Food allergies are merciless, quality-of-life changers. In spite of having the flu, 20 month old Silas’s food allergy battle rages on. Yesterday morning, there were brownish spots on my pillow case. Upon further investigation, I noticed similar spots on my son’s crib sheet. I realized what it was several hours later: blood. I checked Silas over and sure enough, there was an itchy spot of eczema on his chin that had cracked and was bleeding.
Our kids have always struggled with eczema and food allergies/sensitivities. Three of my the kids had it so bad as toddlers that it wasn’t uncommon for them to have tiny scabs all over the inside of their elbows, the backs of their knees, and on their thighs from scratching. For years, part of the bedtime regimen was to slather on lotion mixed with steroids while the little guys quietly squirmed and cried because it stung. We had been to the doctor jillions of times, just to be told that it wasn’t anything we could do about it and to keep on doing what we were doing.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NASB)
Shortly after the birth of baby #7, I decided to try going gluten free along with my husband’s sister, curious to see if it affected our family positively. A year later, in spite of never being completely gluten free (we cheated), I realized that most of my kids’ eczema was gone. I jumped on the gluten free bandwagon! We spent the next couple of years exclusively gluten and dairy free and I saw huge improvements in both the kids behavior and their physical health.
When baby #8 was 4 months old, I took her to the doctor because her days usually went one of two ways: she was laid back and easy to deal with or she cried the whole day and didn’t sleep that night. I took her to our pediatriciann and him to do allergy testing. He looked at me as though I was an overly-concerned-hypochondriac-creating-problems-out-of-nothing mom. I pulled out my trump card and said, “Dr. Garza, this is my 8th baby and certainly not my first rodeo. I KNOW there is something wrong with this baby.”
Shaking his head, he acquiesced. Sure enough, the results revealed that she was allergic to eggs. Because I was nursing her, I cut eggs out of my diet. Her Jekyll and Hyde personality stopped and she became a normal 4 month old. Now, Lauren was fairly predictable, no more crying jags, and no horrible, cranky days and sleepless nights.
Baby #9 was born with food allergies, too. Since Silas was born, his belly button had always oozed a clearish fluid. I took him to the pediatrician for it several times until she finally explained that it was most likely eczema and was difficult to heal because the skin touches the skin there, constantly irritating itself. When he was 4 months old, the eczema showed up on his face, rapidly progressing to that same oozy norm.
He even scratched at it at night, leaving bloody spots on his sheets. My heart was broken. Nothing I did would fix it. It finally disappeared some time after he was a year old. His chin and cheeks still flare occasionally, but it is usually easily remedied.
So, why is it flaring now? Have you ever noticed that when it rains, it pours? I have. My poor boy has the flu AND he is scratching all day again (see the first pic above). His back side is clawed up, too, from about an inch below his diaper to 2 inches above. His chin is cracked and bleeding. I’m tempted to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, defeated. All the baggage I had left over from our year long battle not that long ago flooded to the surface and threatened to send me into a corner rocking.
I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8 (NASB)
Instead, I followed my own advice and just did what comes next. I mixed a little steroid cream and triple antibiotic and put it on his face, changed both of our sheets, snuggled my little man down in my lap, and went to the next thing on my list. I didn’t dwell, replay, obsess, or indulge in any other self-defeating behavior. I remembered that the Lord was with me 5 minutes ago, before I realized the source of the yucky spots on my sheets, and is still with me now (Psalm 16:8). I remembered that God knew this was going to happen and already gave me the strength to deal with it (Philippians 4:13).
I turned back to Him, quit freaking out, and moved on. I mean, really, we have no idea whether or not Silas’s eczema is going to become a problem again, so why freak out about it now? Instead, I choose rest. And hanging out with my kids. And a snack. I definitely need a snack.