Monday, July 27, 2009

Skin Deep

Dermatology has never been on top of my 'like' list. For one, I always thought is was just skin deep. Secondly, skin lesions/rashes gives me goosebumps, ergo, the creeps.

So when I rotated last June in the Dermatology section of our Institution, I only had one thing in mind, get over it as soon as I can.

The first day, mission accomplished. I saw several patients already and I know that the agony will be over, sooner than I thought. But as I was seeing more and more patients, I started becoming curious and started seeing the value of this specialty. A value that's different from what I originally thought.

After seeing patients with Psoriasis, Leprosy, generalized Tinea (buni) and acne (vulgaris), I realized that what makes this specialty valuable is actually deeper than our skin. It's not only about looking good but sometimes, it's really a matter of life and death.

There was this 63 year old male who surprised me once he entered the clinic. He had multiple skin nodules all over his body. By just looking at him, you know that he has Neurofibromatosis. By talking to him, you know how difficult this is for him. But I don't think I could ever comprehend how difficult his life is when he said, "Sana, di na lang ako binuhay ng Diyos." That put tears to my eyes, literally.

This led me to thinking that skin disease are not just skin deep. Well, anatomically, they may be. But patients we see in the skin clinic almost always have psychosocial issues. After all, who wants to be stared at? You can't hide your illness if it's in your face or hands or most of your skin.

This is the reason why my Dermatology rotation remains on top of my 'fave' list because it disprove my preconceived notions of this specialty and I got to practice my counseling skills.


Photo from here.


Manang said...

That is so true. I once suffered from a skin condition that lasted 6 months. I even went to ER (I was actually working in the ER then and my manager prodded me to be seen by the physician), only to be least prioritized because it was not a life-and-death situation (at that time, I was oozing all over my inflamed arms). See here. The psychological effect was devastating.
But I won over the darn thing, thank God!

MerryCherry, MD said...

Manang, I felt like scratching just reading your post. I'm glad you are well now.