The next step in obtaining my entitled Social Security benefits required a visit to a Social Security-approved Psychiatrist to ensure that I was mentally able to make decisions regarding my own medical care. If you remember from yesterday how much I do not want to be on our government's retirement welfare system, and if you know how little I tolerate stupidity, you will understand why I was not the best-behaved patient at this appointment.
The psychiatrist is a lady maybe 5-7 years older than me. She was wearing a suit and had perfectly coiffed hair and nails. I forget what I was wearing, but I did dress professionally. From the moment I walked in the room, her demeanor was condescending and 'I'm-smarter-than-you.' She was polite, but not friendly, and she immediately began her official questioning.
Background: As part of both my pediatric and my ER training, I had a lot of psychiatric exposure. I am fascinated by the true crazies in the world. The wilder the hallucinations, the more fun I have. Overdoses and suicidal patients are my ER norm. Angsty teenagers acting out after a fight with their boyfriends or moms were everyday occurrences. I sought them out. I enjoy them. I took care of them. I know the game. I know the routine. I know the questions to ask and the 'right' answers to those questions. I did not become a psychiatrist, because I am too ADD with a need for instant gratification. Overdoses? Give me the narcan and charcoal, and let's go pump a stomach. Chronic depression and eating disorders? Let me get you medically stable then pass you off for the next few weeks-months of therapy. Not that I don't know how to do that therapy...I just don't enjoy it. I like instant fixes with rapid results.
Now back to my appointment with the Social Security-appointed psychiatrist. We started out discussing my basic information: name, demographics, why-am-I-here-today, that kind of stuff. And then she moved into familiar territory. I swear, the woman could have been one of my residents. She quoted the textbook almost verbatim.
Psych: Why are you here today?
Me: Because the disability company and Social Security made me.
Psych: You don't want to be here?
Me: Not really (I'm still trying to be polite at this point, but my inherent snark is fighting for an excuse to come out).
Psych: What do you do for a living?
Me: I'm a Pediatric ER doc. I work at _____, but I can't go back to work right now since I was diagnosed with MS.
Psych: Oh! You're a doctor, too?
Me: Yep. And I see a lot of psych patients in the ER.
Psych: Really? That's interesting...Did you graduate from high school?
Me: (I'm unable to hold the snark back any more) Seriously??? I just told you I'm a doctor like you. I actually have more training than you, because I actually did a fellowship, and you only did your residency, and you're asking if I graduated from high school?!!!
Psych: Yes. I am. Did you graduate from high school?
Me. Humpf. And I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Vanderbilt, too, before going to med school at BMS.
Psych: So you do have a high school diploma?
Me: (totally over this 'interview' by now) YES
Psych: Are you depressed? Do you want to hurt yourself? Have you thought about killing yourself?
***Insert Mini Mental Status Exam Here***
Me: (during Mini Mental) You do know that I know all these questions and that I can quote the questions and answers to you faster than you can ask them officially, right?
Psych: Why is that?
Me: Because I asked them every single day in my job in the ER. Pediatric ER doc, remember?
Psych: Oh yes. That is right. Continuing on. (And here she continues the Mini Mental, despite my telling her the questions and answers in advance. My patience for her was nonexistent at this point.)
When I got in the car with my husband to go home, he rolled his eyes at my lack of cooperation in the psychiatrist's office. He knows me and my lack of tolerance for stupidity, but he did remind me that she was responsible for determining if I was mentally competent enough to qualify for Social Security. When I reminded him of how much I did NOT want the benefits, he knew well enough to just let the subject drop. I think he was afraid I would take my snark out on him.
Sadly, a week or two later, I was fully approved for Social Security, and I've been receiving monthly checks since. I still hope and pray that I can return to work someday, but for now, this is our normal. God is good, and He continues to provide for my family each and every day...even if I don't like the method.