Don’t act so angry when I pass your tests.


I had to deal with another professional trying to drag me to the hospital yesterday, insisting since I was weak enough to fall someone had to look at me. When I told him that my doctor had already looked at me, and that my doctor did not want me in the hospital, he wanted me right where I’m at (staying with a friend to make sure I don’t fall, and resting, which I can’t do in an emergency room), he was not at all pleased, and tried to convince me he was going to do it anyway unless I could sit up straight (which I couldn’t, but still insisted I wasn’t going).

I did not know this, but it’s illegal around here to force someone into medical treatment unless they can be proven disoriented. Which explains what happened next.

Normally, people describe me as oriented times three (to person, place, and time) even when I’m not, they don’t even bother doing the normal test of this. It’s the sort of thing most people just assume about you, unless they’re given serious reason not to. If they do ask, they generally ask you if you know who you are, where you are, what situation you’re in, and what day it is.

In this case, he didn’t just ask those things.

He wanted to know not only the date (something I normally have trouble with, but luckily knew yesterday), but the exact time of day, which is something most people don’t know without looking at a clock. Fortunately, my staff person had left shortly before that, so I said “after five”. He checked his watch (he didn’t even know the answer to the question!) and grudgingly admitted that it was just after five.

He went through a similar rigamarole when asking me where I was. He wasn’t satisfied with my description of where I was (a friend’s place, naming the friend) until I gave him the exact street address, something else that most people don’t memorize when they go to visit friends.

The thing about all this is, with orientation to time, they usually ask the year, the season, the month, and the day of the week, sometimes also the name of the president. I have been excused for not knowing the precise day of the week before if I was otherwise coherent, or for saying something like “I think it’s either Monday or Tuesday”. Knowing the time of day is above and beyond anything I’ve ever been asked, or heard other people asked in busy emergency rooms. Being expected to know the time of day when the examiner doesn’t know it is absurd.

With orientation to place, I’ve seen people passed or partially passed on these exams for simply knowing they were in a hospital, without knowing the specific name of it. (This would be like me saying “a house”.) I’ve never seen people asked anything beyond the specific name of the hospital. (This would be like me saying “Jim’s house”.) I’ve never, ever seen anyone asked a complete street address before.

And I’ve rarely seen a professional so angry as this guy was when I proved to be anything but disoriented.

Hint: If I’m able to coherently and rationally discuss, at fairly great length, while under pressure, despite total and obvious exhaustion, precisely what doctor I saw earlier today, his status among doctors around here, the problems I am having, the problems I am not having, and my doctor’s orders that I remain staying with this friend and not in the hospital where I would be put at risk of catching more diseases that could combine with this to make me really require hospitalization, then maybe I am alert and oriented enough to make my own medical decisions. If I have not injured myself, and am proven to be alert and oriented even beyond what is normally expected of a person, and have told you in detail about my visit to a doctor (since you seem to want me to undergo all the tests I’ve already undergone), you should be happy, not angry that you can’t force me to do what you want me to do.

I’ve already discussed it with my friend: Next time I fall, whatever people are around can make me as comfortable as possible on the floor and wait there until I’m strong enough to get up. I know I apparently look pretty awful, but I’m sick of people telling me to go to the hospital, especially after my doctor and I already came to the conclusion that this would be bad for my health unless I was actually seriously injured in a fall or any of the other usual things that would warrant this. Simply having trouble sitting or walking and “looking bad” isn’t enough.

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

17 responses »

  1. That sounds as if you had experienced some serious misunderstanding by health care workers. One idea: have you considered getting a medic alert type bracelet or pendant with supportive advice for others? For example, there are alerts for people who have seizure disorders which state not to move the person, to protect the airway and to simply stay with them until they are fully awake and alert again?

    Maybe that would help people who can only see your balance/support as a danger and not understand how you manage it.

    Just typing as I think here….

  2. I hope you feel ok soon.

    It really frustrates me when people think that being “concerned” gives them a licence to ignore both trained medical personnel and the person’s wishes. I had a much, much milder version of that from a friend, only it was in reverse – insisting I wasn’t ill and didn’t need a doctor, just to go to bed for a couple of days.

  3. Yeah I’ve had that too. In this case I am ill, but I’ve already seen a doctor, I have orders to stay home except for in real emergencies, and I’d get sicker (and grouchier) if they basically tired me out with more tests.

  4. School officials tend to manifest this type of thing, although at least they have the excuse of liability and insurance issues. Sometimes even they take it too far, though, and I have been harangued and nearly dragged to the health office for merely “looking not normal” and even when I told the security person that it was normal for me and that I ought to know if I am feeling well or not, she still brought another security officer who parroted the orders (and the auditory mess was starting to make me genuinely disoriented) and it wasn’t until a high-up official asked me a few simple questions of where I was and if I felt okay and I replied and went to class. They made me late to class, stressed me out — and for nothing.

    That’s unbelieveable that they’d be so specific with that. It’s obvious he was trying to make you fail. Uck. Sometimes people really tick me off.

