Tag Archives: Autistics & Medical Ableism

My Autistic Dialysis Hell, Part Two, And A Monday Afternoon Update

Saturday morning started with me battling multiple nats in my living room and kitchen. And my bathroom too. The nats have been all over for days now.I was already on sensory edge about the nats flying all over my house yesterday.

I went to dialysis on edge.

I had meltdowns at dialysis because I had yet another different tech in my pod. And my nurse Whitney was also on edge. When Nurse Whitney is in a bad mood or stressed out, I always pay. Because I have multiple vocal stims, I do my dialysis in the isolation room, and Nurse Whitney feels she can get away with mistreating me because she feels no one will hear. Because I am in the ISO room.

When I am already high anxiety, it has a rippling effect.

At dialysis my lines were unruly, and had to be adjusted alot. I finally had them lay them across my lower abdomen, because to keep them clamped to my left shoulder, made the white line cap for lab draws cut into my shoulder, and it was painful.

Nurse Whitney was impatient with me about having to readjust my lines so I could be comfortable in my dialysis chair.

Dialysis was me having alot more meltdowns.

I have begged them to assign another nurse to my side of Side B, one who would have patience and understanding and who would work with me and really listen to, see, and hear me.

Instead, I am stuck having to work with a nurse who lets me know consistently that she has problems with me because of all of my ISMS. I have been having problems with Nurse Whitney since December 2020.Towards the end of my treatment, with one hour and five minutes to go of treatment, I went to get my backpack from the tray table on the left side of my chair so I could call my caregiver to discuss my dinner meal plans, and the strap stuck on the side of the tray table. Before I had a chance to think to just press my call button for help, I began yelling in my frustration, plus profanity along with my yelling.

When having meltdowns, I cannot control what comes out of my mouth.

Please. Read that again.

What ensued, instead of Nurse Whitney coming to help me with my bag, was Nurse Whitney becoming impatient and yanking me off of my dialysis machine ONE FULL HOUR before my finish time. As a result, I got 2 hours and 59 minutes exactly of my prescribed four hour treatment, and when I fought to be kept on the machine, and she kept touching me without my permission, HER response was to threaten to call the police on me. Just like I was a criminal.

She kept putting her hands and arms close to my face as well, which she is WELL AWARE is a huge sensory trigger. Yesterday, she didn’t care. She even told the kind tech who came and asked me if she could take my temperature, to not bother to ask my permission for that, that she didn’t have to ask my permission, to just go ahead and do it…take my temp.

For the love of God, neurrotypicals, I need you to understand and GET that we as autistics are wired totally different than you. Our sensory needs are important for you to accommodate, because if you don’t, we are triggered into literal painful agony. Our sensory systems are wired much differently than yours are.

I have bent over backwards to try and educate you all, both through Facebook, and at my dialysis clinic for the past 3 years I have been going there to get dialysis, and still some do not get it that autism is a disability because of sensory needs not being taken seriously.

I need to get my story out there, friends. This is already ruining my weekend, because, and listen, really listen to when I say this, one does not just get over being manhandled and then threatened with the police who can escalate things even more to the point where we run the risk of being injured or even killed by the officers who come to supposedly diffuse my meltdown.

Calling police on us when we are IN DISTRESS, is the last thing one should ever do. There are ways to de-escalate meltdowns that do not and should never involve restraint, scolding, seclusion, any kind of threat or punishment.

I feel so utterly alone today. Like this is only going to get worse, until someone takes seriously that my nurse is abusive, and she needs to actually be fired.

In addition, she forgot to give me my hepogen and hectoral, and my heparin lock for both the veinous and arterial sides of my catheter at the end, and when I went to the bathroom during my treatment, failed to put the machine in bypass mode.

This is not the first time I have caught Nurse Whitney making mistakes with my care. I once caught her setting my machine to pull a full two kilos of fluid, knowing full well this would land me half dead in the hospital. One reason why I request to always have my machine facing me is, so I can watch everything, to make sure it is all correct.

My story of yesterday is all up and down my Timeline. It is all set to public and is very shareable.

I am asking all of you to please share this and put my story in your blogs if you have a blog. #MedicalAbleism is real, and it is happening to me, just trying to stay alive because some do happen to love and care about me…..my mom, my two sisters, Connie, Natalie, and my Facebook autistic disabled community friends.

Below is a post I made to an advocacy org that apparently is no longer in service…..so here it is, here:

” I am a 61 year old autistic adult who has been on in center hemo dialysis since June 2018, and a DaVita patient since July 5, 2018.

