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Living with Eczema

What’s up, guys? For the entire 21 years of my life, I have lived with a skin condition called eczema. (If you‘ve never heard of it, don’t worry—it’s not contagious.) Over many years there has been a lot of research on this; and even just within my lifetime, there have been many explanations for causes and even many basic definitions. Is it a condition? A disorder? A disease? Something environmentally related? All of the above? Whether it’s genuine uncertainty or a quest for some fat stacks of cash, the doctors can’t agree. This, of course, is nothing new, and I don’t blame them for not having all the answers because we will never have all the answers to everything there is out there; and really, doctors are just people, too.

On the other hand, doctors are doctors because they are qualified.

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They went through extensive education and training to become the professionals they are. Although they are people just like everyone else, they do have a lot of knowledge, skill, confidence, and courage to be doing the kind of work they do. Doctors have changed my life.

While degrees are not everything, it’s disheartening to me when I observe that there are people out there who really undermine education and the professionals who are produced through it. Perhaps these people have negative feelings toward professionals because they feel that they themselves cannot achieve this or that they will never even be given that chance. I begin to feel sorry for people like this, but then I realize how selfish their mentality is.

Along my way through life so far, it’s been funny how many people have engaged in conversation with me about my condition, asking me about my experiences. I always tell them this is something I’ve dealt with my whole life, but some people seem to really think they have the solution for me. I understand they might be trying to help out, but it kind of ignores what I said to them before…

I’ve suffered from this my whole life.

First of all, by this point, if I had found something that worked, do you think I’d still have eczema right now? I can answer that for you… No.

Believe me, if a special medicine or diet was the answer, I’d be cured.

My life of dealing with eczema cannot be given justice in a few words. I can’t tell you how many times in my childhood that I climbed into a bathtub of sheer stinging pain…oh, I mean, water… and proceeded to scream and sob through the rag I was grinding my teeth into. One day I might write the book about my dealings with severe eczema (because that’s what it would be).

As you can probably imagine, nothing is new to me when it comes to eczema treatment options, but non-professionals sometimes think they know everything that’s on the market… as if I’ve never tried all of them already. The stuff that has actually worked or brought relief has always been stronger prescriptions or simply drugs that are so rare no one I know has even heard of them.

Like cūtar. Ever heard of that? Yeah, didn’t think so. When I was a little girl, we discovered the miraculous substance—took the sting right out of my bath water!

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Protopic (Tacrolimus)? I was a lab rat for that!

Elidel? Um… yeah, that’s for people who think they have eczema. (No offense if it works for you.)

My skin can become so inflamed during the summer that I have to use an ointment (Vanos, for those of you pharmacists) normally prescribed for people with varicose veins. The drug is so potent that the safety of using it regularly for more than two weeks at a time has not been established; residue of it from my fingers has easily worn the paint on the ointment tube off; I am only allowed to use small amounts of it on unbroken skin so as not to get it directly into my bloodstream. Listening to the doctor giving me these instructions sometimes seems like preparing for surgery or something.

I don’t exactly have a habit of flaunting my condition around, giving everyone all of these details, but if people only knew what I’ve been through because of this, they might rethink what they choose to say to me about it and about those who have taken care of me along the way…which brings me back to the doctor thing.

I mentioned that doctors changed my life, right? Yeah, well, doctors also saved my life when I was struck with Strep B in 1996 (probably thanks to my severe eczema).  We can’t depend on other people to fix our problems, and we really can’t even depend on just ourselves to fix them. But, we are responsible for doing what we can, and that includes listening to what other people have to say, especially when they have something that you don’t, like specialized knowledge, skill, and experience.

So moral of this story: Where there isn’t an answer, don’t try to make one up on your own for the people who have more information than you do. It’s good to help out when you know you can, but it’s important to know where you fit in (or if you fit in) on an issue and be respectful before you speak.

…descending from my soap box. :)


One response to “Living with Eczema

  1. Brittany

    Eczema is awful, isn’t it? I thought I had eczema for a long time and tried to control it with all the recommended things (thick moisturizers, staying out of hot baths, no pets, etc) and was using halobetasol proprinate (one of the most potent topical steroids, like Vanos). I found out recently that I actually have steroid-induced eczema. It explained a lot of things for me! I hope you’ve found what works for you in “controlling” it. (And no, it isn’t contagious!! :D It’s so annoying when people ask that!!)

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