Monday, August 27, 2007

I am so disturbed

I had an experience at a doctor's office recently, unlike any I've ever had before. I actually canceled a second appointment with this doctor because I kept thinking about the first visit in a way that was becoming freakishly nightmarish in my mind. I want this doctor to know why I am not coming back, but I do not want to have a dialog with him about the way the exam was conducted, etc. It is done, I was terribly uncomfortable, and hearing an explanation from that man cannot change that. He has a website with an email address, I plan to email him the link to my blog so he can read just how disturbed I was and am by the whole experience.

Dr. X is a dermatologist. He has a good sized practice as far as I can tell, I know a couple of people who are patients of his. They are okay with him. I made an appointment to have my moles checked. I have always heard that if you have moles it is a good idea to have them checked every now and then, especially if there have been changes to any of them. I haven't had a mole looked at since I was 18 years old and had two removed for purely cosmetic reasons. I figured it would be a good idea seeing as that was 30 years ago, and in the place of one of those moles that was removed I have sprouted a veritable mine-freakin'-field of baby moles. Teeny little things that make me feel a bit creeped out when I run my fingers across that patch of skin. They aren't black or growing that I know of, but is it normal to sprout 25-plus baby moles where you had one removed? Thirty years later? I didn't know the answer to that. I thought it reasonable to check. I also have a few others, one on my arm, two on my chest, that have little black dots, nothing major but still, not a bad thing to have them checked.

The office is well run, pleasant, the gal at the desk was very friendly and nice. I was called in almost right away which I thought was a good thing. The nurse (I assume) came in and asked me a few questions, why was I there, etc. The doctor came in shortly after the nurse left. Now I need to say that I don't recall if the nurse asked me where these moles were that I wanted checked, but regardless, I was not given a gown or paper clothes, or anything like that. Dr X came in, very tall fellow he is, and shook my hand. I was sitting in a regular chair, he rested against the exam table which meant he was fairly towering above me. He asked me a couple of questions, I told him I had moles I wanted looked at, thought it was a good idea, and oh - I have these brown patches on my face. He opened the door and called someone - "Foofie will you come help me please?" Help him with what? And who is Foofie? Foofie came in, a lady in a lab coat so I figure she's a nurse or assistant of some sort. Almost as soon as she closed the door, it opened again and another girl came in, younger, also wearing a lab coat. No one mentioned her name or why she was there. Now there were four of us in this small exam room. I was the only one sitting.

Dr X looked at my face for a second and pronounced it to be melasma. I was expecting that, asked what was the best treatment. He settled back against the exam table again and looking down at me he said "The thing that works best for that is a peel." I imagine he would have told me more about it but I told him I didn't want a peel. He told me he could give me some cream but it would take longer. "I am patient" I told him. He asked the younger girl to get some samples "out of the closet" and she left for a minute. Next he asked where the moles were. At this point I was starting to feel a bit unnerved. I suppose I was expecting to be asked where the moles were, and to be given a gown or something to change into. I figured the doctor would come in, look me over, examining any moles he saw, looking at them closely and making notes on some piece of paper with the outline of the human body on it.

That is nowhere close to what he did. He motioned for me to stand up and asked me to turn around. I said "I don't have any moles on my back" but he motioned for me to lift up my shirt. The second girl came back in at this point, as I was lifting my shirt up so the Dr could look at my back. He said something about seeing a bit of an acne rash so I said yeah, I do break out on my back sometimes. He did not suggest anything to do about it. I pulled my shirt down and he turned me around and looked at me as if to say "what's next?" I wanted to scream at him that HE was the doctor, he was supposed to conduct the exam, I wasn't supposed to tell him how to do it! He motioned for me to lift up my shirt again. This time in the front. The door knob rattled like someone else trying to come in so I called out "c'mon in! Everybody else is already here!" The rattling stopped.

Now I don't know about anybody else but I am not fond of standing up wearing jeans that show my belly fat nicely squeezing over the waistband, lifting my shirt to show that, as well as my bra that has obviously seen better days and is barely containing the overgrown boobs I've got these days. It was demeaning, uncomfortable and I just didn't get it. What kind of exam was this? I'd point to a mole and he would say mm-m-m in an almost disinterested way. He would lean forward a bit, but he did not look very closely, nor did he touch them or me. Then he would ask if there were any more. ??? I was so disconcerted by standing there with my "Where the Wild Things Are" tee shirt hiked up to my neck in front of this doctor who seemed to be exuding the attitude of "why are you here?" or something, and two women who were never introduced to me nor was it explained to me why they were even in the room, that I entirely forgot to tell him about one of the moles. If he had done a proper exam he would have seen it because it was quite close to the others except that the way I was holding my shirt up, the material would have been blocking that particular mole.

