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A hand holds five different playing cards with different doctors on them.

Doing the Dermatologist Shuffle and Why It's So Stressful

Being a creature of habit, I don’t always adapt well to big changes. It takes quite some time for me to acclimate to different surroundings and new people. I have to face it - I like being comfortable, and I really like knowing my routine. That’s why I am struggling right now. One of the things I strive to keep on an even keel is my healthcare. Having physicians who make me feel valued and who lend a truly compassionate listening ear, is high on my list of comforts. With my history of skin cancer, I look for both of those things in a dermatologist. Mine is moving, and I am not okay.

A trusted physician

I have been with the same group of doctors since the late 90s. The dermatologist who took care of me as a highschooler with severe seborrheic dermatitis is the same one who performed the excision of my melanoma in 2007. When he left the clinic, my fear of change was only slight because he handed me off gently to another doctor in the same practice with whom I was already familiar and about whom I had heard great things. I knew I was in good hands with my monthly skin checks and always felt at ease.

New dermatologists over the years

Basal cell upon basal cell and one cryotherapy session after another, my new dermatologist handled me with care. I spent many years with her, and when she moved on from the clinic, I was again transferred to a partner in the same clinic. This new dermatologist introduced me to Efudex and eased me into a very challenging stage in my life as a skin cancer patient. Over the last four years, I began seeing the physician’s assistant interning with her and have nothing but praise for the care my children and I have received from him. We have been fortunate to have such wonderful medical attention. We are now at a crossroads, though. Our PA, who we have grown to love, is now leaving.

Not only a new dermatologist, but a new clinic

It’s so strange to see it in print, but we won’t be going back to our dermatology clinic. When I asked my PA to recommend a new dermatologist, his suggestion was not a member of the clinic we have grown up with. I didn’t feel the full impact of the change until I visited the new office to request my records from our old clinic. It felt, well, it felt strange. If I am being perfectly honest, it felt wrong to not be in the waiting room I have always known. I haven’t met my new dermatologist yet, but I do trust my PA’s opinion. He has never led me wrong. Though I look forward to getting to know her, I am nervous.

First appointment jitters

My daughter and I have our first appointments with the new dermatologist coming up soon. All possible questions loom before me. Will she be easy to talk to? What will her skin checks be like? Will they be as thorough as the ones we are used to? What are her opinions on cryotherapy? Does she prescribe Efudex, or does she prefer blue light treatments? While I know only time will tell, my comfort level is being challenged, and it’s nerve-wracking. Between now and that first appointment, I am going to make a list of questions - questions I haven’t had to ask in many years. Everything is new again - and it will be okay.

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