It all started about a week ago when I got an unexpected email from a friend of mine. Although we are big talkers, we hardly ever communciate via email, so when I received this mail with a link on it from her, I was a bit surprised. The link was to a blog post called Trip to Avene, France with Nirvana (click here if you want to read it). Immediately I thought my friend had taken leave of her senses, because if you've read my story from beginning to end, you would know that we are not exactly in the same league as people jetting off to France, as much as we'd like to be, so I was curious as to why she felt I should read this particular blog.
Aaaah, ok, it was about the bane of my life, eczema. If you haven't read my story about our family's ongoing war against this disease, please read Skin Deep (click here if you want to read it) (my first post, where I just vent to release my frustration) and then the less emotional Eczema Chronicles (click here if you want to read it) which I use as a tool for myself, to enable me to have a list of medications and reactions, which I update regularly so that I can keep track because often one day is worse than the next and days turn into months and I cannot recall what results we have had from which medications and treatements, it's kind of like an eczema diary.
If you don't feel like reading the two blogs, let me give you a quick update, Tomato (who has just turned 8 years old) struggles with this disease every single day of her life and although her skin is a lot better than it was a year ago, it is far from rosy living in our house with this invisible but ever-present imposter that is slowly stripping away her childhood and my sanity. Last week she was sent home from school because she had scratched herself until the blood was dripping down her legs. The week before, her best friend got a rash and quickly informed their classmates that she had "caught" Tomato's skin disease, so nobody would play with her and she came home in tears saying they called her "blood girl" so she had to hide in some bushes to get away. Tomato has always suffered from boils which occur all over her body because of the bacteria happily entering her broken skin from the open wounds of scratching. Our poor little girl is desperate for warmer weather because her skin is not so dry in warmer months, but she is also petrified of the thought of wearing short socks again which will show the open sores and dark purple scars on her legs which children think are chicken pox. She is on a plethora of medicines to assist her with not only her skin but also the anxiety disorders that have surfaced because of it. There, you're all caught up!!
So for the past few years our family has just been going through the motions from day to day (like walking through thick mud, it is hard to keep on), each day looking similar to the previous one, with no real solution in sight, with me trying to keep the wounds and scratching at manageable levels by using cortisone creams, prednisone tablets and antibiotics. I hate that she is having so much medication pumped into her little body day after day, but every day is still darn uncomfortable for our little girl and sleep is a distant memory for all of us, so we have no choice. Nothing, but nothing heals her skin. Shockingly, we also pay over R100 000 per year on specialists, medication, various therapies and treatments and special lotions and potions that are not covered by medical aid.
Is that a light at the end of the tunnel? Or is it another oncoming train?
Dare I hope...... again? I told Tomato when her eczema began that I would never give up looking for a cure and I never will, but boy it's getting more and more difficult to visualise her skin without the red welts and scabs that I see every day, tormenting her and making her more and more insecure and introverted. I hardly recognise this little girl living with me, she used to be so vibrant and full of life but now she is just a ball of pain and itching. Her life is very hard and there is nothing that I can do to help her.
Back to the blog that I mentioned earlier........ it was very interesting, it referred to a place in France called Avene which boasts water that has healing properties, especially for irritating skin conditions like eczema. The lady who wrote the blog was on her way to Avene with her little girl, who is the same age as Tomato. Reading her story, which has been so very similar to ours, I was intrigued. The blog was new and although I seldom comment on blog posts, I felt compelled to tell this lady that I understand her excitement at being given this opportunity and that I feel her pain as I have been traversing a similar path and that I wish her all the best with this treatment for her little girl, as I know the heartache of watching your child suffering and not being able to help them. I know how this impacts a family and unless you've lived through it, you cannot possibly understand the emotional turmoil. So I left my message and a link to my Eczema Chronicles blog post and made a mental note to check up on how the treatment was going.
A few days later I was contacted by a lady from a company called Pierre Fabre, asking to meet me. This lovely lady had read my message on the blog and then followed the link and read our story on At Home with my BLT. Pierre Fabre is the company who have sent Nirvana and her mom Traci to Avene for the hydrotherapy treatment!!
We agreed to meet the following day. In the interim, I was sent this link which blew me away and started me hoping once again that maybe, just maybe, this is the miracle that we have been hoping and praying for.
To view the video click here
We met at a local coffee shop and I was amazed by the amount of clinical data that backs up the claims of this healing water. I received volumes of literature to read though (over 300 different studies have been performed on the water) and I even felt myself having a connection to the unbelievable principles of the company. The lady I met was filled with passion for both the company as well as the brand. I learned that the Avene products would be launched in South Africa next year, but I was getting a bag full of Avene products to try immediately on Tomato. The pack included 2 spray cans filled with the thermal spring water, packaged at source, in Avene in highly sterile conditions. I was amazed.
When I got home, I started reading and reading and reading. I then started googling. I searched and read for hours and really battled to find any negative reviews about these products, but there were plenty of positive stories. The products have been available in Europe, Australia and the US for many years and they have so many different uses from soothing diaper rash to sunburn to even helping with healing newly inked tattoos!
When Tomato got home from school I told her about my meeting and showed her the video. She was quiet for a bit and then she went wild "I'm going to France. I'm going to get my skin better. This is my miracle." I explained numerous times that we weren't going to France to the hydrotherapy centre shown in the video, but she would hear nothing of it, she said she's going and that is that. The part where the little girl is crying and saying she's sore made a huge impact on Tomato. She has always told me that nobody else knows what she goes through, but now she knows that she is not suffering alone. It's pretty clear that she believes in the law of attraction because she has told everyone she sees that she is going to France!!
Usually she won't allow me to put ANY new creams onto her skin but she LOVED the fact that she was spraying healing waters onto her skin and allowed me to bath her in the gel and put on the Avene TriXera+ moistening balm after her bath!! The following day she took the water to school and insisted that her teacher allow her to do a "show-and-tell" to the class, even though it wasn't the day for it and she hunted down another little girl in her school who has bad skin and sprayed some healing water on her too!! I have never seen her so excited about anything before!!
So I am putting my hope and faith in this new product. I know that medications have their place, but I would much rather use a perfectly balanced water that is rich in calcium and magnesium and products made from it, than the cortisone creams and tablets and antibiotics, that have become so commonplace in our home.
For the first time in many years, I am excited for tomorrow.
Postscript - December 2014
As much as I love the concept of Avene and the healing waters (which work wonders in bottle form on red, inflamed eczema for cooling purposes), we had to wait until the summer in France for them to re-open and we were desperate. We were planning in 2015 to pay the approx. R60 000 for Tomato and me to journey to Avene, but we were going to have to raise the money first. Then we found our answer when we least expected it.....
Click on The Day I Found Dr Richard Aron and our Healing Journey Began blog post