  5. I love your detailed analysis of the test that the doc was trying to use as a weapon to get his way instead of diagnose the problem or lack there of. He sounds like he is used to having his way. Poor guy. (End of sarcasm)

  6. He wasn’t a doctor, he was a paramedic, and his actual job at that point was to get me off the floor, not to diagnose anything. If that was all he’d done (and if he’d bothered listening to us for about twenty seconds instead of talking over us and demanding mental status exams and so forth), he could’ve been off dealing with someone who needed to go to the hospital, rather than pushing someone who didn’t need to be there, to be there (my guess is he probably proceeded to go off to his next job and try to convince someone in a life-threatening situation that they didn’t need to go to the hospital, he seemed like the type). As it was, a five-minute job took something like half an hour, and I also ended up overexerting myself for him (something I’d been told by a real doctor not to do) because he was insisting that the only way I could stay home was to sit up straight in my wheelchair (something that did not happen but I was scared to death and tried really hard because I didn’t know they weren’t allowed to just grab you and haul you off if you were alert and refusing).

  7. People with disabilities, especially disabilities that are mental or perceived as mental in nature, are often held to a higher standard than “normal” people. It sucks.

  8. I came across your site via a forum for AS people in Sweden. I find it so strange that the “normal” people can’t comprehend that humanity is NOT the same as a bee hive, that individuals have INDIVIDUAL gifts and not everyone wants the same thing as everyone else and at the same time!

    It was such a relief to see your youtube video.

  9. Not a bad idea to get some sort of statement about “unless I’m X I don’t want to go to the hospital” on paper and keep it handy. That guy was just being an asshole — there’s no way anybody can reasonably expect someone to know their friends’ address, etc. Heck, I let people slide if they don’t know the name of the hospital they’re in. Sometimes folks don’t bother to *tell* patients what hospital they’re in. And yeah, Fledchen, I have to agree.

  10. Agh!

    Even when I’m sitting up straight my posture is not straight.

    I wear no watch (or any other jewelry/adornments,) so unless I looked at a clock or the computer recently my response for time of the day might be something like Afternoon.

    And who in the hell cares what the name of the current buffoon on the hill is? (OK, I realize some folks don’t think he’s a clown, but I could use worse words that still fit.)

    Agree with the others that I don’t memorize my friends’ addresses.

    Half laughing while typing, FIRE that paramedic!

  11. Jeez, what a power-tripper. I’ve had orientation testers forgive me for not knowing the vice president before. (In my defense, it was right after the George W. Bush/Bill Clinton election…I said “Quayle” ;-)).

  12. I’m inspired by your story Amanda. I saw your story on CNN. It gives me hope that some day CNN will do a story on my disease called Hypoparathyroidism. That means our parathryoids are non functioning. At least in my case.

    I’ve had doctors and very prominent ones misdiagnose me. I had weird symptoms. I was embarrassed and scared when I had these. I had hallcinations, seizures, double vision, it was pretty bad. Before seizure I would go into what I called “My World”.

    After I told one neurologists I had hallcinations immediately they looked at me different. I was told my seizures needed behavorial therapy they weren’t related to calcium.

    I received my miracle November 13th 2006 when I went for my first visit at National Institute Of Health. For the first time I was put on vitamin d3 and amazing all those weird symptoms went away. I was shocked. Then next big treatment has been a miracle. It isn’t approved by FDA yet so I have to travel every 6 months to get it and to get treated in Bestheda, Maryland.

    Like Autism internet has been a communication means for those of us with HPTH.

    So happy that people with autism such as your self has a way to communicate outside your world. That you may not have had that chance back in say 1970.

    I’m going to bookmark your blog.

    I have more details on my web site about my condition and what I go through on daily basis.

    I’m finally having the opprotunity to speak about HPTH with Senator MIke Enzi from Wyoming.

    I was curious do you find yourself educating people on a daily basis whether it is with community or medical community.

    Doctors seem to get mad if patients disagree with them. Or don’t want to do certain tests, or disagree with results or diagnoses. I have switched many doctors because of this.

    I commend you for your will to speak out and to share your life living with autism. I wish i had a video camera to tape my seziures. I do plan on getting a copy from the clinic I had gone to.

    I’m sure it takes much courage to speak out and to share your story.

    In closing if you would like to know more of what I have you may visit


    my email is [edited to avoid it getting spammed]

    I don’t always get my mail at the other address. Or you can leave comment on web site.

  13. I say put your sense of humor to work and remind the bastard the emergency room is full of fluorescent lights. And you are correct, it is illegal to force someone into medical treatment or to take medication, for that matter. You have the right to refuse!

    We have never met yet I am very proud of you and you’re willingness to fight ignorance.

  14. Wow, that’s just incredibly overdemanding and unprofessional of that person. Isn’t it against some kind of policy to be that stuck on making people who have doctor’s orders not to go to a hospital go to a hospital?

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