I arrived in Chicago late last night for National Eczema Association’s Eczema Expo.
What a beautiful city! My room even looks out over the Chicago River. I was too tired after traveling all day to venture out but could see the action down at the Riverwalk. I might go check it out after conference finishes today. I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the people I could see were here for expo- or had eczema too!
There was a welcome bag in my room when I arrived with samples of eczema-friendly lotions and other products, top-8 allergen-free bars from Zego Snacks, and even a Kleen Kanteen water bottle! They really thought of everything. It’s so helpful to be able to stay hydrated and keeping water with me makes that much easier.
Have you ever attended a conference by yourself? I’m super nervous. But they’re offering yoga just for us this morning right here at the hotel. I’ve never tried yoga before because I was always concerned about the looks I’d get for my skin. I’m excited to try with a room full of eczema warriors like me. We can all flake together.
Yoga was fantastic. They kept it light, so we didn’t get sweaty (sweat = flares after all). But we stretched, and did some breathing, and got our blood pumping. Best of all, we laughed about trying not to sweat or bleed on our mats. I’ve never felt so, well, normal.
The instructor turned out to be a woman I already follow online – The Allergista! It was so cool to meet her in person and realize she is just a person with eczema like me. I *may* have fangirled a little…
I feel ready for this weekend to start. One of the other women in class and I were talking. We are both planning on the same first breakout session – systemic treatments – so we are going to look for each other and sit together. It’s nice to feel like I already have a friend here.
It’s our first break of the day and my head is swimming already! So much information about what causes my eczema, and all the treatment options already available. I’ve worried about how much I use topical steroids since you hear about the dangers online all the time. But the toolbox presentation confirmed I’m doing the right things. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
Speaking of moisturizing, I’m going to check out the moisturizer station nearby. It’s so nice to know I don’t have to carry my own lotion with me everywhere I go here. I can’t wait to check out the sample buffet at lunchtime too. I’ve tried more products over the years and can’t tell you how many full-size bottles of lotion have ended up in the trash when they didn’t work for me. $$$$$$$
Lunchtime! The woman I met at yoga this morning and I found a few other warriors and we are heading across the street to grab a bite to eat. I’m trying to eat clean for lunch today, so I can indulge in some Chicago style pizza tonight! I’ve heard there’s a debate – Lou Malnati’s vs Giordano’s deep-dish. Not sure which one I’ll pick, but hopefully my skin doesn’t regret my choice tomorrow!
Everywhere we go NEA is reminding us of ways we can support our health with what we eat. They have some special anti-inflammatory recipes from Tara Tom, a health blogger. I’ll have to check her out. She definitely seems to know her stuff when it comes to food and health. I had no idea how much inflammation factors into my eczema!
The last session before lunch was all about the new treatments being developed. I can’t help but wonder if one of these new treatments will let me eat deep-dish pizza without a second thought someday. I know we don’t have a cure (yet) but I’m thinking I might need to get involved in one of these trials in hopes that someday we can all eat deep-dish pizza and peanut butter cookies without risk or regret!
Wow! I just finished my second breakout session. I went to the Eczema and Women group just thinking I’d find some friends. I had no idea I would find a family. These are my people! We laughed and cried and talked about how frustrating it is to have monthly hormones added to the chaos that already is eczema trigger management.
My first breakout was all about systemic treatments. It was so helpful to understand the differences between what is available today. I was so inspired by the treatments in development presentation though that I can’t wait to see what comes out for systemic treatments in the next few years.
Off to my last breakout session of the day now and then on to Ask the Ecz-perts! I have a few questions for the doctors about getting involved in clinical trials. Hopefully I get a chance to ask them!
What a day! I’ve learned so incredibly much and met so many amazing people. I only made it to about half of the exhibitors today. I’m going to try to meet all of them, so I can win something in the raffle on Sunday! There are so many awesome prizes. And it feels like a treasure hunt, making sure I get to all the tables.
A group of us are going to take a walk down the Riverwalk to the lake and find dinner on the way. We are all wearing buttons claiming different designations – parent of a kid with eczema, past conference attendee, etc. So, it’s been fun finding other people like me here. The kids at kids’ camp look like they’re having a blast too. I wish I’d known about this when I was a kid! How awesome it must be to get to run around and play with other kids just like you. Rumor has it they went to a super cool bowling alley nearby. Maybe I’ll check it out later.
Back in my room after an epic day. It’s hard to believe I’ve only been here for one day. This already feels like family. I can’t wait for the presentations tomorrow. Guys- aside from talking about sleep and mental health and itch, they’re talking about things like cannabis and diet tomorrow! Legitimate, world-renowned doctors are finally talking to us about the things we read on the internet!
I’m even planning to try the biofeedback session being offered at lunch tomorrow. I don’t really know anything about it, but they have an expert leading us through some meditation and mindfulness techniques. Anything that might help, right?
I’m most excited about the party tomorrow night. They are bringing in a DJ for us and we get to celebrate as a group. I wonder if there’s a sweat free dance we can do. A little sweat might be worth it though! At least I know I won’t be the only one flaring…
I can’t wait to share my full experience when the weekend is over. Every moment is so full I feel like I want to record it all, so I never forget this feeling. We are taking pictures every chance we get. #EczemaWarrior #EczemaExpo18
I’m already planning for next year…