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Update and Makeup Tips
from Suffering in Chicago

Hi Ed and my fellow flakers. It has been way too short a summer for someone like me who lives in Chicago. We are starting to feel the Autumn temperatures. Since I live in Chicago, I am expecting snowfall of at least 10" any day now. One can never predict.

Since I last corresponded (in May I believe [see link at end]) I did in fact get a new derm and can happily say I got not only new prescriptions for Dovonex but for Ultravate as well. Yea! It was a bit of a trade-off for me though: while the derm is nice enough, listened to my treatment history and gave me my prescriptions, I feel the doctor is slightly "detached" from the human side. So far, no other problems with the derm, so I'll try to stick this one out for awhile.

I had a relatively great Ultravate summer. I got through it with relatively clear legs, completely clear arms, neck and face, but a terrible torso. Hey, as long as I didn't have to suffer with long sleeves and jeans, I can hide the rest under the t-shirts and shorts. Luckily, I had no reason to ponder dropping into a bathing suit which saved me a lot of trouble. I did have one problem with my legs though: even though the lesions went away completely, my legs were "freckled" where the lesions had been. They looked like a bad tan gone wrong. Needless to say I single-handedly rose the stock prices in Revlon and sent several children of CEOs to college by purchasing mass quantities of Revlon Colorstay Liquid Makeup.

A tip to all: In my experience, Dermablend makeup sucks!!! Don't waste your money on the foundation at all. Revlon Colorstay is cheaper, covers better, is easier to apply, and comes off with a slight matte finish. It's also easier to match to your natural skin tone, and should work for not only women but men as well. However, Colorstay does work with the white Dermablend powder, or you can use Maybelline Finish Matte. Either does the job. I spent money on a tube of Dermablend foundation, tried to use it once on a small spot, then a large spot, then tossed it.

So what the heck is the deal with this "freckling" on the skin? I've had it before, but usually it's gone in a few weeks and I don't need the makeup. This year it was a royal pain in the you know what! (As if P itself isn't a royal pain?!)

Now, here's the latest battle: Fall and Winter are fast approaching. Rest assured I can look forward to a major P explosion no matter what I do. Just when I start to get a little self-esteem back, it goes south. Another bit of advice to all: Buy stock in not only Revlon but Dow as well. I will be spending tons of money this winter not only on Ultravate and Dovonex, but liquid makeup and Saran Wrap as well, so count on the stock going through the roof.

Personally, I am not looking forward to another mental and emotional battle. It tires and distresses me to no end. The question I will pose to myself again is "Why?" Who did I piss off in another life? I am only 26 and wonder what the heck will the future hold with my P.

Try to keep your heads up though! My devastation should not be another's sanctuary. As always, keep up the great work, Ed. -Suffering in Chicago


Ed's Response: Good to hear from you again, Suff! Even better to hear you found a different derm and got your Ultravate back. [Readers: Suff's prior contribution is archived: A Helpless Case?] Speaking about slightly detached doctors, I heartily recommend you read Shelley Diamond's open letter to her doctor. (The link is to Ed Anderson's pinch.com web site.) I equate a doctor's sensitivity (a.k.a. bedside manner) to a customer service issue. Some doctors don't care much, or don't know much about customer service. (This is a theme taken to extreme in the recently-released-on-video movie, Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams.) Maybe "Customer Service: A-to-Z" needs to be a certification-renewal-prerequisite course for all physicians. I'd volunteer to teach it myself, but the Doc's wouldn't like it. All in my class would start with a failing grade (a minus instead of a zero) and have to prove they can ace the course (end with a +5).

And while I'm on the subject, let me add that a HUGE customer service problem in many medical practices originates in these firms' non-medical administrative staff. Wife Clara, who is employed in this field, tells me most of my complaints would be news to the doctors I blame. She says the doctors are often unaware that (a) their prescription renewals take far too long to be accomplished, (b) their appointment scheduling is stubbornly inflexible, (c) their payment terms need more options, etc. Clara points out that patients usually experience these administrative lapses in customer service immediately after an appointment, so they don't see the doctor again until they've cooled down. And, complaining to the administrative staff doesn't do any good because (a) they're used to it, (b) they have no concept of customer service. A case in point, this one regarding inflexible scheduling: When I wish to make an appointment with my derm I am usually asked to wait six weeks to two months. The admin staffer I'm dealing with on the phone says that's how far in advance my doctor's calendar fills up. On the other hand, when, during a Dr.'s visit, I am instructed to, for example, make a follow-up appointment for two weeks, this is never a problem! Now, it doesn't take a genius to figure out what's happening here. There is some kind of SOP (standard operating procedure) that dictates so much percent of the doctor's time must remain free for follow-ups. In this day and age, with scheduling done on computers, it's simple to safeguard that reserved time. In conjunction, appointments must be categorizable; e.g., patient-initiated or doctor-initiated. I could test this hypothesis by calling my derm's office and trying to book a bogus follow-up appointment ("The doctor told me to").

I don't think some doctors assign enough importance to their administrative staffs. Their concept of customer service begins and ends in the exam room (and many docs have enough problems there). I would fall off my seat in surprised delight if a doctor asked me, "So, how has my staff been to deal with? Have you had any scheduling problems ... billing problems ... communication problems?"

Enuff pontificating.

Though much of what you wrote about makeup is over my head, I put that in the headline of this email exchange because I know it WON'T BE over the heads of a lot of FlakeHQers. On their behalf, let me say thanks, Suff.

The freckling phantom lesions syndrom was something I've not heard about before. I have been told by my derm that quiescent lesion skin coloration problems will clear with time, with legs commonly taking the longest time to clear. Any readers have more information about this?

Let us know how you "weather" the fall and upcoming winter, Suff. In the meantime, stay warm! -Ed

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