Dermal Drama, Act 17: The Good Doctor

Posted: August 11th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop | No Comments »

Whenever we were leaving my grandmother’s house when I was little, she’d trundle into the back of her little apartment and come out with a couple grocery bags for us to take home. You know, full of non-perishables like napkins, coffee, toilet paper.

Thankfully we weren’t in a financial situation where such a gift was needed. I think it was just Bopchi’s way of mothering her daughter. And like so many well-intentioned acts, it bugged the shit out of my mother.

“Ma!” she’d groan. “They have grocery stores in Rhode Island, you know.”

I doubt my mother really thought my grandmother considered those of us dwelling over the Massachusetts border lived like savages. But there was some element to the act that in my mom’s eyes bespoke her mother’s small-mindedness.

Which wasn’t to say my mom didn’t have her own small-minded opinions and high-minded attitudes. The baby in my family, I was the first of four kids to venture beyond the East Coast for college. To my parents who’d done their fair share of travel, the Midwest represented a No Man’s Land. We knew no one from there–save a distant cousin of my dad’s–and never had need or desire to go there. And certainly, though it was never verbalized, there was an attitude I’ll admit I shared that certain goods or services hailing from those parts were simply, well, inferior.

So as it turned out, my first episode with my eye going all jenky took place my sophomore year, in Ohio. It was the first day of a long weekend when I woke up and literally couldn’t see straight. By random chance I was boarding a plane to Boston that very day. But it seemed clear that if a trip hadn’t already been on the books–and even if I had to feel my way blindly through the airport–I was going to be seen by a doctor back home.  

Anyway, as it turns out now, I have a father-in-law who is a doctor in Ohio. Funny how the universe works, isn’t it?  And the thing is, I’m sure he’s a fine fine doctor. (See how much I’ve grown?)  

Here in the Bay Area, we’re blessed with many world-class doctors and medical institutions.  So if you’re someone with any lingering medical snobbery issues like myself, it’s comforting knowing that you’re in the presence of pros. But God help you if you need to see any of them in a timely manner. With my most recent eye outage last summer, my Cycloptic episode had passed in the many weeks it took for me to get an audience with San Francisco’s Grand Poobah of Migraines. So really, net/net I’m not sure what you have to gain here.

This past week, our number came up for Paige’s long-awaited appointment with a pediatric dermatologist. Of course, her eczema, once lush and thriving, is barely visible now. (Thankfully.) But she still enjoys some vigorous and bloody scalp scratching at times, so I figured I’d bring her in.

The morning of the appointment I was lying in bed strategizing about how I’d explain to the doctor why my peaches-and-cream skinned baby required her super-in-demand professional attention. Then Mark came in from getting Paige from her crib and said, “Poor thing scratched the shit out of her cheek in her sleep.”

Indeed it looked like she’d wrestled with a badger and lost.

“Oh awesome!” I shouted, thrilled I wouldn’t be arrested for Munchausen’s by Proxy after all. We might even seem legit amidst the other skin-plagued kids in the waiting room.

At the doctor’s office the resident who saw us first asked me to undress Paigey to her diaper. As I did, revealing nothing by healthy glowing skin–I nervously blathered on, assuring her Paige was looking more lizard-like than cherubic just weeks ago. And I positioned Paige so her scabby, scratched up cheek caught the light of the bright overheads to look optimally atrocious.

Turns out I had no reason to worry. I guess there are others like me who suffer from the same “inability to replicate the noise for the mechanic” type problem at the doctor’s office. Or maybe these docs just took pity on me.

The resident, and the doctor who later joined her, could not have been any nicer. I mean, after our first five minutes of pleasantries I wanted them to come home and join us for dinner. Truly.

First off, they just loved little Paige. And sure, that only means they’re mortal. But despite how easy it is to adore her, I still appreciate when people gush, especially those who are awash in babies and by no means are required to.

Second, they informed me Paige actually still has some eczema brewing. On her legs! It’s pretty mild at this point, but it’s there. And the head scratching is something they said we need to handle before she has permanent scarring. Quel horreur! Here’s the baby I wanted to do the eye-cream-at-infancy test with to make up for my own youthful sun worship skin damage, then someone mentions something about scarring. Thank God it’s not too late to intervene.

The treatment? More of the same kinda lotions and salves I’d already gotten from the pediatrician and the Big Girl Dermatologist–stuff I’d feared I shouldn’t be using on a baby and wanted some validation around from a specialist. But get this: They also want us to give her an antihistamine before bed every night so she’ll relax, sleep deeply, and won’t scratch, which triggers the itch-scratch-eczema vicious cycle. Yes, actual medical professionals are telling me I need to give my baby meds that will make her sleep through the night. Pinch me!

Next they’ll tell me that my fantasy product–2-Hour Ambien for Toddlers, a foolproof nap in pill form–actually exists and I need to start Kate on it immediately.

At one point in the examination the doctor undid Paige’s diaper and took a look at the skin yonder. “Wow. You are doing a great job with her diaper area,” she clucked. “Look at how nice that is. I mean, I see a lot of babies, and believe me, this looks great.”

I’m ashamed to admit I immediately flushed with pride. I take a shine to compliments anyways, but this feedback was the closest thing to a positive corporate performance review that I’ve had in months. And the thing is, I didn’t even know I was excelling in that area!

After handing me prescriptions and info sheets, and sending a few more ‘ga ga goo goos’ Paige’s way, the doctor actually thanked me for bringing her in, and encouraged me to come back if she ever has a flare up, or if I have any concerns.

As doctor’s visits go, it was a ridiculously positive end to a several-month-long ordeal. Solid medical advice, relaxed and attentive service, and super friendly to boot.

They must be from the Midwest.

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