I told you I was sick, III

2
Dec
2009

Don’t go sleep in a cabin in the woods of Tennessee and expect to come away unscathed.

Tennessee is where my months long nightmare of discomfort began. You may remember several months back I attended a family reunion, held in a rented cabin in the smokey mountains. Soon after coming back from that trip, I started having itching problems. As the weeks went by, they got worse and were pretty much all over my body, but especially inner thighs, buttocks, forearms, underarms, and many other places. The itching would subside in one area, only to move to another or reappear in that area a week or two later. I was going crazy and went to see a doctor. The first one I saw was a nurse practitioner. I duly recounted my trip to the woods, and she looked at my skin and decided that because she couldn’t see anything, I must have allergies of some sort and I  should try Claritin by day and Benydryl by night. This had absolutely no effect on the itching, but the Benydryl did make me very groggy. Not groggy enough to prevent me waking up with itching fits, however. Two weeks later I went to go see an actual doctor, and likewise recounted to him my family reunion trip to the south. I even asked him if I couldn’t have picked up something like scabies or lyme, having slept in the cabin and hiked in the mountains. He briefly looked at  my skin and said no, he was sure it wasn’t any of those. I probably just had dry skin and so he prescribed lotion to be used on my itchy areas, even though I told him my skin did not seem dry to me. Three weeks went by and my itching continued unabated. I went to go see the doctor a second time (my third medical visit about this) and told him that the itching was still very intense. He told me it was probably due to stress, at which point I said, “You can tell me it is all in my head if you want, but you sure as hell better prescribe something for my insanity then, because this is really driving me crazy.” I AGAIN relayed the story about Tennesee and he again poo-pooed it. I told him I was in intense discomfort and if he couldn’t help me, I needed to see someone else. He finally agreed to refer me to a dermatologist.

Today, two weeks after that last visit, I finally saw a dermatologist who examined me and gave a diagnosis fairly rapidly. I have scabies. While I am not thrilled to have scabies, I am thrilled that it is something diagnosed and treatable, and that I am not insane. And I have to admit, I am pretty pissed at all the people that told me that I had nothing, that it was all in my head, that I was stressed or something, all because they didn’t have the expertise to diagnose. Rather than admit they didn’t know, they foist the blame on the patient. It is way easier to just categorize all unknown ailments as hypochondria or stress than it is to actually make a thorough diagnosis.  I realize that many doctors are overworked and that a lot of patients are hypochondriacs, but you could at least run an analysis before dismissing something out of hand. ESPECIALLY when the patient himself suggested the (eventually correct) diagnosis. It also was more than a little depressing that several of my friends also suggested this was just stress, or something to be cured with a positive attitude or some alternative stress treatment. The only thing that was really stressing me out was having this untreatable itch. The upshot is, I know my body, I have been living in it a long time. I should trust my inner voice more. It really sucks when people who you go to don’t help, but apply their pre-conceived pet treatments or theories to something, rather than listening and examining and trying to see what is in front of them.

PS: Thanks for all the emails, but if it wasn’t clear from the above: YES, I now have the treatment and am starting it tonight!