Although I have spent the past 3 years breaking my back to educate all staff and nurses there, plus the facility admins, I have been having serious issues for the past two years of my 3 years there, mainly due to impatient insensitive nurses, including the one that has been assigned to my pod for the past year.

For the past year, they have had me assigned to a nurse who for 11 of these months beginning in December 2020, she will sometimes be very curt with me, forget my sensory needs, and cause me to have meltdowns.

She has threatened to withhold nice treatment, her “friendship”, and in Dec., she made it her mission to keep shutting my door on me so that no one could hear my machine if it alarmed. If I have concerns or questions, it is met with “I am your nurse, I know what I’m doing!” and “You just don’t concern yourself” and gaslighting “I did put the machine in bypass mode” or “I did do that, didn’t you see?”

My story is on my Facebook. My local ESRD has been of precious little help.

You can contact me via my email. I would give you my contact phone number, but do not know if that is allowed via email.

Thank you, and I fervently hope you will help me. “


I probably won’t be alive by Halloween of this year, if my kidney center has its way in shoving me out the door. I may be dead within weeks. I don’t trust corporate healthcare. Or my kidney center.

I Have A Right To Exist
And Be Seen And Heard
As My Full On Autistic Self
And I Have A Right
To
My Lifesaving
Kidney Dialysis
All Four Hours of It.
Stop Taking That Away From Me
For Meltdowns
That Are Being Caused
By
Your
DELIBERATE
Inability And Refusal
To See, Hear, Embrace,
And Respect Me
As I Am.~~~Melissa Fields

And an update from today, Monday, September 13, 2021:

Update on my dialysis center / nurse issues:

I have a 12 PM noon meeting between me, my caregiver Connie, my kidney center social worker, the kidney center facility admin, and my nephrologist, tomorrow before dialysis.

I pinned my social worker down when I talked to her just now as to if they are planning to involuntarily discharge me?

Thankfully the answer on that score, is NO.

Social worker says they are doing this meeting so we can all as a team, come up with a plan so that both staff and I can feel safe during my time there getting treatment., moving forward.

I was also adamant that I can no longer work with Nurse Whitney. I’ve worked with Nurse W for a year now, and still my issues with her keep happening because she basically does not care.

Whitney and a few others seem to believe fully in the adage that “When the cat’s away, the mice will play.”

Stay tuned, everyone.

My Dialysis Hell Continues

I had several meltdowns today at dialysis.

My lines that transport my blood to and from the machine were unruly, and kept bothering me. I had to have them routed differently.

Nurse Whitney, the nurse who is still assigned to me, lost her cool, saying that this was putting her behind to accommodate me on where to have my lines placed.

With one hour and 5 minutes left to go on my treatment, I tried to get my backpack off the chair’s tray table so I could message my caregiver to see what we were going to do for dinner tonight.

The long strap caught on the tray table, and so meltdown #2 happened. A lady, a patient on my side began to yell at me repeatedly to shut up.

It only escalated my meltdown to where I was yelling, cussing, and saying “I am done!” over and over.

Nurse Whitney marched in and proceeded to terminate my treatment against my will, stating that I was a safety risk.

I was unable to calm down. Next thing I know, Whitney warned me that she would have to call the cops if I did not stop, that my “temperament” was causing the entire staff and patients to feel unsafe.

I had no choice but to leave, and have my caregiver pick me up earlier than normal. I only got 2 hours and 59 minutes of my prescribed 4 hour treatment today as a result of what I know In my heart of hearts could have been handled much differently, by Nurse WHITNEY.

I keep having these kinds of problems with Whitney….yet they keep assigning her as my nurse….even though she keeps dressing my catheter all crooked, and with crinkles and creases, and gaps in the dressing, and she, along with Tech named BELEN, are always the ones that causes my meltdowns there. It IS intentional.

I have been having problem after problem like this since August 2019 with impatient ableistic nurses and techs who keep moving my machine, touching me too near my face, and ordering me like I’m an unwanted animal.

I am unable to adapt to that hellhole anymore than I am able to. I literally cannot take having to go there another day.

This is where I am at tonight.

I need a miracle or I am going to BREAK INTO A MILLION LITERAL PIECES.

I need my community’s help, friends.

In addition, I wrote a review of my kidney center on Yelp. Here it is below, copied and pasted.

—-

I wish I could give this place a zero, but the option was 1, so here it is.

