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Preparing For A Doctor's Appointment

As far back as I can remember, going to any doctor’s appointment has been an incredibly anxiety inducing and uncomfortable experience for me. Typically out of all doctors, I tend to have the most trouble with dermatologist appointments when it comes to my skin and eczema. While we somewhat get used to it when dealing with eczema for a lifetime, it can still be a scary experience, no matter how many times we have done it.

There have been many doctors on my journey who didn’t believe or support me. This has been especially true while going through TSW (topical steroid withdrawal). TSW is still not widely recognized and known. Doctor's appointments only became more scary for me after that.. In order to reduce stress as much as possible, I’ve learned to prepare in some ways - as much as I can, anyway!

Why do I prepare for the worst?

This might seem completely pessimistic of me, but in all honesty, I have to say at this point, after being let down by so many dermatologists and treatment plans, I tend to prepare for the worst. From nurses and doctors looking at my skin bewildered and making rude and demeaning comments at the fact that they’d never seen anyone “who looked as bad as me”, to continuously being prescribed the same “treatments” over and over again – some of which destroyed my skin and health even more and caused me to go through TSW, I've had some unpleasant experiences - to say the least. So I tend to not have very high expectations. This way, I’m sure not to get disappointed again.

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What do I bring to my dermatologist appointments?

Preparing paperwork, photos, and other information depends on if I’m seeing a new dermatologist or one I’ve already been gong to for a while. With my current doctor, I was pleasantly surprised at how accepting and understanding she was. She truly respects my decisions and gives me the best information on any treatment options, while still allowing me to make the decision myself. Nonetheless, I’ve still learned to be my own advocate. If seeing a new doctor for the first time, I usually bring some information about TSW from or NEA, in case the doctor isn’t familiar with it (as many aren’t). I also bring or prepare photos on my phone of some of my worst flare ups, and any recent ones they need to know about. That way, I’m prepared with the proper information to share with them.

How do I mentally and emotionally prepare?

I also make sure I clear most of my day for these appointments if I can. I’ve learned they can cause me so much stress that can potentially put me in a skin flare up itself. Obviously, that's the last thing I want. This may look like making sure I meditate or get out into nature before the appointment. Activities like that help me practice more mindfulness and feel more grounded. That way, I am both mentally and emotionally better prepared. For me, this also looks like doing something kind for myself after the appointment. Sometimes that looks like getting my favorite coffee or tea, having a movie night, or whatever feels good that day! Some extra self care never hurts.

How do I take control of my own eczema care?

At the end of the day, I have learned by now that what will happen will happen. Being prepared certainly does help, but I can’t control the entire appointment and outcome of it. I certainly can’t control the doctor and their actions. What I can do, though, is control my own actions and REactions to them and the appointment. So I do my best to trust that whatever is meant to be will be, and allow it to unfold naturally. If I’m not satisfied with the visit, I can always look for another doctor. I’m never completely stuck, and there is always a way.

And last but not least, compassion. Compassion for both myself, and the doctor. After all, even though they have a "fancy" degree and wear a uniform, they are still human too. I do my best to acknowledge that and have understanding and compassion for all involved. In my experience, a little compassion always goes a long way.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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