They weren’t kidding when they told us the first week at National Jewish Hospital was a “boot camp” for kids with severe eczema. By Friday, we were both totally exhausted. You would never think that intensive treatments and emotions can be so physically draining. We both looked like zombies every morning drudging on to the building that held a lot of tears and hope for our family.
The end of the week is when they did most of Bayla’s allergy testing. For those of you that don’t know allergies and eczema usually go hand and hand. Not taking care of allergens can be a BIG trigger for eczema kids looking like crud. Bayla HATES the scratch tests. They basically take these little plastic sharp pointed things and dip them in allergens and then poke her back with them to see how she reacts.
Normally even mentioning the prick tests sends Bayla into a crying and screaming fit. This time she was SO brave. The had to do a panel of scratch tests two days in a row, and she didn’t even panic hearing that. She even handled being crazy itchy like a champ because like I knew she would her back lit up like a Christmas tree.
They confirmed she is still allergic to grass, trees, weeds, dust mites, dairy, peanuts, and tree nuts. We also learned that she is no longer allergic to strawberries, so the next day she had a big serving of strawberries during her food challenge. A food challenge is where they serve you a small amount of food and see if you react. An hour later they serve you a little bit more. Bayla passed strawberries with flying colors. She chastised me about the fact I hadn’t told her how amazing strawberries are. Since she hasn’t eaten a strawberry since she was 1 1/2, it was great to see the big smile on her face when she realized there were a lot of strawberry smoothies in her future.
Sadly we did find out about some new allergies. We confirmed Bayla is allergic to soy. It was hard to figure it out because her first test looked negative, but then she had some skin reactions too the soy food challenge. We did a repeat prick test, and she tested positive. This is going to take some adjusting because we need to be more vigilent to avoid soy, and soy is in EVERYTHING!
The other thing we found out that she is allergic to is dogs. This was just heartbreaking for the both of us, as we have three dogs. It may seem easy to do what is the absolute best for her skin and just rehome our dogs, but one of our dogs is Bayla’s dachshund and he is a MAJOR coping tool for her. On really bad days, she does nothing but curl up with her dog on the sofa and fall back asleep.
We’ve been talking to the doctors about options and ways to keep Bayla safe and to take her emotional health into consideration. We are going to have to make some major adjustments in our house as far as cleaning and where the dogs can stay. We might even come to the final conclusion that Bayla’s skin isn’t manageable with dogs in the home. The docs say dog dander stays in the house for at least six months after their aren’t any pets, so even removing them tomorrow wouldn’t prevent her from getting exposed. It’s just a wait and see situation, but it’s really been hard on the whole family already.
This week has been rough emotionally, but also amazing. Bayla’s skin looks the clearest it’s been in three years, AND her skin is holding moisture in. We aren’t having to carry her moisturizer around 24/7. She is laughing and smiling again. Seeing her being silly and creative and dramatic is making my heart soar. Though nervous about what the results would be coming here was the best decision her dad and I could’ve made.
We’ve had a great time exploring Denver, and will be sharing our adventures with you guys. There is WAY too much to share in this post, so make sure to read our “must do” list post. We are nearing the end of our stay here, and we are both hopeful and nervous to go home. The doctors here have been amazing, and it’s a little scary to go back into the “real world” and see how Bayla does. For now we are both happy for her skin and the hope that National Jewish has given us.