Transcript of 3rd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Peter Hossfeld, Monday, January 27, 1997 at 10 am.

Mr. Hossfeld: Hi Charles. I went for the tests; they gave me this stuff to show you.
Dr. Balis: Hmm, let's take a look. Okay, this is your blood test. There's nothing abnormal about your blood sugar. Your hormone levels seem all right, and they didn't detect any blood-borne diseases. That's great.
Mr. Hossfeld: What about the other stuff?
Dr. Balis: Let's see...this is the neurologist's report on the EEG...It says he found some unusual activity, especially during the strobe test. How did you feel when they were doing that?
Mr. Hossfeld: A little strange, but I don't know if it was the circumstances or the flashing lights or what. It feels weird to have all those wires stuck to your head while they twiddle dials and peer at you. But I didn't trip out or anything. What does "unusual activity" mean?
Dr. Balis: It might be significant or it might not. This isn't a very exact science, a lot of interpretation goes into it. And brain waves vary quite a bit between different people. But they sometimes tell us where to look more closely. Did you go in for the MRI scan yet?
Mr. Hossfeld: No, they said that next week was the soonest they could fit me in.
Dr. Balis: Well, you've made a start anyway. I know this isn't exactly what you came to me for; but we have to check these things out carefully. Have you had any more episodes like you were telling me about last week?
Mr. Hossfeld: Actually no. Maybe I haven't been relaxed enough. The rest of my life seems so shallow and meaningless. But I can't wait. After having had these short glimpses of another world, I want to see more of it, not less. Real life just can't compete. It sucks.
Dr. Balis: Come on Pete. Is your life really that bad, or is it just disappointing in comparison to your glorious visions?
Mr. Hossfeld: I don't know. If you think of the way most of the people in the world live, I suppose you'd have to call me happy. I'm comfortable; I've got food, clothes, and shelter; nobody's shooting at me; my job's not too hard. I guess I'm better off than ninety percent of the world's population. But it's like when my Mom told me to eat my dinner because kids were starving in Africa--it didn't make the peas and carrots taste any better. Worse if anything.
Dr. Balis: Is your mother still alive?
Mr. Hossfeld: Yeah sure. She calls me up once a week or so, asks if I'm eating all right and dressing warm, if I've met any nice girls lately, that sort of thing. But I haven't told her about my out-of-body experiences; she wouldn't know what to make of them and it would just worry her. We keep it pretty light. I don't want her jumping on a plane and rushing to my side. She's got enough to do as it is.
Dr. Balis: With your father?
Mr. Hossfeld: No, they split up when I was a kid. She had a pretty rough time of it for a while, but she got married again and I guess she's doing okay. She's got a whole new batch of kids now, so she doesn't have a lot of energy to spare.
Dr. Balis: Are you still in contact with your father?
Mr. Hossfeld: No, I don't know if he's alive or dead. I guess he must still be alive; I suppose I would have heard something if he'd died. But the break-up was pretty bitter; my mom never got a dime in child support. He just left and that was that. I never got presents from him on my birthdays, or even phone calls. I think he left the country in the late seventies. I don't know if he ever came back. Actually, I don't even care anymore. I wasted enough time on that when I was a kid.
Dr. Balis: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Mr. Hossfeld: Well, my Mom's kids are my half-sisters and a half-brother, but I was pretty much grown up by the time they came along. I never really felt like a part of her new family, but they seem happy enough.
Dr. Balis: Do you get along with your step-father?
Mr. Hossfeld: I never really considered him that. But we get along okay, I guess. I was a teenager by the time he got together with my Mom. I couldn't understand what she saw in the guy. I was happy the way things were, just me and my Mom; I suppose I wasn't very friendly to him, and he mostly tried to keep out of my way. It could have been worse, but it was a big relief for all of us when I finally moved out.
Dr. Balis: So you don't have any family around here; do you have any friends?
