by Lory Laughter, RDH, BS
Multitasking is the catch phrase of the 21st century. Humans seem to be happiest accomplishing as many tasks as possible in the least amount of time. It occurred to me today that this ability to do several things at one time is not so much a learned skill, but a trait of overactive minds.
I set out to write a few thoughts about autism awareness month. In my practice I treat two autistic boys, and I've watched them grow the last 10 years. These boys are not just patients, but children of my friends. They are both wonderful boys who make our office brighter every time they walk in. In 2009 I want to pick a cause to support each month, and I was thrilled to learn that Autism Awareness Month exists.
The Web site www.autismspeaks.org describes the condition as “a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 166 children, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.”
I wondered how many other causes have an awareness month in April. A quick search yielded pages of results. Alcohol use, irritable bowel syndrome, cesarean deliveries, mathematics, and STDs all have an awareness month in April. I wonder if procrastinators have a month?
April is also sexual abuse awareness month, as well as Sjogren's, stress, and workplace conflict. This month also brings foot health and counseling awareness to the forefront. These are all important causes that not only deserve our support, but can help us better treat our patients.
I bet I could make a sign with all the different awareness causes in April on it, laminate it, and put it in my treatment room. That way it would be seen and curious folks could ask questions on any topic that interests them. I hope no one asks me about STDs! I should get pamphlets on STDs to have available. It's a subject of vital importance, but one that creates discomfort in the moment.
Now, my laminating paper is located near my cat's dish. The cat named Uh is ill with kidney failure and eats a special (and expensive) diet, so his dish is out of reach of his sister, Duh. While I'm in the area, no reason not to do a load of laundry. Hanging on the laundry room door is Uh's IV fluid bag. It's nearly time for his dose, so I might as well do it now. The process takes only five minutes, but is best accomplished in my son's room where I can turn on the TV — to calm the cat, of course. Two and a Half Men lasts 30 minutes.
Mark Hartley posted pictures of his desk on Facebook and made a funny comment about me. My desk is about as messy as his right now: I should post pictures of my desk. I hope Kevin Henry received my virtual wave.
I'm back at my desk, after doing dishes, covering my gray hair, and cleaning a sink. December is procrastination awareness month. Event planning for 2009 will start right after the new year in 2010.
Being a health-care provider is more than cleaning teeth. Knowing which diseases and other causes have an April awareness month can help our patients take better care of their health. If posting the list leads to even one person seeking more information, it was worth the laminating. If just one reader takes the time to learn more about autism and wants to support finding a treatment or cure, my multitasking time was well spent.