I need to get this off my chest: Any doctor who gets irritated when you ask questions about a prescription with which you are uncomfortable does not need to be your doctor. Fortunately, here in the United States, there are lots of doctors; so don't feel stuck.
I'm certainly not feeling stuck nor am I heading back to the dermatologist Gabe and visited today for the dry patches on his skin. Generally, I'm easy to get along with. I can look past poor beside manner and general haughty attitudes most of the time. I also do, indeed, acknowledge that most doctors have spent quite a bit of time studying their niches of medicine, and that deserves a certain amount of respect and trust in regard to their diagnoses and treatment suggestions. But today's dermatologist can take his expertise and use it to help people who do not ask questions and have blind faith in prescription drugs. Sorry, doc, I'm not one of those people.
A few red flags were raised during our initial visit this morning.
1. He didn't knock before entering, and he proceeded to strut in and just start talking at me. He told me why we were there based on our newly formed chart, looked at Gabe for 10 seconds and began giving me instructions about how to manage Gabe's issue: eczema.
He didn't ask me any questions. He didn't inquire if I'd tried any of the methods of management he was suggesting. And he prescribed Gabe a topical steroid cream while recommending that I use it on his dry patches of skin.
Wait, what? Steroid cream for a 19 month old?
Here's the jest of the rest of the conversation:
Me: I'm not comfortable with that.
Him, totally perplexed: Why?
Me: Because that's an awfully strong prescription for a developing toddler. And I don't want to rub steroids on my child's skin because it will soak into his skin, and he's still developing.
Him: Well, if you use the medication correctly and according to my instruction, no harm will be done. The benefits will outweigh the risks.
Me, in my head: According to whom?
Him: Do you think I would prescribe something that wasn't safe?
Me, not wanting to get into a heated debate with his hot ego: Is there a natural way to go about solving this that doesn't include the use of steroid topical cream?
Him: Sure, but you'll read the label and see that the non-steroid cream has risks, too. And it's not as good. You'll then call me and say that I prescribed something that says on the label that it has been known to cause cancer in lab rats. Now, we have no evidence to suggest it would do this to humans, but this has to be printed on the label.
Me, incredulously: You're right. I wouldn't consider that a safe medication. Are there are natural things I could try?
Him, irritated and highly perturbed that I'm questioning his divine prescription authority: Well, sure, but we already talked about that -- using mild, non-scented soaps and lotions. (I already told him after he suggested this that we have never used anything but those types of products on Gabe's skin.)
Him, still irritated: Well, there's lots of stuff on the Internet I'm sure you could find as far as natural remedies. Some people claim tea tree oil cures their eczema. But I don't know about that. I'm not recommending that one way or another. I haven't researched that. And I haven't seen anything suggesting it could.
Me: OK, thank you for your time.
Him: Well, I would like to know if you plan to fill this prescription. I don't want to be sitting here wondering if you will or will not.
Me: I am going to do some research about the pros and cons of steroid use on toddlers and talk to our pediatrician.
Him: Well, you know that's not your pediatrician's speciality. He's probably going to speak negatively about this treatment. Most pediatricians would. It's just like antibiotics are not my speciality, so I wouldn't prescribe them comfortably.
Me: I understand your area of expertise, and I can appreciate that. I still would like to speak with our pediatrician, my husband and do a little of my own research. I like to understand the benefits and cons of any medicine I use on my family or me.
Him: Who's your pediatrician?
Me, trying to help this guy see if he knows our pediatrician: Dr. Elvove. He has a private practice in Libertyville. I believe he's been in practice for 30 years.
Him: I've never heard of him. But I've been doing this for 20 years, and I wouldn't prescribe something I thought was unsafe.
Me: Yes, I understand that you believe in this treatment, but I do not know if I'm comfortable with it.
Him: This is my area of specialty.
Him: Please call my office when you decide if you will fill the prescription.
Me: Yes, I will let you know.
Of course, you cannot get the real feel for this conversation without having witnessed his general body language and the tone of his voice, neither of which were pleasant or understanding. In fact, mostly he was very condescending and irritated.
I left the office piping hot. Since then I've calmed down, made an appointment with Dr. Elvove to talk with him about the eczema and generally decided that with John's help that we will not be returning to Dr. Mighty Ego Dermatologist.
It's YOUR (family's) health. It's YOUR decision to use prescription medication. And it's YOUR choice to return to a doctor and keep him employed as your physician. Don't make these choices lightly, and don't stand for treatment you don't agree with.
OK, rant over. Thank goodness it's Friday after a day like today. Who wants a beer?
Sigh ... have one for me, then.