I have been juggling a lot of balls in the air lately and in the midst of doing that I have fallen behind in my blogging lately. But I am happy to say that there have been some developments at my end with regards to my daughter. Her schooling is one of the things we have been dealing with and thinking about for the past six months or so. As I have mentioned earlier, Aiyana is currently on a low dose of immunosuppressive medication to control her eczema. I am sharing our experiences in the hope that it might help other children who are in a similar situation in some way.
Education and eczema
Inspite of the immunosuppressive medication, her eczema becomes worse when she sweats since her itching increases considerably. Aiyana’s school, Bombay Scottish in Mumbai, has been very supportive. She is excused from any outdoor activities including the school assembly, helped with her moisturisation and medications as and when required and generally taken care of as a whole. We make sure that she is picked up from school in the afternoon by car and does not have to travel in the hot sun while coming back home. But even that is not enough to help with her to cope with the sweating and itching and scratching at school.
As you would be aware, Mumbai has a tropical climate and is humid almost the throughout the year being close to the sea. She started missing school on a regular basis due to heat rashes and eczema flare up ( in India, only schools following an international curriculum are air conditioned). She would itch all over and therefore scratch in the class with a constant fear of being seen by her classmates. After consulting her doctors we finally decided to move her to a school with an air conditioned environment which we hope which would be more comfortable for her. To this end we did a 2 week trial in a school (based on international curriculum) with an air conditioned environment. This was possible entirely due to her dermatologist who helped to arrange this for her. At the end of 2 weeks it looked like it did seem to make a difference and she was quite comfortable in this environment. However, it still took us a while to decide on and finalise a school for her and our son (who starts school this summer). This process is finally over and just last week we secured admission in an international school closer to home. Both my children start school in July and I am hoping that my daughter will be able to attend school regularly without the discomfort of constant itching due to sweat and subsequent scratching and pain.
A medical condition like this does not end with medications and visits to the doctor. Life is a constant struggle to carry on with routine activities on a daily basis under the onslaught of an unbearable itch (especially when there is a flare up). My 7 year old daughter used to be in constant fear of being seen by classmates while feeling the unbearable urge to scratch in odd places. As I read somewhere recently, “eczema can be compared to a bully who sometimes keeps going for days on end, then leaves, only to reappear“.
Sleep deprivation is an added burden to bear for such small shoulders due to the itching and scratching at night at times. Even though Aiyana’s medications keeps her eczema under control most of the times, there are frequent phases when it becomes worse due to stress, illness or other triggers. Antihistamines do not seem to help much in her case at night time and it is a difficult time for us as a family. It in fact happened very recently due to her illness and seems to get aggravated during times of ill health due to any reason whatsoever. While those nights (and days) seem to be a never ending cycle of itching and scratching, it is very important to provide constant support and keep your child’ spirits high. I try to make sure that I do not portray a defeatist or negative attitude and distract her as much as possible and find ways to make her itching more bearable (like rubbing instead of scratching).
Ayurveda- an ancient Indian way of life and healing
I am taking Aiyana for 2 weeks to I-AIM Health Care Centre near Bangalore (in the southern state of Karnataka) for an Ayurvedic check up and treatment. It is founded and run by Padmasrhi Darshan Shankar, known for his outstanding contributions in the field of revitalization of traditional systems of health-care in India. Ayurveda is not simply a healthcare system, but a form of lifestyle adopted to maintain perfect balance and harmony with nature thus making it a wholistic system of medicine. I am hoping that our traditional and alternative form of healthcare is able to complement and control my daughter’s eczema and help her in the long run. I will write more about it later once we are back from our trip.
Nutritional supplements- worth a try
Through interaction with other parents whose children have eczema, I have come to know that in some cases nutritional supplements like Omega 3 oils, probiotic ( probiotics are organisms such as bacteria or yeast that are believed to improve health and are available in supplements and foods) and multi vitamin supplements have helped to lower the incidence of flare ups in childhood eczema and bring some under control. There is no concrete scientific evidence as of now to prove this conclusively and studies are going in some of these areas. Due to this, doctors rarely prescribe these as part of the normal course of medications for Atopic Dermatitis. But after reading up on these and consulting Aiyana’s doctors about the same I decided to try the Omega 3 and the probiotic supplements for some time for my daughter.
I did a lot of research on a suitable and safe product (and brand) for Aiyana ( there are many brands and types of Omega 3 oils and probiotic supplements worldwide) and based on the reviews, some literature etc I shortlisted the 2 products as given below-
Nordic Naturals Omega 3-6-9 Junior and Rainbow Light Probilicious Gummies for children.
Aiyana has been taking these supplements for a few months now. I will be able to share our experience only after a reasonable period of time as these kind of steps usually work in the long run and the impact might not be immediately visible.
Its time to turn life’s stumbling blocks into stepping stones
A chronic medical condition like eczema is rarely only a physical struggle, a lot has to do with an immense amount of inner strength that is required to cope with this on a daily basis. My daughter has to deal with the obvious consequences like physical discomfort, sleeplessness, fatigue as well as the social, emotional consequences of dealing with this condition everyday. It is as much my responsibility to make sure she is as comfortable as possible at a physical level as it is to ensure that she is equipped to deal with this condition at an emotional level keeping her self-confidence intact. She has grown stronger emotionally as a person since her traumatic month long ordeal in the hospital last summer due to an unforseen reaction to a medication given to control her eczema. (I have written about our experience in the post- “…the tough get going- part 2”)
I know that I have succeeded to a large extent in my endeavour when friends, families and even complete strangers praise my 7 year old’s cheerful smiles, her sweet and caring manners and her emotional strength.