Tag Archive: Health

A bad scare

Waiting for little pea to wake up for his 3pm milk as I am typing this post. It’s been a month since his birth and I am constantly amazed by how Hubby and I are surviving on so little sleep.

Even though I ate very healthy and clean throughout my pregnancy with little pea, he did not come out problem-free. He was very colicky on the first day of his birth and did not manage to pee until the next day of our hospital stay. Then he developed very bad baby acne and reflux issues subsequently. He is constantly crying after feed, arching his back in pain. He also has trouble burping the air out. Ironically, little man was a much healthier baby than little pea is.

Earlier in the week, little pea was suddenly pooing more than usual, and they were mushy and green. I was so worried, but because we were having an appointment with the pediatrician the next day, I did not bring him to see the doctor immediately. And so, we went for his appointment the next morning, full of queries and worries. Little did we know, the “diarrhea” is the least of his problems.

At the clinic, I was trying to tell the pediatrician about my worries when she solemnly started telling me about a heart murmur she heard when examining little pea. I remember looking blankly at her as if she was speaking a foreign language. When all finally sank in, I was trying hard not to cry.

A heart murmur. A probable hole in his heart. Or some other serious issues. I had so many things running through my mind.

The pediatrician then consoled me that it is probably nothing, but it’s better for us to take little pea to a specialist to do an ultrasound. She started telling me the difference in costs between going to the polyclinic to get a referral to KKH and going straight to a private specialist. “It’s really no hurry”, she said. “But if you want, you can probably get an appointment with the private specialist later in the afternoon.”

Throughout the journey back home, my mom and I were very quiet. I was silently tearing while baby-carrying my little pea. After discussing with Hubby, we decided to bring little pea immediately to the private cardio specialist later in the afternoon. I was praying so hard throughout the ultrasound. Fortunately, everything was working fine in his tiny little heart, except that at certain points of his blood vessels, there is higher pressure than normal. It is likely that these difference in pressure is causing the heart murmur. We were told to go back for a review 6 months later.

It was such a bad scare. But it was also a reminder that as long as this little life is strong and healthy, it does not matter how many more sleep-deprived nights we are going to have, because these are all happy problems. Nothing really matters as long as we are all safe and healthy.

A turbulent journey

That is how I would describe the journey of getting rid of eczema with my baby boy.

Before this post, his eczema was looking really better and I was all “yeah, I am going to write on how I manage to get it look better”. Then one fine day, he stayed over at my Mother’s, and my concerned Mother applied some of the steroid creams given to her by a GP (which she described as a cure-all) on little man. And this cream was not even suitable to applied on young children. When I heard my Mother happy telling about what she has done, you cannot imagine how angry and upset I was. I was trying so hard that evening to not snap at her. Then sadness came over me, because I understand how concern my Mother was to do that without asking me, what little hope she held on to, when she applied the cream onto little man, because this is exactly how I feel every single time I try new creams and remedies on him.

From then on, little man’s eczema went downhill again. It flared up and became very red and raw. My mind and heart were thrown into another chaos.

I would not say that my Mother’s action caused this flare up, as there can be many other factors. But I do hope such things will not happen again.

It is tough to feel so lonely in this battle. At times, I do not feel emotionally and mentally strong enough to protect my son. Many nights, I will tell him, “Don’t worry. Mama will be here no matter what happen. We will find a solution to get rid of that eczema.” when it was me who was tearing so bad. I am so thankful for my husband who is always on the same page as I am.

I started doubting what I was doing. Am I going the right way? Should I just succumb to steroids (not that it really helps). Thank God for the online support group whose members provided sound and helpful thoughts and ideas.

Here is a checklist of why I should not go back to steroids. I should read this list again whenever I feel lost in this draining journey.

