>I knew that today was going to be stressful. My daughter was sick yesterday, so I knew she might still be ill today. Last week, I missed a day of school and lost a DVD, resulting in my course schedule getting off track. Best of all, I had an appointment with a specialist, a dermatologist, and I rarely have “good” experiences with specialists. Hope springs eternal, though, so I woke thinking the day might be fine.
The first clue should have been waking up at 4:15 AM. I had no recollection of taking my second dose of medicine at 1 AM, but I must have since the vial was empty. I have slept through that dose quite a few times, but I have NEVER forgotten it whe nI have taken it. But being a bit groggy was only a small issue, or so I thought. The next clue was realizing at 5:45 AM that my daughter was not getting out of her bed, even with her horrid Roger Rabbit alarm blaring next to her head. My wife did get her “up,” but our daughter promptly crashed into our bed. At 6:20, the bleary eyed eleven year old did get out of bed. She even made it into school clothes and ate breakfast, but when she returned to our bedroom at 6:45, I knew she was doomed. Between the congested nasal speech and the washed out eyes, my daughter sounded and looked horrid. I told her to get under the covers for 15 minutes; we would decide after she rested more. She immediately fell asleep. I made the call at 7:05 AM – no school for her! Of course, I still needed to go to my school…
My daughter did try to watch some television, but once again fell asleep. She eventually got back in bed and slept from 7:30 until 9:15. I edited my assignment sheets for my film study class, knowing that I only had 8 minutes in each class to explain the assignments, introduce Rear Window, and get the film started. Of course, now I would be doing it with my sick daughter in the room. As my frenzy increased, I kept remembering “one more thing” I had forgotten for my dermatology appointment. After the FIFTH one, I simply stopped to breathe for a few minutes. Somehow, I got together what I needed and got my assignments sheets set for school. I got my daughter awake, and I even remembered all of my bags for school. I was sure I had seen the worst of my day, until I got to school.
We arrived, and I had 15 minutes to make my copies. But, I had carried into school ALL of my meds (one of the many things I had remembered to pull together for the doctor). Unfortunately, some of my meds should NEVER be brought into a school. So, I ran them back to the car. I did manage to get the copies made, but had to rush to my classroom and quickly cut one of the handouts in half. In a mad whirlwind I passed out the sheets, introduced the film, explained the assignments and started the movie at the right time. Then, I had to get to work on the information I still needed for the doctor. While my next class was a tad calmer, the last one started even more chaotically than the first. I, again, got to the room just before the bell. I also had many students straggle in late. And, that class is my chatty one. Somehow, it all worked, but I still had a ton to do for the doctor. In fact I had so much that my plan to leave the building by 2 PM at the latest completely fell apart. I had hoped to arrive at the appointment early, in an effort to get my daughter home as soon as possible. Instead, we finally made it to the car at 2:50 – with the appointment looming at 3 PM.
We got into the office by 3; we might have even had a minute to spare. But, the line kept me from checking in until 3:10. I then sat for the next 35 minutes. I know how doctor’s offices work. Sometimes everything clips along, other times everything bogs down. Unfortunately, it seemed that I was the only one on hold. MANY people who arrived after me got to see their dermatologists while I got to wait. Still, I had faith. Mine just took extra time with patients; she simply chose to be overly thorough.
The whole reason I was seeing a dermatologist was dyshidrotic eczema. It is this incredibly annoying condition which features tiny flat blisters on your hands (and sometimes your feet). They are hard to even notice, but they secrete a fluid that irritates the skin. It feels like having an allergic reaction to your own sweat. Weird, and a total pain. Mine started in January. I have been using a topical steroid cream on it, but you should only use that for a couple months. Plus, the cream usually clears it up. Obviously, I’m special. The other reason for the visit is that in the last month I have had an explosion of acne on my forehead and temples.
So, I finally get called into the doctor at 3:45. The nurse quickly confirms why I am there. She focuses on the acne, but I remind her about the dyshidrosis. The doctor enters within minutes. She too focuses on the acne. She also discusses my feet and their sweating. Now, I did tell her and the nurse that I initially seemed to have the dyshidrosis on both my hands and my feet, but the hands were the worst part. Finally, she looked at my hands. She commented that they didn’t look too bad considering I hadn’t used the steroid cream for a week. In the end she wrote three prescriptions – 2 for the acne and 1 for my feet. For the dyshidrosis, she told me to use the steroid cream “since there is not much that can be done for it and it tends to be chronic.” Now, I had expected that, but I had hoped for a bit more exploration as to WHY this was happening. I even prompted her by asking if the stimulants could be amplifying the dyshidrosis. She had no idea, but thought the possibility was intriguing. My daughter and I were back in the car by 3:56.
So, I sat in a doctor’s office for 45 minutes, after spending a majority of my day compiling information for the appointment, to see the nurse and the doctor for approximately 10-15 minutes. Now, I know that even specialists are on the clock these days, but this was ridiculous. I developed dyshidrosis at the age of 39 and a half, and after almost 4 months of treating it, I still have active issues with it. I also have suddenly developed significant acne. Shouldn’t we explore that a bit? Did she even have time to glance at any of the information or history that I provided? I doubt it. She kindly told me to call her if things did not get better. I certainly will. Perhaps, I am completely crazy. Maybe, things will get better within a month or two. I hope so, but I doubt it.
I know this is not her fault. I am sure that she is a great doctor. Sadly, we only see the brokenness in the system when we are stuck in it. How could the dermatologist have any idea how bizarre my last seven years have been? How could she know that I have been positive on a mono spot test four times, with two of those coinciding with skin issues? Was much of it in the material I gave her? Yes. Could she have possibly have read it all? Never. She wouldn’t have had time to read it all even if I had given it to her a week ago. Why? She is likely scheduled to see 5-6 patients every hour. I don’t “fit” into any box. Actually, I fit PERFECTLY into the dyshidrotic eczema box, but since no one knows how or why that condition develops, it is one more place to treat the systems – just like narcolepsy, and irritable bowel syndrome, and my type of chronic sinusitis. Maybe I am crazy, or maybe I am making myself sick.
All I know is that I am tired of going to doctors. I will still go, but I am far less vested in what any doctor has to say. That is good. A year ago, I think an appointment like today would have put me into a funk for days. Today, I am simply angry. I know that my dermatologist did the best she could; it is just that her best (or likely anyone’s) was pathetic, but that is a result of medicine functioning as a business rather than as a vocation. She needs to see those 5-6 patients every hour so she can receive an appropriate salary, and the practice can still be profitable.
I am so glad to know that my acupuncture helps with the dyshidrosis too. I also know that I am the one who will make the biggest difference in any change in my physical and mental state. I can’t control my narcolepsy, or my dyshidrotic eczema, or any of my other goofy medical conditions. What I can do is continue to work for balance. I will continue to have days like this one. Rather than rail against them, I can accept them and know that tomorrow will come with its challenges and joys. There is always another moment, another chance.