Manja’s story

Not long ago, I went through the somewhat painful process of sharing my story with you. I was surprised at the positive responses it received. Many who knew me for more than 20 years didn’t know or couldn’t imagine how drastically atopic dermatitis can affect one’s quality of life. To spread awareness, I invited other patients to share their stories on the social media. This is how I received Manja’s story. I read it, with tears in my eyes, and felt each and every word in it. I invite you to read it as well.

Manja, thank you for your courage and your precious story. Each atopic dermatitis patient has a unique way of living with his or her illness. If you want to share your story, feel free to contact me.

Manja, thank you for your courage and your precious story. Each atopic dermatitis patient has a unique way of living with his or her illness. If you want to share your story, feel free to contact me.

Tina

The content of the author’s story remains unchanged though proofread. The story is about the personal experience of the author and doesn’t necessary represent the Institute Atopika’s point of view.


Allergies and atopic dermatitis: the story from my birth and until today

More and more people deal with different skin problems in their lives. My problems started 24 years ago, a few weeks after I was born. My parents noticed red rashes on my skin that appeared first on my face, belly and hands. The paediatrician suspected an allergy of unknown origin, but because I was supposedly too small to be tested for allergens at the time, the doctors didn’t look for the source of my rashes (in spite of multiple please from my parents). They prescribed me a skincare cream, which was prepared for me at the apothecary each month, and Loratadine.

Applying the cream to my skin and taking the syrup, I experienced periods of improvement and then relapse again. This is how it stayed until my sixth year when the rash began to appear on my entire body. When I moved my fingers, hands and the muscles on my face, I bled. I remember eating liquid food through a straw for quite a while because I couldn’t open my moth wide enough. The skin on my knuckles was “eaten away” to the extent that you could see the bones beneath the wounds. It was then that my parents finally managed to “force” my paediatrician to get me tested for allergens. We went to the Paediatric clinic in Ljubljana where I was put through blood tests. The results showed I was allergic to common wormwood and mittens. They dismissed us with a new recipe for a skincare cream and a larger dose of Loratadine. It was their opinion that most of my skin problems will disappear in puberty.

The state of my skin remain unchanged up until my ninth year, when my family chanced upon a private bioresonance clinic led by one of the first doctors who spearheaded bioresonance treatment in Slovenia. We went in for tests. Even today, I can recall the doctor’s words vividly: “This child is in such a state that in a two-month time, she will be amongst the angels, looking at us from the sky.” I was put on a strict diet and had to avoid all outdoor allergens. I also had multiple bioresonance treatment sessions. Amongst other things, I was also allergic to chlorine, so I couldn’t wash myself with tap water. To wash my body, we used water from a natural spring near our home that we tested beforehand. We also stopped using Loratadine and the apothecary-mixed skincare cream. We only used marigold cream to take care of my skin, which suited me the most at the time.

I was put on a strict diet and had to avoid all outdoor allergens. I also had multiple bioresonance treatment sessions. Amongst other things, I was also allergic to chlorine, so I couldn’t wash myself with tap water. To wash my body, we used water from a natural spring near our home that we tested beforehand. We also stopped using Loratadine and the apothecary-mixed skincare cream. We only used marigold cream to take care of my skin, which suited me the most at the time.

We took the results from bioresonance testing to our paediatrician (my mother couldn’t cope with bioresonance treatment regime any longer, taking sick leaves at work to drive me to the treatment sessions, as her vacation time no longer sufficed). The paediatrician suggested hospitalization. In the hospital, she said, I would be infusion-fed because she didn’t believe it was possible for me to live with the diet prescribed to me by my bioresonance doctor. Luckily, my mother balked at the idea and refused to put me in a hospital. When I began bioresonance therapy and had to stick to my diet, I was so tired that I had to stop going to school for two months. After my therapy was over, I went back to school as usual. I brought my school lunch from home because my numerous allergies made it impossible for me to eat the food prepared at the school canteen. We had an agreement with the canteen staff to provide me with 2 dcl of unsweetened tea each day. The staff almost always forgot about it, and I only got to drink it once per week. It was the hardest for me that I couldn’t go to swimming hours because of my allergy to chlorine. After five months of strict diet came days without rashes and itching, and I could slowly begin eating food that was off-limits to me before. Usually, the rashes reappeared after two years of eating normally, but it was never as bad as it had been before the bioresonance treatment. Periods of weekly dieting and normal eating exchanged until I was 19 years old. Then followed a new shock.