  1. If little man eczema can go away after using steroids, I wouldn’t mind trying again. But it does not. It come back again, with a vengeance, every time we stopped applying steroids.
  2. Long-term steroids use can cause serious side-effects. Little man is only coming to 3. How long does he have to continue applying steroids to prevent it from coming back?
  3. I have asked a lot of people who suffered from eczema and there is Not One skin doctor who provides a solution that does not involves steroids.
  4. I guess, somewhat it is like antibiotics. If you keep taking antibiotics when you are sick, you will just have to move on to stronger and stronger ones. Eventually, the superbug will come out to haunt you.
  5. This is something I suddenly remember. In my last Korea trip, I mentioned in my post that the Korean pediatrician that we saw, was shock that we were given steroids by our local pds for little man. He strongly advised us to steer clear of steroids and said that it will cause the rashes to get worse. Now I wonder why our Singapore doctors give out strong steroids so freely.

I guess, I would not say our journey is futile. I have learnt so much about what we can and cannot use on little man. In this search for a “cure”, one dog’s meat can be another dog’s poison. Everyone reacts differently to different things.

These are what we are have tried and will continue to do.

Eczema Diet.

I will dedicate a post just for this. But generally, my guide is Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Egg-free, as little sugar and msg as possible, and plenty of papayas, bananas and pears (the safe fruits in Stage 1 eczema diet). As much as it sounded hard. It really boils down to planning your weekly marketing and meals. I hope to be brewing more beef and chicken broth to build him up too.

Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV).

I was previously using Heinz ACV because it was most easily accessible and available. However, I learnt recently that Heinz’s AVC is really only good for making salads. For good grade ACV for health purposes, Braggs is the way to go. And I was surprised to only find Braggs in healthshops like Unity and GNC. And they are always out of stock. By the way, I soak little man in it, rather than consume it.

Dead Sea Salt

I was previously saying how dead sea salt caused the eczema on my boy to be itchy. But some members in the support group suggested for me to try again as I was at a bottle-neck. Some of them shown evidence of how much dead sea salt has helped them. Hence I am giving little man a try again. Surprisingly, he tolerated it well for the past week. His red raw patch seems to calm down a fair bit. Fingers crossed.

Moisturizer, creams and ointment

I am using a range, depending on how it felt to little man’s on that particular moment. Sometimes he can tolerate one well, sometimes he just needs another to soothe the itch. They are Cetaphil Shea Butter moisturizer, Physiogel Cream, Four Cow Farm (FCF) Tea Tree Remedy and FCF Calendula Remedy. I am also using Dr Mark (TCM)’s Ointment.

Disappointedly, the popular lemongrass balm from The Home Apothecary does not sit well with little man. Twice we applied on him, twice he itches like crazy. I have since sold the 2 tubs that I bought.

There are several new remedies I am also waiting to try. But I will always try one thing at a time so that I can know for sure, what is working and what is not.

  1. Ginger soak
  2. Alkalized water
  3. Accupuncture (Dr Mark)
  4. Some other balms from The Home Apothecary.

If other people can be healed, my baby boy can be healed. I cannot give up.

Let there be light

It pained me to think that for the past 4 months, despite all efforts and remedies, little man’s eczema was not cleared. Instead, it becomes bigger in area and looks worse than before.

We have been through quite a bit in these 4 months, and I just want to document it down so that I can refer back when the need arises.

Following the visit to my dermatologist, I went online to read more about all other alternative remedies and creams people have recommended. We have spent money and time on the following:

  1. Moogoo Irritable Skin Balm (ISB)
  2. Moogoo MSM cream (MSM)
  3. Dead sea salt bath
  4. Magnesium flakes
  5. The Home Apothecary zinc balm
  6. Oliva Forte capsules
  7. Apple Cider Vinegar wash
  8. TCM physician – Dr Mark Chern
  9. The Eczema Diet

The first 4 items have been recommended and blessed by an old friend whose daughter also suffers in the hands of eczema. She, like me, is still seeking ways to completely unroot it.

Sad to say, little man does not seem to agree with the dead sea salt, magnesium flakes and zinc balm. He will complain of pain after soaking (just for a few minutes) and his raw patch will turn redder than before. Zinc balm made it worse. I have tried twice, and twice the patch became worse, hence I totally stop using them for the time being.

