Growing Up with Eczema and Asthma

According to my mum and dad, I was diagnosed with atopic dermatitis and chronic asthma when I was two years old. The first thing my parents did was to get rid of our Labrador dog, Candy. They believed she was causing all my issues and so decided to take drastic action. When Candy left, my problems didn’t really improve.

On steroids from an early age

Being a product of the late 1970s, asthma and eczema treatment was very different from what it is today. By the time I was about five years old, I was taking steroids orally to control my asthma (along with Ventolin and Becotide inhalers) when things got out of control. I remember the horrendous bitter taste of the little white balls that were administered via a t-spoon by my mum. I can still taste it now. Yuck!

The consequences of taking this medication caused my face to blow up like a balloon but both my AD and asthma would be gone after a short period.

Extreme soreness on face and neck

Thanks to my mum’s groovy photo albums, I’m able to track exactly when my atopic dermatitis started to become a big problem. My skin began to rapidly go downhill when I was around eight years old. I had huge open lesions on my head and around my mouth. My neck looked raw. I had eczema in all the typical places on my body too but it wasn’t as severe as it was on my face and neck.

It was the 1980s

Whenever I look back at these photos I always feel sad for the little boy who was a happy-go-lucky chap. Completely unaware of how this disease would go on to shape his life. If I could jump back into these photos I would say, “Don’t eat that! Don’t put that on your skin! Drink lots of water, stay off the sugary drinks! Don’t bathe in that bubble bath! Don’t climb up that tree!”

I don’t blame anyone for how I was brought up. It was the 1980s and everything was pop soda, crisps, and hamburgers coupled with fantastic TV. We are all wiser in hindsight. Now, we know much more about both diseases and people are more health-conscious in general.

When I started school I was well looked after by teachers. I was fortunate enough to have a big group of friends. People would occasionally make comments, but on the whole, I seemed to avoid any extreme bullying. Ironically, if any bullying took place it was when I started work by grown adults. You’d think it would be the other way around.

Awkward teenage years

I became super aware of my conditions when I reached adolescence. I’d go on the offensive with girls and make them feel a bit self-conscious to deflect my own insecurities.

A comic drawing of a sad looking boy with a dialogue bubble reading "AD RULES...NOT OK!"

One time I recall a girl saying to me that she thought I was actually quite a shy person. I did not know where to put myself. She had seen straight through my mask of defense. I felt embarrassed. She said it with such sincerity, not to cause embarrassment or anything. She just made a quiet observation. I can’t remember what my response was but I’m pretty sure I must have changed the subject quickly.

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