Dear Dermatologists: Highs & Lows (Part 1)
Dear dermatologists: We need you.
Simply put, not to bruise any egos or undermine the knowledge and time that is spent in their profession. With that stated, we also need you to listen to our individual wants and needs when dealing with our skin disease.
We need more than basic knowledge
The world is changing in every aspect because we now have information at our fingertips. Blindly accepting any medical treatment is a thing of the past for the informed patient. This is not to completely disregard the knowledge that a dermatologist may have on eczema and other skin diseases. I have no doubt in my mind that the average dermatologist has the average surface knowledge of eczema. My point is that we need more than that. Much more.
We need you to listen to understand
If you or someone close to you is not living with the disease and takes it seriously, then it should be a given to listen closely to the human beings who are living with the problem every moment of their life. Recognizing that you want to help, doing this does not make you appear less knowledgeable. The very fact that a patient is at your office shows that they want guidance, it simply may not always be the immediate assumption that can be given to the majority of patients. There is a difference between listening to understand versus listening to have a rehearsed reply.
My most recent experience
Sadly, I experienced an unsurprising dermatology visit where the doctor did not want to even consider my concern and reason for an appointment and their only goal was to do what they felt was best for me by giving me steroids or an injectable medication. Personally, for me to even be offered Dupixent, and at the time I felt at my personal best despite unexpected flares after contact with allergies was a shock.
It didn't feel like a conversation
Everyone’s level of severity is different. I was not asked any questions of my preferred treatment, simply instant suggestions for medication. This may be fully acceptable for the average patient, but as a lifelong eczema sufferer, dermatology office circus child puppet, and later experiencing topical steroid withdrawal, simply shows that I am not an average patient.
As I attempted to get what I really needed from the $200, 15-minute appointment, I was completely chastized and undermined. This dermatologist was only led by a robotic pattern of prescribing medication instead of ever working with a patient to see what their wants and needs are to do more than simply put a bandaid on the issue of skin disease.
Learning from others
This particular instance was my first time seeing any doctor for my skin for nearly 3-years. I had preconceived ideas that they would only prescribe me topical steroids and that is the only option. With time I learned that there are many options for eczema patients other than these quick fixes that can aid towards figuring out your lifelong puzzle of skin disease. I learned this from being a part of a worldwide online community of severe eczema patients that have gone through as many trials as me and they go through the process to find solutions. I learned this through the National Eczema Association and the dermatologists I’ve personally worked with who care about the science of the disease from the inside out and give suggestions based on that, instead of a one-size-fits-all solution that is ultimately causing more long-term harm than good.
I’ll share the high points of dermatology in my next article, so that eczema patients like me will never settle for less for their health, no matter where the source comes from.
Have you ever refused a medication or treatment?