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Monday, June 26, 2017

Still learning from my children and crappy stuff moms have to endure

This story is almost a year old now.
But I wanted to make sure the he was okay with me sharing it. I wanted to give him some time to process it and see how it was going to play out before I put it out there for all to see. Almost a year later, ups and downs, he says it's okay if I put it out there to help anyone else in his shoes, or help mamas that are trying to help kiddos that are dealing with this too. And that shows me that he really is the most amazing kid ever and that I'm the lucky one that gets to be his mama.

First a little about Boo. He's 14 years old, #4 of the our 8 and the quintessential middle child. He was the last of my children that I gave birth to and at 10 lbs in a 45 minute labor I think it makes sense why. As a young child he was a total cuddle-bug and in his heart I think he still is. Boo is easy and rarely makes a fuss. He's works hard and (usually) does his chores with minimal nagging from his mama. This year he built his own computer and of course we knew that was something he'd need help with. Because 14 year olds don't inherently know how to build computers, right? Turns out the only help he needed was a ride to the electronics store. He's always been my healthiest kiddo. He is a quiet guy, but when he does talk you want to be sure to listen. He's wanted to be an engineer for a long while, (not sure what type yet) and when I have trouble figuring out the remote control to the TV or with phone apps ('cause I'm getting old, y'all, and that's what happens to old people!) he's the one that figures them out for me. This year puberty hit Boo with hurricane force, and not only did his hair get totally curly, but he sprung up to 6'2"... so far... and he's not even in high school yet. Most folks think he's older than he is, and yes, we really do still call him Boo.

Puberty can be a bear. I remember those early years being all knock-kneed and awkward. I remember a single pimple having the power to destroy my day and my confidence. I'm not sure Boo is any different on the inside, but from the outside it certainly doesn't appear that way. This young man is confident and takes the strikes puberty has dealt him in stride. He told me recently, It is what it, Mom. Worrying and stressing isn't going to change it. And again I'm reminded that there is so very much I can learn from my children. 

So this is actually a post about acne.
Boo and acne.
And how I wanna be more like him.
In August-September of 2016 I first started to noticed his acne getting worse. But puberty, right? It's to be expected... a season of life we must all endure. It was also the season of The Black Mold Vacay 2016, and surprisingly in the blistering heat and a lazy river, Boo didn't want to swim at all. His big sister, Livy, intervened and was able to coax out of him that the acne on his back and chest was getting bad, and he was self-conscience about it. But puberty, right? A quick trip to get him a swim top solved the problem... temporarily. But it was my visual first glimpse at what looked like the most severe acne that I had never seen. But puberty, right?

By October I noticed Boo's acne spreading up his neck and face, in other words places it's no longer cover-up-able. I witnessed my son starting to walk and sit uncomfortably, stiffly with rounded shoulders, no longer able to put his confident shoulders back because it hurt his chest. It broke my heart when my big cuddle bug flinched as I tried to hug him. But puberty, right? Then I started to notice specs of blood on his sheets, pillow cases and even more on his t-shirts. And when I did catch a glimpse of him bare chested I won't lie I cringed, but he seemed to be taking it all in stride. Still it was time to see the doctor to see if this was something more than just puberty. Our family doctor diagnosed Boo with cystic and nodular acne. In his words, the worst he'd ever seen. We tried regular antibiotics, 2 weeks in warm air and salt water, and lots of other stuff. None of it helped and actually it just kept getting worse. Dr #2 started Boo on Accutane in January 2017, which he easily qualified for. Accutane requires monthly doctor visits and blood draws and still Boo took it all in stride. By mid February the blood-speckled linens became large blood-soaked areas, which I was changing daily.

