What Do I Know? I’m Only His Mother

Daily Foglifter:  “Spectrum”–A broad sequence or range of related qualities, ideas, or activities

I had a very busy week last week with the kids home from spring break.  In addition to all the shopping trips we had to make as a family, we also had to go the doctor’s office.  More specifically, the psychiatrist’s office.  No, it wasn’t for my pending emotional breakdown.  It was for my autistic son who has been having some obsessive compulsive issues.  Why in the world I made that appointment when I would have all five kids, I couldn’t tell you.  Although, any psychiatrist worth their salt would suggest it has something to do with my pesky martyr complex.  But, I digress.

I took all five kids to the psychiatrist’s office and got there on time, only to wait for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  My kids were uncharacteristically awesome.  Of course, I made everyone take their Nintendo DS and forbade them to sit within arm’s length of one another, but they could’ve complained.  They didn’t say a word.  It was a proud moment.  There was a funny moment in the waiting room.  A little old crotchety man in a wheel chair, oxygen tank firmly attached, was irate and summed up what everyone was thinking.

Why make appointments if you’re not going to keep them?  It’s very inconsiderate and he’s a SHRINK for God’s sake!  He should know better!

I love old people.

Well, they finally called Mikey’s name and I took the baby and told the rest of the kids to sit quietly in the waiting room while I go see the doctor.  The nurse asked me, “They won’t get up and go outside, will they?”  Um, no.  We may be in a psychiatrists’ office, but they’re not crazy. Of course I didn’t say that.  I opted for the more polite answer of, “No, ma’am.”  She didn’t look like the type who would take a joke very well.

We were ushered into the Doc’s office and were met by a very pretty med student who would be observing.  Another ten minutes passed and Doc finally made his appearance.  He introduced himself and stretched out his hand, but before I could return the courtesy, his pager went off and he went to the phone.  I waited another five minutes for his conversation, which was medical in nature, to end and then he flipped open Mikey’s file.

  • Doc:  “Who referred you?”  Me:  I answered.
  • Doc:  “What’s the problem?”  Me:  “We need new meds for some obsessive-compulsive issues related to his autism.”
  • Doc:  “How many children do you have?”  Me:  “Five”  Doc’s pager goes off and he makes another ten minute phone call for another obviously more important concern than ours.
  • Doc:  “Is the father in the home, or is it just you?”  Me:  “I’m married to the children’s father and we have always lived together.”
  • Doc:  “Who diagnosed autism?”  Me:  Dr. _________.”
  • Doc (to Mikey):  “How are you?  Do you do well in school?  Do you get good grades?  Do you like school?  Do you feel okay?”  Mikey answers all his questions and the Doc turns to his student and says, “There are no signs of Autism.  His previous doctor had a reputation for misdiagnosing Autism.  That’s why she moved to Florida.”  I wasn’t looking in a mirror, but I’m sure the look on my face was one of shock and awe.
  • Doc:  “What makes you think he has Autism?  Has he had psychological testing?”
  • Me (stammering):  “It began with sensory issues, loss of speech, no eye contact…He’s had tests, when he was three and last year.”
  • Doc (to student):  “Do you see the problem?  Sensory issues…a lot of toddlers have this.”
  • Doc (to me):  “Does he have outbursts?  Is there a history of depression in your family?”
  • Me (still reeling)”  “Yes to both.  But he’s not moody.  He only gets upset if his expectations aren’t met or he feels like he was cheated because things didn’t go according to his plan.”
  • Doc (again to the damn student):  “Depression can present many ways…blah, blah, blah.”

Mikey's First Year in School Age 3

I’m not sure at what point I became invisible, but he was talking to this student as if he knew what in the hell he was talking about and that I was inconsequential.  Or very dumb.  Did he think I wouldn’t notice he said that Mikey’s diagnosis was wrong?  That what we thought was autism for the past 8 freakin’ years was a matter of a genetic disposition to depression?  Did he expect me to accept that and say nothing?

Apparently he did.  Every time I tried to explain what led to Mikey’s diagnosis, I was cut off by another dumb phone call or a stupid, uninformed asinine opinion of his.  An opinion he formed in a total of 10 minutes with me and my son.

To make matters worse, I was completely blind-sided.  I had no idea that I would be challenged on my son’s diagnosis.  I was completely unprepared for that.  I didn’t bring in the mountains of documentation I’ve accumulated over the past 8 years.  For God’s sake, I could barely form a coherent sentence, between my shock and his dismissal of anything I had to tell him.  I’m not sure when he decided I was an idiot who wasn’t worthy of his attention, or even his comments, but I suspect it was around the time I said I had 5 children.  What intelligent person has 5 children in this day and age?  Everything he said was to his student.  She at least had the decency to look embarrassed about it.

I was trying to collect my thoughts when he started talking meds.  He believed me about the OCD, (“It’s another way depression presents itself.”), and was writing Mikey a prescription.  It was what I went there for and as I was really too angry to speak or even to know what I wanted to say, I took the prescription and ushered Mikey out of there as the benevolent Doc took yet another phone call.

