As we took his shirt off, we noticed the rash. He was speckled alright, like red spray paint covering his trunk, all the way to his diapered area, too. Nothing at all on his legs or arms.
“Babe?!” My husband calls to me, “Have you seen this!?”
Earlier in the day I’d noticed a slight rash on his face, but no, I hadn’t seen it to this extent. “Oh! My!”
I made the appointment first thing, and shortly thereafter, began to prepare to leave. I went in to brush my teeth, fix my hair, and apply lotion to my seemingly dry face, something that’s been bugging me the past few days. Occasional itching and pain has irritated me, so I thought, perhaps some lotion might help! Only, instead of helping, it tingled. No, burned, even, as I finished applying it. Ouch, I wailed to myself, as I leaned into the mirror to understand why my face was now on fire, only to see my face was becoming speckled in blotches, too! Although much smaller than my son’s, I, too, now had a rash, it seemed. “What the hell?” I whined out loud, mumbling obscenities as I gritted my teeth, panting to focus on keeping the burning sensation down. I hurried over to pick up the phone to get me squeezed in for an appointment as well. I succeeded.
Soon, my husband arrived home, just in the nick of time for our appointments. I barely got Baby Dude out of the car and inside on time, as I did my best to hide behind my sunglasses and wispy hair the splotches that were embarrassingly stinging me. Dry skin, ha, what the hell was I thinking? What is wrong with us?!
It was a physician’s assistant who saw us, who immediately recognized my son’s rash as roseola, ‘no worries‘ were his words, the virus would be gone in a few days. But for me, it wasn’t as easy as that. He examined my skin, aggravating my need to itch, and came up with a suspicious diagnosis of eczema, although I’d never experienced anything eczema-like before in my life. He prescribed a cream for me to apply to help relieve it. He also mentioned the outside possibility of it being rosacea. I cringed. He mentioned prescribing Eucerin or Aquafor as I secretly wallowed, this wasn’t the easy diagnosis I had hoped for. I wanted an allergy pill and instant relief, not a ‘wait and see if this cream works’ kind-of thing.
In between his mutterings of things and diagnoses unfamiliar, I mentioned other symptoms I was experiencing, too. My feeling faint several times daily. My left lymph node in my neck being swollen. He seemed less impressed by them, despite them alarming me. I was in the “urgent care” clinic after all, and he had “thirteen minutes to see and diagnose a patient” were his words. He put in for an additional appointment for my ‘other symptoms’ with another doc and sent me on my way. I left the exam room unsatisfied to say the least.
Moving onto the crowded pharmacy area of the Army hospital, I drew a number and sat with my rambunctious Baby Dude, closing my eyes quickly to say a please-don’t-take-forever-to-call-my-number prayer, hoping for a brief stay. And I waited. And waited. And waited until I noticed the unfriendly clock screaming at me that I was going to be late in picking up the kids if I didn’t get my medicines soon. I finally got up the nerve, interjecting to ask a pharmacist for help, and she obliged, doing her best to hurry me off with a few tubs of lotion, a facial cream, and some allergy medicine for my son’s boogers. I thought all was okay. At least, for now.
As I sat in the school pick up line, face agitated, baby asleep in the back, I picked up the pamphlet I received from the pharmacist and read more about my facial medicine. He didn’t prescribe for me what he mentioned in the exam room, instead he prescribed Elidel. And the more I read, the more I became nauseous. Phrases made me tremble, like:
“There have been rare reports of cancers (e.g., skin cancer, lymphoma) in patients using pimecrolimus. It is not known whether pimecrolimus caused these cancers when used on the skin.”
Um, cancer? Thanks!? Or this:
“It is not known if this medication passes into breast milk. Because it may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant, breast-feeding is not recommended while using this drug.”
I’m breastfeeding, dumb ass. It was in my chart. Strike one.
I immediately got on the cell phone, as I felt my face flush with anger, only aggravating my “eczema rash” and spoke to the advice nurse, pleading with her to help me. She promised to let the “doctor” know and have him call me back with a recommendation.
I bit my lip furiously as I waited to pick up my children, lost in thought about the mistake, wondering about how many are made like this every day. Wondering how many people really read their drug facts sheet when they pick up a new medicine. Before I knew it, the van door was opening, my kids’ smiling faces beamed inside as they reported their filled days to me, and my worries were calmed in their presence.
Storing the bag ‘o drugs on the counter to unload later, the phone rang, and the “doctor” was on the line, apologizing for his mistake. “Yeah, my hands were tied, as the initial meds I wanted aren’t carried by the pharmacy, others are too drying. This one I don’t normally prescribe for the ‘cancer thing’ and all…” and I faded away from his words. “The cancer thing” lost me. He even knew it had cancer somehow attached to it. He knows I have six kids and that we are a chemical-free family, to lower our cancer/toxin risk to a minimum. Baffled isn’t even a word to describe my expression, my whole being at this point in reaction to him. I’m sure he told me what he decided to prescribe instead, but I didn’t hear it. I heard the Charlie Brown teacher voice “Wuh wuh wuhhhh” at this point, as my mind went numb and my face went red and burned like fire again. I agreed to whatever he said and hung up, again sick to my stomach. Strike two.
The afternoon air helped heal me in my anger and distaste for the day, as I played with the kids and tried to forget myself and my tingly face for a while. My husband went to the hospital for me, this time, to get the new meds, as I’d had enough of the doctors for that day.
Night snuck in, the air grew cool, our tummies rumbled, and the kids grew weary. My husband had come home, and it was time for dinner. In cleaning, and prepping, washing and readying, I unloaded the bag of meds finally, putting them up in the cabinet, only to notice something peculiar – the allergy drug he said he’d prescribed for my Baby Dude, Claritin, is the same box as the one my kindergartner takes, Zyrtec. Same box, same bottle, same drug. “I don’t understand,” I mumbled to my husband. “This isn’t Claritin? Another medicine got messed up today?” Strike three.
And you wonder why I hate going to the doctor.
*EDIT* I took an allergy pill before bed. After applying both lotions (a few hours apart) my face was still itching. I woke up to NO RASH, NO ITCHING. I was right, it was merely an allergy. Strike four (that is, if there was a strike four).
*EDIT #2* Recall the “doctor” prescribed my son an allergy medicine, too? His rash is also gone. I was right again, it was an allergy. Strike five, you’re definitely out, doc!
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