Sunday, January 23, 2011

Changing Doctors

Last month, I explained in my blog entry “Change” that the beloved doctor who had taken care of Alex and me for several years decided to retire because of her own health issues. While I knew with her increasing age that this event was an eventuality, I was still sad to lose the medical advice of someone I not only trusted and admired, but also genuinely liked as a person. The rapport we had established over the years was something I knew was a blessing, and I appreciated that she always listened earnestly and sympathetically to my concerns. Moreover, her holistic approach to medicine, using supplements and unconventional treatments, such as cranial therapy and chelation, was similar to the methods being used by the Defeat Autism Now doctors, whose biomedical research I follow faithfully. Under her guidance, we tested Alex for various issues, put him on a gluten-free and casein-free diet, rid his body of toxic metals through chelation, treated him for yeast overgrowth in his digestive system, implemented vitamin B-12 injections to heal his nervous system, and improved his behavior and sleep by giving him supplements that calm him. I’m convinced that without her interventions and support of the methods I wanted to try with him, Alex would not be as healthy and well-behaved as he is today.

After my initial disappointment of losing such a special doctor, I began searching for a new doctor for Alex, asking family and friends for recommendations, and decided to take him to Ed’s doctor, who is also the family doctor of my sister’s family and some of my friends. Because Alex was a new patient, we had to wait nearly a month before I could make an appointment to see the new doctor. Alex had been to our previous doctor last summer for a complete physical and had received a clean bill of health, but I wanted to establish Alex as the new doctor’s patient in case he became sick and needed to see him right away. In addition, I thought we should explain Alex’s autism and how it impacts his health and daily living. The month wait was actually a blessing because Alex had been dealing with some strange obsession about wanting to change his voice, and even going so far as to want surgery to make his voice pitch higher, like a child’s. Not only did this offbeat idea drive us crazy as Alex constantly discussed it, but the obsession became scary when he briefly decided that he’d like to have brain transplant so that he could have a little kid’s brain. Fortunately, his Frankenstein notion didn’t last long, but he kept talking about wanting to ask the doctor about voice surgery. A couple of weeks before the doctor’s appointment, Alex suddenly—and thankfully—quit talking about having his voice altered. In preparation for seeing the new doctor, I went through my records of Alex’s medical history so that I could detail any important information. In addition, I had obtained copies of pertinent tests and notes from his previous doctor to give to the new doctor, and I typed up a list of his current medications and supplements for his new records. When his appointment arrived this week, I was ready, and Alex was eager to go, happy hopping through the house as though we were taking him to the circus, just as he does with any new situation that he sees as an adventure.

When we arrived at the doctor’s office, I was impressed by how smoothly the office ran and pleased we didn’t have to wait long. However, I was surprised by how little information was requested regarding medical history on the forms I filled out prior to seeing the doctor. Alex happily watched as I wrote down the basic information regarding his name, address, phone number, emergency contacts, and insurance, and he was pleased to remind me of his social security number and to sign the form at the bottom. When the doctor’s nurse looked over Alex’s list of supplements that I had carefully compiled, she looked at me askance and said, “I don’t know what half of these are.” While my first thought was an offer to teach her what they were, her facial expression suggested that I’d better keep my thoughts to myself. Then she commented that the former doctor had her patients on all kinds of weird things, and she asked me, “Do you plan to keep him on all that stuff?” I assured her that I did because they helped Alex. She looked at me as though I had said I planned to dance around fire and asked if I knew where to get the supplements. I told her I did, and she just sighed. While this was not an auspicious beginning to the appointment, I bit my tongue and fought my need to explain biomedical interventions in autism. When the doctor came in, he was pleasant and asked us several questions regarding typical health issues, and we told him that Alex is remarkably healthy. After examining Alex and looking over his latest blood test results, he agreed that Alex is quite healthy but suggested that he have annual flu shots. When I told him that Alex had problems with heavy metal toxicity, so we avoided shots with preservatives, he didn’t push the point. Perhaps he agreed with me, or perhaps he thinks I’m one of those crazy autism moms. Nonetheless, I liked his calm, easygoing manner and think he will be fine for Alex. The best thing, however, was that Alex’s behavior was excellent. He was pleasant and cooperative the entire time, other than having difficulty in opening his mouth wide to have his throat examined and his misunderstanding of what taking deep breaths means when the doctor listens to his lungs—he kept saying, “AHHHH” instead. All in all, it was a good first visit: Alex didn’t make a bad first impression by asking for voice-changing surgery or a brain transplant, and my prayers were answered in that Alex received another good report from the doctor.

“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health.” Proverbs 15:30


Big Daddy Autism said...

It's always a pleasant surprise when transitions go smoothly. Our son's doctor is getting up there in years too so, I imagine, we will be facing this same situation some time in the enar future.

Pam Byrne said...

Hi Big Daddy,
I hope that when you have to make that change, everything goes smoothly for you, too. I'm guessing that the office building will have to have an elevator, right?

Take care,