I’ve been thinking about what to do for the last four days.  The meeker and non-confrontational side of me says not to worry about it.  What we wanted was meds for a condition the Doc actually believes Mikey has.  We got it and as the only requirement will be to do periodic med checks, it isn’t necessary for the Doc to agree with the diagnosis of Autism.  The meeker and non-confrontational side of me is an idiot and a coward.

Mikey is not depressed.  He has Autism.  While it is encouraging to think that even a doctor can’t tell by speaking to him, it’s more insulting to be summarily dismissed.  That man has no idea the hard work it’s taken to get Mikey to this point. He wasn’t there for the sensory integration therapy when Mikey would scream his 3-year-old lungs out because he was forced to touch sand or shaving cream.  He wasn’t there when Mikey would stare off into space when I spoke to him.  He didn’t witness the hand-flapping, the echolalia, the made up language.  He certainly wasn’t there when Mikey used to bang his head against the wall or the floor in order to feel something.  That man doesn’t know anything about my son.

He will learn a great deal the next time we meet.  I have videos, reports, test results, IEPs, and a ton of other paperwork.  He may not want to listen to little old me, but he will be forced to look at the history.  He will have to acknowledge the validity of my son’s diagnosis.  He’ll see the tremendous effort put forth by his parents, his teachers, his Occupational and Speech therapists, and above all, of Mikey himself. Of course, I’ll be respectful.  If, as I fear, he still doesn’t want to listen, I can be something else, if necessary.  If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here’s a hint:  It starts with a “B” and rhymes with “itch.”  While it’s not my nature to resort to this, I am quite capable of it.  Just ask my husband.

Picture Day is Stressful for Autistic Children

If all this fails, we will have to find another doctor.  If there is one.  Because Mikey has a disability, he is on Medicaid.  This was extremely helpful when he was younger and needed the OT and Speech therapy, but it’s not served us as well the last few years.  Finding a doctor, particularly a mental health professional, that accepts Medicaid is difficult.  Of course it is.  With what Medicaid pays, I’d be reluctant to accept it, too.  The wonderful world of government health insurance at work, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a cut and dried diagnosis, hence the use of the word, “Spectrum.”  Those on the spectrum have a myriad of easily recognizable symptoms–non-verbal, no eye-contact, no social interaction, sensory integration issues, and stimming.  Some autism cases are very severe and represent what people typically think of when they hear the word “Autistic.”  Mikey presented with all the classic signs of Autism when he began Early Intervention Services.  He began school at age 3 and even attended summer classes so that his therapies could continue.  A lot was required of him and he benefitted from the constant “training.”  I thank God every day for the wonderful doctors and teachers who helped him.  I never thought it might hurt him in the long run.

If this doctor refuses to support the diagnosis of Autism, it will go into his chart and could potentially complicate his future.  Mikey may appear “normal” but he still has issues related to his Autism that will undoubtedly affect his ability to work and live independently.  He will likely depend on his disability benefits.  If Autism is ruled out, these benefits will disappear.  Not because he isn’t Autistic, but because he isn’t Autistic enough.

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20 thoughts on “What Do I Know? I’m Only His Mother

  1. Sounds like that Doc needs to be struck off. I’d definately get a new one. On the point of appointments I agree. How hard is it to keep to a time. I mean they must allocate a certain time to be with a patient etc. But to go over this by 1 3/4 hours is taking the preverbial. I have no patience so it makes it so much worse for me.
    I’ve walked out of many a hospital and doctors office on account of having to wait a long time 😀

    • It is bad when a usually unobservant 12-year-old says on the way to the doctor’s appoitment, “Why do we have to be on time? We’ll have to wait FOREVER anyway.”

      What really stinks are the signs posted in the waiting room: “If you arrive 15 minutes late, you will have to reschedule. Our patients’ time is important to us.” Really? They could’ve fooled me!

  2. i am so sorry you had to deal with an idiot doctor like that. how dare he.
    i hate hate hate when doctors dismiss me or make me feel stupid.
    why dont you report him? taking so many phone calls? very rude.

    • The phone calls were irritating but they were all medically related. I just wanted him to talk to ME and not the student. Every time I said something he gave his answer or his opinion to her instead of me.

  3. O M G! . . . I can’t believe it! I can not believe that a doctor would treat a mother like that, especially in front of her child! I would report him to the Medical Board.

    • Luckily for me, Mikey didn’t notice anything was wrong. I’m going to give him one more chance. Maybe he was having a bad day? This giving people the benefit of the doubt thing is a sickness. 🙂

  4. Hearing how that doc conducted himself made my eyes see red. Oooh he makes me mad. There is one thing you should be doing when you go to these flippant medicaid docs.. try to bring an adult friend into the appointment with you. They can’t prevent it because its your right. With a ‘witness’ in there on your side, the docs will be much more professional and respectable because they will be covering their oun buts. They know they are treating you like your not even there, but if its just you, they think, “who cares?” and checkup online about that docs licence, any complaints issued about him are puplic knowledge.