I’m an autistic adult, yes, hello, there are hundreds of thousands (Actually, more than a million) of us autistic neurodivergent folks out there, and the past two of my three years of me having to get a vital lifesaving treatment that I am entitled to so I can stay alive for those who love me, at this center, have been sheer sensory hell….with only a small bit of accommodation for my sensory needs because they keep forcing me to deal with techs and a nurse who all have very little tolerance and patience for the challenges I experience as an autistic person.

I love my social worker, as well as many of the staff there. However, even though I have spent my 3 years educating them, some of the staff and the current nurse who is assigned to me, keep treating me as if the meltdowns—that some of them cause—is a behavior that I can control.

They do not get it—and don’t want to get it—that they continue to keep doing what I have told them thousands of times triggers me and then when I meltdown, I am yelled at, scolded, then thrown off of my machine early before the end of my 4 hour prescribed time, sent home, and today, my nurse even threatened to call the police on me, when I fought to finish my treatment.

After yet another meltdown that she and another staff member caused.

Today, I was upset, first about my lines being too uncomfortable for me, and then again because when I went to get my backpack to get my phone out to make a phone call, the large strap on it caught on the side table of my chair, and in frustration, I yelled. Because I yelled, I got sent home one full hour early. By threat and force.

Certain protocols have already been put in place at this center to mitigate my sensory hell, even so, my nurse still seems to enjoy causing me to get upset, so she can “make an example” out of me.

I hope Fresenius is reading this, because Santa Maria needs more kidney center choice, and I also hope Davita headquarters is also reading this, because this is cruel treatment of a person who has bent over backwards to educate them on my triggers, meltdowns, and how to handle me when I am in distress. So this kind of incident does not happen.

As per the Americans With Disabilities Act.

In closing, Autism is not a disease or behavior. It is a neurotype, and a disability. Me and the hundreds of thousand other autistic need for the medical community to finally GET this and stop treating us like we are animals and like the human beings we are.

#MedicalAbleism is real. Google it.

