Sunday, October 19, 2008

I'm Reminded Why I Don't Like Doctors

I say it all the time: medical doctors do not know how to heal. They can diagnose. They can treat symptoms. But very few are interested in a cure. The cynical part of me says that there is nothing to be gained monetarily by actually healing. I want to believe that there are some doctors out there who are working because they truly believe they are making a difference. However, after years of practice and never seeing anyone get healed, I would think some doctors would start to question their profession. Healing does not equal "no symptoms" and I'm yet to meet a doctor who understands that. Worse yet, is the arrogance that one may encounter when dealing with doctors. They often get smug in their role as "the professional" and yours as "the patient". You find them dismissing concerns, half-listening, rushing through an appointment all while writing a prescription and scheduling the next appointment.

I want to be clear: I'm talking about allopathic (Western) medicine which I believe *only* has a place when it comes to acute medical emergencies. I believe wholeheartedly that you are better off using some other medical model if you truly want healing for a chronic illness.

Why do I feel this way?
1. I have had allergies all my life despite always being under the care of a doctor.
2. My eyesight continues to get worse despite always being under the care of a doctor.
3. My scalp is still on fire, flaking and scabby despite going to a doctor today.

I want to address #3. So I finally made it to a dermatologist today and I was so excited since by her name, I knew she was Black. I figured it would be great to have a doctor who was familiar with Black skin. Well, what a complete and total disaster and waste of time. The doctor seemed to have some disdain for me from the very beginning. Maybe it's because when I was asked by the receptionist for my social security I said I didn't have one. That seems to be easier than saying "Oh, I don't just give out my SS#" (which I don't because there is no need for a doctor to have it if they know my insurance information). During that whole interaction, the doctor was standing right there although I had no idea she was the doctor. Even if I were to give the #, why would I do so with some stranger standing right there? Anyway, when I went into the examination room, the doctor said "Do you have a social security number?" And I said, "Yes". She then says, "But you don't want to give it?" and I said, "That's correct" and she mumbles "Because every U.S. citizen has a SS# . . . aren't you a U.S. citizen?" At which point I wanted to ask, "Are you a doctor or the INS?"

Anyway, homegirl was not trying to hear what I was saying. She looked at my scalp and decided that I had, wait for it, DANDRUFF (seborrheic dermatitis) and said she couldn't see the flakes because I use shea butter to oil my scalp. She said that I should discontinue use of shea butter on my skin because it clogs the pores. Bullshit. I've been using shea butter on my face for years now without a problem. If I happen to wash my hair and oil it with, lets say, jojoba or coconut oil or not at all, it seems to be a big huge problem (remember, flare-ups start with a feeling of very dry scalp which makes me initially think that I missed a spot when oiling). I tried to explain to her the cycle of hair loss. Tried to explain what a flare-up feels like. She hardly listened. I showed her that there are parts of my body where I had hair before where there is no hair at all right now. Explained that I used to have to shave with some regularity. Explained about the brittle hair that breaks easily (and the thinning locks). She said, "Oh, when I'm walking down the street I see persons who have locks that are all different lengths--their hair can't support the extra weight of the locks." When I said, "Aren't hair and nails made from the same protein? Why are my nails so incredibly strong but I get so much hair on a comb when I comb it?" She said, "Oh, you need a good conditioner and I'd recommend Nexxus products." When I suggested a biopsy, she said, "Oh, that won't be necessary. Here's a prescription for crap pharmaceutical steroidal cream which you should use forever and ever and ever until you die. Fill it, use it and come back to see me in a month." But not before asking how many children I had if I was married and had I gone to college. I had the feeling that she had made some gross assumptions about me before I even sat down and while I'm not a showy person, I felt compelled to let her know that, actually, I had a master's degree. So intense was the condescension.

Hardly productive.

I've already treated myself for seborrheic dermatitis using OTC shampoos and creams. It soothes a flare-up but doesn't keep them from happening. I need to know why it is happening. And since my skin is not greasy anywhere (it's actually changed since having kids and has become quite dry), I'm pretty sure it's not as simple as that. And, according to Medline, diagnosis is based on "the appearance and location of the skin lesions" and since the doctor didn't see any (because I supposedly used shea butter on my skin although the last time I washed I didn't do anything--she didn't bother to find out though), how the heck did she diagnose that? If the doctor is hardly interested in they "why" it's clear that he/she is not interested in the cure.

I need to go to someone else but I have to call the insurance company to see if I can, i.e. how many dermatological visits are allowed annually. I would try a holistic healer or a naturopath but honestly, I've been ripped off before and I'm scared of quacks. So I'm not further in this journey. Tuesday, I'm going to see my family doctor but I'm not hopeful. Unfortunately. I'm also quite tired.

