Sunday, August 17, 2014

Is Avene the Miracle that we've been waiting for?

As I write this blog post, I am filled with hope. I haven't allowed myself to hope too much because I have hoped and prayed for many years without any real result, but today I am breaking free from the negativity and allowing myself to hope once more.

It all started about a week ago when I got an unexpected email from a friend of mine.  Although we are big talkers, we hardly ever communciate via email, so when I received this mail with a link on it from her, I was a bit surprised. The link was to a blog post called Trip to Avene, France with Nirvana (click here if you want to read it). Immediately I thought my friend had taken leave of her senses, because if you've read my story from beginning to end, you would know that we are not exactly in the same league as people jetting off to France, as much as we'd like to be, so I was curious as to why she felt I should read this particular blog.

Aaaah, ok, it was about the bane of my life, eczema. If you haven't read my story about our family's ongoing war against this disease, please read Skin Deep (click here if you want to read it) (my first post, where I just vent to release my frustration) and then the less emotional Eczema Chronicles (click here if you want to read it) which I use as a tool for myself, to enable me to have a list of medications and reactions, which I update regularly so that I can keep track because often one day is worse than the next and days turn into months and I cannot recall what results we have had from which medications and treatments, it's kind of like an eczema diary.

If you don't feel like reading the two blogs, let me give you a quick update, Tomato (who has just turned 8 years old) struggles with this disease every single day of her life and although her skin is a lot better than it was a year ago, it is far from rosy living in our house with this invisible but ever-present imposter that is slowly stripping away her childhood and my sanity. Last week she was sent home from school because she had scratched herself until the blood was dripping down her legs. The week before, her best friend got a rash and quickly informed their classmates that she had "caught" Tomato's skin disease, so nobody would play with her and she came home in tears saying they called her "blood girl" so she had to hide in some bushes to get away. Tomato has always suffered from boils which occur all over her body because of the bacteria happily entering her broken skin from the open wounds of scratching. Our poor little girl is desperate for warmer weather because her skin is not so dry in warmer months, but she is also petrified of the thought of wearing short socks again which will show the open sores and dark purple scars on her legs which children think are chicken pox. She is on a plethora of medicines to assist her with not only her skin but also the anxiety disorders that have surfaced because of it. There, you're all caught up!!

So for the past few years our family has just been going through the motions from day to day (like walking through thick mud, it is hard to keep on), each day looking similar to the previous one, with no real solution in sight, with me trying to keep the wounds and scratching at manageable levels by using cortisone creams, prednisone tablets and antibiotics. I hate that she is having so much medication pumped into her little body day after day, but every day is still darn uncomfortable for our little girl and sleep is a distant memory for all of us, so we have no choice. Nothing, but nothing heals her skin. Shockingly, we also pay over R100 000 per year on specialists, medication, various therapies and treatments and special lotions and potions that are not covered by medical aid.


Is that a light at the end of the tunnel? Or is it another oncoming train?

Dare I hope...... again?  I told Tomato when her eczema began that I would never give up looking for a cure and I never will, but boy it's getting more and more difficult to visualise her skin without the red welts and scabs that I see every day, tormenting her and making her more and more insecure and introverted. I hardly recognise this little girl living with me, she used to be so vibrant and full of life but now she is just a ball of pain and itching. Her life is very hard and there is nothing that I can do to help her.

Back to the blog that I mentioned earlier........ it was very interesting, it referred to a place in France called Avene which boasts water that has healing properties, especially for irritating skin conditions like eczema. The lady who wrote the blog was on her way to Avene with her little girl, who is the same age as Tomato. Reading her story, which has been so very similar to ours, I was intrigued. The blog was new and although I seldom comment on blog posts, I felt compelled to tell this lady that I understand her excitement at being given this opportunity and that I feel her pain as I have been traversing a similar path and that I wish her all the best with this treatment for her little girl, as I know the heartache of watching your child suffering and not being able to help them. I know how this impacts a family and unless you've lived through it, you cannot possibly understand the emotional turmoil. So I left my message and a link to my Eczema Chronicles blog post and made a mental note to check up on how the treatment was going.

A few days later I was contacted by a lady from a company called Pierre Fabre, asking to meet me. This lovely lady had read my message on the blog and then followed the link and read our story on At Home with my BLT. Pierre Fabre is the company who have sent Nirvana and her mom Traci to Avene for the hydrotherapy treatment!!

We agreed to meet the following day. In the interim, I was sent this link which blew me away and started me hoping once again that maybe, just maybe, this is the miracle that we have been hoping and praying for.

