When the Doctor is Afraid

Ah the joys of seeing Specialists. My dermatologist today was afraid to treat me. It took me a while to realize what he had done. “Everything looks normal.” Patches of flesh, pustules, moles that look like the poster children for little melanoma and the remnants of the allergic reaction to Sunblock… all are normal?

He barely skimmed my chart, he didn’t want to touch me or look at me. Instead he said, “In Six months, when the insurance covers another visit come back and see the new dermatological plastic surgeon. He can take care of those moles.” Moles he had declared normal.

I did get a new prescription to try for the Hidradenitis Supprativa. A topical antibiotic and an oral antibiotic. I am about to take the first dose. I had to drain the blisters first. It wasn’t until I was leaving the hospital pharmacy that I snapped onto the problem. It took the strangest behavior I have seen at a hospital for me to click that the entire experience belonged in the Twlight Zone.

I was the invisible doorstop, a woman tried to shoved past me with a cigarette in hand and I blocked her. I didn’t have to move an inch to perform the act, I just had the entire width of the chair. I can’t suck it in, and as I choked on the smoke of her freshly lighted cigarette I let myself snarl. “Put that damned cigarette out. Are you insane? Taking a lighted cigarette into the hospital could be considered assault.” I didn’t have to think about my words, I just let them flow freely as my mind snapped the puzzle pieces into place.

The world had gone mad! The madwoman did thank me for stopping her. She stubbed the cigarette into her hand and continued her journey inside. I shuddered while seeing the odd spiderweb connections between her obvious challenges and the doctor.

I have three rare skin conditions, additional sensitivities, and other conditions that are also genetic and rare which can change how my skin reacts. I understand the doctor not wanting to treat me. I just wish he had been more direct about it. I am not afraid about the moles he left alone, but, I do find it odd he insists I see a plastic surgeon turned dermatologist. I will obediently have the mole cut off by the better man, but, what if he has the same hesitant fear?

I have run into this a few times. This is the cause of my high Doctor Turn Over Rate. They quit working and usually I fire them. They either run out of coping ability, they run out of knowledge, and they stop working. This one at least offered some suggestions but all were redundant, stymied by my allergies. He didn’t even try.

It is disappointing but I have my vanity for a bit longer. After the appointment my Person and I went to see why his check was short and as a result I wound up getting to eat a bit of fast food (yay Del Taco being Gluten Free) and a pair of clip on earrings to supplement my new ear needs. The dermatologist seemed competent but more comfortable with the able bodied woman or man who doesn’t know much about their flesh. He spent most of the appointment condescending about how Moles don’t exist. I let him, and when given the option of having him cut my head-mole down a peg or waiting six months to have it done right? I chose to wait.

What can we do when our doctors fail us in this manner? Sometimes we have to let them fail. He gave up the option of learning, of trying, and now if my head-mole turns out to be an extensive tumor as the one on my face was, the glory of removing a rare and still unnamed type of tissue is not his. It goes to the next doctor. That is a bit of comfort, as not every doctor is emotionally qualified to take on the harder cases.

He only failed me by not being upfront with his comfort level. When a doctor is afraid, it’s okay to let them go. I forget this at times. I forget that a doctor passing up the golden opportunity of treating me can be a good thing. If your doctor is too afraid, they will make more errors. They will take longer to find answers. I know, as you journey from doctor to doctor hunting for answers this feels painful. It is still better to let some doctors pass and to have other doctors treat you. I would rather have a wait of six months than permanent scarring with recurrent surgery because my doctor did not make the right choice.

For the comments section, feel free to add your own experiences with doctors who are afraid and doctors who fail.

Summer and the Service Animal

I think it is technically Spring, though I keep waking up to 90 degree heat outside. This has had me worried about how to protect Sprite during the summer, and this concern is likely universal.

Depending on where you live the heat can top 120 degrees in summer. Humans and animals all suffer exposure, heatstroke, and often die. This is not a fate I want for my service animal, she is my partner after all. So, I started looking into those neat cooling beds that you can have them rest on. I looked at covers for her feet, cage coolers that could possibly sit inside the van, and realized just how expensive this is.

She does have a cooling collar, but she hates it. It is uncomfortable. She takes it off. She still likes to wear dresses, so they have to be thinner, and covers for her feet don’t work. She’s a cat. The ultimate solution to this worry came today via Freecycle. I love freecycling, and I hadn’t really considered the Cool beds but one was offered and after a bit of googling, it turns out this is the perfect solution for her. The bed will be used daily, and it didn’t cost me anything.

What can you do for a service dog to protect them?

Unlike Sprite you cannot pick up your dog, unless they are small, and this means they will be walking on blistering hot asphalt or concrete. I would have them sized for shoes, they make them after all. Invest in a few pairs of dog socks, and protect their feet. You wouldn’t go barefoot, so neither should they. I would save some cash by getting multiseasonal shoes. This way you can protect them in Winter too.

You can also get a mesh service dog vest, if you use one. This will give them greater airflow. Some dog breeds also have sweat issues, where they do not self regulate their temperatures well. I would carry a mysting spray bottle with me, to cool them down periodically.

Don’t forget that no matter the breed your service animal needs constant access to water. You can carry or have them carry a collapsing bowl, water bottles and call it good. Sprite uses the Pet Top nozzle on her bottles, and in summer she can down over a gallon. This means of course that your large dog breeds will need more.

You will likely be using sunblock, and there are some sunblocks that are safe for your pets/service animals. I haven’t found one that works for me and Sprite yet but, we are hunting. All animals need sun protection, but especially those with pale skin.

What about their eyes? Doggles, a dog/cat/most animal sunglasses set work great. Sprite wears them. She didn’t like them at first but, being able to see when I was cringing away from the light and it’s horrible brightness? She began to like them.

I still recommend cooling collars as well. Sprite may not like hers, but, on the hottest days she will give in, just to save herself. On those days we usually wait until the evening before going out. Don’t forget that some regions are prone to sudden cold snaps once the sun is down, and after a day of high heat this can feel more extreme to your partner. I carry a back up rain coat and a back up heavier weight coat for Sprite.

There is no such thing as traveling lightly with a service animal. Don’t forget too, that you need just as much forethought before going out this summer. You need to drink extra water, you need to protect yourself from overheating, especially if temperature makes your disability worse.

So, happy Spring!

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