One year ago, I felt absolutely defeated. I had been losing in my battle with dermatitis for years and had just experienced the worst eczema of my life, which occurred during my first pregnancy. I felt frustrated and exhausted by my own body's attack on my skin.
I Was Just Not That Into My Doctors
I had been seeing an allergist for years and, though they were helpful at first, I no longer felt confident they could help me. I kept hearing the same typical suggestions: avoid dust mites, don't keep your dog in your bedroom, do a food-avoidance diet, etc. And these things didn't really help. I also didn't have a specific dermatologist at that point for a similar situation: I'd gone down that route and there was nothing else they could do for me. Chronic moderate-to-severe eczema doesn't have a cure - at least it didn't at that point.
Hope on the Horizon: A New Allergist
Feeling hopeless, I decided to search for a new allergist. I knew my skin allergies were serious and a big part of my eczema; maybe I should get a second opinion on my treatment with a new allergist. I did some Google searching and saw there were mainly two best-in-class allergist options in Houston ... and it turned out I already had one of them as my allergist. "It's okay. Maybe the other doctor is different," I thought to myself. I made my appointment and felt hope for the first time in a long time.
Game-Changing Eczema Treatment
Dr. David Engler from the Allergy Clinic in Houston changed my life. Although a big part of my improvement this year is Dupixent, a new medication that came out in 2017, and Protopic, an ointment I had surprisingly not tried beforehand, my skin and spirit were in much better shape within only three months of seeing Dr. Engler.
I've realized there are 5 qualities that make my new allergist the one for me:
1. Looks Forward and Keeps Learning
It feels like a breath of fresh air when your new allergist rattles off research and the latest medical discoveries on eczema and skin allergies. You need a doctor that is obsessed with learning, is an avid reader and actively stays on top of the latest industry research. If it sounds like your allergist is telling you things you've heard repeatedly, it's probably because they're stuck in the past.
2. Goes the Extra Mile
The medical industry incentivizes doctors in many ways - to use certain drugs, to maintain certain costs, to be productive with their time, etc. A good allergist will do what is best for their patients, not themselves. When I needed Dupixent, a new eczema medication, my allergist spent the time to complete all the paperwork and even partnered with a Dupixent representative to get me approved. He went the extra mile and, as a result, that medication changed my life.
3. Builds Relationships within the Industry
No doctor will know everything. A "keeper" allergist for eczema will have relationships with others in the allergy and dermatitis field. It is comforting when your doctor tells you they're going to a conference and will get feedback from other specialists about your treatment.
4. Gives Me Confidence
One of the most important qualities of a good allergist are the ability to give me confidence that he or she can help. It takes time to treat eczema. Literally, time, as in hours spent in doctor's appointments. I wouldn't prioritize my treatment if I didn't feel confident my doctor was helping. And if you're suffering from severe eczema, you feel much more lost if you don't have a doctor you trust.
5. Committed to Helping
After having dealt with manic moderate-to-severe eczema for years, I wanted to be cured by my new allergist. Knowing there is no quick fix, I at least wanted to get on a new, good path for improvement. I sometimes felt like I was my doctor's experiment - and I loved that. With many small wins, I eventually achieved mild-to-moderate, controlled eczema, which is where I am now. I acknowledge this improvement is probably not permanent; it's only been one year since I began seeing my new doctor and started new treatments, but it sure feels good to be in my body right now!
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