(Sheep along the Ring of Kerry, Ireland)
When my kids were 15 and 5, I took them to Ireland and Paris. I combined the two because I thought: “They’ll be bored out of their minds with merely pastoral; I better mix up the beat with city sights.”
We flew into Dublin on the red eye and rested, for hours, at a friend’s home. When we awoke, I noted my older daughter had sear marks over her face and hands, as if she’d been branded.
Worried, I took her to a local doctor who told us she had contact dermatitis brought on by suspected allergy to down (comforters in Ireland are often made of this). He finished with saying: “You needn’t be worrying, Mrs. Mellor…I don’t suspect there’ll be weepin’ (of the lesions.)”’
I must admit: His words were a tonic. I was about to drive all over the Irish countryside, and I feared anxious landladies at B&B’s turning us away because “The Americans have some weird skin disease that might be catching” (it wasn’t).
But he was dreadfully wrong. By the time we rounded the Ring of Kerry, I wanted to wring his Irish neck. Her lesions WERE weeping-badly-and her face was on fire. Her condition was so bad that whenever we stopped for lodging, I’d direct her to hoist her bag on her shoulder, hunker down behind it, and enter via side doors, to minimize attention.
I counted the days ‘til Paris, where we’d access a specialist.
But the Parisian dermatologist seemed mystified. So, I asked (with my minimal French) if it might be wise for me to bring my daughter to the sea, to let her bathe in the healing waters.
At that, the doctor gesticulated wildly, flailing the air with her hands, saying: “Ohhh…non…non…non…Pas de plage…pas de soleil (no beach…no sun)!” Instead, she gave my daughter a bright fluorescent liquid to apply to affected areas.
Now, the poor girl walked about Paris in glow-orange body paint that screamed “Look at me!” Her embarrassment was only eclipsed by one thing—a new and troubling development: Webbing appeared between her fingers. The problem had worsened.
Days ticked by……… with no improvement.
In final desperation and counter to doctor’s orders, I took my child to the beaches of Normandy, where we frolicked in the waves and sat on the sand where the D-Day forces landed. And the very next morning, we noted a curious thing: the lesions had begun to dry.
What did this teach me? Sometimes a mother has to follow her instincts –especially when she’s exhausted all other routes.
Biddy learned, too, to check how medical benefits apply in foreign lands before traveling.