‘I Really Got My Child Back’
Every night, 6-year-old Cameron Toops does something remarkable – he snuggles to sleep with his blanket “NJ,” which stands for National Jewish. For years, he could not do this simple act because of unbearable pain, itching and bleeding caused by severe eczema.
Cameron’s symptoms started when he was just 4 months old with a case of mild eczema that progressed into sores all over his body.
“Everything was just getting worse,” said Cameron’s mom, Jeannie. “He looked like a baby who had been placed in boiling water.”
‘No One Could Figure it out’
They went from doctor to doctor in their home state of Ohio seeking answers.
“We tried every medication,” Jeannie said. “No one could figure it out.”
The stress on the family was almost unbearable. “It changed the way we lived,” Jeannie said. “I didn’t feel like we could have fun baby times. It’s really hard to watch your child in distress night and day, and you don’t know what to do.”
Things like an overnight trip to his grandparents’ house or going swimming were unthinkable. And, it began to affect Cameron’s older brother, Gabriel, who was 5 years old at the time. “Cameron would wake up five to six times each night, scratching and pulling out his hair,” she said. “I remember Gabriel said, ‘Mom, you have to fix him.’”
Finally, Cameron’s dermatologist suggested they come to National Jewish Health. Jeannie was willing to try anything.
A Transformation After Two Weeks
When Cameron was 3 years old, they came for a two-week appointment in the Pediatric Day Program, a unique, comprehensive program in which patients and their families participate in appointments, disease management and therapeutic activities throughout the day. It allows staff to observe and monitor the patient throughout the day, which helps ensure an accurate diagnosis and individualized treatment plan.
“Everything went so smoothly,” Jeannie said. “They gave me a notebook to keep track of everything, and it was reassuring to know that everything would be in one place.”
Cameron received a treatment called wet wrap therapy, which is used for severe eczema. After taking a bath and applying medicated creams, he was wrapped in dressings that were soaked in warm water with a dry layer applied on top.
The family also benefited from therapy groups that are part of the Pediatric Day Program.
“It was great to meet other people who are in the same situation, who understand the sleepless nights and unwanted advice from strangers,” Jeannie said.
After a few days, Cameron’s skin began to heal, but Jeannie was worried that they wouldn’t be able to keep his skin clear once they got home.
“The nurses were wonderful – they were so patient,” she said, “They gave us a plan, and that’s what we needed the most.”
‘I Really Got My Child Back’
Now back in Ohio, they have been able to get Cameron’s skin to a point where one exposure to an allergen doesn’t affect him, and he no longer needs to take steroids.
“The transformation is amazing,” Jeannie said. “I really got my child back.”
The family took a trip to Disney World, and they can go hiking and swimming or take overnight trips to Jeannie’s parents’ house. And, Cameron keeps his reminder of National Jewish Health, his blanket “NJ,” close by his side.
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