Mr. Hossfeld: Yeah sure. I still have some friends from school that live pretty close--I went to Cal Berkeley, right across the Bay. I don't know if I told you that. And I've met people in some of the classes and workshops I've been to; I keep in touch with some of them. And I know some people from SII, mostly other programmers. We go out for beers after work sometimes, shoot the shit. We keep it pretty light, talking about sports, O.J., that kind of thing. Nothing's worse than programmer's shop-talk--anybody that starts has to buy a round. It's the only reason we don't get thrown out of the bar. We had a Superbowl party yesterday at this sports bar on Lake Merced. Big spread--beer by the barrel and every kind of junk-food you could imagine--but it was just a bunch of geeks packed into a sideshow. The few guys that had actually persuaded women to come to this thing were sort of hovering around them, protecting them from the wolves. I kept rooting for the Patriots to win, even though I knew they were doomed. I guess I'm attracted to lost causes.
Dr. Balis: At the risk of sounding like your mother, have you met any nice girls lately?
Mr. Hossfeld: You mean, do I have a girlfriend? Well, there are some women I know well enough to sleep with occasionally. But no, I'm not really in a relationship. I keep it pretty casual. I guess I'd have to connect with a woman on more levels than just sex if it was to get serious, and...I don't know, these women are my friends. We help each other with our needs, but it's not like I'm in love or anything. I haven't been...oh, since high school anyway. I don't seem to have the energy any more. Maybe I'm just waiting for the right one to come along.
Dr. Balis: So you haven't given up hope?
Mr. Hossfeld: You are starting to sound like my Mom. Honestly, I'm fine the way I am. Getting married and all that isn't even on the radar screen. And since I've been tripping out like I have, it doesn't even seem relevant. The psychic said I had a fifty-fifty chance of dying in the next year. Maybe your brain scan is going to pin that down.
Dr. Balis: I think your chances are much better than that, and you really shouldn't be worrying about dying. I don't know why you're paying for that kind of prediction, how can it be helpful to you?
Mr. Hossfeld: She says I'm edging into the spirit world, and that can happen when you're getting ready to die, if you are an old soul who has been through a lot of incarnations. It's like it gets easier each time you go through a body, and you start getting more hints and remembering your past lives better. And being able to flash into the spirit world is part of that. It makes sense to me--a hell of a lot more than these brain waves of yours. I'm lucky that I'm getting a chance to get to know Heaven a little at a time. Most people have to face it all at once; they don't have time to prepare themselves. If that's where you go, it's wonderful; I'm looking forward to it. I mean sure, I'm scared, but it's thrilling too. It's such a beautiful place. I know that now...
Dr. Balis: Don't you think you might be making some erroneous assumptions here? This is not necessarily about dying. There could be lots of other things going on to account for your experiences. The tests don't rule out adult-onset temporal lobe epilepsy. What you have been experiencing might be what used to be called petit mal epileptic seizures. We need some scans to nail this down, and we'll have to consult with a neurologist when it comes to interpreting them. Now this is a serious condition, but it's not the end of the world. There are medications which can control them completely in most people. So you don't need to think you're going to die, if that turns out to be what's going on. The other thing we need to check for is a brain tumor. A brain tumor sounds really scary but they are very rare in people your age and can often be successfully operated upon.
Mr. Hossfeld: Oh great. I need this like a hole in the head. Can't I just say, okay, my time is up? That's that, I'm checking out?
Dr. Balis: Is that what you really want to do? It sounds like you are looking at this from a very strange perspective. Don't you think your life is worth fighting for? Isn't it possible that things might be better than you think? Now, so far I haven't given you a diagnosis or prescribed any treatment. But I want you to know that you are always free to get a second opinion on anything I might tell you. But get it from somebody with some scientific or medical credentials, not from a psychic. All right?
Mr. Hossfeld: I'll go anywhere I think I can find the truth. And there's truth in a lot of places you've never looked, so you can't say it isn't there.
Dr. Balis: Well that's an interesting problem in philosophy, but we're about out of time. I'd like to see you again after you have the MRI scans done. Is that okay?
Mr. Hossfeld: Sure, whatever you say.
Dr. Balis: Okay, well call me when you get the scans and we'll set something up. Goodbye Peter.
Mr. Hossfeld: See you then.
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