Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Leper on Steroids

If you or someone you know has suffered with eczema, then you understand that it's horrible and terrible.  

Ours is worse.

Okay, I don't really know that ours is worse, but if yours is worse than ours, then you are have some seriously terrible skin and we should form a support group together. 

We constantly battle the boys' bad skin. It looks good, then it flares, then it looks awful, then it's good, and such is our life. We valiantly fight staph a few times a year, but that's the only really exciting part. Our pediatrician has always done a good job helping us manage, and two years ago we went to the allergist who discovered both boys have egg allergies and Keaton also has a peanut allergy. In addition, Keaton is allergic to pretty much everything they tested him for (except cockroaches...weird), and he's been taking allergy shots since he was three. He is the best allergy-shot-taker in the world, and he has never cried. The allergy discovery pretty much cleared up Keaton's major skin problems, but Tucker is a different story.

As I said, we have always managed it. But last year, in first grade, I think he started to notice that everyone else didn't look like a leper, too. Then, in summer baseball, we noticed the other kids asking Tucker about his skin, and we decided that we'd exhausted the resources of the pediatrician and allergist and it was time to see the dermatologist.

We did not, however, see the dermatologist in the way that we planned. 

In early July, Tucker a little bit of nasty staph on his skin. We can tell because we think we're doctors.  Keaton had staph about two weeks before, which confirmed our diagnosis. Tucker took an antibiotic that didn't do the trick, so I hauled him in to the pediatrician again. They put him on bactroban and we went on our merry way. 

Seven days later, we woke up to this all over his body (including his face):

Sidebar #1: Yes, I am the mother in the doctor's office taking a picture of her son's condition with her iphone. At some point it occurred to me that we'll all wonder some day if it was really as bad as we remembered, and I wanted future verification. 

He looked ridiculous. I called the pediatrician's office and took the first possible appointment. It wasn't our regular doctor, but I didn't care. The first pediatrician called in another pediatrician and a student doctor, and they together decided that he looked bad, and he needed to see a dermatologist quickly.

They prescribed him something for itching and made us another appointment. That afternoon we saw the dermatologist, who called in another dermatologist and a student, and together they worked through possible causes and treatments. 

I think they think he had a reaction to the bactroban (which he had taken many times before) because it is a sulfa drug. Please consult your doctor before believing anything medical that I say, but I think our bodies have a sort of sulfa threshold, and when the body reaches its maximum capacity it reacts.  In Tucker's case, it reacts badly. 

Sidebar #2: When you see six doctors in one day, you're doing something special. When we left the dermatologist's office he just shook his head and said, "One thing is for sure. I am certain that this is the worst case I'll see today."

In the days that followed, Tucker took a double dose of steroids, a large amount of anti-itch medicine, and participated in nightly "wet wraps" where we dipped his clothes in warm water, covered him with a steroid ointment, and them made him wear the wet clothes for 30 minutes, covering him in blankets straight from the dryer when the clothes started to make him cold. Good times. 

Have you ever been around a seven year old with "roid rage"?  What about a double dose of it? Let me tell you friends, it ain't pretty.

In fact, it's ugly enough to warrant its own post tomorrow.


teresa said...

Dear Stormy,

Here goes your chance at the "mediocre mom" book. You are obviously a great mom for the care you give your rashy kids.

Sincerely, from a rashy adult,


StormyHickman said...

Ah, yes, rashy people rule.

Mrs. Courtney Wellmann said...

I am amazed at your level of patience. You are an amazing mom! I agree that sulfa drugs must have a threshold in the body. I had my reaction, very similar to Tucker's with a rash covering the entire body, as a freshman in college where I spent a week in the campus infirmary. Fun times! I tell medical staff I am allergic to sulfa drugs before they even have a chance to ask.
I hope Tucker is feeling better soon!