Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for dermatology

I really dislike going to the doctor.

It's strange, really, given that I am so pro-doctor when it comes to other people.  Feeling depressed?  Go to the doctor!  Stomachache?  Go to the doctor!  Doctors can fix anything, don't you know?

My greatest source of doctor-anxiety definitely comes from the dermatologist.

Thanks to growing up in the '80s and '90s with terrifying after-school specials, made-for-TV movies, and lots of nanny-state educational experiences ("And that's why if you even touch a rusty nail, you will get tetanus and DIE!") ("And that's why if you ever go to Africa, you will catch ebola and DIE!") ("And that's why if you hug someone who has ever smoked, you will catch emphysema and DIE!"

And that's why I spend 25% of my life convinced that I have cancer.

The weird lumps in my neck (that I have had my whole life)?  Definitely cancer.

Bouts of dizziness?  Cancer.

Constant fatigue?  Totally cancer.  (I saw A Walk to Remember, I know what it looks like.)

(PS, after relating all these symptoms to a doctor, you know what the recommendation was?  Drink more gingko.)  

And so whenever a freckle or mole starts looking suspicious and out-to-get-me, I immediately go into, "Oh shit oh shit oh shit!" mode.  (Grey's Anatomy, with its skin-cancer-turning-into-EVERYTHING CANCER storyline certainly didn't help.)

I call my dermatologist, just like we were taught in all those "and DIE!" lectures and explain to him or her my concerns.

The dermatologist will inevitably look bored and ask, "Do you have a history of skin cancer on either side of your family?"


"Are you over 45?"


"You don't have skin cancer."

But the weird mole!  And the after-school specials where a girl got in a tanning bed ONE TIME and DIED

"It is extremely unlikely that you have cancer."

Ok then, here's a better question: Why have you people spent my life scaring the bajeebers out of me if it all comes down to genetics and age?

"It is important to remain vigilant regarding your health, but it is extremely unlikely you have cancer."

But can't you do a biopsy or something to just be sure?  What's so bad about being sure?  And what is the point of having health insurance if you aren't even going to run any tests?  Because I can have someone tell me I don't have cancer for free!

At which point the dermatologist will finally glance irritatedly at my troubling knee, arm, or shoulder blemish and say, "It's not cancer."

(Three times.  Three times this has happened, and if another doctor stares at me like I'm a hypochondriac, I swear I'm not going back until my skin develops a blistering black spot the size of silver dollar and sends me an email saying, "Hey friendo, just wanted to let you know I'm a melanoma and I've moved into the neighborhood!"  At which point I hope those doctors remember all those lectures from med school that end with, "and you find out you've been SUED!")

I've always kind of wondered why doctors and lawyers seem to have such a natural antagonism toward each other, and now I know.  When a lawyer is presented with a potential problem, he or she researches the hell out of that problem.  (Even the things that seem SUPER unlikely.)  If a lawyer is presented with sketchy-looking freckles, a lawyer orders a biopsy for cancer and the tests for ebola and hanta virus, just to be sure.

You never walk into a lawyer's office to have him or her shrug and say, "You know, I'm just spit-balling here, but I'm pretty sure you don't have a case." 

No.  It's, "Let me ask you every single question I can think of, spend a week researching, email you some more questions I couldn't think of the first time, and then I'll get back to you, because even though I kinda-sorta already think you do or don't have a case, I MUST BE SURE."

And yes, this is why lawyers cost so damn much, but frankly, I would rather pay someone X amount per hour to ensure that I don't have cancer than shell out a $25 co-pay to sit around waiting for a doctor who will pop in for five minutes just to tell me I'm crazy.  So take your tort reform and smoke it, MDs.

Excuse me, I've got to go tanning now, since it doesn't really give me cancer.

A song I listen to when I'm angry: Anything Britney Spears. Currently, "Til The World Ends."


  1. Agreed, but I am in the weird minority that would rather deal with attorneys than doctors.

    I am also all about someone else going to the doctor and get annoyed when people talk about alternative medicine. I take herbs and such, but when I have a sinus infection, please give me the strongest antibiotics known to man. It's called science people, it's why we don't live in caves and throw our own feces at each other anymore.

    And don't get me started on unpasteurized milk and chiropractors.

  2. When were we supposed to stop throwing feces?? I didn't get that memo!

  3. Love the post...brought a smile to my face and yes, I am a doctor phobic too.... I do have several medical problem so I guess it's in my genes.

  4. Yikes! I don't like doctors or attorneys!
    Visiting from the A-Z challenge - and following too :-)

  5. Hah, yes. I keep going to the doctor about my ongoing asthma problems (I am SO going to a specialist this summer!), and they always say "just use your everyday inhaler 2x a day and remember to take your allergy and asthma pills every day. And if it gets worse, we'll give you prednisone. But I'm sure you're fine." And let me tell you: I'm not falling for the prednisone crap ever again.
    Look what ranting you've encouraged!