Thursday, February 5, 2015

Skin Doctors I Have Known and Loved

Part 1 of My Story

Because I am a member of the League of Very White People, it is wise for me to see a dermatologist on a regular basis.  Or, more accurately, for the dermatologist to look at me.

Very White People at the Beach.
From left to right: my grandmother, my older brother, and
then me, looking fashionable.
Approximately 1965 or so.

When we first moved to Western PA, I needed to find a new dermatologist.  At my first appointment, I waited in the exam room, shivering in my paper “gown” (a ridiculous misnomer for this garment).  Soon, a member of the Borg Collective barged in the room, with a weird oculus where human eyes should have been. 

It turns out it was the doctor himself, who didn’t think it was important to look the patient in the eye the first time he met her.  He told me some things about my skin, but I was so terrified that I couldn’t take in what he was telling me.  I decided to switch doctors, which is not easy with dermatologists because they are harder to find than a Ravens fan in Pittsburgh.

My switch was serendipitous.  The next dermatologist, who bore a passing resemblance to Albert Einstein, greeted me like a normal human being, before putting on the weird oculus, which, it turns out, is a dermatologist’s magnifying glass thingy, the better to see skin cancers with, my dear. 
In another universe, Einstein could have
been a dermatologist.

While waiting in my paper gown, I happened to be reading a book by Mark Twain, and the doc volunteered that he periodically performed the role of Mark Twain on stage.  He also divulged that, at that moment, he was getting ready to perform the role of Albert Einstein in the theater.  He saw no threatening skin growths, gave me a kindly lecture on how I should stay out of the sun and wear SPF 500 sunscreen, and sent me on my way. 

I was star-struck.  In the next few years, I was able to see him on stage, once in a very moving performance in the role of Otto Frank (father of Anne Frank), and then again in a one-man show as Mark Twain.  In turn, once a year he saw all of me in the exam room at his dermatologist office. 

Then (sob) he retired from medical practice and I had to find a new skin doctor.

In the next post you will find Part 2 of My Story.  It has a happy ending.


Cassi said...

I live in the second or third largest city in Illinois, and you know there are exactly TWO dermatologists for the whole city?! I actually see a Physician's Assistant as my dermatologists (she's also the mother of one of my daughter's classmates). I wonder why this field seems so under-represented? (I'm glad the second part of your story will have a happy ending.)

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Dr. Einstein sounds like a good guy. I'm sorry he retired but glad to know this story has a good ending.
My PA seemed to know what he was talking about when I questioned a few spots on my own skin, so I haven't yet seen a dermatologist. (Also, I'm not the fairest of them all.)

The Crislers said...

I went to a dermatologist for the first time in high school, for these weird small red dots I have on various regions of my body. I still do not know what these are called because I was completely unable to focus on anything he was saying due to the face-appendage ("magnifying glass," says you) he sported the entire time. I always thought this was strange on my part, as I'm generally pretty anxiety-free in doctor's offices. But now I know I'm not alone!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Oh, how sad to lose a good doctor! I once saw a dermatologist at a free skin screening. She was very nice and I'd return to her.