What's the 411 on the 2019 Eczema Expo?
The National Eczema Association’s (NEA) 2019 Eczema Expo was held in Scottsdale, Arizona. Two members of the AtopicDermatitis.net advocate team - Linette and Ashley - attended the conference. We reached out hear about their favorite experiences - from the break out sessions to the quiet time between activities.
Having informed conversations
Being able to dive into the nitty gritty of what living with eczema is really like and learn new things is what the Expo is really about.
Hearing from leading eczema doctors
Linette: You know those doctor's appointments you have to book months in advance, and then the moment you walk in, your doctor barely even looks nor listens to you, and then 5 minutes later, you’re back out the door, with a paper listing the same prescriptions you were given each and every single time you’ve had a flare-up your entire life, AND you realize you forgot to ask your doctor those two questions that you’ve been wanting to be answered for all those months? Well, the Breakout Sessions at Expo are the EXACT opposite of that! They are all led by doctors or professionals in the eczema realm, so you know the subject that you’ll be discussing is being led by someone who knows what they’re talking about!
Speaking up and asking questions
The differences between these breakout sessions and your typical doctor’s appointment is that you're in the company of other warriors with many of your same questions and concerns. But unlike your appointments, you’ll actually have an opportunity to speak up and really discuss what is on your mind. And most importantly- you will leave with more knowledge and hope than when you arrived.
Bonding through shared eczema experiences
It seemed to be a general consensus that the Expo is somewhat like a family reunion or a mosaic of experiences both shared and different.
We share a common pain
Ashley: My favorite part of Expo was having the opportunity to interact with other eczema warriors and their families. There’s nothing like the feeling of connecting with others who just know you without really knowing you. We share a common pain and history that only we can relate to. I always like to compare Expo to a family reunion – you meet those you’ve only met through social media, those you’ve met at prior events, and those attending for the first time. We are a family and that’s EXACTLY what it feels like.
My sub-favorite part of meeting other warriors is seeing their healing journey from where they were just a year ago. Talk about the power of faith, hope, and possibility! Healing is possible and you get to directly experience that at Expo.
Quiet moments of connection
Linette: I love people. I love talking to people. And half of talking to people is listening to them. So what I absolutely loved were the quiet moments where I got to listen to what was in the hearts of all these warriors.
Finding relief from the itch
I got to sit in between two mothers who were trying to give their children as normal a life as possible despite their kids’ eczema, all whilst using every last resource to find relief for their child’s incessant and at times maniacal itch and excruciating pain. I met people who traveled all the way from Canada, the UK, Germany, and New Zealand searching for new answers to calm that frenzied itch and to get through those sleepless nights.
Unhiding eczema and differing experiences
At the pool, I stood next to these two strong girls, no older than 8 years of age, who came up with the coolest chant explaining why they were both unhiding their eczema. I got to hear warriors who were planning far into the future and those who could only take their battle day by day.
Eczema does not define us
It was in these quiet moments of the Expo where I got to catch a glimpse of the real person behind that armor of thick elephant skin. I see you. And I see what an amazing human you have become despite what you have gone through and continue to battle every day. That’s where I found those precious moments that by the end of the weekend, came together to paint a mural of what it is like to live a life with eczema.
How does your mental health relate to your physical health?