A Frank Talk

TW/CW: Discussion of dying, death, and chronic illness, also ableism by medical staff at a hospital. And yes, i do discuss my faith, and belief system (mention of Christianity and Jesus, but i promise it is non-preaching.)
Last June, my world came crashing down. I was hospitalized on June 16th when my then caregiver, K, came and i was almost passed out in my chair, weak, and unable to move much. My lymphedema leg lump that is on my left inner thigh, had become red hot infected. And when i got to the ER, after they did labs on me, they said i had a severe infection in the leg lump—and—end stage stage 5 kidney disease. I was hospitalized for a total of three weeks.
Two days later, i had surgery to implant a chest catheter at the right side of the base of my neck, which goes into my heart, in order to start immediate kidney dialysis.
I’ve been on dialysis ever since, starting in the hospital, and then in center when i got discharged from the hospital July 5th.
At first, i was so devastated—and i actually went through what people go through when a loved one dies, several stages of grief—denial, anger, sadness, depression, etc. I cried alot, and often out of the blue, i would burst into tears. This was so new and terrifying to me. I even called one of my siblings and left them a long message to let them know, i don’t hate them, and why i felt led to tell my story online in 2010—that my intention was not to put them on blast to hurt them, but to make them aware of how the way i was treated had a great profound, sadly, negative affect my life, and to educate others going through the same with their families, and to show others they are not alone.
But right away, i was met with a team of two nephrologists, who talked to me in depth about what i was to expect. Since my labs were stable, i was allowed to still eat mostly normally, just go light on foods with phospherous, potassium, and sodium. They told me they would have my back, and that the kidney center i would be going to for my dialysis would have my back.
I loved going to dialysis right off the bat. Most of the staff have been so supportive of me, and i have even made many friends and allies among them. I even created a cool new imaginary friend out of my dialysis machine, to help me to cope with having to go there for 4 hours three days a week, who is also a real ally, even though she is not real.
Okay, let’s get to the point of this story. Kidney disease IS a killer. It is eventually fatal. The dialysis machine, our second kidney, acts as our kidney, when our kidneys can no longer do their work to cleanse the toxins from our bodies. But with kidney disease, comes the risk of heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke, infection of the access site, whether chest catheter, fistula, or AV graft, and damage to other internal organs.
Twice now, during dialysis, i have experienced an episode where i get a weird feeling all over, a huge gas bubble forms in my upper abdominal cavity underneath my breasts, my urine turns dark brown, and i cannot eat or drink a thing until the gas bubble and nausea slowly passes. This happened a month ago when they took off way too much fluid for my body to handle, then it happened again yesterday.
Lat night i felt i needed to go to the ER. There, i was treated to first one doctor and nurse, who without asking me first, pulled up my shirt to feel my abdominal area. That is a real invasion of my own body, to get touched without first asking. Doctors and nurses do this all the time, and it is downright disrespectful. Then the first nurse, also without asking me, lifted my legs from the wheelchair foot rests, was rough about it, and i told her to stop and ask me first, and to be gentle with me.
I stayed there for over four hours, only so they could get a urine sample, which by the way, never got tested, then blood was drawn, six vials in all. They also did a complete ultrasound of my entire abdominal area. But the way i felt like i was being unheard by the nurses and the first doctor, i refused to let them admit me. If i need to go back to a hospital, it won’t be this one in Santa Maria, it will be one in San Luis Obispo that has an excellent patient centered reputation. I just didn’t feel like i would be accomodated this time at our hospital…so i had Sam, my caregiver and friend, bring me back home.
I am able to sip small amounts of water now as of this morning. And update: I ate an entire Solo cup of Rice Krispies with 2% lowfat milk, and a sliced apple. my urine looks clear and light-colored again.
The prospect that i could die soon, is once again hitting me hard—and it scares me shitless. While i have never turned my back on my faith and Christianity (Jesus), since i have been woken about so many things, i no longer feel it is respectful or appropriate to those with different beliefs and faiths, and those who aren’t into faith, to proselytize. I never was a Bible thumper, but i did used to post alot of Christian themed memes when i first came onto Facebook, mainly out of guilt that if i didn’t post them i wasn’t a true believer—that i was denying my faith is Jesus. I still profess Jesus as my savior who died for me so i could have eternal life, but i also respect all of you who believe differently, are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or no faith in any God at all. I was hurt greatly in so many churches i went to, and i never want to be that kind of person who hurts others. I bring this up, because of the fact that i know i am dying, and there is a huge part of me that fears i may go to hell when i die—because i still cuss like a sailor, i still get pissed off, royally pissed. But ya know what? I now know anger is a valid emotion, and some people do not deserve our forgiveness. I know hell on top of all of the earthly hell i have already been through, would be the unwanted icing on the cake for me.
Sigh—-i don’t know where i am going with this talk. I just know i am real, and i just want to know that i made some kind of a difference in other people’s lives before i do leave this earth. And i want to live on after i die, in a happy place–whether it be Heaven, or in a new earthly life. Knowing that, would help to alleviate much of my fear of dying.
And i would rather die where i feel safe dying. Not with harsh nurses that don’t give two fucks about me, but with the people who i love, who love me. Like my now caregivers, Sam and Iris.
To all of you, my friends here on Facebook, to the ones who are not on my friends list now, but who i still remember with love and gratitude, to the few local friends i have, i thank you all for the love and support you’ve all given to me, for having my back, and for helping to wake me the fuck up about so many things i used to believe in, but don’t anymore because i now see so many truths that i didn’t see before. I have been awakened to the knowledge that i am both bi-sexual and non-binary/queer. I thank you all for enriching my life so much, for the true treasures you all have been and still are to me today.
I love you all, friends. Each and every one of you. To the moon and stars and back, i love you all so very very much. Your light will shine on me forever and ever and ever.
I wish i had enough time left to help bring this nation we live in to a place of true love, peace and well-being for all of its people, including our most vulnerable, elderly and disabled people, People of Color, LGBTQIA, Neuroqueer, Autistic/Disabled, Muslim, Jewish, Black, Latinx, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Asian, everyone. A place where healthcare is a fundamental human right. Where disabled people start being truly accepted, included and accomodated and part of the national conversation. Where gay and transgenders can feel safe walking down the street. Where an elderly grandmother can know she can get her meds, pay her rent, monthly bills, or stay in her home that she still owns, where Muslims and Jewish people can worship without fear of a mass shooter gunning them down. Where there is no more gun culture, period. Where no more Black youth get shot and killed. Where hate is stamped down. I would work for a nation that is no longer thought of as a cruel nation.
In the meantime, i am not dead yet. As long as i still breathe, i will spend my very last spoon defending my friends and my community. I will hold space for all of you. I will do what i can to spread the causes of love, truth, and justice.
Love and peace and light,
Melissa Fields, Still Here