years!
So this weekend while the rest of my town is celebrating a horse race, my family is celebrating answered prayer. We are celebrating freedom. We are celebrating life.