And I really hate having short hair.


80sBaby70sSoul said...

What a mess!!! I pray that you will find some better answers at the family MD. I really feel like finding a good doctor is hit or miss, and that goes for chiropractors, naturopaths, whatever. So, don't give up. Just find a good one and stick with him/her (kinda like dating).

I always let MDs know that I'm a doctor as well. It kinda levels the playing field and sometimes you have to flex your educational muscle just to get people to respect you. When people ask "may I have your SSN?" you can just say no! I do it all the time when cashiers/receptionists ask for something they don't really need. You don't even have to explain yourself. It is up to you to set the stage so that they respect you and are kinda forced to hear you out. And if a doctor of any brand can not sit and listen to you give a good history, you can and should just walk out. Save yourself the extra frustration.

Oh, and I have also heard from skin care specialists that shea butter clogs your pores. I believe it does (at least on your face) but I still use it. I just exfoliate daily and give myself monthly blackhead removal treatments. I have never used pure shea butter on my hair because I think its too thick and my hair is very thin. With trial and eror I know you will find the right routine.

Just know that GOD has a reason for everything. In time, it will become clear.

Hagar's Daughter said...

If I may suggest, Chi Chi, when you go to your family doctor don't put any oil on your scalp. If you know the time it takes between washing your hair and getting a flare up then do that so that your doctor can SEE the problem.

Bring to the doctor's office what you wash your hair with. I wouldn't use shea butter on your scalp anymore either.

Tell your doctor that the other's have been afraid to touch your hair or judged you based on your hairstyle. Ask why can't you have your scalp biospied. Demand this from your insurance company as well. When you called them tell the rep that you have gone to several doctors who will not look at your scalp and that you believe you are being discriminated against because of your hair. Let them know that your hair is falling out and your scalp is inflammed.

You are in my prayers. I know from experience what losing your hair feels like. I also know from experience the pain of having my scalp inflammed, develop what feels like sores, and waking up with dried blood and clumps of hair on my pillow.

Chi-Chi said...

Thanks for the replies!!

Nya, the past few times I've simply stated I didn't want to give my SS#, it's been a problem especially seeing docs in this town. I haven't experienced the problem if I go to other (predominantly White) towns. I may actually stop going to doctors in my town altogether. The boys' pediatrician, who I absolutely adore, is in another county.

I hear you about leveling the playing field but honestly, I believe, no matter what degree you hold (or don't) you should still be held in regard and treated with respect. You shouldn't have to read off a list of degrees before you are treat like you have some intelligence. I actually disagree that it's up to me to set the stage to be respected. I think this sets up an adversarial relationship with the patient because how am I to know what you, the doctor, respects? Do you only respect other MDs?

RE: shea butter. It works absolutely fabulously for the skin on my face and body and I've never had a breakout or anything. Once I tried cocoa butter and that was disastrous. Since my skin is so very dry now, aside from lotions, shea butter works well. I stopped using it on my hair when I thought that the weight of my hair was causing the breakage. I switched to jojoba and it seemed to aggravate the whole "feels dry to full-fledged flare up" thing so I made up a 50/50 jojoba and shea butter and that worked well for a long time. I was genuinely surprised at another flare-up. It actually feels better now that I'm not putting anything on the scalp--it's still inflamed but it feels more bearable. Could oils, be aggravating things? Like should I stop putting on oil altogether no matter what kind? Once I get my hands on a little bit of money, I'm going to change my whole routine again--shampoo, conditioner and instead of straight oils try moisturizers. Especially now that winter is coming.

Girl, I sure hope there is some plan!!

Hagar's Daughter, thanks so much for the support. I've stopped doing anything to my scalp altogether except washing and conditioning my hair and oiling the hair alone (there was nothing on it for the dermatologists appointment). I will make sure it is that way again when I go to the doctor on Tues. I'm not looking forward to more arguing with the insurance company but I really need to get some help so here I go . . .

I can't wait to have some answers.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that you had to deal with such negativity from someone who should know better. Reading what happened made me mad, since asking about your personal life to that extent had no bearing on why you were there.

I hope you are able to find someone who can help you. I feel you about the alternative folks. I spent almost a thousand bucks on a chiropractor getting adjusted twice a week for sveral month to fix a problem that went a way when I got a $10 arms brace. So I am skittish myself about alternative practioners. Though up here in Maine, we are fortunate that my daughter's doctor is a MD who infuses holistic practices into his practice.

80sBaby70sSoul said...

Found this natural oil. It said something about reducing inflammation so I thought of you. Check it out!

Chi-Chi said...

Thanks girl!

I've heard of Emu oil but never looked into it. .. you think it'll be okay even with shea butter in it?

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