It's a GAD GAD World
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Over the past year I've had the opportunity to learn a little about autistic spectrum disorders (don't ask me how), and some of it is starting to sound familiar.

I don't think I have enough symptoms, and what symptoms I have aren't severe enough to qualify me for a full-blown diagnosis, but Asperger's would explain a lot about why I'm such a fuck-up.

Autistic people have phenomenal memories. So do I. Asperger's people can also have heightened verbal abilities. I was reading at 18 months. Not speaking--READING. When I was maybe 3 or 4, my mom would sit me down at the kitchen table & plop the latest issue of Time magazine in front of me. She'd open the magazine to an article and say "read this". Then I'd read the article out loud to her while she made my breakfast.

Mind you, I didn't necessarily understand what I was reading. But I could read the words to her. Which leads me to my next symptom: Subtleties are often lost on autistic types. If something isn't spelled out to them, they don't necessarily get it. When I'd take standardized tests in grade school I would always score slightly lower on reading comprehension than in reading. When I was a freshman in high school I had to read "To Kill A Mockingbird". At some point I had to take a test on it. One of the questions was, "How did Bob Ewell die?" I answered "He fell on his knife and killed himself" and was shocked when I got it wrong. That was exactly what it said in the book, how could it be wrong? I was an adult before I was able to read the passage again and understand what really happened.

Speaking of subtleties and autistic folks, they don't often pick up on social clues. I'm better at it now that I'm an adult, but I'm still not as with it as normal people. And I was much worse as a teenager/college student. I think this is why I'm a complete and total failure at love. The whole dating and mating process just seems like an intricate chess match to me and someone forgot to give me the rule book. I just want to walk up to guys I know and say, "Look, I know we don't know each other very well. But I'd like us to get to know each other better. That doesn't necessarily mean I want to sleep with you. It just means I'd like to sit down with you and have a cup of coffee or something and see if we can stand half an hour in each other's company without either of us wanting to kill the other. Then we can go from there." But you can't say that to guys. They run screaming from the room if you do that. Sometimes they leave skid marks.

I'm also honest to a fault. I just don't know of any other way to be. I see so many things going wrong at work, and it's just so damn obvious to me what they are. I think one of the few reasons I've been able to keep my job for this long is that I'm finally learning to keep my mouth shut. But that doesn't keep me from seeing the truth.

Autistics can be sensitive to certain noises or flickering lights. I've never been good with sirens or loud noises, and it got worse after 9/11. And I'm dreading the annual Christmas party because I know there's going to be a dj there who does not understand the basics of indoor acoustics.

Asperger's types also tend to have one special area of interest, and this is the ONLY thing on which they can carry on a conversation. This isn't me. But I do find that when I'm talking to someone & I think of something that I want to say, I will often choose to say what pops into my head rather than gauge my conversation to what the other person is saying.

In other news, I had a decent Thanksgiving for a change. A co-worker invited me to her place, & her family was actually pretty cool.

And one thing on which I have to vent: You've probably heard the story by now about the Wal-Mart security guard who was trampled to death when he tried to open the store on Black Friday & people were just a bit too eager to get to those bargains to give a shit about the security guard's safety. People...When obtaining a good deal on a holiday gift becomes more important than a person's life, somebody's values (either yours or the person for whom you're buying the gift--probably yours) are seriously out of whack.

Sunday, November 23, 2008
I'll get to the logic behind the title of this post in a minute. But first...

Message to Karen who posted a comment on 11/19: Thank you for your post. I'm reluctant to post your comment because you included your last name. If you post another comment (it can be the same thing) without your last name, I'll be happy to publish it. Also, sorry for the delay in responding to your comment...

...Which leads me to the subject of this post. Thanks to Excite making so-called "upgrades" that worthless Vista can't deal with, I can no longer access my Excite account. I will be looking into getting another anonymous account from a different provider soon. In the meantime...HEY VISTA! HEY EXCITE! Do you think that MAYBE you could get your collective shit together??

So last Friday I had an appointment with a dermatologist. When I went for my annual physical in June the way-too-overeagerly efficient physician's assistant who saw me instead of my doctor insisted on asking me about my skin because I'm fair & have other risk factors. So I pointed out to her several moles on my body that are bigger in diameter than a pencil eraser. She noticed one on my belly that was not only 2 different colors, but had also sprouted a tiny island of a freckle nearby--2 things I myself had not caught. The doctor arranged for a referral to a dermatologist. It took me this long to get a live human being to answer the phone at the derm's office so I could schedule an appointment.

So I'm in the derm's office & filling out the pre-exam form. It lists a bunch of medical conditions and asks me to check off the ones I have. The only one listed that I actually had was depression. It asks me if I have any other conditions. I list anxiety.

Then it asks me to list all the meds I'm currently taking. I always love answering this question because I'm on so many fucking meds. So I list them all, list the dosage, and also list my PRN meds and indicate that they are in fact PRN.

Then I'm asked for the reason for my visit. I wrote, "I have a suspicious-looking mole & I'd like to have it removed."

So I'm ushered into the exam room & about 2 minutes later the derm walks in--younger woman, maybe early 30s. She asks me to show her the mole. So I adjust my clothing & point it out to her. I point out the discoloration & the island, and I start to tell her that I have risk factors when she cut me off.

"I can tell you right now that it's probably not cancer, but I'm going to remove it anyway so you can stop worrying."

"What makes you say that?"

"It's not discolored. But I saw all the meds on your form & I'm just going to take it off so you can stop worrying about it."

At the time I was relieved that I wasn't going to have to talk her into taking it off. But now the more I think about it the more annoyed I'm getting. Truth be told, I wasn't even that worried about it. Otherwise it wouldn't have taken me 5 months to set up the appointment--I would have been a LOT more persistent about it. But this derm just made an inappropriate judgment call on me. She took one look at my med list and assumed I was a hypochondriac.

It always amazes me how some of the deepest prejudice towards mental illness comes from the medical community itself.

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