Truthfully, I don’t like change; in fact, I prefer the predictability of the comfortable rut. To illustrate, I live in the town where I was raised, and for more than twenty-six years, I’ve had the same teaching job since I graduated from college. When products tout that they are “new and improved,” I tend to find them just “new.” Ironically, Alex should be the one who doesn’t like change since resistance to change is a common characteristic in people with autism, but he much more readily embraces change than I do. He views something new and different as an adventure, which is a good trait he must have inherited from his father because he certainly didn’t get it from me. When occasions arise that—as Pastor Joel Osteen describes—move me out of my “comfort zone,” it takes some time for me to overcome initial anxiety, make plans for the transition, and adjust to the new situation. This week I was suddenly pushed into one of those circumstances of change that made me uneasy.
This week a friend of mine who goes to the same beloved doctor that Alex and I do passed along the news that our doctor was closing her practice due to health issues. In my earlier blog “Doctor,” I told about how she had been such a blessing to our family, offering compassion and support as well as implementing cutting-edge therapies with Alex that improved his health and his behavior. While I knew that her increasing age and declining health made her retirement imminent, I was still jolted by the official announcement that she would no longer be our doctor after more than a dozen years. In the past few months, Alex has voiced concerns about when she would retire, and I was able to reassure him that she was not going to retire anytime soon, as she had expressed her plans to continue working. Perhaps Alex sensed something that we did not. Sometimes he seems to have an odd sixth sense about things that gives me pause for thought. Last year, he kept telling me that I needed to call or go to our doctor, but he wouldn’t tell me why. After several weeks of fretting and a few anxious meltdowns, he finally blurted out, “Mommy is having problems with menopause!” While I wasn’t having any problems, nor was I going through menopause, he had developed worries after reading his medical books. In a strange twist, however, a few months later, I began having some issues related to hormonal changes associated with pre-menopause: migraines, dizziness, and anxiety attacks. Alex was right; I did need to go to the doctor, who reassured me that these symptoms were typical and adjusted the dosage of my thyroid medicine, which alleviated the problems. Now that he has predicted these two events months in advance, I’m beginning to think we should consult him about future financial investments.
After having a few days to deal with my initial anxiety about losing the doctor I trust with Alex’s health and mine, I’ve begun making plans for the transition to a new doctor. While I’d like to find a local doctor with experience in biomedical treatments for autism, my other autism mom friends indicate there are none around here. My next best option is to find a doctor who is open to supervising and supporting the treatments we’ve been doing with Alex: gluten-free and casein-free diet, nutritional supplements, low-dose Prozac, and methyl B-12 injections. Taking the advice of people whose opinions I value, I have decided that Alex and I will go to the same family doctor Ed does, which will make the transition easier. My sister and her family also have gone to this doctor for several years, and they have complete confidence in him, too. The next step is to transfer our records and make an appointment and pray that Alex will adjust to this major change well. We went through a similar situation when his very kind and gentle pediatric dentist who had treated him from ages three to thirteen moved his practice to another town. While we could have continued going to him, the increased drive time from five minutes to more than thirty was a problem, especially since Alex’s behavior was unpredictable at that point. In addition, he was going through the phase where he’d get upset about gas prices anytime we passed a gas station, and we thought it was highly unlikely that we could avoid all gas stations to get to the new office. At first I felt trepidation about leaving a dentist I trusted and genuinely liked, but I knew that a change was necessary. We found another dentist here in town who specializes in pediatrics and who has many special needs patients. As it turned out, he was the ideal person to work with teenage Alex, just as the other dentist was perfect for younger Alex. The current dentist has a practical, take-charge personality that reassures me, and his dental hygienist is absolutely wonderful with Alex. Most importantly, Alex still really likes going to the dentist; changing dentists did not change his positive attitude. I know that God guides our steps, and just as He made the path smooth for Alex to transition from one dentist to another, I’m sure that He will help us make the change from one doctor to the new one, making certain that Alex gets the care and understanding he needs.
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19