“What would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool? You would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done,” – Dr. Temple Grandin
As my appointment grew closer I became more and more stressed. Once again those same fears entered my mind. This is a specialist, what if I’m crazy. What if they lock me away or believe I am completely faking everything. What if they tell me I’m not autistic and that I’m just nuts. These worries filled my thoughts over the few days prior to the appointment.
What if they tell me I’m not autistic and that I’m just nuts.
One of the worst parts of this appointment was that it was over an hour away in a town that I am not familiar with. This fact alone caused my stress to fly through the roof. What if I am late? What happens if I can’t find the doctor’s office? The worst fear was, What if my car breaks down? Regardless of the trip I am always in constant fear that my car will break down. I’m not a handy person and know absolutely nothing about cars, a hilarious fact when you consider I work in the auto industry.
These fears stem from when I was a small child and my family went on vacation to my aunt’s house in Oklahoma. We got halfway there and the family car broke down. It was a horribly hot summer and I remember sitting on the side of the road, waiting for the tow truck to arrive and pull us the rest of the way to my aunts home. I thought they would never show up, my anxiety went to the worst of the worst scenarios. We were all going to die of exposure to the heat, we’d slowly die of dehydration or worse, murderers might show up and kill us all. That situation left me with so much fear that now I absolutely hate driving any more than within a 30 mile radius of my home.
We were all going to die of exposure to the heat, we’d slowly die of dehydration or worse, murderers might show up and kill us all.
The drive to the appointment was made worse by the fact that the road was horribly bumpy. Bumpy enough that it caused a horrible vibration to be felt throughout the entire car and at times made me believe we had blown a tire. This bumped the stress level up another few notches. I sat in my car, driving, with my wife sitting beside me, gripping the steering wheel and gritting my teeth. Every bump took my anxiety up another slight notch. When we finally made it to the appointment, I was a complete wreck. I sat in the waiting room trying to catch my breath and pull myself together.
The psychologist came out shortly after and introduced himself. He told me it would be a few more minutes and then he would call me into his office. The seconds ticked away like hours on the clock. Finally he called us back and once again I nearly fell apart.
He told me that he had read through all the notes from the psychiatrist and that he believed I was a fairly obvious example of someone who has grown up autistic without actually knowing it. We discussed all the same things that I had with the psychiatrist and a lot more. He asked if small things had a tendency to bug me and I pointed out a small spot on his baseboard that was a different color from the rest of his office. He laughed and said that he had never even noticed that.
At the end of the appointment he said the same thing as the psychiatrist, only this time with the backing of his specialization. “My preliminary diagnosis is high-functioning autism or what used to be known as Aspergers syndrome. I need you to come back in a couple of weeks to take some tests and find out exactly where on the spectrum you are but it shouldn’t take too long. Normally, I would want to set you up for a series of appointments but you’ve laid everything out so well and everything is so detailed that I think once more appointment should be enough.”
He gave my wife and I a quiz that each of us were to take before my next appointment. My wife took hers while I was at work and I took mine the following weekend. It was similar to many of the tests you find on-line but had some more confusing questions that really bothered me. One such question asked, “I have a good sense of humor and can understand jokes.” This question annoyed me greatly as I laugh all the time at what I find funny, people tell me I’m funny as well, however, someone has to actually tell me that they are saying a joke for me to be able to understand it as one. If I’m not told that what you are saying is a joke it will take me a huge amount of time to recognize it as one. Anyway, I just wanted to get that off my chest, that question still bugs me.
So we finished out exams and went back to waiting for the next appointment date to arrive. I hate waiting for anything and so that time passed by so damn slowly. What’s worse is that during this whole time I had also had a family issue weighing on me. My mother had cancer and had surgery to remove the cancer. She then found out that she still needed chemotherapy and on the same day that my next appointment was, she would be getting genetic testing done as well as starting her chemo. The genetic testing was to find out if our family carries certain genes that make us susceptible to cancer. Cancer has always been something that I greatly fear and so awaiting those results were just as stressful as awaiting my next appointment.
The day would finally arrive and we would once again make the trip to that office. The story of my second appointment however, will have to wait until tomorrow as I must head to work in just a few minutes. Thank you so much for reading my blog so far, I really appreciate it.
To continue on to part 5, click here.