I had a weird pain under my ribs. Everyone said it was gallbladder, and at one point, I was totally cool with them just yanking the sucker out. Fortunately my general practice doctor isn’t super into unnecessary surgery, so he sent me off to a GI doctor to see what was going on. My GP told me that the guy he was sending me to was the best, “but…uh…his bedside manner….is…well…” I told him I didn’t care just as long as he FIXED ME.
The secretary warned me he was running late, which didn’t bother me a bit because sitting alone in a waiting room reading a magazine is actually quite dreamy. When it was my turn, the doctor didn’t shake my hand, didn’t look me in the face, didn’t apologize for being late. He was wearing jeans and running shoes. He went behind his desk and spent the next fifteen minutes telling me about his amazing voice recognition software and how it made it so he didn’t have to type because he could never really do it. And though he was excited about the software, everything word he said was in a monotone almost-mumble. As the time ticked on, I could see how others would see his behavior as strange or unprofessional. But the more he told me about the software, the more he was blatantly honest about my handwriting, my weight, my history, the more excited I got…
This guy is autistic!
I will be the first to admit that I see autism EVERYWHERE. I’m also no diagnostician, but as this GI spoke, my mind checked off all of the symptoms of ASD. I’m not saying he had it for sure, but he was every bit autistic as my son Casey.
And he was AWESOME at his job. I told him everything that was going on and he said, “No, that’s not gallbladder, it’s muscular, look!” Without asking me to follow, he strolled out of his office and into the exam room. His exam was quick and thorough, as though I was a mannequin. And he was right! It’s totally muscular. The significance of a specialist in one area telling me that the problem is not in his field of expertise is huge for me. I spent two and a half years in chronic pain before I found a doctor who would said, “this isn’t ovarian, this isn’t scar tissue, this is muscular.” This guy did it the first visit.
And this is why you want an autistic doctor: because beside manners don’t mean a damn thing when you just want to be ‘fixed’. Because it doesn’t matter if he’s nice or if he tiptoes around your weight if he’s not going to listen to your symptoms and figure out what REALLY is going on with you. He’s not going to order tests you don’t need to cover his butt or perform surgery unless it’s absolutely necessary. Sure, you won’t leave the office feeling warm and fuzzy, but you will leave one step closer to having an answer for what is going on with you. And for me, that’s what I prefer.
On top of all of that, the doctor didn’t just give me some relief to the pain under my ribs, he gave me more hope in my son’s future. Casey’s social skills aren’t fantastic. But he’s terribly smart. He figures stuff out in a way that I can’t quite comprehend. As I watched this doctor go on and on about the voice recognition software as he excitedly strummed his fingers against the sides of his chair, I saw a grown up Casey sitting there.
Doctor Casey. Sounds cool, right? And now, doesn’t seem to far out of the realm of possibility.