This coming Friday, I have an in-person meeting with the new neuropsych my own NP has recommended. I did some research on them online, and they look like a very interesting and sympathetic person who genuinely cares about their patients/clients.
This is good. But I’m nervous. It’s change. I hate change.
So, I’m doing some research on them in PubMed, also, to see what they’ve researched and published about, and to see where their interests lie. Then I’ll have a better sense of how I can talk to them. Obviously, I’m not going to be able to speak as a peer, but knowing what they’re professionally passionate about certainly can’t hurt. Also, Google has some interesting stuff, including some very positive personal testimonies from patients. That’s a good sign.
My interactions with this new NP are going to be about as scientific as I can get. I don’t want to get into all sorts of emotional processing with them. I want to “use” them as a resource who can give me scientific insight into the brain-related things I’m encountering on a regular basis. That includes my stuff, as well as my spouse’s and my parents’ stuff. My folks are getting older and starting to show signs of decline, and as the eldest in the family with no children of my own, I’m “on point” to take care of them (or make appropriate arrangements) later on. We’ve already had a “fire drill” a few years ago, when my father had a heart condition and had to undergo emergency surgery. That really brought everything home. So, yes, I need to be properly equipped for handling my parents as they get older and decline cognitively.
It’s already happening. Why not be prepared?
I also got the details for a psychologist I can see to sort through the details of my life. Again, this is not an “emotional excavation” exercise — it’s to follow through with the growth and development work I’ve been doing. I need to keep my progress going, and that goes best when I have someone to talk things through with.
For so many years, I was isolated and alone, because I would “get lost” in conversations and would not realize it had to do with my short-term working memory. I would forget what people said to me, just a few minutes after they said it, and then I’d have to cover up the fact that I was lost. I didn’t feel comfortable enough to ask them to repeat themselves, and I didn’t feel comfortable saying back to them what I thought they’d said. I didn’t realize my processing speed was slower, and I’d be always rushing to keep up with fast conversations.
Again, I’d get lost. In a very big way. So, I was basically cut off from the rest of the world by just a few simple challenges. And I wasn’t used to talking to other people at all.
Now I’ve become a lot more comfortable with it, and I need to speak with someone regularly about the things going on in my life. I also need to talk with someone who doesn’t look at me like I’m impaired or an idiot– someone who can just hang in there with me and help me sort things through in my head. Executive function development, and all that.
I’m pretty nervous about both of these new relationships. I don’t know if they’ll be successful or not, and the whole idea of starting over from scratch with veritable strangers puts me on edge. When I’m on edge, I start to act strangely, and that worries me, as well. But at least with the neuropsych, they’re used to seeing people who have “issues”, so there’s less pressure to cover up all my little quirks.
Of course, some sort of preparation is always good. Even if it’s not useful for the other person (i.e., I tell them things that are significant to me, but not to them as a clinician), it helps me to organize my thoughts. I need to not get classified as a member of the “miserable minority” whose issues are purely psychological, stemming from emotional issues or past trauma that I can’t suppress anymore. Looking back in my interactions with neurologists and other psychologists, I can say pretty confidently that that’s how they perceived me. And the conversations stopped being about understanding the functional features of my brain and life, and they started being about “How’s your relationship with your parents?” Or “When was the last time you took drugs?”
Sheesh. How terribly unproductive. I just can’t go through that again. It diverted my course away from my goal — to understand the workings of my brain/body and adapt my approaches accordingly, so I could just get on with my life.
So, I’ve started making some notes about what to convey — Why I’m meeting with them. What I hope to achieve by meeting with them. What insurance they take. How often it would be useful to meet. What their history and main professional interests are. What their philosophy and orientation are. I don’t want to get into too much detail from the start — I need to just focus on the essentials and get a general sense about them.
Ultimately, of course, they’re not going to be the Silver Bullet that Fixes Everything with me. That’s my job. I just need some additional support to do the best job I can.
And so I shall.