Transitioning Care: How I Overcame My Fears

During my first week of college I had the worst flare up that I had ever had. Being diagnosed at 8 years old, I had a lot of experience with flare ups, but nothing like that one. It was also the first flare up I had in two years. I had itching and rashes, dryness, peeling, and lots of embarrassment that with all of it. I felt very defeated.

Why did I wait to find a new doctor for my eczema?

Prior to moving to Denver, my mom had suggested I find a doctor. I agreed, but thought I was okay to take my time once I got settled in at school, since I hadn’t had a flare in a long time. Not anticipating the new climate and stressors, I soon realized I had made a mistake waiting. However, I also realized that I was terrified to find a new doctor for my eczema.

How was my dermatologist at home?

Back home, I had great relationship with my dermatologist. She always listened and cared about me both medically and emotionally. We often shared a laugh and it was scary that I didn’t have that support. So for the first week of school, I ignored the symptoms, hoping they would pass (knowing they probably wouldn’t if it was a flare).

When did I decide to reach out for help?

After the first two weeks of school, my symptoms had increased from a small rash on my hand, to a rash on both of my arms up to my elbow. I am not sure if it was stress that was causing it, but I knew I couldn’t keep ignoring it. I reached out to my mom, who helped me find doctors nearby that were covered by my insurance.

When was the next available appointment?

For the first time since my diagnosis, I called to make the appointment myself. Even though I got past that fear, it turned out that there were no available appointments for two weeks. I again felt very defeated and began to feel sorry for myself that I was going through this.

How did I improvise?

In hopes that I wouldn’t let this ruin the beginning of my college experience, I went online to find out what others have done to cope.

Although foods had never affected my eczema, I thought I could start eating healthier as that was listed as something that may help. I also found that a better moisturizing routine and using the right detergents could really make a difference. I remembered that in my move to college, I had gotten an off-brand detergent and was in a drier climate. I thought those were two big changes that I could make and they did help!

How did I feel ahead of my appointment?

The day of my appointment I woke up in a state of anxiety. It felt like I was about to go to an interview for a job I wasn’t qualified for. I was so terrified to meet the new doctor. I wondered: “What if she was judgmental? What is she wasn’t sensitive and caring? What if she couldn’t figure out what was going on with me?” Thoughts raced through my head to the point where I almost canceled the appointment.

How did I work through my nerves?

To cope with my nerves, I took a walk and ate a healthy breakfast, knowing very well that feeling worse would only make the appointment go worse. I took time to write down all of my questions and a short one-page summary of the history of my eczema (flares, treatments, diagnosis, etc.) and found my previous medical records. I was so used to relying on my mom for these answers.

How did the visit go?

When I arrived at the doctor my nerves ramped up again, but meeting the nurse made me feel at ease because I was able to answer each and every one of her questions. All of a sudden, I felt confident to meet the doctor. It turned out to be a really successful visit!

What's my advice when transitioning care?

Preparation is so important when transitioning care, especially if you have always relied on your parents or others for support during appointments. Being prepared will not only make you feel confident, but will allow you the space to just share how you are feeling and not worry about forgetting things. We all know how long it takes to get appointments, so being prepared will help make sure you get the most out of your appointments.

Most importantly, ask others for support. I asked my mom to help me find doctors, but I wish I had leaned on others a little more, because for the first time since my diagnosis, I felt like I was alone.

Does anyone else have experiences transitioning care? How did you deal with it?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AtopicDermatitis.net 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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