By Anita Lesko, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Autism Advocate, Author
I am a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist for the past 27 years. I’ve been working full time ever since graduating from Columbia University in 1988 with my Master’s in Nurse Anesthesia. I specialize in anesthesia for neurosurgery, organ transplants, and orthopedic joint replacements. Oh, yes, there’s something else I’d like you to know! I’m autistic, and I didn’t even know this until I was fifty, yes, 50, when I “accidently” discovered it. I knew my entire life that I was different and never fit in. I knew that I had endless social obstacles, and a myriad of sensory issues that baffled me and often interfered with my daily life. I never had any early intervention of any kind. Nothing. My mom was my best friend, my sole support system, and my life coach. She enabled me to find my inner strength and accomplish all that I have done. My career literally forced me to interact with people, which was my “therapy!” I’ve done over 50,000 cases to date, and I’ve had over one million social interactions with operating room staff, patients, and families! I’m also an internationally published military aviation photojournalist, and have flown in military aircraft including an F-15 fighter jet!