By Monica Wilcox
Dads and moms
Some fathers bring the gift of rule-stretching to their parenting: sneaking out for an ice cream before dinner, showing PG-13 movies if they feature hyper-space, sending the kids off to the park with a box of Twinkies and a four pack of Monsters. This conveniently elevates fathers into the “nice guy” role. But women, especially mothers, bring their own gifts. One of which is an intuition so acute the brokers on Wall Street dream of possessing it; preferably in a handy pocket inhaler.
At two months old my son developed a single, quarter-sized psoriasis patch on his cheek. If we didn’t cream it regularly it would crack like drying mud and bleed. When we moved from the dry climate of Colorado to the humid hill country of Texas the spot disappeared. We thought our days of psoriasis had come to an end.
One month before he entered his Kindergarten classroom it returned with a ferocious hunger, working its way over his skin like an oil spill over a naked coast. It circled his ankles, climbed over his backside, bubbled across his shins and forearms. We soaked the boy in so much Vaseline we could have safely floated him from Corpus to Cuba, but the crusty patches continued to spread across his body.
The worst was his scalp. I’d pull apart his thick sandy hair to find what looked like the flesh of a carp after a few days on a sunny bank. If I scraped at it, a thick layer would peel back revealing the tender blood fed inner layers of his skin. It took six weeks from that first blemish until he had spots puckered along his eyelids.
Of course we took him to his pediatrician, who immediately diagnosed it as psoriasis, prescribed two creams; one for the tender skin and one that was supposed to sandblast the spots from his body. He gave us the current medical rigamarole: drink lots of water, bath as little as possible and don’t use harsh soap. He assured us everything would be much better when summer returned and the long hours of sun exposure would force his outbreaks to consistently peel. Long hours in the sun? Were we jumping from the rooftop of psoriasis onto a truck bed of skin cancer?
We came home with a slim $300 tube of western medicine to begin the nightly routine of dabbing cream on a hundred sores. It was a thirty minute process and although it only cleared up 50% of them, I will say the boy learned a great deal of patience that winter. In February the school nurse called to ask why I was sending my child to school with chicken pox.