Rachel and Brian Prince live in Highland Beach, Florida, with their sons. Noah is 9 and Ari is 6.
Our two sons both suffered from atopic dermatitis—eczema—since they were about six months old. They were always itching and scratching, leaving bloodstains on their sheets and clothing. The boys never slept through the night, waking every few hours because they were so itchy. They had no quality of life, and neither did we.
We lived outside of New York City. I was a stay-at-home mom, and I took them to dozens of doctors and specialists. We heard it all: "They'll grow out of it...give them one bath a day...give them two baths a day...here's a bag of prescription ointments—put this one here and that one there." On and on, and nothing worked. Often I would have to carry my kids up and down the stairs in our home because their legs were so sore. As a mother, watching your children suffer just rips your heart out.
Then a cousin told us about National Jewish Health. 'Yeah, yeah,' I thought. 'More doctors (that don't know what they are doing!)—and two-thirds the way across the country.' She gave me the number, but I didn't call. We had had so many opinions and advice that didn't work before. We decided to try a move to Florida, and we hoped a new house in a new place would make a difference.
Instead, things got worse. We spent another year suffering. The kids had no afterschool life because they were too busy with doctor appointments, and both boys were hospitalized with infections. We were helpless and hopeless. With nothing left to lose, I called National Jewish Health, and they scheduled us for a two-week stay.
I have to admit, we didn't have the best attitude as we walked into that hospital on a cold February day. Ari was in a wheelchair because of an infection on his foot. Both boys had seen so many doctors that they were fed up and, frankly, so were we. Our physician at National Jewish Health was Mark Boguniewicz, and he had a physician in training, Elizabeth Gyorkos, who worked alongside him, who was amazing. I still keep in touch with her.
The doctors and nurses had Brian and me giving each child three baths a day, applying creams, and then wrapping them in wet clothes and then dry clothes. It was exhausting, but in just a few days we began to see results. I wasn't yet doing my happy dance, but I began to have hope.
By the time we left, all of us—the boys, too—knew how to care for atopic dermatitis. The kids will come to me now and say "I need a wet sock on my hand tonight" if they are flaring up. They have their lives back, and I can do my happy dance now.
Ari woke up the other morning and took off his wet sock from his hand and looked at me and said, "It's like a miracle."
It really is. National Jewish Health gave my kids their lives back. Thank you National Jewish Health for Kids!
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