I have been moved by every submission for the Ichthyosis Awareness Month project, but my Dad’s moved me most – moved me to tears in fact. My Dad has written of the difficulties he had with parenting me. It saddened me to read that I had a hard time affectionately bonding with him. I don’t remember that.
My earliest memories of time spent with my Dad are his Saturday morning storytelling (Tippy the Elf, Marmaduke and Joe with their lorry), moulding cheeses out of playdough, spending time in his shed building toys out of wood, and that day I was home from school sick and I needed to help him move the washing machine with a crow bar (I was not designed to be a handyman!). Dad has passed on his creativity to me, and taught me long division. We spent hours listening to great records – The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Simon and Garfunkle, Dire Straits, The Kinks, Manfred Man – Dad helped shape my music tastes. He helped me appreciate cheese and cider. He’s made me do the dirty jobs – picking up dog poo and chopping up offal for the dogs. And he constantly reminds me to increase my superannuation contributions. Here’s my Dad’s story.
“I will never forget the day Carly was born. She was early but presented difficulties for many hours when she tried to get out feet first! I was in the room when she announced herself to the world and to the medical staff who had never seen the likes. Within an hour our local dermatologist was on the scene and made the correct diagnosis and re-assured us both that the condition would clear before too long.
This same man proceeded to administer strong cortisone creams without considering the dangers. It was only when we dumped him and engaged the best specialist treatment that the life-long condition was confirmed.
It was never easy being the father of a girl with special needs. Her mother did all of the mothering and Carly would scream if I attempted to hold her. She was a slippery creature with red skin and patches scale. Her scalp was particularly bad and we knew she must have been in pain and discomfort. She wore tiny mittens during the night to prevent scratching.
At an early stage I accepted that our lives would change forever. No outdoor activities, sport or swimming but plenty of trips to doctors and hospitals chasing the answers.
Being a tidy person, I found myself having to re-adjust as skin debris became part of my life.
I would wake up each morning feeling depressed and I believe my work suffered.
Eventually Carly accepted me and I was able to hold her.
I remember taking her to school the day she started and I worried all the time she was there.
She made it through Primary school and the next challenge was High school. Surprisingly it went quite well and, towards the end, Carly had the confidence to start a job at K Mart.
Even today I worry about her and how she’s coping but I can’t do much to help any more. She knows what to do and gets through life quite well.”
If you are suffering from depression or anxiety and need to talk to someone, contact
Lifeline – phone 13 11 14
Beyond Blue – phone 1300 22 4636
For Ichthyosis and appearance diversity resources, click here.