As with most things having to do with my skin, therein lies a tale.
Back in the day, when I was 16, I participated in Dermatology Grand Rounds at UCLA Medical Center. This is when doctors present unusual or odd cases for their colleagues to all see and give input upon. It is an all-day affair, starting at 8 am and going until 5 pm.
I can say of a complete certainty, more than 20 years later, that of all the medical procedures I have undergone, of all the doctors I have seen, of all the bloodwork, biopsies (both internal and external) and labwork I have undergone, that day was both the most dehumanizing and educational I have undergone.
It was dehumanizing because I spent the entire day being talked ‘about.’ Not ‘with,’ not ‘to,’ and not even ‘at.’ About. As if I was a piece of furniture.
Now, being the Wiseass Teen-Ager I was (long before I became a Wiseass Adult), I simply started answering all those questions they asked each other about me, rather than asking me. Because, frankly, I was bored and tired of being treated like some sort of anomalous lab result.
You try sitting on your ass in a paper gown for eight hours in a freezing cold room, being physically poked and prodded by hundreds of complete strangers who don’t have the common decency to look you in the eye and ask you a direct question and see how you feel.
Which leads to why this was so educational.
The very last person to come see me was the only one to ask me a direct question. To see me as something other than a disembodied arm or leg.
Wanna know what they asked?
G’won, take a guess. I’ll wait.
They asked me how I felt about my condition. They were a psychologist.
So I told them. I told them I resented being treated like a lab rat. Or some sort of Medical Mystery of the Month. Or a contestant in a game of ‘Stump the Doctor.’ (I did mention the bit about my being a Wiseass, right?). They nodded appropriately, made some noncommital noises and left the room.
Two weeks later, I found out that they were the only doctor to actually discuss my case directly with my doctor. Or actually, offer a diagnosis.
Which was…wait for it…severe depression and hypochondria.
So this was educational in that the one person who actually talked to me directly, still didn’t see me.
Now you may be asking what this has to do with this blog. A fair question, to be sure. See, even more than I resent being treated like a lab rat, I really really resent people who pretend that’s not what they are doing.
The former, repugnant as it is, it at least honest about it’s intentions. The latter, not so much.