Fast-forward to now... We're still dealing with it. Boo's white blood cell count had been high for months. He doesn't sleep well at all. He has been on steroids for months (and also something to combat the side effects of steroids) to try and clear up the inflammation. Thankfully we're weaning him off those. Dr #3 (Dr #2 became uncomfortable continuing his care as all this escalated) stumbled across a staff infection underneath it all that had probably been hanging around 2-3 months. Boo seems to be on one antibiotic after another and I eventually bought him a pill organizer to keep track of all he's on. He is in mild pain 24/7 and touching him, an arm around his shoulders or a hug, is out of the question. Even wearing a t-shirt is uncomfortable but buttons and collars especially are irritating, which of course is part of his school uniform. His Accutane dosage has been reduced significantly. Physically he wasn't doing well, but most of the time mentally he seems to carry on with life as normal.
Per an agreement I have with all my teenagers, this pic is edited to reduce the acne. 
I'm not sure why I bring this all up except to say that for crying out loud this is crappy for a mama to witness and powerless to fix! Especially for a kid that rarely complains. I'd love some tips from some other cystic/nodular acne mamas on how to help him through this. The good news is that we do feel the acne is getting better, and praying the staff infection is under control by next week. I feel guilty for not getting him to the right doctors faster and making appointments sooner, but my head kept wondering... but puberty, right? No, not really. I'm so thankfully for the community and kids that we're surrounded with that haven't made a big deal about it. I'm thankful we live in a big city with a lot of resources. But most of all I'm thankful for a young man that makes my heart swell with pride by the way he's handling it.

Thanks to my children I'm still taking notes on the life lessons they teach me, this time on how to handle the hard stuff in my life that I can't change.
Thank you for teaching me that, Boo.


  1. I'm not sure how to solve the staph infection issue. But I was on Accutane in my 20's and while it is VERY strong, I'm glad I did it and I wish I did it sooner. I have acne scars on my check from my cystic acne. Some things I've tried (and found that works) Aczone (you can only get it via prescription) and following a low carb diet. Meaning cutting out sugar and refined carbs. I find when I eat carbs and sugar, my acne gets worse but when I eat low carb, my skin clears up dramatically. Finally, for those times I still get cystic acne now, I get a cortisone shot from the dermatologist and it goes away in 1-2 days. They are expensive though and would only do it for a pimple on my face. Good luck! My son (15) also has acne and I got him to a dermatologist right away so his acne didn't get out of control. It is a tough battle for sure.

  2. Wow, poor Boo! On the other hand, way to go Boo for handling it so well. I've never heard of this type of acne. The worse I've had to deal with was when we adopted one girl from China and she had terrible knots on her face. It took me a year to figure out her face was too dry. At least that's what I think the problem was. OK, this may be really stupid since I don't even know about what Boo has, but what my kids use when their acne gets bad is--get ready for this- milk of magnesia. My friend's daughter had acne really bad and did her own research. She came up with milk of magnesia. The kids wear it at night and wash it off during the day. It really works! We buy the vanilla/plain flavor.

  3. This type of acne isn't on the surface, it's way down deep. Unlike white heads and black heads it's deep in the skin. That's probalby one of the reasons why topical treatments don't work since they are only on the top layer of the skin. The good news is that we THINK the acne is getting better on Accutane. If we could get this pesky infection cleared up we'd know more. Soon hopefully!

  4. I too had a persistent staph infection at his age. The only relief I got was to put compress with warm water and epsom salts or soak in an epsom salt bath per my drs instructions. My mom was my rock during it all as with Boo my infection was large and depending on the circumstances visible and the effects embarassing. He is so blessed to have a supportive family during this time.

  5. I don't know anything about that kind of acne, but both my son and I have had staph infections. If he gets an area that feels really hot to the touch (like a burning high fever), I'd get him back to the doctor. My son had that reaction with his MRSA staph infection and had to go on pretty strong antibiotics. We also had to give him probiotics (like in yogurt, or in supplements) because all the antibiotics really mess up his gut. I hope Boo feels much better soon!

  6. Look into Brian Turner's journey with acne, which is basically a change in diet. His "cure" includes quitting dairy, drinking a whole lot of water, eating a whole lot more veggies; basically very clean eating, nothing bizarre at all. He does not promote products, he is not an infomercial, he is very real, and also a body builder. Here is one of many links to his story:
    I don't think you would be opposed to anything he recommends, but you know what is best for your son. He seems to be a strong and devoted individual who could follow a few diet changes with little difficulty. Hopefully the reward will be tremendous.
    Best of luck.

  7. I'm sorry that I read this so late. Here ist what helped in our family (easy steps, no solution, but it helped):
    Stop using whatever you use to clean your skin in the shower. Pure water is the best.
    Stop using whatever you use to clean your hair. Water is best, but if you really need to wash it with something, than use biological super sensitive shampoo.
    Sometimes oil can help. I used sunflower/sesam oil (50%/50%) for my face. Attention: Could also become worse!

    The less I used, the healthier I ate, the better it became. And for sure: No stress :)
    Good luck!


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