I just got back from Eugene, Oregon, where I was attending an international recruitment conference with which some of you are no doubt familiar. The wrap-up was held at Autzen Stadium, home of the Oregon Ducks football team; imagine my delight when I discovered they’d opened the field for conference attendees, and I spent an hour playing catch and shanking field goal attempts in front of 54,000 mostly empty seats.
Anyway: ducks, quack, bad doctor story! As I mentioned, I started taking medication again a few weeks ago. (I’ve since stopped, albeit temporarily – that’s another story.) The new psychiatrist, who we’ll call Psychiatrist #1a, was perfectly alright. But it took almost a year to get a referral, so when a second one came shortly afterwards I decided to take it, figuring I’d compare the two doctors before picking one to move forward with. So last week, after an especially productive (and necessary) visit with Doc Awesome, I met Psychiatrist #2b.
First, the good: nice office, nice vibe, nice receptionist, nice doctor. Next, the weird: Psychiatrist #2b stayed seated when I walked into the room, then indicated a chair from which I couldn’t quite see him because his monitor was blocking my view. Lastly, the ugly: he misdiagnosed me. I’m not saying I think he misdiagnosed me: he straight-up misdiagnosed me, a suspicion that Doc Awesome later confirmed. I have something called Pure Obsessional OCD, which is a well-established condition. Or so I thought. Psychiatrist #2b diagnosed it as (drumroll, please) delusion disorder. His reasoning: OCD compels a sufferer to act (so, for instance, the well-known stereotype of the chronic hand-washer). But because I don’t act but rather think, he said it suggested a comorbid diagnosis. WebMD explains delusion disorder as “a type of serious mental illness called a ‘psychosis’ in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined.” That’s as similar to Pure O OCD as an apple is to an A380 jet: they’re both “things,” but that’s where the similarities effectively end. Not to Psychiatrist #2b, who diagnosed me with OCD and borderline delusional disorder. He then prescribed me an antipsychotic. I listened to his diagnosis trying not to let my jaw hit the floor. Doc Awesome’s assessment was wonderfully succinct: “I take it you will not be continuing with him.” She’s right about that.
This points to the exact same problem I once encountered with Dr. No: specialists making fundamental mistakes. I don’t think I know more than either of these two men. But I do think they’ve got gaps in their knowledge, and that in both instances those gaps could’ve compromised my mental health. Dr. No, you may recall, once finished an appointment by laying me face-down on his office couch and running a magnet up my spine. Psychiatrist #2b didn’t go to such overt extremes. His mistake was much more covert – kind of like how Pure O OCD’s an internal disorder, not an external one. I’m certainly not the delusional one in this situation.