Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

An Embarrassment of Itches


































Perhaps I’ve been lucky, but I haven’t had much to do with the medical profession.

I’ve only been hospitalised once (to have my tonsils and adenoids removed when I was five) so my encounters with members of the profession have usually been related to issues with other family members.

I also have a brother who is a GP and a niece who works as a paediatric registrar, so there is a different sort of family connection.

Today, however, I had to see a dermatologist as my GP had referred me because of a mysterious rash and a couple of lesions on my back he wasn’t happy about.

Apparently the specialisation of dermatology is prized amongst medicos. When I asked my brother about this he said simply – “Nobody calls you at 2am because they’re worried about bad skin. Fair enough….

Turns out the lesions were quite benign (frozen off with some sore of weird hand-held contraption), but I’ve been inflicted with something called Grover’s Disease in the form of a rash on my back and trunk that itches something fierce.

Getting this diagnosed was a fascinating experience. I was ushered into a treatment room which contained only one item of furniture (besides the doctor’s desk and chair) – a height adjustable plinth. I became intimately familiar with this item of equipment because I was left unaccompanied for about 15 minutes waiting the arrival of the Dermatologist.

I was at the point of rolling the doctor’s chair out from behind the desk to sit in it because the plinth was not exactly comfortable – there was no other chair in the room – when a nurse type person wafted in and asked me all manner of questions.

That was the first wave.

Next came two people, both female, and wearing the same uniform as the first one.

They were the second wave.

One I think was an intern, and she asked me to remove my shirt and lie face down on the plinth. 

For reasons unknown, another slightly shorter wait transpired before the actual Dermatologist arrived. Perhaps I was being vetted to make absolutely sure that I was actually worthy of the attention of this rare and esteemed person – an actual real live specialist.

He breezed, rather than wafted in, although he was also wearing the corporate garb also. Then followed a series of events straight out of the Doctor movies.

He proceeded to give a tentative verbal diagnosis complete with history, pathology and prognosis. It was thorough, but it was directed at the intern, not at me. It sounded like a tutorial, and also like I was simply an interesting exhibit, not a living breathing patient. Being discussed in the third person in your own presence is a weird experience.

This was given in a completely hands-off fashion. He didn’t actually touch any part of my anatomy during the examination. Perhaps he’s had bad experiences with contagion.

He explained that Grover’s disease was not named after the Sesame St character that lived in the rubbish bin, but was indeed called after the doctor who discovered and described it. Given that this Dr Grover never did work out caused it, or what the cure is, I wonder why he was considered worthy of naming rights.

I was told is it benign and self limiting. I think this means it won’t kill you, and eventually clears up all by itself. This is comforting, but less comforting was the information that it can hang around for 12 months or more.

12 months of excruciating itch – not fun.

Anyway, the specialist breezed out again after prescribing two different topical (no – nothing to do with news – not that sort of “topical”) products, and I thought we were done.

Not so.

The intern announced that she was going to remove 4mm of skin from my back for a biopsy. Obviously, the specialist wasn’t totally confident with his diagnosis. This procedure took a little bit of time, as a local anaesthetic was necessary, and also cost $86.20.

I know that because it was on the invoice.

So I ended up with my wallet lighter by a total of $300, a hole in my back, and some not-so-good news.

The sight of the specialist’s Bentley Continental Coupe in the doctor’s car park did nothing to lighten my mood. Reflecting that f I had just contributed half the cost of a new tyre to his favourite set of wheels didn't help..

I wonder if you need a thick skin to become a Dermatologist?

Update - 

Received the results of the biopsy. It's not Grover's disease, but a rash called pityriasis rosea. I doagnosed this myself and told my GP. He didn't believe me and sent me off to the specialist. I reckon I should get my money back.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should shower every day rather than just on Sundays.

Cav

1735099 said...

No showers at all now Cav - pintasel baths only - doctor's orders.

Anonymous said...

Doctors orders amount to nought.....you would have a two pintarsel I reckon.

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