Transcript of 20th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Christina Herald, Thursday, October 9, 1997 at 5:00 pm.

Ms. Herald: Hello, Doctor!
Dr. Balis: Oh, no...
Ms. Herald: I can see you're about to lose it, but before you do, let me explain. No, I'm not going to hand this animal--this kitten--to you and say "Happy Trails!" For one thing, she's too young for that. It'll be at least another three weeks before she's ready to go to a new home. The reason that she is with me today is because, for some ungodly reason, Greg's cat Clementine turned out to be a rather lousy mother and refused to nurse her kittens anymore. So Greg, Jonny, Bessa, and I have each taken a kitten and keep it with us so it can be fed at certain times of the day. Lest you think that I am entertaining this winsome little fluffball in my classroom, I will tell you that during the day Anders plays mama-cat to all four kittens, but in the evening, he demands a break. Besides, he works at night and the rest of us are in one sort of school or another all day long. Little Clio is my responsibility in the evenings until she is weaned. You can start breathing again.
Dr. Balis: You don't know just how much that terrified me.
Ms. Herald: Doc, you turned absolutely white. If that's not terror, then what is? But I thought you liked cats; you seemed fine with Lancelot.
Dr. Balis: I do like cats. Honestly. Stop looking at me like I grew horns and a tail. I was just not quite prepared for one to become an instant fixture in my life this evening.
Ms. Herald: Yeah. She just ate, though, so she shouldn't be a bother. After this, I think I can promise no more household pets in your office. I know it's probably not very good manners, or against regulations, or something.
Dr. Balis: Is that purring?
Ms. Herald: Yeah, she has a motor on her like a '48 Triumph. Hard to believe that something so tiny can rumble like that, isn't it?
Dr. Balis: She is cute...
Ms. Herald: Do you want to hold her?
Dr. Balis: Well, I don't know...
Ms. Herald: Oh, come on. You do, I can tell by that look. Here. Be careful with her. She's only about three and a half weeks old. She should start weaning pretty soon though, I think.
Dr. Balis: What did you call her? Cleo?
Ms. Herald: Not as in Cleopatra. As in Clio, the muse of...of...damn. The muse of something. It's either history or epic poetry. From Greek mythology.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Herald: Um, Doc...?
Dr. Balis: Hmm?
Ms. Herald: Aren't you forgetting something?
Dr. Balis: What? What am I forgetting?
Ms. Herald: The part where you pick my brains about how my week's been.
Dr. Balis: Oh! Oh, dear. Sorry. Here...
Ms. Herald: No, no, you can keep holding her if you want to. She seems more than content. You hold her and I'll talk. Capisce?
Dr. Balis: All right, tell me about your week.
Ms. Herald: I am on the horns of a dilemma concerning a student of mine.
Dr. Balis: All right. What's going on?
Ms. Herald: Well, let me just preface this by saying that teachers are bound by certain confidentiality rules regarding their students, kind of like doctors are regarding their patients.
Dr. Balis: I respect that.
Ms. Herald: Well, since I can't in good conscience mention names, I am going to call the particular student I am concerned with Jane. Works for you?
Dr. Balis: I wouldn't know the students anyway, but Jane works for me.
Ms. Herald: All right. Jane is in my second hour class, and she's an extremely bright girl. She's one of the stars of the forensics team, active in several organizations on campus, well-liked and well-adjusted. I've become quite fond of her since the school year's started. She wants to be a teacher and has kind of adopted me as her big sister mentor sort of figure. She asks a lot of questions about why I chose what I did as a career, and so on and so forth. The kind of student any teacher would love to have, right?
Dr. Balis: I would say so.
Ms. Herald: Right. Well, in structuring my classroom philosophies, I made it clear to the students that should they need someone to talk to about any number of things, I was available. It's something that a lot of teachers do. Sometimes it's easier for a student to go to a teacher whom they see every day than to some guidance counselor sitting in an office who they see maybe twice in a semester. So yesterday, Jane comes to me after school's over and asks to talk. We sit down, and she just bursts into tears.
Dr. Balis: Uh oh...
Ms. Herald: Uh oh is right. Jane has been dating this guy who's a year ahead of her in school since the beginning of the summer. I don't know too much about him; I teach tenth grade and he was already passed that when I signed on. But I do know that he's a bright kid as well, active in the art and theater departments, generally touted as being brilliant. Jane starts telling me about how their relationship has been on the rocks, and how he just doesn't seem to care or have any time for her anymore. I figured that this was turning into one of those angsty moments that everyone has once in a while; lord knows I've had enough of them. But then she tells me that she thinks she's pregnant.
Dr. Balis: Mmm.
