Oh man, what a day.
Any day that includes a meltdown is tiring, but rarely am I as embarrassed as I am about the one I had today.
For some reason, sensory-related meltdowns seem acceptable to me. My senses are being bombarded, I’m overwhelmed, and often in pain, so I find it completely understandable that my brain reacts so intensely.
This was not a sensory meltdown. Today I had my first IV saline infusion, and I’m kicking myself for not being able to predict what happened. I had to wake up early (strike one), I had to navigate a large medical complex (strike two), and I was going into a brand new situation (strike three).
I really thought that I had a handle on it though. I knew what was supposed to happen, and had been mentally practicing what was going to happen.
This is where everything went wrong.
First, they were running late, and I had to sit in the waiting room for more than half an hour. Secondly, the first nurse to check my chest port thought it was warm and pink, so she poked and prodded at it, and eventually called over another nurse, who also poke and prodded. After that got sorted out, they informed me that since I was a new patient, they had to run the IV at a liter every two hours, instead of one an hour like I was expecting. I’d been planning to be there for about two hours, and suddenly it turned in to four hours. After all of that, it turns out that my doctor had written the orders wrong, and we’d have to change plans for future infusions until it was sorted out.
This was when I started melting down. After the waiting, and the touching, and the change of plans, my brain couldn’t hold it together any longer. I started ranting at my wife. She helped me keep my volume under control, and to not blame the nurses for things that they couldn’t control. After that, I lost my words. Everyone was asking me questions and all I could do was nod and try not to cry. My body started stimming without my permission, my extremities started shaking rhythmically, and my head bopped violently to invisible music. And I couldn’t make it stop.
Thank god my wife was there. She communicated with the staff for me and helped them contact my doctor for the correct orders. She told my nurse that we were going to cut the infusion short, and stop after one liter of saline instead of the two we had planned. She also had them reschedule me for later in the week. After all of this, she got me out of there.
I was so embarrassed.
I have non-sensory related meltdowns so rarely anymore that I kind of thought I had moved past them. I think I have a sort of elitist view of myself that says that since I’m so self-aware, I should be above this sort of thing. I’m embarrassed about this too.
I talk so much about Autism Positivity, and I totally believe what I say, but I think that I have to remember that it doesn’t matter how smart a person is, or how self-aware, or if they’re well prepared or have coping skills, sometimes meltdowns happen. They happen to all of us. And they’re nothing to be embarrassed about.
Even so, I’m really hoping that next time goes better.