Not a sexy topic, I know. I wanted to write about this and share my experiences on how I was restored to full health. A couple of reasons why. 1. following my mention of suffering from asthma and eczema on Sarah Wilson’s blog, a lady name Sylvia wanted to know more on how I got over it and 2. I’ve just spent the weekend at a family Wedding where I hung out with my niece and my brother’s only child, Ella, who also suffers from eczema. So it’s been on my mind of late.
I had both things pretty bad. I’ve often been told the two are linked. And if you’re reading this looking for solutions I can really only shed light on what helped me personally. So please don’t take this as a prescription or the ultimate solution.
I can't remember when I didn’t suffer for asthma or eczema as a child or early teen. It was something that was always there. My asthma was so bad that at times I had to take hospital visits, I always carried around a Ventolin puffer and I frequently had to be put on a home kit nebuliser - at times it was just from laughing too much.
The eczema was terrible. I had it all over my hands and on my knuckles (which was difficult to heal because of all the movement), on my major joints - my arms (which still have faint scarring today) the back of my knees, all across the front of my neck and then I got it under my eyes and on my eyelids. It was so bad that in Grade 5 and 6 I would want to wear skivvies to cover the dark pigmentation on my neck - no matter if it was a hot summer’s day. And the itchiness - I’d scratch myself so much especially in my sleep that I’d have dark skin under my nails when I’d wake up in the morning. My skin would feel so hot from the irritation which made me want to scratch it even more for instant relief but as a consequence I experienced longer term pain from my skin trying to repair itself from all the damage I'd caused.
The Tipping Point
What made all this suffering even worse was when I became allergic to fruit. I’ll never forget the day that my Aunt had brought a bag of rambutans over. I ate one and started to itch my throat with my tongue til it was swollen. My lips became itchy and sore from the fruit's juice. It got so bad that if someone was even peeling an orange near me I would react. Once, Mum was cutting a watermelon 50 meters away from me and it set me off.
There was another time when I decided to cook pasta with those pre-bottled whip them up in flash sauces. Something I had never used before - I think I succumbed to the muppet style advertising. After a couple of mouthfuls my whole body broke out into a rash for days.
I had enough. I feared I’d be “the girl the bubble” allergic to the world. Mum took me to see a family member who was visiting from Sydney at the time. His name is Uncle Lawrence and he specialises in Eastern Medicine practices. Uncle Lawrence checked me out and did the sort of thing that Western Doctors don’t really do (though respect to you Docs, my family are all in the medical field), he checked out the palms of my hands (they seem to tell a lot), pushed some pressure points which were excruciating, he looked at my eyes - which he noticed weren’t as clear as they should be, and listened to my list of problems.
“No more junk food” was one of the big prescriptions, “No more soft drink, no more two minute noodles, no more pizza, packet chips...” Just looking at me typing these words make me cringe today. Mainly because I feel so guilty to have eaten so much bad food and not understanding nutrition back then. Don’t get me wrong, family dinners - I ate well and healthily, my Grandparent's had a huge garden with chickens and we often ate from what we had produced from their huge backyard. It was those snacks on the play ground, that moment after school where the two minute noodles were the quick fix for my adolescent cravings,the indulgence into chips, pizza and soft drinks (especially with my friends) that got me sick.
Uncle Lawrence figured if I cut out the junk food for at least 3 months I could eat fruit again. Cutting all that out of my system was hard at first, I craved soft drink for such a long time, but I stuck to it, especially if it meant that I wouldn’t be allergic to fruit again. It worked.
Around the same time I sought more help for my eczema and asthma. The Eastern Medicine solutions went a step further. I was prescribed a root of a tree (picture above, called dong chong xia cao). It wasn't cheap and Mum had to buy a coffee grinder to grind it down so I could have a teaspoon of the earthy tasting stuff with water twice a day for almost a year. The asthmatic episodes lightened and became few and far between, and with that I began to jog, then run. The break through was that I was able to run around a basketball court for the first time in my life and not be short of breath. I could breathe! Properly! Finally!
The diet and the exercise improved the skin, even moreso with the help of Dr. Rabar. Dr. Rabar was one of my local GPs at the time. He had come up with a solution for eczema sufferers having had kids of his own with the same issue. I was prescribed Diprosone ointment (not the cream) at a high percentage that wasn’t allowed to be used on my face. This is where the Glad Wrap part comes in. Under the instruction of Dr. Rabar I had to put a thin coat of diprosone on all my problem areas and then wrap them in Glad Wrap before I went to bed each night. So picture this. Me in my teens, hands, limbs and neck covered in Glad Wrap every night for a year. Yes I looked foolish. And it was awkward getting into bed. On top of that he told me not to use soap in the shower. Soap was something that would try up my skin and irritate it even more, so I showered and still regularly do with sorbolene and I still cover myself in sorbolene twice a day.
The Glad Wrap idea worked for a number of reasons. It allowed the medicine to stay on my skin and work overnight and not rub off on my clothing or my sheets. And it also stopped me from scratching the living heck out of my most sensitive organ. Bit by bit my skin improved, the back of my knees cleared up the quickest and slowly the pigmentation of my problem areas were lightening back to my normal skin tone. My skin wasn’t hot and irritated and I could use my hands and not feel so much pain especially when I'd wash my hands.
Since that time the only asthmatic episodes have surrounded terrible flus - which is not often and the eczema is rare - only when I’m seriously stressed, which doesn't happen all too often now that I meditate and have just learnt to chill out in general. My diet has improved tremendously. I still don’t drink soft drink and when I have the occasional sip with a mixer at a function I instantly feel ill. From all of these issues that took up my childhood and my teens I’m all the better for it. Ultimately what I really do know from this experience is that every part of a person’s lifestyle choices is linked to their wellbeing. I hope if you’ve suffered from any of these issues some of my experience may help you in some way.