Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I look like I lost a fight with a pencil eraser

During the visit with Dr. Jeff when he offered to treat the rash on my face at no cost to me, he took the "before" pics.

I was more than happy to oblige for a couple of reasons. First- he was treating me free of charge. I think a few pictures are the least I could do. Secondly- dermatomyositis is a rare disease. Most doctors may never see one case their entire career. I think it's important for medical students to have exposure to as many rare diseases as possible to help them think outside the box when trying to formulate a diagnosis. It's not uncommon for DM to be misdiagnosed for a period of time resulting in permanent disability to the patient.

So Dr. Jeff got his pictures and scheduled an appointment for my first laser treatment. I was given a topical anesthetic gel to apply an hour in advance. He also instructed me to place plastic wrap over the gel to help my skin absorb the gel prior to treatment.

You can probably imagine the looks I got walking through the hospital with my red face covered by plastic wrap. I wasn't bothered by it at all. I was used to getting looks for the red face.

On my first visit, Dr. Jeff gave me protective goggles for my eyes, fired up the laser and we were off. Even with the gel, the laser was a little painful. It felt like needles poking me in the face. Maybe comparable to a tattoo, but I've never had one to know for sure.

He treated a large area of my face in a relatively short period of time then explained what I should expect to happen next. He told me my face would look bruised. Then the bruises would turn into scabs and flake away. If the treatment worked the way he hoped, the skin underneath should be completely free of any rash. "You should never be able to tell it was there."

Once the bruising started, they were perfectly round and about the size of a pencil eraser. The big joke at work was that I lost a fight with a pencil eraser.

Over about the next week or two, the bruises turned into scabs and flaked away just as Dr. Jeff said they would. Underneath? Brand new skin. No rash at all. I was ecstatic!

I went back to Dr. Jeff for a few more treatments and more pictures of the progress. Eventually, it was all gone.

The whole time I had the rash I really never thought that much about it. It didn't bother me to go out in public, or so I thought.

I never realized how much it really affected me  until it was gone.