Hello again, dear readers! Your letters continue to pour in, and we are impressed by and grateful for your curiosity, kindness and your thirst for knowledge. We, too, are lifelong students and love learning from you.
-- Lawrence, a nurse anesthetist from Suffolk, Virginia, expands on the column about bringing a written list of questions to your medical appointments. He suggests maintaining a comprehensive health profile on your computer, which can easily be printed out as needed.
"I include not only medications, but a list of diagnoses, surgical history, contact info and insurance info," Lawrence writes. "The profile is about 2 inches wide by 6 inches long and fits in the front of my wallet, where it would be easily found if I were incapacitated."
-- In response to the column about Grover's disease, a condition that manifests as a rash that can often be maddeningly itchy, readers shared novel ways to deal with the itch.
A reader diagnosed with Grover's disease five years ago recommends using a thin layer of a mentholated topical ointment, like Vicks VapoRub.
"This does two things for me," he writes. "First and fabulous, the itching pain ceases immediately." He reports that the ointment also helps the rash to "dry up" and also prevents spreading, which happens when he scratches.
Another reader living with the condition, who is allergic to steroids, has found relief with a hair dryer. By using a low setting that doesn't burn or damage his skin, he reports that the warm air not only relieves the itch for several hours, but also seems to cause the rash to retreat.
-- The column about the ick factor of the traditional colonoscopy prep solution brought a ton of mail. We have reached out to some colleagues here at UCLA who use an alternative approach and will be addressing the topic again in a future column.
-- And finally, a bit more about service dogs -- or more specifically, fake service dogs. We heard from many of you about the frustration of seeing people abuse the privileges extended to genuine service animals because they want to bring their pet into a store, restaurant or theater. Brad from Naples, Florida, wrote of a plane trip during which an unruly collie brought aboard as a service dog spent the entire flight barking and lunging at passengers.
It's true that some people are taking advantage of the honor system that gives service animals carte blanche to access public places. However, just because you can't "see" a person's challenge or disability doesn't mean the dog is a mere pet. For example, some people with diabetes or epilepsy, which are mostly invisible conditions, depend on their service dogs for warning of a medical emergency.
That said, we share your dismay when poorly trained, ill-mannered or aggressive animals are passed off as service dogs. Not only is it selfish and dishonest, it's also detrimental to the reputation of true service dogs, and makes things even more difficult for their owners.
(Send your questions to email@example.com, or write: Ask the Doctors, c/o Media Relations, UCLA Health, 924 Westwood Blvd., Suite 350, Los Angeles, CA, 90095. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.)