My 1st counseling session

11 Jul

On July 10, 2012 I had my 1st counseling (mental) session, and I am sure you’re saying big deal, well it was to me. Up until this current episode of pneumonia, I chugged right thru the illness, for the 1st week sitting in a hospital taking the prescribed meds, getting the breathing treatments, being poked, prodded, weighted, awoke, and visited at all weird manner of hours by doctors and housekeeping. Generally after 6 or 7 days I would be sent home to finish recouping. The at home process would be take another 2 weeks after which it would be pretty much back to normal (whatever normal is).

That hasn’t been the case, this year I have had 2 eight day sessions in the hospital dealing with pneumonia and whatever it mutates into. But the kicker has been a much more extended post hospital treatment. My most recent event had me in the hospital on May 28th getting out on June 5th. Today is July 11th and I am still under intense drug treatment. This is a long way to getting to a point, but because of the extended recovery time, and the fact that this was 2nd pneumonia episode within 6 months, and that even in recovery mode I still felt like shit, all started playing games in my head. Being honest I didn’t like the games, or where my mind would go during them.

Anyway, all of these emotions lead me to consider seeking counseling. After much to do, and with the help of my BCBS Case Mgr, I found a counselor and made an appointment. My perception of counseling is much driven by what I have seen on TV, nothing based on fact, purely input from TV.  With two exceptions I don’t even know anyone that has admitted going to counseling.  Of course I didn’t expect to lie down on a couch; I really went into it without expectations.  But, I had one burning question and after that I was pretty much open to whatever happened.

My burning question was, “How was the dying process going to work?”  I wanted to be given some insight on how that process was going to happen.  When the time comes I don’t want it drawn out, no extra efforts are going to be made, I will not allow myself to be put on a respirator, and don’t jump start me. When my time comes, let me GO.  Having said that, I have/had and still do a fear that the process won’t be like that at all.  My counselor (Linda) and I spoke of dying, we didn’t get into religion, we didn’t address heaven or hell, or afterlife.  We kept it pretty clinical.  Linda seems to believe that when my time comes I will be in a hospital, I will be having yet another bout of mutated pneumonia, and the doctors will at some point say “Bill, for you to continue living we must put you on a respirator.”  To which my answers would be NO.  From there Linda suspects that my treatment will become more for end management, than treatment of pneumonia.  I will be made comfortable and I will be given the necessary drugs to maintain that comfort until I slip away.  Linda may not have a clue what she is talking about in regard to my dying, but she said what I wanted to hear, and because of this, I have a view of the future which is much more acceptable to me, something that I can be comfortable with.  That is/was a big hurtle, I probably won’t dwell on this much until I get sick as crap again, at which time I will probably visit this and other dark thoughts.

It probably took longer for me to write about my “burning question” than for me to ask and have Linda provide insight about it during our session.  During our session we probably only spent (at most) 10 or 15 minutes talking about dying.  But I spent almost an hour talking to her.  And I did a lot of the talking, we spoke of a book she is writing, how she started her center, management styles and issues, and her staffing issues, the deaths she has lived thru and a wide variety of topics.  Throughout I had my opinions on these various topics, I spoke of the dignity and strength I witnessed in the passing of my friend Mike, and the passing of both my parents.  I felt I did too much talking (without direction), rambling on about whatever thought I was having at the moment, and that I didn’t allow Linda to lead or direct the conversation, but then it could have been exactly as she planned it.  When the session was over I did tell her that I expected her to lead more the next time we got together.

It was nice being able to talk freely, without fearing feeling guilty, or even caring if the other person liked what you said or not.  Because I went into this realizing it could be a onetime event, I didn’t have to hold back, though I did hold back some.  Also, I did realize that complete trust was needed, and Linda and I aren’t there yet.  I am sure as the trust builds I will hold back less and less, and if the trust doesn’t build I will move to another counselor.  For me I felt the session was worthwhile, I also think the timing was right.  I have scheduled another session for next week.


Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Observations


5 responses to “My 1st counseling session

  1. Wanda

    July 13, 2012 at 6:09 am

    On one level, Bill, my heart breaks as I read this. I am so sad that you are having to deal with this.

    On another level, though, I must say I am proud of you for taking such a proactive approach to this, and I’m glad that your time with the therapist eased your mind a little bit. I’m hoping now you will be able to put more energy into the getting better process (and I’m glad to see the uptick in your daily status reports–fingers crossed that will continue!).

  2. huntmode

    December 8, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    What an important day this was, Bill. Way back in the late 70s or early 80s, I finally recognized I could use a professional counselor. I was blessed in my choice and though it ended after about a year or so, I still hold great affection for what I learned in those sessions. One of the best was it was all about me. I didn’t have to worry about hogging the conversation or about someone else’s feeling or reaction. Another critical aspect was realizing sometimes I had no clue what she was asking about or saying – I wasn’t resisting, I just didn’t get it.

    Very clearly, I remember her asking me one session how I wanted to feel when I left the session. I felt bewildered by the question itself. What did “want” have to do with it? I struggled to answer her and finally just said, “I don’t understand what you’re asking me.” I remember her gazing at me and suddenly, she snapped into what I was saying. I could see it in her eyes, she got it. There was a sudden expression of compassion – not pity – but comprehension that I had no reference for what she was asking. She rephrased and explained, saying something to the effect that I could change an outcome by visualizing what I wanted and how that would feel. Sounds like what people in the State of Washington call “Wu Wu.” Psycho babble, but in fact it has been a mainstay of my strength ever since.

    Good on you, Bill!

    • FlaHam

      December 8, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      Hunt, Gosh, I couldn’t say it any better myself. I quit seeing the Linda after the second session. She spent a goo portion of our time talking about new book, and the need to market it, and on and on. Yes we spend time talking about my burning question, and yes she gave me an answer I could live with, but it never got to any of the underlying issues that were going on in my head. So after 2 sessions I stopped. Several months later, I realized I had a ton of crap floating around in my head that was not doing me a lick of good. I had been talking to a BCBS counselor, and she was pushing (in a quiet way) me towards counseling, and to this day I thank her. My current counselor is a wonderful lady, and it so freeing, it is all about me, I don’t have to worry about anyone’s feelings, and she has heard any cuss word I want or need to use (though I do limit it greatly). My Doc Head has been great for me, and I know she will continue to be. I also know at some point she will set me free so to speak, but we aren’t there yet. Doc Head asked that question early, and I knew what I wanted, I wanted to feel better about myself. I wanted to know my struggle counted for something. She is helping me in both regards. And like you what I want seems to change from visit to visit, but does come back to these subject. Take care, Bill

      • huntmode

        December 8, 2013 at 8:48 pm

        Oh, I am so glad to hear you say that! Both for you and me – felt I was getting a bit preachy there. So glad for you, Bill!

        • FlaHam

          December 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm

          Hunt, I didn’t consider it preacher at all, it was an honest question/remark which I handled with the same level of honesty. Take care, Bill


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