Trouble For Humans
On Monday, myself, Sara, Steve and George are off to Manchester University to talk about the #LBBill as part of their “Human Troubles” strand. It’s going to be a good day, talking about what it is like to be human when you’re forced to inhabit Planet Social Care.
Ironically, today I received a letter notifying us of the date of Steven’s next appointment with the psychiatrist. The process around the notification is fascinating. The psychiatrist doesn’t speak to us directly (outside of an appointment, that is). So, this letter had been sent from the psychiatrist’s secretary to Steven’s GP and she forwarded it on to us. I’ve asked before about this palaver and was told that as Steven is an adult, they cannot communicate with me directly. Which is odd, because we have had letters where the psychiatrist has advised a change of medication but if he won’t inform me directly, then the change isn’t going to happen. I’m reliant on the GP having the foresight to forward the letters on to me. The current letter, in the section titled “Care Plan”, recommends some blood tests at the very hospital where the psychiatrist works. But as he didn’t tell me, it’s taken from 5th September 2014 until today (24th January 2015) to know that’s what he wants. Is that crazy or what? Today’s letter also came with the Psychiatrist’s report of the last appointment in September 2014. It is thoroughly depressing reading.
An innocent bystander, in reading the letter, would have no idea that the letter was about a human being at all. It could be about a lab rat. It might even be a case study copied straight from a textbook. There’s a weird paradox – even though every report we receive takes great pains to point out that the psychiatrist can identify no sign of “mental instability or distress” in Steven, the entire report is medical and presented within a mental health frame. Autism is mentioned, bracketed as (F84.0), together with Severe learning disability (F72.1). So, from the very first paragraph, the human being is lost and replaced by a diagnostic reference number from the DSM.
I could go on but it is so dispiriting. By the time we get to the final paragraph, Steven’s name has been lost completely and he has become “the patient”. This is the final paragraph: “The patient was amiable in his presentation, occasionally spontaneous with his speech, exhibited echolalia, appeared euthymic in mood, but he was also emotionally labile”.
Perhaps I’m being unfair. After all, Steven was being seen by a medical professional in a medical setting (why?). But the report says nothing about the man I share my life with seven days a week. If the report hadn’t mentioned “Steven enjoys his pepperoni pizza Fridays”, I wouldn’t have recognised him at all.
In all probability on Monday, we’ll be discussing ATUs. It’s no wonder people are condemned to these places. The system can’t recognise a human being with autism. It is much more comfortable with a medical specimen.
From → Social Care