For 20 years, eczema’s been a huge part of my life. I haven’t known a life without it and the only other person in my family who’s had it is my uncle and he stopped getting it in his teens. So why me? Why out of two sisters and nine cousins did I have to get it?
When I was little I didn’t think anything of it. Night after night I would just stand there and watch TV while my mum lathered me in creams and applied wet dressings. For a year when I was three I was put on a restricted diet to help my skin (soy milk ice cream is not the greatest thing when you’re a child). It hardly did a thing. So as quickly as I was put on it, I was taken off and returned to a normal diet.
At the age of 6 my family moved to Vancouver and for three years my eczema was virtually non-existent. I had a small break out when I came back to Sydney to visit but other than that it was fine.
I’ve been in Brisbane for the past 10 or so years and this is where I’ve struggled the most with my skin, especially in the past five years. Until my last year of high school I would occasionally have breakouts on my arms, legs and in the creases of my skin but the first week of year 12 was when it took a nasty turn.
For a few nights I had had little sleep and would wake up with a really red raw rash on my neck and upper chest. It was the most painful thing I had every experienced. Eventually it went away (after a night or two of a medication induced sleep and a lot of creams). That year I would again occasionally have flare ups.
Two years later and a similar incident occurred. This time however, I was wearing a cardigan in summer because my body was losing heat. I went back to the doctor and he referred me to my amazing immunologist. I was placed on Cyclosporin, a very serious medication – one which is given to transplant patients. I spent a year on it. It worked amazingly well with only a few minor flare ups. However, because it is such a serious medication, I did end up in hospital on Boxing Day with food poisoning.
Eventually I was taken off it but my skin had a negative reaction so my immunologist placed me on a more serious medication and one which is given to cancer patients. I’ve been on Imuran for about 6 months now and have had no side effects and hardly any flare ups.
For 20 years I’ve seen numerous medical diseases brought to light, Cervical Cancer for one, yet I still feel that eczema is just one of those ones which will always be swept under the carpet. I’ve had numerous people ask me what it is and when I’ve missed school or work I’ve had others question why I had to even take the day off (to quote, “it’s not that serious”).
While it’s not as harmful or threatening as some diseases such as cancer, it still has such a huge impact on those who have it.
For 20 years, it’s impacted those around me.
For 20 years, it’s been my life.
I look forward to the day when it is no longer a part of my life.