  5. That experience makes me angry for you. David & I get so frustrated with doctors and their staff. It seems no one is caring and compassionate any more; let alone professional. I feel that was exptremely inconsiderate of him to take phone calls during your appt. time and then to not address you, turning his attention to his assistant- PLEASE! I better stop, I’m getting my blood pressure up and I have a check up next week! Anyway, I am very sorry ya’ll had to endure that. We’ll pray for better visits in the future!

    • Don’t hurt yourself! 🙂 I am going back to him one more time. If it’s more of the same, new doctor it is. I apologize for the language, BTW. I could’ve edited but I thought it would have been dishonest.

  6. Oh my God, how frustrating. I think the worst part is his inability to let his super important phone calls go to voice mail. Like you aren’t important enough. That’s annoying. Or actually, he is teaching the next generation of shrinks to be just like him. It’s now an infectious disease, not an isolated case. Wonderful. =(

    You need a new psychiatrist. I reccomend these guys: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KCg_QEHtkY

  7. as per your request I have kept my comments to myself, But right now I am so disappointed in you that I could slap YOU ! first and foremost I can tell you that the Doctor that takes that many calls during the office time He is Builling Medicaid for is committing FRAUD by ccepting the funds he will be paid and I wold nhjave reminded the sob of that !@ I do not nor Have I EVER taken Crap off of people I haveto pay for their services and Defineately not WHEN IT COMES TO MY CHILDREN !~ REMEMBER YOUR 2ND GRADE TEACHER ! rEMEMBER THE mARCH OF DINES LADY THAT TOLD ME YOUR BORTHER SHOULD BE TESTED TO DETERMINE HIS LEVEL OF “RETARDATION ” BECAUSE HE HAD A SPEECH PROBLEM AT WHICH POINT I TOLD HER WHERE TO GO AND OFFERED HER DIRECTIONS ! Had I been thre with you that lame brain would have had that phone firmly implanted where the sun don’t shine and I would have billed him for every single second i had to sit tin that office waiting on his &*%^% Welcome to the world of Medicaid and Medicare and the future of Government run health care they do not want to give you the time of day because they aren’t being paid to care for you anyone on that medical program is considered indigent and not worthy of their care, and how bout looking up your Old Doctor where ever she is and just finding out about the diagnosis of her other patients and you will find that these Creeps think they are above the care of the indigent and a waste o their precious time Had you used your Health insurance and he could bill for the FULL amount of his more than likely $300 plus an hour I don’t think you would be so horrified at the treatment you received. I don’t think , you would have been treated this way at all Matter of fact have Chiris take him next time I doubt very seriously he even uters a word as he did to you – er – to his student ! HOW DARE YOU TSKE THAT CRAP ! for once you should have said EXACTLY WHAT YOU WERE THINKIN !
    What do I Know ~ I’m ONLY your mother !

    • Wait for it. YOU. ARE. RIGHT. Whew, that was harder than I thought.

      For the record, I wasn’t thinking anything but “What the @*&%”? When I’m upset I don’t think coherent thoughts and I was COMPLETELY unprepared for it. I need time to ruminate. Well, I have an entire month to prepare myself. The next visit I won’t be alone and I’ll have all the documentation. If it doesn’t go any better, I will find a new doctor.

      He did prescribe the appropriate drugs. Zoloft for the OCD and another drug that is commonly used in Autistic children. Give me the benefit of the doubt. I won’t be caught off-guard again.

  8. 1. can’t really say anything about the phone calls: they were medically related. no point bitching about them. irritating, yes. but seriously, they are an important part of being the doc, so, there’s little to do about that. i am sure you would want your doc to take your call if you called him on an emergency…

    2. being late is something docs try not to do, at least i don’t, but end up doing anyways. sometimes patients take up more than the allotted time and i give it to them because i feel that the one in the waiting room should understand that all cases are not cut and dried, made ready for diagnosing. i have seen being a little apologetic goes a long way in satiating the patients’ dissent. however, once one gets late, it keeps on building, and the only way to make it good is skip lunch. 😦

    3. summarily dismissing you wasn’t the best thing to do. i am not a psych and being in critical care, i deal with terminal patients more often. so none of my patients will complain of this! 😛 but then again, maybe that’s his way or something. see how the next appointment goes.

    4. the most important thing that people seem to have forgotten while bitching about the doc is the medicaid support issue. i hope that you find a way to hold on to that.

    sorry to be voicing different opinions, but you know what, these things remind me what the patients want and how i should carry myself for their benefit.

    bests.

    • Thanks for your honest opinions. We were the first appointment of the day. What about talking about the other doctor like that? It would’ve been different had he expressed his opinion to me, but he sounded like he was gossiping to the student, like an aside in a play, and I shouldn’t be able to hear him. It was weird. Maybe he was trying to explain the ropes to the student. Next time, maybe she won’t be there and it’ll be different.

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