The 2 Moogoo creams work briefly on him. I was so elated to see mild improvement in the appearance of his patch, that I immediately when to Kiddy Palace to buy a new tube each. I layered the creams, first with ISB and then MSM as instructed by the eczema group members. With these 2 new friends in hand, I was hoping for a miraculous heal during our trip to Taiwan. Sadly, the improvement was short-lived. The patch grew bigger, and we are back to square one, and worse.

Then I heard raves about Oliva Forte capsules, how taking it long-term can help heal one’s leaky gut, which is said to be the reason for eczema. I went ahead and spent a bomb on 3 boxes of it. Little man has been taking it for almost 2 months now, and I didn’t see his eczema get better because of consuming Oliva Forte (just like Lacto GG). However, I must say that his immune system is getting stronger, likely to be due to this Oliva Forte, according to my gut feeling. He recovers so much faster from his illnesses ever since he started on it, hence I am still continuing him on this supplement.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is one thing that I have often read about online, but hesitated to try. One can imagine how acidic can ACV can be, and applying it on one’s raw skin is almost inhumane to me. But it came a time one day when I was feeling really desperate and it happened that I suddenly developed eczema on one foot, hence I decided to buy a bottle of cheap good ACV, dilute it with water and apply to my own eczema. Surprisingly, it felt really cooling and my itch went away shortly. After a few days, my eczema actually died down. It gave me the courage to try it on little man, and I must say, I think it is working, slowly but surely.

At this same time, I also brought little man to see Dr Mark Chern for the first time. This TCM physician was recommended by the eczema group members. Dr Mark saw little man and commented on how hard it is to “cure” him because his eczema is unlike most of his patients who have wide-spread eczema. Nevertheless, he gave us a cream containing 黄芩, asking us to try on little man to see if it works. Initially, his cream works a little. Little man’s patch started to turn brownish and peeled. I was so happy, thinking it is the start of healing. But Dr Mark advises me that the cream is just to control the eczema, and probably is not able to heal it. Just like what he predicted, the patch came back, and the process of peeling and turning brown just happens over and over again, without any healing. In our 2nd visit, Dr Mark gave us an herbal wash together with the same cream. Again, he was doubtful that these can “cure” him. And he is again right.

Personally, I think Dr Mark is a great TCM physician who does not see patients to earn money, like some private physicians do. However, because he himself professed both times that he is quite lost about what else to do with little man’s condition due to his age and his “not-so-serious” patch, I have decided to seek a 2nd opinion.

However there are a few things I have learnt from our visits to Dr Mark.

Steroids Withdrawal Syndrome is like a drug allergy. Some people gets it, some people don’t. There is no explaination, just whether your body accepts the drug or not.

  1. Different cream/solutions work for different people. One that works for others, may not work for you. You will just have to keep trying and figure out a formula of your own, one that fits you.
  2. Trust your first instinct and feeling after applying a new cream/ointment/solution. If the first application feels irritating, time to try something else.
  3. The Eczema Diet by Karen Fisher

The next thing i want to talk about is a book recommended by Dr Mark. The Eczema Diet. I borrowed the book in times of desperation. I am glad I did. It gave me a lot of new insights about eczema, and I am really relief to know that there are so many other solutions I can try on little man.

Because I am a working mother and little man attends a full day childcare, it is more difficult for me to strictly control his diet. Hence after much discussion with Hubby, we have decided to take dairy products and eggs from his diet for the time being. I am delighted to say that after 5 days of dairy and egg-free, his eczema looks so much better, with everything else going status quo.

So now, these are currently what we will still be doing:

  1. A capsule of Oliva Forte & Lacto GG every day
  2. ACV wash as often as we can
  3. Oat bath
  4. TCM cream given by Dr Mark
  5. Dairy & egg-free diet
  6. Cod Liver Oil
  7. TCM medicine to bring his immune system back on track

Dear God, let us see light at the end of the tunnel. Let there be light.

Murphy’s Law

I have been away for so long, there is so much I wanted to put to words, but find myself wearily staring into blank space as I finally sit in front of the computer.

