Monday, 17 September 2012



(Apologies to all who have read my posts and have liked/ joined this group.  A technical error has meant I have to relaunch the site, therefore I would be grateful if all members rejoin.  Apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused, the pictures on the posts The Past and Googlesurance will be re added in due course.)

Terrible being labelled.
In my blogs, I often talk about my autism, the insights certain life experiences give me about myself and my condition and how they remind me of how debilitating they can be at times too.  Last month, (for the first time in my life), I was admitted into Hospital and this experience was no different, except this experience also showed me the human frailties others have, the areas where being on the autism spectrum are not necessarily barriers to the social world. 

            I was out shopping in Newport on bank holiday Monday.  I walked around town getting the bits and bobs I needed, shopping and co and returned to my flat to prepare for an upcoming job interview.  As I bent over to take off my shoes, I felt an enormous sharp pain across my chest, it felt like it was being crushed and it was agony.  I was in so much pain, I could hardly breathe and speaking was so difficult.  I had often joked that I should support charities like the British Heart Foundation (as well as Research Autism) because my poor diet meant I could one day need their services.  This day I feared a visit from the Grim Reaper, and as scared as I was, I also broke out in a fit of giggles (which hurt the chest even more) at the thought of Mr. Reaper, being so disgusted at the state of my flat that he would walk out and come for me another day.  When he saw the empty curry and takeaway cartons that hadn’t been put away, I knew he would have no sympathy for me.  Whenever I am busy, my flat goes to pot and unfortunately this was one of the worst states it has ever been in, what a time for the ambulance crew to walk in and what a state to show my life coach Bernard Pearson.  Bernard doesn’t judge me on this, but I didn’t want him (or anyone) to have to endure that.

            After feeling tingles in my wrists and legs and feeling like I was going to pass out, the ambulance crew wheeled me into an ambulance and did and ECG test on me.  It was all fine, but because I was still having crushing chest pains, twenty minutes afterwards, they decided I should go to the hospital to have it checked out.  How embarrassing!  I was wheeled into accident and emergency, my worried parents were waiting for me, as I was wheeled out, my shoes still not on properly and hanging off my feet.  I was then wheeled into an assessment bay whilst they checked me over.

            The first thing they did was take my blood (well they tried, they couldn’t get any from me) and this started my fit of giggles.  When I am nervous and squeamish these giggles really come into play and if there is anything I am really squeamish about it is blood and the heart.  I jumped out of my skin whenever the medical staff touched my skin or tried to put a stethoscope near my chest.  They gave up trying to take blood in the end and did another ECG test on me and it was fine, yet the crushing pain was still there.  My Mam helped put my shoes back on me and was making a pig’s ear of it.  I was joking how she would dislodge my kneecaps and there would be blood all over the ceilings and walls and there would be plenty not just for my blood test but also for anyone who needed it that day.  My Mam and I were in fits of hysterical laughter whilst my worried Dad looked on in disapproval.  My giggles weren’t helped by the fact that one of the ambulance crew was singing the Middle Of The Road song, ‘Where’s your Mamma gone?’ which I didn’t think was the most appropriate thing to be singing in an A & E department.  I also had images of my Dad walking past the bed with one of the limbs from the limb bin, doing a Jake the Peg to cheer me up.  My chest was heaving as I had another inappropriate laughing fit, which always happens at the most unfortunate times.

            To cut a long story short, they did eventually get blood from me (apparently blood test shows hormonal fragments from the heart which shows whether a heart attack had taken place etc) but this and several other ECG and blood pressure tests were fine, a scan of my chest proved normal too (amazing when you think of my disgusting diet of lard, more lard and nothing green).   As the chest pain was still crushing they decided I must stay in overnight for observation and because they needed to do another blood test at two in the morning because sometimes the signs of heart attack don’t show until much later. 

What a drip.
            It felt strange being in hospital.  I have never been there before and I was kind of curious if I am honest what the experience was like.  I have to say the staff were lovely, and really tried to be reassuring to me (they knew I had Asperger Syndrome) and they told me that visiting hours didn’t apply to my life coach Bernard, he could come on the ward whenever I needed him.  Although they didn’t know a lot about me, my condition and although they clearly had little experience, what I thought was fantastic was the fact the tried so hard, were kind and in my book that goes an awfully long way.  I was so impressed and moved at how hard they tried.

            Socially I struggled.  They asked me the medication I was on, I told them about my anti depressants etc and that I wasn’t allergic to paracetamol.  They gave me some paracetamol to help ease my pain, but because they put them down in front of me and didn’t tell me, I didn’t know they were mine, and that I should take them.  I was also very confused about the rules about whether I could pull the curtain around me or not when I went to sleep, I didn’t know if it would offend, appear weird or rude, but to be honest, I was shy about people seeing me in bed and shy about showing people my old mans pyjamas, which I have a real love of as part of my routines.  I texted my Dad and he confirmed it was ok, so that was what I did.

