So I had my very first ever appointment with a dermatologist at my local hospital this week. I won’t name and shame. I’d hereby like to briefly mention that if you’re reading this post in a hope to find some advice on how to manage your eczema then you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment. How can I advise anyone about something I’m rather clueless about? Yes, clueless is exactly what I just said. I have absolutely no idea what on earth is actually going on right now and for this reason alone I felt it completely necessary to get all of my thoughts and feelings about my first experience with ‘professionals’ out and shall apologise in advance if I take anything out on you guys, my lovely, and hopefully understanding readers. Please be forgiving. Here goes… My, MOANathron.
When I went to the doctors last week about my painful, itchy, infected hands and she referred me to a skin specialist I was overcome by joy! I had been desperate to be transferred to a specialist for over 20 years so the very thought of actually seeing one made me so excited I was all fuzzy inside. That fuzzy excitable feeling however, turned into a shaky nervous wreck when I stepped into the overly quiet and airy waiting room.
After being told I don’t have an appointment by the incompetent receptionist and making a scene in front of all the people who were trying to hide their urge to find out what the drama was all about by their sad ‘I’m just sitting here quietly whilst waiting for my appointment’ facial expressions, I look around awkwardly and see all the people being awkwardly silent, sitting as far away from others as physically possible which was also rather awkward. Did I mention it was awkward? I did, oh right… After I choose my seat wisely I sat my sore little-self down on those standard fake off cream leather chairs that have blatantly been there since the early 70’s whereby they’d have been the new ‘modern’ back then and a certain ‘talking point’ for all the ‘small talk’ that is compulsory for every patient to make. It’s all part of the rules and regulations of the ‘waiting room’ don’t you know. The only small talk anyone could make out of those chairs now was demonstrated by ‘Sandra’ during a conversation with her waiting room friend ‘Jan’ whereby she said “they could do with changing these chairs” whilst pulling the padding out of the heavily worn corners. Do you know what Sandra, I have to agree with you there, this is outrageous! I’ll be writing to the government pronto mark my words! Oh wait… I’m getting my health care FREE of charge and seeing the professionals without having to take out any HUGE crippling loan to pay for my treatment did I hear you say? I did? Oh right, okay, I think I’ll let the worn chairs slip then. THANK YOU NHS!!!!! I have nothing but love for you despite my current MOAN.
After spending 45 minutes trying to suitably disguise my itching by gradually folding my limbs in several different (and sometimes creative) ways and hacking up a ‘chesty cough’ to drown out the sound of scratching, the name LOUISE JAMES was being shouted and echoed around the room. It was only on the third calling that I realised that was probably me! I was shown into a little office that had obviously struck up a deal with the magnolia paint when it was first built and asked to ‘take a seat’. “So Louise, what can I do for you?”… Okay, so let’s get started by taking another glance over my records so you can firstly: GET MY NAME RIGHT and secondly: find out what it is exactly that I am expecting you to do for me. Ah forget it, I’ll just go ahead and recite my heavily tedious monologue on Topical Steroid Withdrawal which I have learnt word perfectly over the last 9 months. I’d certainly get an A for effort, an A for emotion and an A* for attention to detail. You however, Mr. Skin Specialist get a big fat U for your ability to listen. He informed me that I was supposed to see Dr. Woo but as Dr. Woo wasn’t in today I’m having to see him… wait for it… Dr. WooP! YES! WOOP! There was certainly nothing ‘woop woop’ about him that’s for sure!
I was absolutely horrified at the seemingly lack of knowledge about Topical Steroid Addiction. He just couldn’t understand why on earth I would refuse to use steroids. After a long ball game of ‘catch’ whereby he threw all the reasons why I SHOULD use steroids at me and I threw all the reasons why I SHOULDN’T use steroids back at him he said “I will have to speak to a consultant about this”… I’m sorry what? You’re NOT a consultant? Who exactly are you Dr. Woop and what is your area of speciality exactly because it sure isn’t the SKIN!? He nervously asked me to “Wait here whilst I go and get her”. Damn right you’ll go and get her! I haven’t made this long, agonising journey on public transport to not speak directly to a consultant! To say I was a little annoyed and frustrated would be an understatement!
So the lovely lady consultant came in and hovered over me like a honey bee hovering over a wilting flower. She took a look at me and said in her beautiful over-seas accent “You look like you not live full life!”… OH! THANK YOU! Not only am I being made to feel like a bit of an inconvenience by you people, I am now being told I look like I don’t live a FULL LIFE which I find a little insulting. As insulting as I find your comment ‘consultant’ I have to agree with you. No, I do not live a full life. Yes, my eczema does get me down. Yes, I am chronically under-slept because of it. Yes, I am finding it difficult to work. I mean, are you a councillor or a doctor? As lovely as it is to have you show an understanding, shall we start to talk treatments? I mean, I had been in the office for over 40 minutes at this point and so far no-one had suggested any treatments other than steroid creams which I’d made clear is not going to be the way forward for me. After I say “how do we move forward with this”, she starts reeling off all these medical words which she seems to assume is common knowledge. I have no idea what you are saying lady! Talking to me in DR LANGUAGE is like speaking to me in a different language all together.
