Love expresses itself in many ways, but you are never tested more than you are when caring for a sick loved one. This type of responsibility leads us through a journey, far from our comfort zone, into valleys and peaks of despair and hope. Ultimately, however, it becomes one of the most fulfilling experiences life can throw at you. A blessing in disguise.
This is the story of two CEOs who harnessed the power of love to fuel the creation of their companies, by itchy skin, and by finding ways to improve the quality of life for a loved one.
One day on Skype, Jennifer from the Eczema Company and Michel from Aizome Bedding are meeting – bridging half a world between them.
As Michel orders his coffee, Jennifer states: Having my first baby boy was such a wonderful experience. The sweet little baby sounds, adorable little hands and feet, and the constant need to hold, cuddle or caress this new little bundle of love. But when he was just three months old, his skin became patchy. We creamed him with over-the-counter moisturizers while consulting the pediatrician. We increased the steroid doses and his skin got increasingly worse. More and more, little Tritisan would cry while I creamed his skin, which was now completely flared up. She cried, I cried – it was horrible.
For Michel, it was the other side of the life cycle. Diagnosed with a brain tumor, he and his family spent 3 years at their mother’s bedside. “When one undergoes chemotherapy, there is so much additional pain that people don’t anticipate. We decided early that mum was to pass away at home in as much comfort as we could give her. Mum's skin developed terrible red and black patches that we initially thought to be bedsores. Seeing a loved one fight so many battles- the feeling of helplessness – yes, it was soul-crushing.
Jennifer: That’s right, and it takes a toll on you. Our son looked like a burn victim. My husband and I took turns every night to sit next to his bed to prevent him from scratching. You want to give up, but it is literally not an option.
Michel: I can imagine, you cannot give up on your child. We could just make it because my brother and I both moved back in with our parents.
Jennifer: With exception, the help you get from busy doctors left us wanting. For years we had been consulting with doctors and spent, I don’t know how much in steroids that may or may not have made matters worse. On our behest he was eventually diagnosed with asthma, IgE-mediated allergies to dairy and tree nuts, anaphylaxis to sheep’s dairy, and multiple food intolerances, including gluten, soy, bananas, and black pepper. The doctors told us that Tristan was considered atopic, the term for someone affected by allergies, asthma, and eczema, and that it was unlikely he’d grow out of all these conditions.
Michel: That is shocking! We often felt that doctors care little about dying patients as they are a lost cause. But saying we will take care of her at home, it was almost like the doctor was upset. We got skin symptoms treating steroids, which made things in a very short time just much worse. All we wanted was to ease my mother's pains as much as we could but we were often shrugged off. The bleeding took a toll on her.
Jennifer: Yes – once you leave the matrix of symptoms treatment, it is easy to feel
abandoned by modern medicine.
Michel: For us, it was a befriended dermatologist who gave us the hint to change our bedsheets. The synthetic color and the material toxicity might be low to not harm a healthy organism, but when your immune system is down, it is just another thing to deal with and might become too much. Until then, I never even spent a second thinking about the effect on skin health.
Jennifer: That’s fantastic. My personal journey is so similar. I enjoyed food, but honestly, I relied much on processed food and I had to learn how to cook. Cooking with real, unprocessed food was a breakthrough for us. It is obviously something that transformed my life until today.
Michel: I can imagine that! Personally, the journey continued many years after that. We made life as pleasant as we possibly could for my mum. She passed away looking through the window in the living room, watching the little pond she made and loved so much. She held on to life until my sister had her twins and she could see them. The tremendous effect such simple materials can have on the body, especially when your immune system is weak, left me changed. Especially bed sheets, thinking even a healthy person spends ⅓ of life in bed.
Jennifer: Absolutely. I don't want to be overly dramatic, but I felt, we are kind of poisoning ourselves with this modern, unreflected lifestyle.
Michel: Absolutely, it is about living more consciously. Consuming and using things that have been specifically designed with a conscious mindset in mind.
Jennifer: This is the big lesson I took away from it, too. We must look at health in the bigger picture. Living healthier is very different from treating symptoms.
Jennifer Roberge is the founder of The Eczema Company and the award-winning blog: It's An Itchy Little World. The business owner has established herself as the go-to resource on integrative and holistic methods and healing both inside and out. Both Michel and Jennifer continue to drive their businesses forward to improve their own lives and the lives of their clients, all going through a similar hardship.