We are here for many reasons, but I think you’ll agree that this is a very good one, perhaps the best one. We were seeking a miracle. Let me explain.
Ireland is a beautiful country. The people are warm and friendly. But there’s something else about Ireland that is important to why we are here: Ireland is wet. It rains every day. Sometimes the rain is just a “mist”, but it’ll do. We need this miracle of rain.
Our youngest child, Savannah, has an incurable skin condition that makes her hands look like she’s been in a fire. Prescription creams didn’t work, and no one could help her (we’d been to several doctors and I’d done my own research as well). She suffers from dry, itchy, rashes that bleed.
She’d developed the habit of wearing gloves or keeping her hands in her pockets when we go out. She wore long sleeve shirts even in the summer, insisting that she wasn’t hot (she had to have been!). We worried that people would think that she had a contagious rash – she did not. Eczema is not contagious! More info about severe eczema here: https://nationaleczema.org/living-with-eczema/ But you know, the fear of disease keeps people from being kind or rational sometimes, so I was very protective of my little girl.
I’d heard that moving to Ireland has really helped people who have issues with dry air, which is a big trigger for her severe eczema. We experimented with removing well-known allergens from our house and diet. Laundry and bath soaps were hypoallergenic, dye-free, fragrance free, etc. We couldn’t have any pets. We stopped eating pasta. We tried new moisturizers and creams. While her condition may have improved slightly, nothing cleared it up completely.
To be clear: <<Most types of eczema are not allergies. However, many people with eczema have flare-ups when they are exposed to allergens.>> So, eliminating allergens can help, but it cannot cure eczema, nor are allergens the cause of it. Eczema is a disease and, if it is a severe form, it can cause a lot of distress. It can be a chronic, daily, nightmare.
Here in Ireland, for the first time in about five years, Savannah’s hands and arms are clear! She has NO rashes on the tops of her hands! Now she looks like a perfectly normal 14 year old! And this transformation happened *IMMEDIATELY* after we landed! The next day, Savannah showed us how improved her hands were. By the end of the first week, her rashes were gone! She has had no flare-ups since. And… she’s proud to show off her hands in public. She has joined a knitting circle! More about that later.
Eczema is connected to other health issues, such as asthma. Allergies and asthma are in the same family. More info here: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/treatment-11/eczema-allergies-link While eczema is not life threatening, asthma IS.
I have asthma, as do Cassie and Nicholas. Both had a mild form of eczema as babies. Neither have severe asthma. But I worry about Savannah. Because her eczema is a severe form and she has a parent who suffers from hay fever (Brent) and one with asthma (me), she is at a high risk for developing asthma. If we could find a way to control her eczema, isn’t it possible that we’ll also minimize her risk of developing asthma?
Well, guess what? NONE of us have had an asthma attack here in Ireland. We’ve been here for almost two months now and we’ve been exposed to the biggest triggers: cats and, to a lesser extent, dogs. Cats are definitely a BIG trigger for me and Cassie. I’ve had an attack just from being around someone who had cat hair on her sweater! And yet we spent all afternoon at someone’s house with a cat on the premises. Not just one cat, but TWO! And… there was a long haired dog as well. Eventually, Cassie ended up sneezing, but there was no danger of an asthma attack. This is probably the first time in my life that I’ve been in the presence of a cat without having an attack. Wow, if the Irish weather can do that for my asthma, there’s hope for Savannah!
She may never develop asthma, but if she does, may it be a mild form that is easy to control. One of my dear friends lost her son to asthma. It’s a serious disease. If there’s anything we can do to help Savannah with her long-term health, we’ll do it. We’ll even move to Ireland, where I hope and pray they’ll let us stay.