Today will serve as my birthday post. It isn't until tomorrow, the 4th, but this is the last weekday before then. Anyway, I spent most of yesterday thinking about what to say and how to say it. I mean, I was going to compare where I was to other birthdays and reference back to last year's post. However, that was up until my experience at the ER.
My throat got to the point of hurting way too bad with the pain resonating to my ear. I tried to eat a late dinner but the pain was too much. After much thought I drove to a hospital near where I am and I counted over 50 people in there. I then traveled down the interstate and my dad called two other hospitals and they were busy, but then another one down the road said they were, "open".
I traveled to this open ER and when I got in there were maybe 30 in there. I stood at the counter awaiting direction because I had never done any of this by myself. In fact, this was the first time I walked into the ER under my own power in quite some time.
Because of being overwhelmed I was simply unable to ask where I go or what I do. Also, the man behind the counter was in a bitter mood, but thankfully I was in the right spot and the paperwork, or rather computer inputting began. He asked me what was wrong and I said, "I think I have some sort of sore or something growing in my throat/mouth." He looked at me as if I had 13 heads and he asked a follow up question to which I said something barely audible. I did mention right off the bat that I had Asperger Syndrome, but this didn't seem to phase him or give him any light on how to handle this situation differently.
From there I sat down and then about 30 minutes later I got called in to get my vitals. This was odd for me in that I was so overwhelmed with the pain and the noise of the ER waiting room that I was in every thing I've ever described; social paralysis, positional warfare, and whatever else I have named throughout my writing life.
The nursing student asked what was wrong in the triage room, and because I was still fearful of being looked at funny again it took me a lot of time to process the question. I eventually said, "I think, yes, I think, um, I have a sore throat." To say I have a sore throat would to be like having a bowling ball dropped on your foot and to say that your foot is sore. However, in that moment, I couldn't say just what was going on.
The vitals were checked and off to the waiting room I went to, well, wait. And wait... And wait. The pain was immense and after two hours I had had enough. The ER was just as busy as it was when I first entered and I only saw one person go in. I've noticed my emotions have been my volatile since this issue in my throat began, and perhaps what I did wasn't the smartest, but I had to leave so after 2.5 hours I left. I didn't say bye, I didn't say I was leaving, I simply left.
I had to leave. I was sinking into an abyss that I worried that if I descended all the way I didn't know if I could get back out. What I was feeling at that point in time was hatred and a feeling of pure isolation. Why was it taking so long and why couldn't I simply speak up for myself? The thing that was truly bothering me was that I had so much trouble in that environment. I thought back to last month and how many presentations I did and how that's easy for me and yet simply walking into a social situation like an ER paralyzed me.
On my drive home I started to think about my experience and how, I feel, so many people can fall into the trap I was in. It was a two tiered trap as I was waiting for help yet at the same time not able to put into words just how bad it hurt. As much as I hated myself in that ER I began to change my mind as, quite simply, what I experienced was the essence of what I try to educate the world on.
Until there is full awareness and understanding the right questions won't be asked and signals may be missed. We on the spectrum usually make bad advocates for ourselves and I proved it in that ER last night. As the age of 29 rolls around I won't see it as the last year before I hit 30 as that's sort of what I was going to write about, but rather it is another year that I have to get the message out. To tell the world about the autism spectrum and that there is hope, but at the same time there can be hardships. It's in the hardships that the understanding is vital as I experienced that last night. Yes, my birthday is tomorrow and of all my years my direction in life has never been clearer because, through awareness and understanding, perhaps others might not have to go through what I did.