Never once did he say "oh that one looks fine" or "this one has a little discoloration but nothing to worry about". All he said was mm-m-m. And he might as well have said - next! Show me your next boring run-of-the-mill mole. At the last minute I remembered and told him (embarrassingly enough) that I had dry patches on my nipples that my primary physician had given me a cream for it, but he had never looked at them. Dr X just looked at me and nodded. Apparently nobody wants to look at my nipples! Fine! You might like my nipples but you'll never get the chance now!!!!

I showed him the minefield of baby moles on my chest and he just nodded again and said mm-m-m. When I looked at him incredulously and said something entirely lame like "but they feel awful" he said "well, we could laser them off I suppose.." An obviously unnecessary procedure, he was saying. I should mention here that I am not sure he said "laser" them off, I was mortified by then so he could have said jackhammer or sandpaper for all I know. I just know he was humoring me.

At some point I realized that one of the gals in the room had handed me two small tubes for my face so I held out my hand and showed them to the ladies and asked about them. "Are there instructions?" They were samples so I knew they didn't come with an insert or anything. My question was met with silence, surprise even, and I had to explain. "I mean, once a day? Twice? Wear under makeup, or only at bedtime?" "Oh! Yes, bedtime would be good." That said by the younger of the two. Uh okay, fine. I wasn't sure if she was really certain but nobody disputed her answer so I let it go.

In the end I felt like I needed to feel there was actually a purpose to my visit so I asked how hard it would be to have this mole here by my nose removed? It's a flesh colored mole, I have had it most of my life and I do hate it - but I hadn't been planning on having it removed any time soon. I ended up making an appointment to have just that, done.

Before I left at the point Dr X determined the "exam" was over, he leaned back against the exam table I never even touched, again. And he asked "So would you like to come to the library to hear .............................?" It was a talk he was giving on cosmetic, non surgical options to reduce the effects of aging. Uh no. Thanks. I said "hey, I'm gonna get old, we're all going to get old. I'll deal with it." He laughed and said "sounds like you protest too much to me." So, was that a joke? If he must know - if I had the money I would have a tummy tuck, a boob lift, a face lift and have my eyes done. But I don't have the money and never will so I don't dwell on it. And I did not go to see this doctor for cosmetic reasons. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do to maintain my health.

I felt like an ass. I don't know if Dr X doesn't do too much old fashioned dermatology anymore, maybe he is more into the cosmetic end of it now, I don't know. But the visit was not what I expected, it was less than thorough and unprofessional. I doubt that Dr X realized he was giving me that impression but as an old boss of mine used to say "perception is reality." And my perception was that it was a careless exam and a waste of my time. I can embarrass myself on my own time without paying someone to do it for me, thank you very much.

I canceled that second appointment, I won't be going back.


I know my header is still skewed, I am working on a new one and I am afraid I'll just screw things up if I remove this one without one to replace it. I have been working on this major art project and it's been taking all of my time lately, but hopefully I will manage to get a new header up there in the next couple of days. Maybe a picture of me holding my "Where the Wild Things Are" tee up to my neck? Nah. Been there done that. Argh-h-h.


AmandaD said...

It would seem to me, based on my own experiences, this entry and other stories, that dermatology attracts individuals with the personalities of moles and the bedside manners of something that rhyme with hassmoles (the h is silent).

Mahala said...

I hate doctor horror stories like that!!! I've got a few of my own.. it's scary some of the hacks that are out there.

Anonymous said...

My first experience with a dermatologist was AWFUL. She whipped my head from side to side, told me there would be significant scarring, and then left the exam room. I walked out to the waiting room where my mom was and just started bawling. I didn't go to another derm. until almost seven years later.

Now I have a great one...good luck in your search! :)

Honeysuckle Rose said...

Sounds to me like this guy is more into cosmetic dermatology; that's where the money is and he didn't want to be bothered with anything else.

Some of the people in the medical profession should be strapped down and "lasered" themselves, the fat lot of good they do. What a waste of an education. And air.

Sorry, I could rant for days about stories like yours .... Google "I hate doctors" if you want to read more mind blowing stories.

You should definitely find another one though and get those moles checked out! Don't let one hack get in the way of your health.

P.S. Please do send him the link to your blog, maybe if he reads what you've said, along with these comments, he might develop a bedside manner. Or maybe just common courtesy.

Lara said...

oh man, that sounds awful. :( i'm sorry you had to go through such an uncomfortable experience...

palette48 said...

Yes, definitely see another doctor. You should not have to put up with that. I once had to have surgery for a deviated septum. I went to an ear, nose and throat doctor who was very good in the operating room but he was very insulting to me. Needless to say, I did not have this guy do surgery on me because he was a total jerk. I didn't care how good of a surgeon he was.

SUEB0B said...

What the heck? Not much of a people person, is he?

I hate being treated like an object, as if I am not a real adult person.

I have had the dermatologist that was only interested in doing cosmetic procedures, too - he showed me my flaws in like a 10x magnifying mirror, then sent in the assistant to schedule the cosmetic procedures...before he had asked me if I wanted them or not. It felt like being with a timeshare salesman.

Jen E said...

Oh, Hon, I would definitely find a new doctor. Man, what a jerk!!