Fake Doctors

The following is my opinionated, but not entirely unscientific, testimony for breaking up with dairy products.

Generally speaking, we Americans have been indoctrinated in the gospel of cow’s milk; being led to believe that partaking in it’s creamy goodness is not only wholesome but necessary. Milkiness is next to godliness. Don’t believe me? Turn on the TV and see for yourself. Interestingly though, no other adult mammal consumes milk and certainly no other mammal consumes the milk of a different species. Be that as it may, our near religious fervor for cow’s milk will not be quelled by the facts. To hear some folks tell it you’d think Elsie sits at the right hand of Christ as an honorary member of the holy trinity: Father, Son and Holy Fucking Cow.

Most milk comes from pregnant cows and contains huge quantities of the androgen hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone), enough to regulate the metabolism of a pregnant 900 pound jersey cow and is also high in IGF-1 (Insulin like growth factor-1), the growth hormone responsible for turning a new born calf into a lumbering farm animal. Milk is baby formula and we make our own, there is no need to drink theirs. It is rumored that 75% of the world’s human population is lactose intolerant to some degree. This means that I am far from alone in experiencing the festive display of intestinal fireworks that commences immediately following the consumption of even the tiny quantity of half & half contained in a Mini Moo coffee creamer. I broke up with that low down bastard, milk, a long time ago but still continued in my love affair with cheese and yogurt because their cultured live enzymes made them digestible for me. I did not realize they were the perpetrators of another crime.

As a kid, my parent’s, like pretty much everyone’s parents, would miss no opportunity to plunk down a glass of milk in front of me and tell me to drink it. I was a small child, not sick, just slight but rather than stating the obvious which was that I was a healthy little person I was told, mostly by my grandmother, that if I didn’t start eating more food and drinking more milk that I would become frail and diseased, “like me” she would say. I consumed a lot of milk, yogurt and cheese so, in retrospect, maybe it’s not surprising that puberty hit me like a ton of bricks at age 11. While it never did produce a C cup bra size, it did mean I started my period in 5th grade and with it came a biblical scourge of breakouts that more or less put an end to my already minimal social life and led me to believe that I was going to have to work on being smart because skating by on my good looks probably wasn’t going to cut it.

My mother has recently informed me that she struggled with acne for a good 30 years; from adolescence until her mid 40’s, a fact that I somehow did not pick up on during the first 15 years of my life, but she swears is true. The thing is, she just told me this last week. I’m 35 years old. Last fucking week! Now, I’m not gonna say that she was a bad mother but I have a major bone to pick over this issue. When she told me of her affliction my first reaction was to throw something and demand “why didn’t you help me?!?!” She worked as a medical assistant in an urgent care center for about 12 years while I was growing up. There was a dermatologist who worked there too. I know this because she did take me to see the dermatologist, once. Granted, it is not my mom’s fault that this dermatologist prescribed some totally ineffective treatments but where I take issue is that she had the same problem and knew first hand how it affected her self esteem; transforming her adolescence into a painfully reclusive time yet, when she it saw it happening to me, she acted like it was no big deal. Not wanting to explode in her face with a tirade of accusations, I didn’t ask her why, but if I had I imagine her answer would be that I didn’t complain or ask for help and therefore she was blissfully (conveniently) unaware of my crumbling self esteem, assuming that there must be some other reason for my conspicuous shyness and inability to make friends. I didn’t complain or ask for help because I was too embarrassed and because I didn’t know that there might have been more help available. I think at that age, the responsibility for identifying and proactively addressing physical and emotional problems is the job of the parent especially when the problem was so visibly obvious and the parent was a health care professional. Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20, right? Seeing that I was destined to suffer the same fate as herself one might assume that my mom would’ve sought out every treatment option available, relentless attacking the problem from every possible angle until clear skin reigned triumphant. Instead, she would sit mutely by while my step dad berated me for wearing too much makeup, in what he assumed was an attempt to get “all whored up”, when all it ever was was an attempt to make my skin look normal.

