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.