a woman with a bottle of pills in her hand is stopped by a giant doctor's hand blocking a doorway

How A Trip to the Dermatologist Crushed My Treatment Dreams (Part 1)

Chances are, if you have HS and you are seeking treatment options, you have probably been to a dermatologist as one of the first steps in your treatment plan. For some people, this might result in their first accurate diagnosis of the condition and signal happier days ahead. Unfortunately for me, my first ever visit to a dermatologist resulted in deep mental scarring and further distrust in a medical system that doesn’t always listen to people who look like me.

I’d waited most of my life to finally be seen

My younger self was never comfortable sharing my experience with HS and I honestly believe that timing is key in most situations. Sure I could have received help much sooner, but entering my 20s allowed me to see life differently and intentionally choose to seek healing both inside and out. With this epiphany, I decided that I wanted to finally stop suffering in silence and seek medical treatment to hopefully receive a diagnosis. In my mind, I was on my way to receiving the golden ticket to healing which I thought would be super easy. It turns out, this journey has been anything but easy.

Now that I reflect on it, my visit with my primary care provider served as a striking means of foreshadowing about how my experience with the professionals would be. I explained to my doctor that I had painful boils under my arms and in the groin area and awaited their response on how this could be stopped. I will be honest, at this appointment, I was completely unprepared to actually show my doctor what my wounds looked like up close and personal. Yet, there I was undressing in the examination room and watching cautiously as my body was examined while I answered questions about my boils. I responded to questions about wound length duration, whether they were recurring, and so much more. Although it seemed like time would go on forever, the examination actually took nearly five minutes and with that, I was told that I had Hidradenitis Suppurativa. With little explanation and a head full of questions, I was sent home with a one-page fact sheet on Hidradenits Suppurativa and an appointment at my dermatologist.

There was light at the end of the tunnel

As a college student at the time, my calendar was full of assignments that needed to be completed and exams I needed to study for. Such was true on the morning of my dermatology appointment as I had an online exam that needed to be completed that morning. I had an early appointment around 8 in the morning and I sat nervously in the waiting area with my mom. My name was finally called and we walked back to the exam room. My mom and I talked over the main points that I wanted to mention to the doctor about my experience because naturally sometimes you forget everything you wanted to discuss when the spotlight is on you. Five minutes later, the doctor rushed into my room and I calmed my internal excitement to finally be in the treatment stages — or so I thought.

I quickly explained that I was recently diagnosed with Hidradenitis Suppurativa and before I could go any further she was asking me to hold my arm up so she could get a look at one of my boils. However, as things normally happen when you visit the doctor about a problem, I did not actively have any huge boils or open wounds at this time. I remember thinking that life could not be any more funny at that moment. The one boil I had was relatively small and the absence of open wounds only showed healed scars from before. The doctor was immediately dismissive and asked if I had ever given a drainage sample when my wounds were leaking. Prior to this, I didn’t even know that I could give anyone a drainage sample especially since I had only just begun seeking treatment. Deep down, I could already tell that this appointment was not going to go how I had hoped.

Read Part 2 of this series, How A Trip to the Dermatologist Crushed My Treatment Dreams.

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