Tears at the Dermatologist

By: Arlene

I remember saving up my money one summer, so that I could go to a dermatologist that was supposedly the “best” in my (admittedly very small) town. I was quoted at saving up at least $500, because my insurance wasn’t going to cover anything.

“Five-hundred dollars,” I said to myself. “That’s worth it to get my skin back to how it once was. That’s worth my confidence and feelings of self worth.” And so I worked. A lot. I picked up shifts on weekends, signed up to stay late during the week, and even became a weeknight babysitter for several of the families in my neighborhood.

With college loan bills flooding my mailbox, saving five-hundred extra dollars was harder than I actually thought. My derm appointment was approaching, and because he was booked for the rest of the year, I knew that I absolutely had to come up with the cash — or face having to wait another year to fix my bad skin.

I remember the day I received the paycheck that brought me to my magic number. It was literally two days before my appointment. Gleeful, I practically skipped to the office from the parking lot, and happily filled out the “new patient” paperwork. The questions were about my allergies, medical history, and family health history. I distinctly remember not having to answer any question about food or my acne history, which I thought was strange.

When my name was finally called, I practically ran over to shake the hand of the doctor who I had been waiting all summer to see. He led me to the examining room, which felt cold and very clinical. It smelled of chemicals.

I began telling him about my history with acne: how it started after college, how I simultaneously lossed a lot of weight, how my hair began to thin, and how I noticed my skin itched every time I had milk or cheese. As I spoke, I felt a lump in my throat form. He was hardly paying attention. My voice trailed off. He looked up, slightly, and peered at me over the top of his glasses. “There is no scientific proof that food and acne are linked. You need benzoyl peroxide and Aczone. Alternate every other night. You’ll be clear in a few weeks.”


He ripped off a paper from that pad he had been writing on. “Take this to the ladies at the checkout. You can pay there. Thanks for coming in,” he said in one breath. He shook my hand and left the room. I was in shock. Was that it? Am I done? I had so many questions.

$782.90. I remember the number because I had to call my mom, crying, asking if she could let me borrow two-hundred and eighty-two dollars and ninety cents. Somehow, she did, and although I was upset that the visit didn’t go as I had hoped, I still felt like my newly-prescribed meds would clear my skin once and forall.

They didn’t. And when I realized they were only making things worse, I cried. I felt sad, angry, lied to, hurt, and, more than anything, out of hope.

Even though I am still learning what’s best for my skin, I now know that there is no “one stop drug” that will clear it. I’m realizing now that it’s about the journey, as cliche as that may sound. From now on, I will be working improving every aspect of my lifestyle, focusing on how I can live the healthiest life possible. So far, that has done so much more for me than a $782.90 prescription.

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1 comment



Hey Arlene, I’m having the same issue now… just waiting for my app at the dermatologist. But my hair is thinning and I’m breaking out bad. What worked for you? Has it cleared up?

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