Friday, October 8, 2010

We're working on it

Hidden B likes to read my posts after I put them up. Last night she protested that I had misrepresented the daughter-steroid situation--I implied that we were alternately over- and under-dosing the kid. We were not. So a correction is in order. Let no-one have the impression that Hidden B does not know what steroids are or how to properly apply them. She has a medical degree. The degree happens to be in veterinary medicine, not pediatrics, but we can all agree that kids are animals a lot of the time.

I also made a chemistry mistake. Fluocinolone acetonide (what Voov gets oiled with at critical points, at 0.01%) is not the same as fluocinonide (what I rub into local flares). Oddly, based on the chemical structures on Wikipedia--believe it or not, Wikipedia is the first reference for editors of a prominent scientific journal at which I worked--fluocinonide is fluocinolone acetonide plus a ketone group, essentially acetone. I need to ask a chemist why the one without the acetone group is called "acetonide." What really matters to me is that fluocinonide is a class II steroid (USA rankings). Fluocinolone acetonide, missing that ketone, is somehow only class IV. It alarms me that my doctors so casually prescribe something as powerful as fluocinonide; and what I find especially alarming is that it often doesn't do much for me. What is it doing TO me?

Today I learned of a YouTube project for gay and lesbian teens-- "It Gets Better." It was kicked off by Dan Savage and his partner. For years I read Savage's sex-advice column, and loved it. The guy is sharp, witty, and outrageous, and if you watch his video, you see that he's capable of great tenderness too. He cares. The point of the campaign is to support teens who may be conflicted about their sexuality, or being bullied at school. High school, say Savage and his partner, is just a phase to be endured, and then you leave the assholes behind and get on with your real life. It gets better.

For many kids with eczema, it gets better. (Anyone have a good reference for prevalence? Best I could find in a hurry was this.) The handouts I've seen say that many children clear up by age 5. But what about the rest of us? It doesn't get better. High school is hard for everyone, but it's even harder if you're the itchy kid with the weird rash on your hands, and it's going to be like that the rest of your life. What can we tell these kids? "Eczema: we're working on it." Maybe we'll figure something out for your grandchildren.

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