When I began bioresonance therapy and had to stick to my diet, I was so tired that I had to stop going to school for two months. After my therapy was over, I went back to school as usual. I brought my school lunch from home because my numerous allergies made it impossible for me to eat the food prepared at the school canteen. We had an agreement with the canteen staff to provide me with 2 dcl of unsweetened tea each day. The staff almost always forgot about it, and I only got to drink it once per week.

It was the hardest for me that I couldn’t go to swimming hours because of my allergy to chlorine. After five months of strict diet came days without rashes and itching, and I could slowly begin eating food that was off-limits to me before. Usually, the rashes reappeared after two years of eating normally, but it was never as bad as it had been before the bioresonance treatment. Periods of weekly dieting and normal eating exchanged until I was 19 years old. Then followed a new shock.

After finishing middle school, I enrolled into a faculty and held down a student job working each day. The work was psychologically draining. My week days went like this: waking up at 6 am, working from 7 am to 3 pm, driving to the faculty for an hour, attending lectures from 4 till 9 pm and driving home for an hour. This is how it was 6 days per week (I also worked at Saturdays). Every month, I also had to work one Sunday, which meant that I didn’t have a single free day in 14 days.

In time, my body couldn’t handle the pressure any longer and slowly began burning out. I was always tired, and my body temperature rose constantly to 37 or 37.5 °C. Regardless, I took comfort in thinking that all this will end after my graduation (I still had a year plus the bachelor’s thesis to write before finishing my studies). In February 2015, my temperature rose, I was tired and couldn’t stop coughing. My doctor prescribed Ventolin and Aerius; she suspected asthma and allergies. After my blood test results came in, she prescribed the antibiotic Azithromycin.

I laid in bed for four weeks, until I could finally get up and continue with my studies and work. After three weeks, however, rashes appeared on my face, hands and feet. They were different from the rashes I experienced before. They oozed a sticky liquid with a very strong smell. I experienced more and more frequent sensations of something pricking at my skin, itching, pain where rashes appeared, swelling eyes and feet, tiredness, bags under my eyes, chills all over my body… I also became sensitive to clothes (I could only wear bamboo).

In spite of this, I suspected recurrent allergies at first and stopped eating milk, eggs, nuts, wheat and sugar. After three months, my skin didn’t improve and my rashes grew larger. When I visited my GP, she diagnosed me with atopic dermatitis immediately. She prescribed me Locoid cream, Emolliens and Aerius and referred me to a dermatologist, who put me through an allergy test. I was found to be allergic to mittens and Asterales (the pollen of the plants). I also received prescriptions for Advantan, Elidel (Pimekrolimus) and Zyrtec because Aerius stopped working for me. My dermatologist likewise confirmed that I have atopic dermatitis.

I used the prescribed creams, and the rashes disappeared only to return, stronger than before, after a few days. Then followed an intense rash outbreak on my scalp, and I was put on Diprosalic. Wherever I went, I carried with me all my creams so that they would be available to me at the latest outbreak (I would become panicky if I forgot them at home). Of course, neither my GP nor my dermatologist warned me about the side effects, the dangers, of using corticosteroid creams. When I went to my GP to get a new prescription for Diprosalic, she asked me whether I apply the cream to my scalp by myself. Because you can’t see the rashes on your head (you can only feel where it itches and where the skin is raised), my family occasionally helped me apply the cream. My doctor suggested that my family should wear gloves when doing so, to prevent the cream from coming in contact with healthy skin. Well, that sure was interesting…

When I came home, I sat down behind the computer and started researching. I found blogs and social media groups where people shared their stories and described their problems with atopic dermatitis and warned about the danger of using corticosteroid creams (I thank you all for putting your stories forward for the rest of us). I rummaged through my numerous prescriptions to find the recipe for the cream that has been prepared for me at the apothecary ever since I was 9 years old. That cream, too, had corticosteroids in it.

