January 24, 2014

The Value of a Medical Second Opinion

I've had a problem, for about a year now, that I was beginning to think was unsolvable.  It started about a year ago, maybe a little longer than a year ago, on my right leg, I started to get some red patches.  At first it was only on the outside of my right lower leg, red, dry patches.  They didn't look very nice, so I just tried to moisturize the area more and I wore pants to cover it up.  I started to notice, though, that I also was getting dry, red patches on my torso and my hands.  I was still nursing my daughter at the time and I just chalked it up to being dehydrated.  This went on for about 2 months, me, ignoring it partially because I was sleep deprived and completely overwhelmed by having two children, one of them a new baby, and partially because I'd never had any significant skin problems before.

Finally, I went to see a doctor.  I went to a dermatologist and he diagnosed me with eczema.  Since I was still nursing, the prescription he gave me was safe, and, he had explained, wasn't as strong a dose as what he might have recommended if I wasn't nursing.  I diligently followed the directions, it was a topical cream that I was only allowed to use for two weeks at a time.  The areas on my torso and my hands improved in mere days and after about the first week of use on those areas, they never bothered me again.  My leg, however, was a decidedly different story.  I continued the cream for maybe 2 or 3 2 week sessions, and while I used it, it seemed to have a diminishing effect on the red areas, as soon as I stopped the cream, the areas on my leg would come right back.  I went back to the doctor a second time, and he changed the prescription to something still safe while nursing, but slightly stronger.  The same results- partial improvement while using, and then when I had to stop per the directions, it would come right back and in fact seemed to be getting worse when it came back.  A few more months went by.  I stopped nursing.  I went back, thinking now that I wasn't nursing, I could get the 'good stuff' and my problem would be solved.  Well, I got the 'good stuff,' so to speak, and the same thing happened, I would use it as directed for the 2 weeks, and then when I had to stop, the red patches would come back, and this time, they were spreading and becoming more raised, itchy, and uncomfortable.

This has spanned a winter, spring, summer, fall and now another winter.  I spent the majority of the spring and summer wearing pants and hiding my leg.  Anytime I bought any new clothes in the past year, every item I purchased worked around my no longer presentable leg.  I signed my daughter up for swimming classes and I was only willing to take her to swimming class if my leg was not looking too terrible.  She has missed more swim classes than I would like, simply because of my leg.

Fast forward to this past December- a friend of mine (poor thing) came down with shingles.  So painful, I've had three friends now (all relatively young, I might add), get shingles.  She was raving about a dermatologist she had seen, who she said diagnosed her in literally seconds.  I took the doctor's information and set about getting an appointment, but, I have to be honest.  My leg issue had gone on for so long I had honestly given up.  I had resigned myself to wearing pants and opaque tights for the foreseeable future.

I saw this new doctor yesterday- and guess what?  My leg isn't eczema.  It's psoriasis- and- the treatment the original doctor had prescribed had in fact made the whole condition worse.  This doctor patiently explained that I had most likely had this emergence because I had recently had a baby (having a baby is similar to having a suppressed immune system) and the type of treatment the original doctor had prescribed, the two weeks on, two weeks off, had in fact triggered the situation to be worse- kind of like cold turkey making the symptoms worse.  The pattern, that had emerged on my leg, which now spanned the top of my foot, the side of my lower leg, the back of my knee and all the way up the back of my thigh, was now red, raised and incredibly itchy.  She explained that the pattern followed a specific nerve and that is why it had formed that way.

The interesting news is that the first doctor was actually correct about the areas on my hands and torso, those had in fact been eczema, which went away very easily with his treatment.  The leg, however, had not been eczema.  I feel incredibly hopeful about my leg for the first time in a long time.  I look forward to taking my daughter to swimming and not feeling self conscious about my leg.  I look forward to wearing shorts and skirts in the spring and not worrying if my hosiery is opaque enough!

If you have any situation that is bothering you, or a serious situation that is complicated, it might be worth your time to get a second opinion.  I hope this has been helpful!

Thank you for reading,

Jessica

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