To my doctor

Image depicting the quote "If a doctor cannot do good, he must be kept from doing harm." on orange background. This quote is by Hippocrates.

Dear doctor

When I came into your office today I was looking for help. I was in need of help. My first week of working has left my exhausted. My body depleted. My entire system rebelling against my attempt at normalcy. Today I almost fainted at work and had to lay flat on my back for three hours because I was seeing stars every time I stood up.

I came into your office with stomach pain, diarrhea, back pain, muscle cramps, palpitations, chest pain, excessive sweating, headaches, dizziness, numbness and tingling in hands and feet, insomnia due to pain, and general exhaustion.
What I wanted was for you as my doctor to listen. To respect what I am experiencing as my reality. And for you as my doctor to try and figure out ways to help my body cope until I am hopefully used to everything.

What I got from my doctor was:

“Your back pain is due to lifting too heavy things and sitting too much at work.”

Even though I told you specifically that I had not lifted anything at all. And that I was purposefully walking and standing a lot as well as sitting, varying my position and work activity to make sure my back does not suffer.

What I got from my doctor was:

“Your insomnia is due to resting too much after work. You are not tired at night. You should be doing sports.”

Even though I told you specifically that I was not able to do anything but rest after work. Because it exhausts me to the point of nearly fainting. I told you I was falling asleep standing up because my system is just that depleted.
I also told you that I was very much tired at night. That I could not sleep because of pain and muscle cramps – not because I was not tired enough.

What I got from my doctor was:

“The point of you going to work is to actually go. Not to stay home.”

Even though I never asked to get a doctor’s note to stay home in the first place. I specifically asked for help to cope so I could keep going to work. Because I like my new job.

What I got from my doctor was:

“I am not going to give you a sleeping pill. They are addictive. You just need to exercise.”

Even though I specifically asked for something mild, possibly homeopathic, maybe something herbal because I know. I know. I never took a sleeping pill in my life. I have been offered some before and I declined.
Because I am not looking for an easy way out. I know the majority of my problems is due to lack of sleep. I know if I do not fix my sleep soon, my body will break down again. And everything I tried so far has not worked. So I asked for help. I did not ask to drug myself.

What I got from my doctor was:

“Autism is an explanation, not an excuse. The rules apply to you too and you need to be forced to stick to them.”

Even though I was trying to explain to you that I am unable and always will be unable to “just do” certain things. And that certain things make my body react in ways non-autistic bodies just do not react. I did not ask to not have to do those things anymore. I asked for help doing them. There is a difference.
I am the last person to ever break a rule. You should know. But if the rules are making me sick I need a way to bend them just enough so that I can survive. My autism will not go away. The struggles that come with it will not go away. It is not “breaking the rules” or “making excuses” to accommodate an actual need.

What I got from my doctor was:

“You just have to keep doing it, it will get better.”

Even though I specifically explained to you that no, it will not. Unless I help my body and system to cope it will eventually break down. I have experienced this before. Several times in my life. I am trying to prevent it from happening.
Not listening to my body, respecting my limits, and using aids to work through difficult times my body does not adjust. My body breaks down. This is not something I can control. This is not something I do on purpose. This is just the way my body works.

Why? I seriously do not understand. How can a human being treat another human being the way you treat me every time I come into your office? Let alone a doctor? You do not treat my mother like this. Or my father. Or any of your other patients I assume or you would be out of patients soon enough.
Why me? Because I cannot defend myself? Because I do not have the verbal ability to speak up, explain properly, fight back, correct you until you give in and accept my truth? Because I am disabled?
Because I have mental problems as well and you can just write off everything I say as “just another anxiety episode”? I can only assume that it is a combination of all of the above.
At least that is what my husband believes after I talked to him about you. He is angry at you, too. I am thankful for his anger because it is the only voice that sides with mine. I am sick of being silenced. I am sick of not being listened to. I am sick of not being taken seriously.

My voice is valid. My emotions, worries, thoughts, doubts, problems, symptoms, all are valid. I am valid. I deserve the same respect and dignity you treat all your other patients with.
If you do not know and understand autism and everything that comes with it then admit it, and refer me to a doctor who does. If you do not know how to effectively help me, admit it, and refer me to a doctor who does.

I am getting the feeling you are one of those who believe autism just needs to be treated harshly enough and it will go away. That I will become normal, get myself together and become a “proper person” if I just do “normal things” long enough.

What I wanted was for my doctor to listen to me, respect me, and try to help. I would have been absolutely fine with “I am sorry you are experiencing all of this. Unfortunately I don’t know any way to help you so I think you just have to bear with it until your body gets used to it all.” I did not expect a solution handed to me. Nor a magic pill. Just human dignity and respect.

Dear doctor. You are wrong. I deserve better. I need a new doctor.

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