I’m sitting in the waiting room of another dermatologist’s office on my quest for answers about the severe atopic dermatitis that has taken over my life. While filling out those all-too-familiar new patient forms, I remember the first time—the first set of paperwork at that first doctor’s appointment for that strange rash.
It was 16 years ago, but I can still see it perfectly. I have my new little baby asleep in his carrier. He has a huge scratch on his precious cheek, but it’s not from him. It’s a mark I left. It happened while he was eating. What should have been a loving caress from his mother turned into an injury because my hand is so rough, the skin cracked from atopic dermatitis. I remember thinking that it would never heal, that he would be made fun of just like his mother. I remember thinking I was the reason he would have that scar.
After that afternoon feeding, I was very uneasy holding him again for the rest of the day. I started to put on white gloves before picking him up or making sure he was wrapped in a blanket—even though it was 90 degrees outside—just so there would be a barrier between him and me, his mother. When my husband got home from work, he told me that I needed to make a doctor appointment to see why my hands were so rough, because there should never be a barrier between a mother and her child.
Today, I’m trying to fill out the new patient forms with those same cracked hands, once again hoping for answers. Just trying to grip the pen is almost too much to bear, but there is hope behind the door separating me from the new doctor. And although these days my baby boy is now a super-tall teenager growing a beard on the same sweet cheeks I scratched, in my heart, he’ll always be that little baby in the carrier. He’ll always be my motivation for moving forward.
I will always remember how I felt when I scratched him, and how that motivated my relentless pursuit to find a doctor to help me.