Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tormented Face

Our son struggles against his bonds: his swaddle, which I have re-fixed for the eighth time tonight. He struggles because he wants to scratch his face, where pinpricks of blood mingle with interstitial fluid in a haphazard brickwork of red upon red. The creams I have applied, the ointments with which I have slathered his face -- these do nothing to keep him from his suffering. There is an itch to scratch, and the more he scratches it, the worse it will become. Or he won’t scratch it -- by some miracle I will manage to stay awake through the night, holding his hands down in their swaths of cotton -- but it will begin again tomorrow.

His face looks better. It ought to be better. He only wears cotton, now, which has been laundered and double-rinsed. He gets soaking lukewarm baths every day, and facial washings several times a day. He only drinks my milk, from which I have removed every trace of dairy from my diet -- why must it take weeks to remove the traces from his body? Why must the almighty cow -- a benign-looking, silly beast -- attack his skin so terribly?

How am I supposed to sleep? A moment could have his hands free; a moment could have him dragging blood-glazed gloves across his cheeks. How am I supposed to sleep? His head rocks back and forth. We used to think he was fighting sleep: now we know he’s trying to scratch his cheeks by rubbing his head against the mattress. How am I supposed to sleep? My son suffers, and he does not have the capacity to reason through it.

His eyes are crinkled with tiny blisters and sleeplessness. He opens them, sometimes, and stares at me when I breathe cool air upon his broken face. Too tired to smile at the relief. He knows too early that life means suffering. Or maybe he doesn’t think he suffers: maybe he already considers this normal, as I did with my persistent allergies. A tissue in every pocket, every room. My allergies, which gave him his eczema.


  1. ::hugs:: Hang in there, Mama. It WILL get better, and don't you go blaming yourself either.

    Now for the gross it just blood or is there weepy pus? How long did the dr say to give it before you go back and try something different?

    ::hugs:: I wish I had some way to make this better for you. Some magic answer to make him feel better and let you all get some sleep.

  2. No pus. Just blood and clear fluid. We've been waiting for the doctor to call all week. I'm going to call a pediatric allergist tomorrow, especially if Dr. Valium doesn't get back to us.

    Thank you very much for the hugs. I didn't think such a common condition, such a superficial skin problem would make me so very upset. Then again according to ( ) this article, it's fairly common to freak out. How were you with T?

  3. It was rough, but I don't remember his ever getting that bad. His worst was when his cradle cap got impetigo. That was gross and horrifying. I hadn't tried too hard to get rid of the cradle cap because, while the peds gave plenty of suggestions, none of them were very adamant that something MUST be done. It seemed more of a cosmetic concern. Then he caught a strep infection underneath the cradle cap and that was just awful. He has never seemed particularly bothered by his eczema, though I do recall him squirming to brush his face on the sheets for the scratching. I notice him more bothered by it now that he's older and can make a coordinated effort to scratch things that itch.

    Stacie (who is possibly, probably signed in as Mark)