If you have psoriasis, chances are you’ve been to see one (or several!) Dermatologists, medical professionals specializing in skin disorders. It occurred to me the other day that my Dermatologists over the years have all been very different, but I bet you can find overlaps with your own Derms!
Dr. “I left by bedside manner at home” (AKA Dr. “You will probably cry during this visit”)
The very first Dermatologist I ever had was a brilliant man. He was also terribly blunt and lacking in the ability to deliver bad news with kindness. I first went to see him when I was still in elementary school and he said, without mincing words, “you probably have psoriasis. It will never go away. Here’s some cream, but it probably won’t work forever.” Naturally, I cried. He didn’t seem to understand why I was upset. He related that he too suffered from psoriasis (“just look at my scalp, tiny human!”), and that it wasn’t a big deal. Well, it certainly felt like a big deal.
I went back to him many years later during a terrible flare, hoping to be referred for phototherapy. He wanted to put me on Methotrexate instead. I calmly explained that I worked in a laboratory with infectious pathogens and that I couldn’t be on any immunosuppressants. He suggested I quit. That was the last time I ever saw him!
Dr. “Everyone in the office can hear what I’m saying to you”
Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than Doctor’s offices where everyone in the waiting room can hear the consultation. I once had a Dermatologist whose voice was so loud that there was nothing you could hear but him talking to his patients. “Oh hi, Jim, great to see you again! How’s that abscess doing?” “Lori, have you had this weird spot on your butt checked lately?” Oh my gosh, I dreaded those appointments. I could just imagine everyone in the waiting room being filled in on my entire medical history. The worst part was he was probably the best Derm I’ve ever had. He was very compassionate, could make light of any situation, and always listened to your concerns. Unfortunately, so did everyone else.
Dr. “Here’s some steroids, random patient. See you in a year”
If you haven’t had “steroid Derm,” have you even lived?! Dr. Steroid just wants to be in and out of that room as fast as humanly possible. You can barely get a word in edgewise over the sound of them furiously scribbling out prescriptions for steroids you didn’t ask for. They’re not really interested in getting to know you or addressing your questions, they just want to bang out those prescriptions and head to lunch. Dr. Steroid is the reason I have so many unused tubes of cream in my bathroom cupboards. And don’t bother trying to discuss diets or any of the latest research with Dr. Steroid, otherwise you’re in for the eye roll of the century.
Dr. “I’m clearly disgusted with your skin and refuse to come near you”
During the worst flare I ever had I went to the hospital because I couldn’t get an appointment within 6 months, so I saw the on-call Derm there. It probably sounds outrageous, but that Dermatologist wouldn’t even come near me. He stood by the door and spoke to me from across the room. The nurse had had me remove my clothes, my bright red, weeping plaques clearly visible. I was totally miserable, and he made it so much worse by refusing to treat me with dignity. Dr. Disgust also prescribed me prednisone, which caused a rebound and turned my skin into even more of a mess (thanks for nothing, Doc!).
Dr. “I brought along a few medical students, do you mind if they watch?”
If you’ve ever been to a teaching hospital, you know there are never just two of you in the room. The nurse comes first to collect your information and have you put on the world’s most confusing hospital gown. You wait alone for a bit, and then you hear it. A circus parade is headed your way. Maybe there are trumpets to herald their arrival. Behold, the Dermatologist and his students have arrived! Step right up my medical proteges, and behold the psoriasis sufferer in her natural habitat! What’s this? Guttate psoriasis? Oh my, how exotic. “Would you… umm… *flipping pages*” … “her name is Vicki” says medical student #12 … “Oh yes, Vicki, you don’t mind if a few of my students join me, now do you?” And of course not, because I want to be a team player and help train the next generation of Dermatologists! So I paste a smile on my face and pretend like it’s totally fine that I’m naked in front of a crowd and oh my god do I know that guy from high school? Avoid eye contact!
I will say though that during a visit with “Dr. Teaching Hospital” I discovered that he actually knew “Dr. I have no bedside manner” and I was regaled with many funny stories. So we’ll chalk that visit up to a win.
Dr. “Feel my lab coat. Know what it’s made of? Relationship material.”
Okay, so I have yet to meet my Dermatology soul mate. The one who will speak softly, and look me in the eye. The one who will be an active listener and treat me with dignity. The one who will respect my treatment decisions, and the one who doesn’t come with a crowd of onlookers. I am certain that he/she is out there! I won’t be too disheartened in the meantime though, at least my Dermatology adventures make for a good story.
What about you, have you had any of these Derms before? How about Dr. “I’m perfect for you, and did I mention I’m retiring next year?” Or perhaps Dr. “You should really moisturize more and reduce your stress levels.” So many to choose from!