I tried multiple times to stop using corticosteroid creams. I would buy different types of skincare creams and lotions at the apothecary to lessen my symptoms, but because I was a full-time student and working, I simply couldn’t find the will and the power to fight my illness. I only lowered the dose of my corticosteroid creams but never stopped using them.

I finished my third year of studies and took a gap year. I finally found the time to stop using my corticosteroid creams and also changed my job, as it was highly likely that stress was one of the causes for my illness. In April 2017, I went through a cycle of four bioresonance therapies. I stopped using corticosteroid creams after the first therapy. It’s hard for me to say whether the therapies had a big impact on my skin, but they certainly gave me the strength and the will to fight and dispense with corticosteroid creams for good.

In the period from April to November 2017, I experienced larger outbursts of itching, pricking, insomnia, swelling and scratching during sleep – I woke up in the morning with bloody nails, blood stains on the sheets and aching skin. A few days later, my scars turned into septic wounds. I lessened these symptoms with compresses, Coverflex bandages, zinc paste and Emolliens. The stash of all my corticosteroid creams and tablets were happily returned to the apothecary. In spite of it all, I managed to finish my studies on time while also working my new student job.

In the meantime, I also saw a bioresonance therapist and dietician whom I had not visited before. After the test results came in, we found that I have an imbalance of vitamins, minerals and hormones in my body, weakened gut flora etc. I was put on a diet and received instructions for taking food supplements. After a month of following the prescribed treatment, my skin and general health improved greatly. I usually still get minor rashes, but they only appear on my scalp, upper arm and in the bends of my elbows. My skin remains covered in white blotches, and you can spot the consequences of corticosteroid cream use on it in the forms of stretch marks, thinned and damaged skin, more hair on my face…

Currently, I stick to the diet that I have been prescribed and that has turned into a lifestyle for me after five months. I only apply the genuine Dr. Pavlovic’s ointment to my skin, which suits me best at the moment. There are days when you crave a piece of pizza, cake or chocolate… Yet, those five-minute pleasures can’t substitute the feeling of your skin not itching or pricking. Likewise, when my skin comes in contact with water, it still becomes red and occasionally a little itchy. I can only wear cotton clothes because lined sportswear, woollen clothes and jeans cause prickly sensations in my skin. But these are mere trifles that I’m going through right now in comparison to how it all was before.

Everything that one has had to survive leaves a mark on ones psyche in the form of psychic pressure, fear and stress. Especially my primary school experience was particularly hard for me because of the way I looked. Most of my schoolmates avoided me even though the allergies weren’t contagious. I wore long sleeves in the summer to hide the rashes on my arms, but the clothes sadly couldn’t cover the ones on my face. I couldn’t go to school camps because I was allergic to all sorts of food, and the camp canteen couldn’t prepare the dietary food that I was allowed to eat at the time.  

Because of such and similar experiences arising from my skin difficulties, I’m certainly a more persistent and decisive individual today. I manage my stress with the help of sports and music, and I keep my atopic dermatitis in check mostly through a healthy and balanced diet. It has now been nine months since I stopped using corticosteroid creams. I’m convinced I will never use the creams in my life again.

It’s far from guaranteed that my skin problems are over. I’m thankful to my family, who have been fighting alongside me since birth and have helped and supported me when I made the difficult decisions in my life.

To all of you who are facing allergies and atopic dermatitis, know that you’re not alone. It’s for this reason that I shared my long story with you.

Manja