She then starts talking to Dr. Woop about what I should use as if I’m there at all. She mentioned tablets that I shouldn’t take if I’m wanting a baby anytime soon and I must make sure I take the contraceptive pill whilst on them. I was just waiting for the moment I have to awkwardly explain why I am in no near danger of getting pregnant due to being in a ‘same sex’ relationship but that moment never came.
After she discussed all sorts with Dr.W, she left the room and he wrote out a number of things that I was supposed to take to my doctor to get her to authorise the prescription and quickly moved off topic. Erm… ok.
He said I needed a blood test, and a chest x-ray. Ok, great, so when do I have this blood test &chest x-ray and where do I go to have it? He had no idea where I go to get the test and xray and told me to look at the map outside. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? Do you not work here? Where have you come from? You don’t seem to know anything which is a little concerning.
So after a highly frustrating meeting with the doctor who was not a consultant, I was ushered out of the room and taken to what seemed like a store cupboard and left there whilst he scurried off back into his magnolia box. As the ‘cupboard’ was full of brown cardboard boxes which nurses were perched upon in rather cramped conditions I can only assume this is where they ‘store’ the nurses. The nurses were going about there daily chats about ‘Rachel’s sons school parents evening’ and it felt as though I just wasn’t there at all. Had I unknowingly whipped on Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak? “Hi there, can we help you?” YAY! I’m not wearing the cloak of invisibility after all! That’s a relief. I explain that the Dr. brought me here and a kind lady directed me to a ‘treatment room’.
“So, where are we putting them?”…….Them? Putting? Where? What? I’m confused, yet again!!! Turns out they were bandaging me! Oh right! That’s what we’re doing then. Great! We’re getting somewhere. 😀 She asks me which areas are my most problematic at the moment and I say my hands, fingers and neck. “Oh I can’t bandage your neck” she laughs. HA HA HA… How very funny! I’m in stiches! 0_0 Note my sarcasm. I wasn’t asking her to bandage my neck, I was simply answering her question. She asks me what it is she is using on me but I honestly couldn’t tell her! She looked at me as if I was a little stupid but how can I advise her on something I’m clueless about. I haven’t been told what I’m even doing in the treatment room so I sure as hell haven’t been told what ‘treatment’ I’m having. If I’m honest, I just wanted to break down and cry. After all these years of longing for this, I felt completely let down like a newly popped helium balloon and I just wanted to go home, have a cup of tea and bury myself in cotton blankets.
She left the room for quite sometime and then reappeared with a little tube on Balneum cream. Something I’d never tried before. She plastered it on my arms and started rapidly wrapping wet bandages around them. She then applied a dry bandage and then another ‘slip on’ bandage. I asked her how she did it, but she said I will have to come in tomorrow for a tutorial as she has people waiting. Oh, ok… sorry to keep you from your work. I was told I have to book an appointment for one month to see the consultant. Ok! Great! A little direction is always welcome.
So when I went to the reception to book the said appointment I just ended up waiting endlessly staring into the empty office and listening to the ticking clock. A formally long queue had taken form behind me and a lady asked a passing nurse whether there was anyone on reception because we’d been waiting a while. The nurse went into the back office and said “June, are you manning reception? There seems to be a queue” to which, we all hear the reply “Oh, don’t worry, I’m just finishing my sandwiches and then I’ll be straight out”… JUST finishing your sandwiches are you June?! By all means, take your time, we wouldn’t want you to starve to death! It’s not like any of us have places to be or sandwiches to eat ourselves, we’ll wait here all day if you wish, no problem!
After June had finished her sarnies she came out and asked how she can help. I obviously told her I needed to book an appointment for 1 month and she laughed. Are you ok June? Did I tell a joke? I think I must have missed my own punch line there. “I can’t do a month! I’d have to go through everything”… Isn’t that your job? I’d have thought booking appointments was one of the many things on a hospital receptionist’s ‘to do’ list. She advised me that she’d write to me and turned her back. I rather loudly asked her whether she’d like to know my availability before she booked anything and wrote to me? But she just repeated “I’ll write to you” as if I hadn’t heard her the first time. I could have seriously stood there and demanded she listens to what I’m actually saying but I was so tired and frustrated by the poor level of customer care that I just wanted to get out of that place as quick as possible. I said FINE and stormed out. If I were a hedgehog, the speed of which I left that hospital would have certainly given me the title of SONIC!
I stood waiting for the bus with bandaged arms, lots of paper, and still with itchy, painful hands, fingers, neck and chest. I somehow feel as though they were missing the point somewhat and felt as though they just didn’t listen.
I hope my further experiences with the ‘professionals’ there will be better. Let’s face it, it couldn’t get much worse.
So for all of you lovely people wanting for me to share my new found knowledge I’ll let you know it when I do. My doctor’s have informed me my prescription will be ready in 2 working days so I’ll make sure I write up everything they have given me when I’m actually able to read what it is. 🙂
For now though, thank you for reading my MOANathron. I feel much much better now I’ve managed to get that off my poor, painful chest! I know it was a tedious read but I really couldn’t have made it sound any more exciting than it was.
Have you had an experience with a dermatologist? Was it better than mine? Please let me know and help me put my faith back in our health care system. 🙂