To view the video click here 

We met at a local coffee shop and I was amazed by the amount of clinical data that backs up the claims of this healing water. I received volumes of literature to read though (over 300 different studies have been performed on the water) and I even felt myself having a connection to the unbelievable principles of the company. The lady I met was filled with passion for both the company as well as the brand. I learned that the Avene products would be launched in South Africa next year, but I was getting a bag full of Avene products to try immediately on Tomato. The pack included 2 spray cans filled with the thermal spring water, packaged at source, in Avene in highly sterile conditions. I was amazed.

When I got home, I started reading and reading and reading. I then started googling. I searched and read for hours and really battled to find any negative reviews about these products, but there were plenty of positive stories. The products have been available in Europe, Australia and the US for many years and they have so many different uses from soothing diaper rash to sunburn to even helping with healing newly inked tattoos!

When Tomato got home from school I told her about my meeting and showed her the video. She was quiet for a bit and then she went wild "I'm going to France. I'm going to get my skin better. This is my miracle." I explained numerous times that we weren't going to France to the hydrotherapy centre shown in the video, but she would hear nothing of it, she said she's going and that is that. The part where the little girl is crying and saying she's sore made a huge impact on Tomato. She has always told me that nobody else knows what she goes through, but now she knows that she is not suffering alone. It's pretty clear that she believes in the law of attraction because she has told everyone she sees that she is going to France!!

Usually she won't allow me to put ANY new creams onto her skin but she LOVED the fact that she was spraying healing waters onto her skin and allowed me to bath her in the gel and put on the Avene TriXera+ moistening balm after her bath!! The following day she took the water to school and insisted that her teacher allow her to do a "show-and-tell" to the class, even though it wasn't the day for it and she hunted down another little girl in her school who has bad skin and sprayed some healing water on her too!! I have never seen her so excited about anything before!!

So I am putting my hope and faith in this new product. I know that medications have their place, but I would much rather use a perfectly balanced water that is rich in calcium and magnesium and products made from it, than the cortisone creams and tablets and antibiotics, that have become so commonplace in our home.

For the first time in many years, I am excited for tomorrow.

Postscript - December 2014

As much as I love the concept of Avene and the healing waters (which work wonders in bottle form on red, inflamed eczema for cooling purposes), we had to wait until the summer in France for them to re-open and we were desperate. We were planning in 2015 to pay the approx. 
R60 000 for Tomato and me to journey to Avene, but we were going to have to raise the money first. Then we found our answer when we least expected it.....

Click on
 The Day I Found Dr Richard Aron and our Healing Journey Began blog post

Sunday, August 3, 2014

On Purpose

I have noticed, that more and more I am hearing the same question from different people:

When I asked Google this question, I got 1,1 billion results! Seems like it's not just the people around me who are seeking answers. So what does it really mean? Purpose. Again, I turned to my best friend, Google who instantly responded with:

"The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists"

I have amended that to my own, less broad, definition of

"The reason for which someone was created. The reason for that person's existence"

Many people seem to be struggling to find their life's purpose and have not succeeded. This has lead to emotional downward spiraling, depression, discontentment with their lives and those around them, lack of direction and worst of all, stagnation. Human beings, when faced with uncertainty, seem to stay rooted to the spot, fearfully awaiting "a sign" or confirmation of their decision, or they retreat to safer, more solid ground, where their confidence gets a boost, due to familiarity. Very few stray from the beaten path and forge their way into the unknown. People are turning to spirituality and questioning their God - why am I here?  I must admit I have never asked myself this question because the answer has always seemed so simple and clear to me.

Everybody has been put on earth for the same reason - to use their special qualities for positive results by giving of their time, intellect, energy and love to make the world a better place, whilst experiencing as much as possible in a limited space of time (a lifetime). The only difference is HOW each person does this. The goal is the same, the method is up to you. Here is an example:

An intellectual, using his aptitude for medicine, might conduct a clinical trial proving how to reduce recovery time after a medical procedure and publish the results thereby educating health care professionals on the breakthrough. A stay-at-home-mom who loves baking, might spend her time testing favourite muffin recipes and share the best ones on her blog. The mom requires a procedure and her doctor utilises a new method to reduce her recovery time. She is delighted to be discharged sooner than expected. The intellectual needs to unwind and decides to have some fun and bake muffins with his children. Google is consulted for a foolproof muffin recipe...... and these two lives are both enriched by the other.

Simplistic example. Each person is giving of their time, intellect, energy and love, while doing what they enjoy. Extrapolate that out to the global population and you have a whole lot of focused, positive energy! 