May has been a busy month, just like every other month. But May is different because of all the events that fall in due to examination. I find myself struggling a little between work, housework and spending quality time with little man and Hubby. Somehow, in-between such madness, we actually made the unplanned decision to travel to Taiwan to look for my sister who is undergoing an exchange programme with the local university. Eventually, it became a family trip with my parents and siblings.

It happened that one fine day, when my father was visiting and I had a good look at him, and realised how much he has aged. It dawned upon me that my parents are really getting older and I have to cherish every moment we have together. It has been such a long time since we travel as a family. Probably, it will be harder to do so after my brother set up his own family later this year.

I didn’t spend too much time planning for this trip. Instead, more time was spent in ensuring I had all the medication and necessities for little man. It is always more tiring to travel with a toddler. My only wish is for him to be well throughout the trip and enjoy it.

However, little man developed some major stomach discomfort when the plane was about to land in Taipei. He was crying away and his entire body was tensed up. I have never seen him like that before and it scared the hell out of me. The pain went off a few hours after. By then, little man was so happy to be reunited with my parents and siblings, he totally forgot about his pain. He went painless till the next evening when he sudden went pale and told me he has stomach-ache. I was very concerned because the area he showed me was right between his ribs, the very same area he expressed pain the night before. However, he became well again when we got back to our airbnb accommodation.

This went on and off until we came back. At one point, I was so worried, I had to bring him to see the local pediatrician. (Yes, again.) It seems that little man likes to plan visits to the local pediatrician when he travels. Anyway, he was diagnosed with indigestion (which I was not convinced) and given some medication to improve his bowel movements. The pediatrician seemed more concerned about his penis which seemed a little red at that time. (Something else for me to worry about, other than his persistent eczema.) He then commented that perhaps we should consider to circumcise him. So armed with the medication given and lots of prayers, we went ahead with the rest of our journey.

On the very evening when our plane started to land on Singapore, he cried in pain again. Hence, we brought him to see his pediatrician who diagnosed him with mild gastritis. She told us to bring him to KKH if the symptoms persist, which is why I immediately brought him to KKH this morning when he told me about his stomach-ache at the same area again.

Disappointingly, no tests were done to find out what exactly is wrong with him. It doesn’t help that my little man became extremely active and playful during the consultation. The doctor must have thought that I am one paranoid parent. We were sent home with some medication to ease the wind in his stomach.

One thing I have learnt out of this entire episode is that the travel insurance we bought actually covers all these doctors visitation. That is the only good thing that come out of all these, although I would very much not want to claim at all.

That day, in one of our late night chat, I asked Hubby if he thinks little man enjoy travelling at all. He said probably not. I felt a sense of sadness that instant. Little man definitely enjoyed being with his Gonggong, Popo, Jiujiu and Ahyi. But he would have enjoyed the same, if not more, in his comfort zone (not overseas). It got me thinking if we were right to insist on bringing him along for all our travels. This is something that Hubby has insisted on. He would not have his travelling without little man. If we are to travel, we have to do it as a family. As much as I understand his rationale, I wonder if it is the right thing to do.

I wonder if we are the only ones to face such dilemma.

Embracing changes

It’s been another tiring week. (I believe this phrase will be sticking with me for a while till the next long break.)

Little man fell sick again with a bad running nose. When he kept sneezing last Friday, Hubby and I knew something was brewing. It has became so predictable after these two years. And just as expected, the sneezing turned into something more serious on Sunday.

Hubby took leave to bring him to the pediatrician on Monday. The queue was horrendous and they waited for a good 3 hours before seeing the pediatrician. While waiting, they went to the nearby shopping mall to have breakfast at Toastbox, played at the nearby playground and had lunch at Ding Tai Fung. Little man had so much fun that he told me that night while I was accompanying him to bed, “爸爸带我出去玩。” As for the doctor visit, he doesn’t seemed to have much memory of it, other than the pretty receptionist who ushered them in. Hubby, on the other hand, was so worn out by the morning’s events.

Having to accompany little man to sleep was very tiring for me as well. This is especially so when he couldn’t sleep well due to his blocked nose. He would wake up a few times in the night, crying for me. He would not take Hubby at all, resulting in a very tired Mama the very next morning.

