I travelled to Toronto yesterday afternoon for a follow-up dermatology appointment with a well-known specialist. The first time I saw him was seven weeks ago. I was two weeks off of high-dose Prednisone and my eczema was flaring badly. He told me that long-term Prednisone was not an option and that he would do a chemical allergy test the next time. He could not do the allergy testing at that appointment as my immune system was far too reactive and delicate. So, he prescribed a strong steroid cream and then sent me on my way with a request to follow-up in seven weeks or so.
Seven weeks later I am an entirely different person. My eczema is clear, my energy is fantastic and my hopes for the future are off the charts! The only reason I actually kept the appointment was for the chemical allergy testing. I mean, why not find out what to avoid, right?
After waiting an hour to see the doctor I was ushered into a room to speak with the resident that I had met during the last appointment. She looked at my skin and remarked on how clear and healthy it was looking. She asked me if I was using any other products other than the cream she and the doctor had prescribed during the last visit. I told her that I was not using the steroid cream and she looked surprised. She asked me what I was using and I told her…food. And in particular, no animal products.
She got this amused and slightly patronizing look on her face and, in no uncertain terms, informed me that there would be no correlation between animal products and eczema. She looked to be about twelve years old so, I must say, it was very hard to take her seriously. However, I nodded politely and did not attempt to sway her beliefs in any way.
The doctor arrived and the resident filled him in on my condition. She told him that my eczema was clear and that I believed it was due to removing animal products from my diet. I couldn’t wait to hear his response to that! He gave me another one of those looks and a sort of energetic pat on the head when he gently explained that there would be no correlation between animal products in my diet and eczema flares.
He went on to comfort me by saying that although I believe my eczema is cleared up, it will come back. He told me that I would always have eczema and that it would probably be better in the summer and then get worse in the winter again. Feeling immensely grateful for his comforting diagnosis of my life-long skin condition, I asked him about the chemical allergy testing. He told me that he could see no reason to do the allergy testing because my skin was so clear.
And, as a parting request, he asked me to book another appointment in six months. Because by then it would be late October and my eczema would be returning.
As I paid my $17.00 for parking I wondered what the heck I had accomplished by spending almost four hours of my day to visit one of Toronto’s most renowned dermatologists. It was so ridiculous I had to giggle to myself as I imagined that I was on Candid Camera and that some funky alternative health guru was going to pop out and have a good laugh with me.
Alas, no one popped out so I had to laugh all by myself.
As I drove the ninety minutes back home, I thought about the silos of our health care. And I thought about all the traditional and alternative practitioners that I have in my life. And as I reflected on all those professionals I wished for an opportunity to bring them together to help me care for my health. Just imagine the impact on our overall health if we all had access to the full spectrum of care. I truly believe that the time for the Integrative Health model is right now!
And…in the meantime, I will continue to eat in a way that makes me feel alive and vibrant and young. My visit to the doctor yesterday reminded me that I do not need to evangelize my lifestyle. I don’t need to justify or convince. And, I don’t even need agreement.
All I know is that ‘you are what you eat’ has taken on a whole new meaning for me in these past nine wonderful weeks. And I know that I will remain in a state of deep appreciation as I am guided toward the next resonant path on this incredible journey!