Do what you LIKE doing
This may seem obvious, but there are a lot of people doing things they don't like to do. Obviously there are chores and responsibilities like paying bills that nobody likes doing, but is 80% of your life filled with things that you like doing?  If you don't know what you like doing, write a list or start Googling fun things to do and keep at it until you find things to fill your list. Nobody can do this for you. Each person's list will be very different and personal.
Your purpose is to enjoy your life

Be who you are - all the time
Again, seems obvious, but if you are pretending, even a little, you are not fulfilling your purpose. If you have to lie to other people because you are too embarrassed or afraid of judgement, then you are eating away at your very being. If you are in any way uncomfortable with what you're doing, it is not who you are and you should change it. Make plans to talk to someone to help you if you need support.
Your purpose is to be true to who you are

Never sell your soul
We've all heard that we should turn our hobbies into a job or do what you love doing as a career. Great if you can get that right, but for most, that advice is just not practical. However, never take (or remain in) a job where you are not valued and treated with dignity and respect, no matter what your position. If you don't like your job at least 80% of the time, move on. If you feel that tightening feeling in your stomach when you see the office, it's time to start "looking around." Even if the money is less, unless it is critical to your survival (you and your family will starve on the salary) make changes that will allow you to enjoy your job and which will fill you up, not add to your stress.
Your purpose is to feed your soul

If you have children, they are your purpose! It might be a real wake-up call but "finding your purpose" is not all about YOU! It is your purpose to nurture, protect, hug, kiss, cuddle, teach, guide, encourage, share, laugh with and love your children, while allowing them to make mistakes and become the best person they can be. It is your purpose to identify and grow their strengths and support them and show them how to overcome their weaknesses.
Your purpose is to cherish and guide your children and be proud of who they become

Friends, family and loved ones
Connecting with your partner is your purpose. A happy, loving home takes commitment and a lot of time, that is your purpose. Keeping in contact with your support structure and being a support structure is your purpose. Sometimes a hug, a phone call, a Skype chat or a few texts is all you need to lighten a loved ones load, making them able to face their challenges, that is your purpose.
Your purpose is to listen to and connect with loved ones in a non-judgemental manner

You do not need to save the world!
People think too big and get overwhelmed and then, as previously mentioned, stop dead in their tracks. For example, I don't mean to burst your bubble, but the chances are quite high that you're not going to be the next Madiba, BUT you can emulate him and help people like he did. By "helping" you don't need to suddenly volunteer at a children's home every afternoon (that would be great, but not if that doesn't resonate with you or your children are stranded at soccer practise because you've over-committed.) Start small. Let someone into the traffic, Help an old lady carry her shopping, offer to get provisions for your next-door-neighbour who isn't feeling well, take a friend's kids to the park.
Your purpose is not HUGE, your purpose is to make a daily positive difference in someones life

We share this earth and energy with 7 billion people, all of whom share the same purpose. As mentioned above, the only difference is HOW we achieve that purpose and that's where individuality, personality and creativity come into the equation. Stop looking for a physical thing or job or path to be your purpose and listen to yourself, that little voice inside your head. Ask yourself some basic questions - what makes me smile? What makes me feel good? What makes me feel proud? What makes me laugh? What do I do that makes other people smile? What fills my soul? What excites me? When you have answered those questions, you have discovered your PASSION. Once you have discovered your passion or your gift or your talent, you need to share it with others. It is important to note that your purpose may not be mind-blowing......  your passion may be in gardening or singing or sewing or playing tennis.

Share your passion. Ever noticed how excited you get when you talk about your passion. Teach someone how to grow herbs, join a choir, teach children how to serve a tennis ball. Don't procrastinate, start sharing your gift today! That is your purpose.

It is that simple!

If you are STILL confused -
  • Your purpose is to GIVE of yourself
  • Your purpose is to use your personal talents 
  • Your purpose is to inspire others
  • Your purpose is to leave the world better than you left it
  • Your purpose is to feel a part of this world
  • Your purpose is to tap into your spirituality
  • Your purpose is to bring up well-rounded, loving, giving children who respect themselves
  • Your purpose is to be who YOU are and not what somebody else wants you to be
  • Your purpose is to help others who are further behind you on life's path
  • Your purpose is to stop being scared and start living
  • Your purpose is to have fun. A lot of fun.
  • Your purpose is to love
  • Your purpose is to experience as much as you possibly can during one lifetime 
  • Your purpose is right in front of you, acknowledge it and grab it with both hands
  • Your purpose is to be the best you that you can be and share it

If you have read this far, you may have guessed that I am fulfilling my purpose. My passion is "getting my teeth" into a subject, researching it and writing about it. Hopefully it gives the readers some food for thought and provides some clarity on the topic. I do not need the reader to agree with all my opinions (some of them are strong) but if you have read this far, I have fulfilled my purpose for this post. x

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