In middle school I told myself life would be better by the time I turned 16. In high school I told myself all would be well by the time I got to college. At the beginning of college of I told myself there would be clear sailing by the time I turned 21. How long can puberty last after all? The answer; long enough to master the art of introversion or indefinitely, whichever comes first. Sometime around age 25 I stopped setting deadlines. Throughout my adult years, I’ve experienced varying degrees of severity; some years passing with only minimal disturbance while other years seemed like a repeat of 7th grade. I have tried EVERYTHING, every. fucking. thing; you name it, I’ve tried it. I’ve been to other dermatologists, all of whom numbly prescribe the same thoughtless regime of treatments that didn’t work the previous time either. Eventually, having no positive experiences to draw on, I really soured to the idea of seeing a dermatologist and resigned myself to finding products that didn’t make it worse and hoping for the best on a day to day basis. Things were actually pretty good for a few years in my late 20’s and early 30’s. I thought maybe I had finally won but then, about two and half years ago, it reappeared with a vengeance. A little breakout followed by a bigger breakout followed by an even bigger breakout until my complexion had gone completely off the tracks. I tried everything that had ever worked with any degree of success in the past, and all to no avail. My face was a disaster and all I wanted to do was hide but I still had to run my business and successfully close deals which requires a great deal of confidence, all the while feeling hideously ugly. After about 6 months of this nonsense, in a state of total desperation, I decided to once again see a dermatologist. This time, I told myself, is the last time. I’m going to ride this doctor like a fucking pony until they find something that works. I was committed to finding a cure. Incidentally, by this point I am convinced that there must be some stimulus, other than being smitten by God, that is triggering the breakouts; some hormonal, dietary or environmental factor that is working against me but I still have no idea what it could be.

On my initial visit to the new dermatologist, upon hearing my story and my feeling that there must be an underlying cause, the first words out of her mouth were “We don’t actually know what causes acne.” I was like “Are you shitting me?” Imagine that, the cause of the most common skin aliment in the world is not known by the doctors whose job it is to treat it! Really, I mean really?!?! Here we go again, I thought. While she was talking I stole a glance at what I assumed was her medical degree hanging on the wall behind her. Turns out, it was an associates degree in animal husbandry from Middleton Community College. A few months into my tenure she was writing me yet another prescription for a different oral antibiotic and I asked her if such prolonged use of antibiotics wasn’t adversely affecting my health in other ways. She looked at me like I was speaking in tongues and her answer was, get this, “but that’s how it’s treated.” Oh ok, so her plan then was to keep prescribing me oral antibiotics until the abdominal pain and intestinal liquefaction drew my attention away from my face and drove me to slit my wrists in the bathtub. There, problem solved. Eventually, after spending about 7 months and lots of money with this quack, I put in a vote of no confidence and went to find another new doctor. Unfortunately the new one was actually worse than the previous. Both of them did the same things: telling me that acne was a mysterious problem that may be caused by black cats or voodoo curses but definitely not by anything I may be eating and, since the cause is evidently more elusive than the aboriginal unicorn, there was really no point in trying to figure it out so just take these antibiotics until your stomach bleeds and use this horrible battery acid topical ointment that will cause 2nd degree burns, rendering the acne much less noticeable as a result. When these methods would inevitably fail they would get exasperated with me, like it was my fault their lame ideas didn’t work, and then just move on to the next items on the list, still making no effort whatsoever to consider the cause; hurriedly tossing another prescription at me and showing me the door. I only went to the 2nd derm three times. On the third visit she was so rude, curt and useless that I hit the end of my rope, sitting in my car crying with frustration for half an hour before I could get it together to safely drive away. This woman, whose degree I noticed was actually a framed certificate of authenticity for a 1985 Astronaut Barbie, actually said to me (after I shot down all her no-brainer suggestions), ” I don’t know what to tell you then.” Well fuck you very much doc, and thanks for nothing.

I know I can’t be the only middle aged person in America suffering from a chronic case of puberty and my heart goes out to anyone who is coloring their gray hair, applying anti aging treatments to their eyes and using Proactiv on their face all at the same time. If this is you and dermatologists have proven to be a condescending and useless tribe of fake doctors, I feel your pain. But there may still be hope for us yet. One night, during yet another exhaustive internet research marathon, a long overdue miracle occurred. I learned that, while it does not have the same effect on everyone, many people believe that the consumption of dairy products is a direct contributor to the presence of long term, treatment resistant acne in both teens and adults. Basically, the cow appropriate levels of DHT and IGF-1 present in any dairy product throws the human metabolism into a tail spin causing wild fluctuations in blood sugar levels, inflammation and increased oil and skin cell production and guess what all of these things are major contributors to? Surprise, surprise: acne. Admittedly, my love affair with cheese made me reluctant to test the the theory. Eventually though, I decided that no food tastes as good as clear skin looks and that if I wanted off this ride sometime prior to filing for social security, it was time to get serious. That was about 5 weeks ago. The first few weeks produced only nominal results and I was about to throw in the towel when, in week number 4, I began to see a dramatic improvement. Blemishes cleared up and new ones did not appear to take their place. Days are ticking by and, while I’m fully prepared to discover the whole thing is a cruel practical joke, so far the other shoe has yet to fall. With a long history of disappointment I am reluctant to announce the occurrence of an official according to Hoyle miracle just yet but, for the first time in a long time, I am optimistic.

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