A daughter rolls her eyes as her mother clings to her

Helicopter Mom and HS

Last updated: September 2022

After my husband passed away, I became an overprotective parent constantly shielding my daughter from various situations. Although it was done with the purest of intentions, I had developed a tendency to protect her from failure or hurt of any magnitude. From time to time, I would remind her of the natural consequences she was likely to face if she hadn’t been cautious. It wasn’t like I wanted to spoil her, but it would break my heart to see her upset.

The inception of a disease

It was particularly devastating to learn about my daughter’s chronic illness. When she was in her early twenties, Tina was diagnosed with a long-term skin condition known as hidradenitis suppurativa. Abscesses get formed in areas such as armpits, groin, buttocks and under the breasts. She would carry out simple tasks at home with excruciating slowness as the pain had engulfed her entire body.

Back then, I had experienced a gamut of emotions like fear, worry, and disbelief. I couldn’t do much to help her which only added to the stress. Although there is no cure for HS, one can prevent it from getting worse by making a few lifestyle changes. This could help reduce repeated hospitalizations and the need for frequent medical attention. We had begun scouting around for alternate therapies or medicines that would help her stay away from constant surgical interventions.

After having browsed through several websites, we chanced upon a book in which the author provides useful tips on how to quickly shrink boils and relieve pain effectively. The idea of complete remission seemed inconceivable but to follow an elimination diet was doable. Like a studious child, Tina had read through every page like she was preparing for an exam. She penned a customized elimination diet plan listing all the vegetables, fruits, milk and milk products that needed to be avoided. Although she had taken charge of this phase with utmost caution and responsibility, the helicopter mom in me had always been tempted to supervise and guide her at every stage. But I realized that by doing so, I would be hindering her ability to develop problem-solving and decision-making skills. Ultimately, we all have our own cross to bear.

Finding solutions

Our kitchen had turned into an experiment lab that unleashed the hidden chef in us. Dumplings were prepared using green gram sprouts. Popcorn substituted with roasted Makhana. Deep fried potato crisps were replaced with carrot and beetroot bakes. As a caregiver, I could only motivate her to keep going but a diet such as this required consistent dedication that supports long-term healthy eating.

At times I could see the frustration in her escalate into anger and disappointment. But she used her stubborn trait as a key determinant to succeed through this rough patch. She chose not to be inexplicability drawn to temptations as she had realized the potential consequences of indulging in inflammatory foods. In less than a week, Tina began noticing considerable improvement. The puss filled abscesses, though moderately painful, had dried up. But the narrow channels or sinus tracts that form under the skin remained intact causing the cycle of puss pockets to reappear. A surgery was soon due. But she continued to follow the elimination diet. It prevented the rapid spread of painful lesions to other areas of the body.

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