Friday, January 14, 2011

Aspies and Medical Care

This nasty pericarditis has left me so debilitated that all I can do is lie in bed and ponder a variety of issues. I've been thinking, for instance, about how much more complicated it is to take care of your health if you are autistic.

Hospitals and doctors' offices are places where you are examined, scrutinized, poked, asked endless questions by strangers, and left for long stretches of time away from a familiar environments.

"You should see a doctor!" people suggest brightly when they see an Aspie suffering from a persistent cough, high fever, heart palpitations, or any other visible discomfort. If only it were that simple. As an autistic you learn very early on that many things are just not an option. Whenever you feel sick, you simply know that seeking medical help is not something you can deal with. If anything, it will make you feel worse: disoriented, lost, confused, possibly depressed. Knowing this, an Aspie will often choose to suffer in silence, hoping to walk it off, wait the disease out.

I don't have any practical suggestions to make here. I just wonder how many autistics are sitting there alone, waiting for the pain to go away on its own, because they can't imagine putting themselves through the trauma of a hospital visit. And how many might be shortening their lives as a result?

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maitreyi1978 said...

I'm sorry you're not feeling well. Maybe if you asked a friend to accompany you?

Pagan Topologist said...

I am cynical enough about medicine that except for rare issues such as you are experiencing now, I believe that toughing it out and letting your body heal itself is the best option for everyone. Treatments have side effects which can in the long run be more serious than the condition they treat. Furthermore, dangerous medical errors are all too common. If I recall correctly, they kill more people per year than do traffic accidents in this country.

Glad you are feeling well enough to think clearly about these issues, if nothing else.

Clarissa said...

I agree with what you are saying, David, but I know somebody who tried to walk off an actual stroke because of this fear of medical attention. And that's scary.

PamBG said...

Clarissa, I hope you feel better soon. I've just found your blog through a friend's link to a post.

If you ever feel able, I'd be intrigued to know why going to the doctor or hospital is so traumatic for "Aspies" (using your term). I ask not to make unhelpful "helpful suggestions" but because I'd like to understand.

Get well soon.

Lindsay said...

"[A]n Aspie will often choose to suffer in silence, hoping to walk it off, wait the disease out."

Yes, that's what I always do. But I think most people my age do that --- assume it (whatever "it" is) will go away on its own.

But I definitely know what you mean about some thing just not being an option!

(One of the things that was Not An Option for me when I was younger was going on birth control to help relieve my horrible, disabling menstrual cramps. You have to have a pelvic exam to get them prescribed, and my mother and I both knew I would never allow anyone to do that. So instead I just missed school for two or three days every month or so. As you might imagine, I very much wish the FDA or whoever would let birth control be sold over the counter; it would make things much easier for the younger auties/Aspies with Periods from Hell!)

Clarissa said...

Oh God, I so know what you mean about the pelvic exam! What a horrible torture! I have to pretend to go outside of my body to get through them. Most people don't understand. 'Don't be such a drama queen,' they say. Like I don't want to react differently to these things.