A car travels along a difficult and winding road on the way to the dermatologist's office.

Getting to the Dermatologist Can Be a Real Pain

Sometimes getting to the dermatologist’s office is just as much of a challenge as dealing with skin cancer. That’s because all of my dermatologists (yes I have more than one) are in the Boston area, about 90 miles from my home, in Western Massachusetts. They are the best doctors. I live so close it would be foolish not to see them. Also, they’re in the same system as my blood cancer doctors, so it just makes sense to all be looped in.

Getting to the dermatologist

I can see my primary dermatologist at one of two locations. She prefers the one that is hardest for me to get to. That’s because, at her preferred location, she has a scribe who takes notes during the visit. I usually get a ride from a service, but the last time that I went, I drove myself. I have been to this office many times. So I was confused when I got there and it didn’t look familiar.

A detour

The GPS said I had arrived, but I was staring at a wall. I went back and forth. I parked the car and got out to do an inspection. By this time I was already late for my appointment. I don’t know when my mistake dawned on me. But suddenly I realized what the problem was. I was in Brookline, not Boston. Brookline abuts Boston. The correct address was less than a mile away.

Late but not forgotten

I got in the car and went to the right address. But I was so late that they were on the verge of closing up shop. It was almost 5:30 p.m. The receptionist said the doctor was with someone who would be her last patient. She said I would have to rebook. Tears filled my eyes. Just then I caught the doctor’s eye as she came out into the hallway. She said “she comes a long way” and told the receptionist to send me in.

I thanked her profusely. I was as happy as if I had won the lottery.

The help of a ride service

This past week I had an appointment at the same location. This time I got a ride. But the rides that I get through my insurance must have a form for each location. I never got around to getting one for my dermatologist, but it is close to where I see my hematologist, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in Boston. I have forms for that address. So I got a ride there and figured I would walk.

Mixed up directions again

I left plenty of time. I got there early for my 2:45 p.m. appointment and went into Dana-Farber. I got a few pieces of chocolate at the desk where I know they keep such a thing. I put the address in my phone, just in case. After I walked for about five minutes, something dawned on me. I had done it again! That is, I had headed for the right address in the wrong town. I turned around and ran. In my mind, I wrote a headline: “Cancer patient run over in mad dash towards doctor’s office.”

The waiting game

I got to the right address about 15 minutes late. This office keeps you waiting so long that I didn’t think it was a problem. The receptionist said I would be fine. But after I sat there for about 45 minutes, I went to inquire. A different receptionist said that since I was late, I would have to wait until the end of the day, around 5:30. I said something along the lines of, “You have to be kidding me.” Also, I had a driver waiting for me.

An exhausting dermatologist trip

They said they would try to get me in earlier. Earlier meant 4:30 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m. But for a 2:45 appointment, it was pretty bad. The driver called. I had told him 4:30 because I knew how long I usually waited. But now it would be after 5. There was nothing I could do about it. The driver’s dispatcher called also. I said I hoped he wouldn’t leave without me.

He didn’t leave without me, but we were both frazzled and tired by the time we got back to Western Massachusetts. It was after 8 p.m. I had had a biopsy on a spot on my thumb. I didn’t know which was bothering me more, the pain on my thumb after the anesthesia wore off, or the headache from the crazy day.

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