I never really had to accompany him to sleep as he started sleeping by himself since ages ago. We will leave him in his room after shower, and he will be playing with his toys and entertaining himself with plenty of songs and gibberish. We would adjust his room’s lighting according to his requests and eventually, he will fall asleep. Ever since he attended school, he became so clingy to me that he will cry the house down if I did not accompany him to sleep. This meant that I absolutely have no time for myself before going to bed as it will be so late by the time he falls asleep. I would have to go to bed soon after, considering that I have to wake up at 6am the next morning.

I was really frustrated initially. Juggling between work time, parenting time and self time is so much tougher when little man is so clingy. Imagine after working the entire day, I had to rush off to fetch little man from school, and then cook dinner for him. After dinner, it will be house-chores time, little man’s bedtime and then my own bedtime. Where is the self-time?

However, as days go by, I realised how important my company is to little man. Hence, I started embracing this change. Instead of seeing it as a sacrifice, I started to cherish the night time together with him. He would sometimes tell me about his friends and school. It gave me deeper insights of what is on his little mind. Having said that, Hubby and I still hope for him to slowly be an independent sleeper again.

In the midst of one of his many tantrums.

Getting there

A friend once posted on his FB, asking which is worse, a sick adult or a sick child. I replied saying that I would rather be the one sick, than to see my child suffer. But if you ask me again, I probably pray hard that none of us will be sick.

It pained the adult to see her child suffer. Yet it is no less painful to not being able to fully focus on taking care on your child because you are unwell.

I hate to say this, but I have been sick again last Monday, down with a bad cold that very quickly escalated to the lost of voice and bad cough that wouldn’t go away. There is so much going on in little man’s life that I wanted to record down, but all that filled my mind is that unknown ailment from a month ago, my bad cough and going back to work next week.

This is not how I wanted it to be.

I wanted to spend my last free week with my little baby cuddling him, kissing him, playing with him and revising with him all the things that have been taught in school. But no, instead this last week was spent trying to avoid being too close to him so that I do not pass the virus to him. I practically wear a surgical mask every single minute with him. And I am so thankful that neither him nor Hubby has gotten any of the sick bug from me.

Little man has slowly gotten used to going to school. He now has teachers whom he adores and that really makes it easier to persuade him to put on his uniform and go to school in the morning. Although getting him to wake up without fuss is still impossible, I believe it takes just a little bit more time.

Next week when I go back to work, Hubby will have to deal with him alone in the morning. I don’t know how he is going to manage as little man still cries for me every morning when he wakes up. But I have faith in Hubby. He will survive. 🙂

Little man’s temper has simmered down a little. However, he can still be very stubborn and aggressive sometimes to get what he wanted. At times, he doesn’t even know what he wants, kicking a big fuss over nothing. He has also started to be rather rude to Hubby, pointing to him fiercely, telling him to go away. That hurts Hubby a lot, but he is trying to be as understanding as he can be. For me, I will always make sure I step in as the discipline mistress, telling little man off and asking him to apologise to his Daddy.

Once, I tried the naughty corner with little man. He refused to have his dinner, insisting to draw in his room. Hence I switch off the lights in his room and left him there. He was upset that we started having dinner and ignored him, he started to kick a fuss beside the dining table. I then dragged him to his room and left in at this strategic corner. He came out crying, and I dragged him back again. This went on for a awhile. I was waiting for him to calm down, but knowing my boy, I know he can probably go on forever. He is too egoistic. In the end, I carried him up, gave him a tight hug and asked him to calm down. After he calmed down, I started telling him what he has done wrong and I do not want to see him behaving like that again. After that, he obediently sat down and had his dinner, as if nothing has happened at all.

My little man is definitely growing up in ways we cannot anticipate. He is now learning his boundaries, and it is our responsibilities to teach him. In what ways do we teach? That is something we must trial and error. Little man is one stubborn mule. He is like a hard rock if you try to get to him the harsh way. I find it easier to get through to him when he softens his stance. It really takes a lot of patience and tender loving care. But we will get there.

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