Ms. Herald: Well, I was kind of stunned for a minute. Not the kind of stunned that you would think--not the scandalized kind of stunned. More along the lines of a "this was the last thing I expected" kind of stunned. After I had recovered myself, I asked her how long overdue the monthly bill was. Not in those words, of course, but you get the idea. She said it should have come two weeks ago. Then she started to cry even harder and go on and on about how her father had all these hopes for her: she would probably get a scholarship and be the first one in her family to graduate college, that she had younger brothers and sisters who looked up to her, and all I could think was that this poor kid was obviously in a whole world of trouble here. That stupid little smug, elitist, pretentious prick she's been wasting her time with has quite possibly just ruined her life and probably doesn't give a damn about it, either! I didn't say that, of course. But I was sure as hell thinking it. I would love to get that little asshole in a room with some of my old friends; they would verbally trounce his hide the moment he opened his mouth! Fucking poseur.
Dr. Balis: What is your dilemma here?
Ms. Herald: I want to sit down with Jane and seriously go over her options with her. Discuss her possible choices and how they will fit in with her religious beliefs and plans for the future, as well as her own emotions. But I don't know how far is too far, you know? I mean, if it was what she wanted, I would drive her to the fucking clinic if I didn't think it would cause a maelstrom. All I could do was tell her that I understood what a hard situation that this was for her, and to get one of the little home kits that say yea or nay as soon as possible. I also told her that she should tell her parents about the situation, as well as her boyfriend. She said that if she was pregnant, there was no way that she could tell her parents. She comes from a devoutly Catholic family and there would be--pardon the pun--hell to pay. I really just didn't know what to do. I hate feeling helpless! This girl came to me for help and I feel like I'm being hamstrung by a bunch of red tape. In the end, I told her to just get the test, take it, and then come back and talk to me. I probably have until the beginning of next week to thrash out a plan of action.
Dr. Balis: I see how difficult a situation this could be.
Ms. Herald: They don't really cover this in the classes. At least not specifically. I mean, we are required to report any suspicions of abuse and stuff, sure, but other than that, I really don't know. I'm concerned for my job, of course, but when it comes right down to it, I'm more concerned about my student's well-being. But well-being means a lot of things. She's fifteen for chrissakes! She may make a decision about terminating the pregnancy one day and then change her mind the next, and if the procedure's done, then she's out of luck. And a fifteen year old girl is not the most emotionally stable of creatures to begin with. Add the hormones of pregnancy careening about in her system and it's well-nigh impossible to count on anything. Say Doc, is it true that there is a point in pregnancy where a woman is legally insane because of hormonal imbalances?
Dr. Balis: Well...
Ms. Herald: Never mind, it's not important. Jesus. Jesus Christ, what do I do here?
Dr. Balis: Chris, calm down. It's okay. You're working yourself up quite a bit. I don't doubt your concern for your student, and I find that concern admirable. Your hands are shaking.
Ms. Herald: No, they're not.
Dr. Balis: Chris, are you feeling all right?
Ms. Herald: Yeah. Fine.
Dr. Balis: Are you sure? You look a bit flushed.
Ms. Herald: Talking myself out of a panic attack. No big deal.
Dr. Balis: It is a big deal. Take a deep breath. Have you had any caffeine today, anything that may aggravate the problem?
Ms. Herald: No, not really. Can I talk you out of some of that water?
Dr. Balis: Go right ahead.
Ms. Herald: Thanks.
Dr. Balis: Not at all. You certainly managed that quickly.
Ms. Herald: Comes with experience. Well, now you've seen how it unfolds, and how I start to get wound up and have to throttle it down. Total wacko, huh?
Dr. Balis: Not hardly. You put a lot of yourself into helping others. That is by no means a negative quality, Chris. Are you feeling okay now?
Ms. Herald: Serviceable. I can make it home to crash. Greg and Jonny should be by to pick up the baby around eight. I can take her to bed with me and just leave a note on the door for them to come in and get her. I hardly think I need to worry about my younger brother and his boyfriend coming in to rape and pillage, eh?
Dr. Balis: What baby?
Ms. Herald: The one who looks as though she's melded with the curve of your arm. I'm afraid I'll have to take her away now, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Oh. All right, here you go.
Ms. Herald: Thanks. I'll see you next week, okay?
Dr. Balis: Sure. Oh, and when the kittens are old enough to move on, let me know. I might be interested.
Ms. Herald: Okay. Would you want her, do you think?
Dr. Balis: I don't know yet. Just let me know.
Ms. Herald: I will. Later, Doctor.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Christina Herald's Transcripts Transcripts of Christina Herald's Communications
Button to Christina Herald's Patient File Christina Herald's Patient File

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