My car crept slowly down sunset blvd, the infamous LA traffic stopping us at every light to watch dark eyed residents and interns in hospital blue scrubs and motionless faces cross the street, coming or going to their long and grueling shifts. We were surrounded by medical buildings full of average Americans with hope in their eyes, blindly putting faith in their physicians, medical system, and in the drug industry to save their lives, heal their children, prevent disease and ensure good health.
I was excited. Full of hope for my son, the idea of healthy skin and a more normal life seemed to be a glimpse away. Inching along the street, I took in the sights. We passed the Church of Scientology, oddly placed in between branches of the hospital and other medical buildings. I kept my eye out for Tom Cruise but no such luck. 🙂 I can still smell the early summer LA air, warm at 9am and grey with smog. I can see the blue sky, the few clouds. I can still see the man in the basement parking garage that took my three dollars, and I can still feel the quickening of my pulse as we headed up the elevator looking for a new beginning.
And I still feel the passion that burned in my blood as I left the city that day… We did find a new beginning. It just wasn’t the one I thought was there.
Here’s the shortest version I’ve got. We were checked in, brought back to an exam room, and the nurse took Lucas’ vitals. We waited less than five minutes and a very young woman (younger than me!) walked in and introduced herself as Dr. Something. She was clearly a resident, just beginning her career in dermatology. I gave her a brief version of our story and as I spoke I watched her physically stop listening to me. She had already decided what she was going to say. I still tried – I showed her photos, I pulled lotions and supplements out of my bag. I practically begged for her expertise to help me find a cause, rather than a cover up for this debilitating eczema. And then she launched into the same generic eczema speech that I had heard from every. single. person. at least a bazillion times. I interrupted. I showed her labs. I asked for specific testing and was told no, that he would test positive on everything because he is an “allergy kid”. She could tell I was getting upset, and left to get her superior.
Five minutes later they were back, with an additional three doctors trailing behind. I stood in the very crowded exam room, Lucas oblivious to my frustrations and the seriousness of the conversation. He was opening drawers and making smiley faces at the doctors. I was surrounded by opinions. Voices telling me to just accept the diagnosis and treat it with the medication. That there was no real cause for the eczema. NO CAUSE! That I just needed to “grease him up” and keep the medication coming and he would “eventually” grow out of it. That I was doing harm to him by not using the medication. HARM!! I’M SORRY, BUT NOT PUTTING HORMONE ALTERING CHEMICALS ON MY SONS LARGEST ORGAN ON A DAILY BASIS DOES NOT MEAN I AM A A BAD MOTHER. I AM KEEPING HIM SAFE FROM YOU PEOPLE WHO DON’T ACTUALLY WANT TO SPEND THE TIME TO FIGURE OUT WHAT IS GOING ON!
I wanted to scream in their faces: wake up! wake up and look at what is happening to our children! Look at what is happening to America. We are getting sicker. We are dying earlier. We are full of cancer and heart disease and mental illness and we are all pumped full of medications on top on chemical laden crap food and our brains are so screwed up by it all that we just keep on keeping on, doing what they say. How can they feel good about sending a four year old child home with nothing but drugs – no answer, no hope or cause?! It makes me sick.
My head was spinning, my mind reeling, my heart pounding. At that moment I wanted to grab my son, wrap every inch of my arms around him and tell him we were done. With doctors and appointments, with asking these people for help and receiving nothing but another dose of medication. I wanted to hold him tight and tell him we were never coming back. That I would help him. That I would do everything in my power to make sure he was never in the hands of America’s medical system. And I pray to God that we never ever have a reason to rely on them for our own health. On the drive home that morning I promised myself that I would help Lucas. That I would figure everything out. That I would solve the mystery and help him feel well and be able to play and sleep normally with out daily applications of steroids.
I had walked into the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles Dermatology Clinic that morning full of hope for my son. And I walked out two hours later, sickened by what I had just experienced. It’s taken me a long time to be able to write about this. It was beyond emotional for me. It was life altering – a pivotal moment. I will never forget it.