Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Burn Notice, Part Deux

That is the mark of Lord Voldemort on my arm. Yes, I was scarred in battle with the dark evil wizard and am now marked like Harry Potter but with lightning shaped scar on bicep instead of forehead.

It has been slowly (oh so slowly) healing since November and I finally went back to the doctor this week to see what I should be putting on it (Neosporin? Moderma? Lotion? Vaseline?) because it still is tender and irritating -- sometimes itchy, sometimes painful.

So as many of you may recall, when I went to student health the day after it happened,I saw a Lame-Ass Doctor who was Unpleasant and Unsympathetic. She also made a rude comment about how long I had been at Wash U (WTH? Six years is PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE for a PhD in the Humanities and don't you think I am TRYING to get out of here??? And seriously, why am I having to justify my graduate career to you when I am here with a SERIOUS burn injury?). She told me to put moist burn pads on it and keep it clean and come see her in a week.

I did that and at my next appointment she said, "Well that is definitely going to scar but it looks clean and not infected. Come see me again later if you feel like it."

Well I did not "feel like it." Why would I pay $15 to hang out with this doctor so she could tell me it wasn't getting infected and it was going to scar? As far as I knew -- based on the information she gave me -- there was nothing more that could be done. So I ignored concerned friends who were like "Dude, are you going back to the doctor for that?" because I really thought her lack of concern meant there was nothing that anyone could do about it and it was just going to heal on its own and -- eventually, I hoped, with the use of copious amounts of Moderma, fade away.

But this burn happened in November. And although it has healed from its huge blisters that looked like arm-herpes, and then raw open skin that made me kind of gag to look at it, and it is now scarring over in an ugly, raised, jagged, and angry scar. It is pretty wicked looking. I realized that I had kind of gotten used to it and it was mostly covered up with sleeves in the winter. But the lovely warm weather we've had lately (until today, freaking Missouri, and my poor magnolia tree is in crisis and its lovely blooms turned brown), these warm temperatures have me wanted to wear short sleeves and I have become increasingly aware that this scar is pretty scary looking.

So I decided to go back and see a different doctor and ask for a referral to a dermatologist who could maybe give me some miracle ointment or something.

This new Super Great Doctor walks in, takes one look at my arm, and her jaw drops. She asks what happened so I give her the story, "blah blah hot tea, blah blah spill, blah blah back in November... so I was wondering if maybe I should see a dermatologist?" And she says, "Oh, honey, I'm referring you to the wound care surgical unit at Barnes."

Umm.... That would be Barnes-Jewish hospital, home of Wash U med school and Wash U's "Top Docs." I have only been there once before when D had Very Terrible Vision Issue and we were terrified he was going to go blind (but that's a whole blog entry in itself). So anyway, Super Great Doctor leaves the room, makes a phone call, and schedules an appointment for me with a Wound Care Specialist in the Acute Care Surgery Center on March 18th.

So I have mixed feelings about all this. I'm glad I went back and saw Super Great Doctor, but I'm also furious because it is clear that this sort of action should have been taken months ago by Lame-Ass Malpractice Doctor when I first showed up with a hideously blistered and raw, scalded arm. I cannot believe that Lame-Ass Malpractice Doctor acted so nonchalant about it (and neither could the two Very Sympathetic Nurses who saw my arm as my Very Important Surgery Consult Appointment was being scheduled and they were Extremely Nice and Felt Quite Sorry For Poor Disfigured Me and asked who I saw the first time and when I told them, they Exchanged Knowing Glances and Did Not Comment).

I am also kind of freaked out because, um? surgery? ouch? and please please please no needles!!! (Seriously, I can just look at needles and pass out -- just ask my orthodontic surgeon, but that's a whole blog entry in itself). Also... does my insurance cover this? I mean, since Lame-Ass Malpractice Doctor didn't refer me to anyone, is this now "superficial plastic surgery like the Real Housewives of Orange County" instead of "holy shit you have a hideous burn surgery"?

Super Great Doctor said that since the scar is still red and tender, it is likely that they can still "do something for me" and it's true that whatever needs to be done is purely cosmetic because it's not infected or anything. It is mighty ugly though. So now I wait and see what Laurel in the Barnes Surgical Care Center thinks about the mark of Lord Voldemort...

... to be continued next Wednesday.

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