            I couldn’t sleep that night despite being shattered.  I googled on my iphone looking at the symptoms of my condition to see what it could be.  At that stage the doctors had only three possibilities, a heart attack, angina or acid reflux.  Apparently heart attacks are very rare at my age but not unheard of. However all the symptoms were more in keeping with a heart attack than angina or acid reflux and although I felt scared, I also felt ashamed too.  My Asperger's logic came into play and told me it was my own fault, I didn’t deserve sympathy, I am intelligent enough to know about healthy eating and if I abuse my body then it is my own fault.  However if it didn’t prove to be a heart attack or one of the other options, they were going to perform an endoscopy which I realty wasn’t looking forward to at all.  I don’t know if was nerves or me being an idiot, but I had the most absurd laughing fit behind the privacy of my curtain and I so hoped nobody could hear me outside.

A lot of silly thoughts and scenarios were cracking me up, but one of them (my sick sense of humour) was the thought of deliberately dying in my sleep just to be awkward and then the hospital staff being furious with me for causing them such an inconvenience.  Silly humour I know, but I love that kind of stupid stuff and I have never been afraid to laugh at myself.  I had to suppress my sniggers and it was so difficult but I think I managed it on the whole as a whole manner of silly ‘what if’ scenarios crossed my mind.

Do I press it or not?
            I did however learn a lot about people and how they operate.  What became very clear to me was the fact that ‘people’, generally as a species have human flaws and that egocentricity and a lack of empathy are not always confined to autism.  It was amazing how many people expected to be the centre of attention despite what others were going through, how they expected to monopolize staff time and how two faced people could be too.  On the one hand complaining about staff, then when they came to help them, were as nice as pie ‘oh don’t you worry love, you just get here whenever, I realize your busy etc’, Catherine Tate's grandmother sketch came to mind.  One of the difficulties I also had (and insights) was in the way different people perceived life and how that affects the way you understand and gauge with the world.  Whilst my Asperger's affects me a certain way, others, of different age groups with different life experiences, growing up in a different society had a much different outlook on life than me.  One elderly man for instance (I hope this is not patronizing) was so sweet.  He was gentle, frail, in his nineties and probably in his second childhood (although I hate that expression) but he had still lived a full life and even when he was angry (and at one time told off one of the nurses) he was still so very sweet.  During the night he couldn’t find his buzzer to alert the staff he needed the commode, I froze with fear because I didn’t know what the social rules where.  My compassionate side told me to press my buzzer and then tell the nurses that the man needed help, but another part of me couldn’t work out if I was allowed to do that or if it was appropriate.  I am ashamed to say I did nothing (found out later it was appropriate) but fortunately they got to him before he had an accident. 

            I awoke the next morning (didn’t sleep much as ward very noisy) my blood was clear, the doctors did their rounds and suggested that I had probably pulled my chest muscle as they checked everything out and it didn’t look like a heart attack, angina or acid reflux.  I was discharged with great relief but also a sense of embarrassment.  I had caused all that worry, yet there was nothing wrong with me.  It did really hurt though.  My fears were allayed somewhat however when that evening (despite chest hurting) I decided to go to quiz with Bernard and (would you believe it) I did it again.  The agony so unbearable I realized why it was so important I had it checked out.  Needless to say I didn’t go to quiz and returned to my parents for some TLC.  I was hobbling for days afterwards but on the whole (touch wood) I think it is all settled now.

            I’ve always been curious to why I get so silly at potentially serious moments.  Is it nerves, a coping mechanism or as a way dealing with my anxiety or stress.  It happens to me in several situations but especially at the doctors or the dentists.  I remember on one occasion being supported by my life coach during a period of high anxiety and depression for a medication review.  Maybe it was nerves, anxiety or the embarrassment of taking about myself and admitting I was having problems, but I was due to see Dr Saleh, and as we were waiting the Oasis song ‘Don’t look back in anger’ came on the radio in reception (music fans will know where I am going with this one, those who don’t check out the song) and I suggested to Bernard that we should walk out of the clinic and walk back and forwards past Dr Saleh’s window until my name was called.  Then when my name was called we should ignore it and keep walking past until they move onto the next patient.  I then suggested we should go to reception and complain that we hadn’t been seen.  When the receptionist said, ‘well your name was called why didn’t you respond?’ I would reply with ‘Saleh can wait, she knew it was too late as she saw Bernard and I walking on by.’


  1. I'm really enjoying your blog :) Thanks for writing!

  2. Thanks so much Cathy. Thanks for reading it, much obliged to you.