Transcript of 8th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Peter Hossfeld, Tuesday, July 15, 1997 at 1:00 pm.

Mr. Hossfeld: Hi, Charles.
Dr. Balis: Peter, it's good to see you again--and something of a surprise as well.
Mr. Hossfeld: Yeah, sorry about last time--in the hospital, I mean. Serena sometimes is not really tactful around strangers, but she had a lot on her mind right then.
Dr. Balis: I suppose she did at that. Where are you at about becoming a father?
Mr. Hossfeld: It still feels strange to me. I never thought that anything like that was going to happen--what we were doing was more like yoga than sex--I still don't understand it; I never had an orgasm or anything.
Dr. Balis: Well, that's not strictly necessary in order for conception to occur, although it makes it much more likely. How old is Serena?
Mr. Hossfeld: I'm not really sure; about forty, I guess. That's still young enough for a woman to have kids, isn't it?
Dr. Balis: Sure, it happens a lot these days. There are some increased risks, but nothing major assuming proper pre-natal care. Is she getting any?
Mr. Hossfeld: She doesn't tell me anything about her private life; we're not on that kind of footing. But I guess this changes things, us having a kid together...
Dr. Balis: So you're going to keep the baby?
Mr. Hossfeld: Oh gosh, I suppose so. Whatever she decides. I mean it's all the woman's choice, isn't it?
Dr. Balis: Have you told her how you feel about it?
Mr. Hossfeld: God, I'm in enough trouble already without stirring up any more.
Dr. Balis: What kind of trouble? About coming in to see me after all this time?
Mr. Hossfeld: Oh, no, I'm not going to tell her about this--I just needed some help, and I thought of you. I hope you didn't mind the short notice?
Dr. Balis: No, I was really glad to be able to see you again; I was worried about you. But if you could schedule your regular sessions again, that would be great.
Mr. Hossfeld: Look, I'll be in touch about it. Anyway, where was I?
Dr. Balis: You were saying you were in some kind of trouble?
Mr. Hossfeld: Oh, yeah. I couldn't help it, I had to see her...
Dr. Balis: Who, Serena?
Mr. Hossfeld: No, Eliza. I actually asked her to come over--I don't know how I could have been so stupid. All I could think about was how I needed her, how I had to have her near me. I should have at least asked her to go to a movie, or on a walk, or something. I mean, at first it was wonderful; her presence is so comforting to me, and it just feels so right when we're together. We even took a walk on the astral plane together, hand in hand in a beautiful garden...
Dr. Balis: So what went wrong?
Mr. Hossfeld: Well, when we came back to earth...or maybe it was before that. Anyway, there we were in the yard in back of my place--there's a little piece of ground the tenants can grow things in if they want. But actually, nobody had the energy for it until Serena came--she has a sort of a green thumb, you know, and she made that place come alive with all this stuff, it was really pretty amazing. But Eliza starts looking at the plants out there, and she's freaking out, you know? I mean, I don't know anything about plants, they all look the same to me. But Eliza, she's running around from one to the other, screaming stuff like: "Foxglove! Henbane! Jimson weed! This is poison! Pure poison!" And she's ripping all these plants down, and pulling them up--I tried to stop her, but she wasn't into listening at all--she's scattering all these bundles of dried stuff around, and then she goes into the kitchen and it's the same thing. She's like a whirlwind, dumping all of Serena's jars of herbs in the garbage and yelling, "Thorn apple, Lovely lady! You know what these things really are?" And I didn't know what to do; I'd never seen her like that, and I started feeling really weird, you know, like I had to sit down and put my head between my legs and breathe really slowly. So she comes over and kisses me; then she leaves. At least I think she left then--these seizures have really been messing with my mind, you know? But I remember kissing her before she left. It felt so wonderful. I've never dreamed anything that good, so it must have been real, right?
Dr. Balis: Are you having trouble telling reality from fantasy lately? Or are we talking about a memory problem here?
Mr. Hossfeld: Gee, I don't know. I've been taking these pills they gave me at the hospital, but they make me feel all fuzzy. Fuzzy mind, fuzzy gums, and a funny taste in my throat, if you know what I mean. And I still space out a lot. I don't know, maybe I do have memory problems. But I don't recall forgetting anything lately.
Dr. Balis: What about on the job? Are you functioning normally there?
Mr. Hossfeld: I guess it has been a little strange at work. Sometimes I find myself just sort of staring at the monitor, and all the other programmers are pretending not to notice. I've been getting this really fishy feeling from my supervisor, like he's been told not to react to anything I might do, however weird. I don't know why they haven't fired me yet, honestly. I'm getting nothing done, and this millenium thing is going nowhere. But I'm the guy who's been wrestling with it for the last six months, so they figure they'll lose six months getting a new guy up to speed. Then it would be 1998, with no code written and the big time-bomb ticking down. I think they're hoping I get it together real quick, then they can dump me in the next big downsizing they do.
Dr. Balis: Come on, Peter. Maybe you're a valuable employee who's having some health problems, so they're cutting you some slack. But yes, I hope you pull yourself together soon too. Is there anything the matter with that?
Mr. Hossfeld: Okay, okay. Maybe I was being paranoid, and everybody's not out to get me. Sorry, I suppose I feel insecure about suddenly being an epileptic. I even had to give up my driver's license--you can't get anywhere without a car around here. I guess I never felt like a less than normal person before, and it's hard to get used to.
Dr. Balis: I can understand that. It's always painful to have to adjust one's self-image when one's circumstances change for the worse. But as I remember it, you get your license back if you use medication and stay seizure-free for a year or so.
Mr. Hossfeld: So in the meantime, I can experience the joys of Bay Area public transportation. It must be my karma. Oh yeah, I was telling you about what happened the other night, wasn't I?
Dr. Balis: After Eliza left?
Mr. Hossfeld: When Serena came back.
Dr. Balis: So what happened?
Mr. Hossfeld: Have you ever heard of the Goddess Kali? She wears a necklace of human heads, and dances on the bodies of her victims. She must have been channeling a really wrathful incarnation of the Goddess, or maybe she was possessed...
Dr. Balis: What did she do?
Mr. Hossfeld: When she came in, I was lying on the couch, feeling really out of it. She could see her herbs and stuff sticking out of the garbage can, like Eliza had left them. She started screaming, "Who did this? Who dared to do this to me?" She went into a kind of a frenzy, punching with her fists and kicking at me with the points of her shoes. Then she was running all over the place, sort of sniffing in all the corners; and when she got to the garden, she let out this awful howl, the kind that just freezes your bones. Apparently, by arranging some sticks and rocks, Eliza left some kind of sign there. I hadn't even noticed it before, but Serena turned ghastly pale when she saw it, and her hand was actually shaking when she pointed at it and said, "It was she, wasn't it? She did it all! Even this!" And then she hits herself in the belly. Do you think she was talking about her pregnancy? I mean, how can she blame Eliza for that, of all things? So anyway, I go up to her, and start sort of smoothing the hair out of her face, stroking her brow, trying to calm her down, and she glares at me, grabs my hand and bites it really hard. Then she leaps up, looks around wide-eyed like a startled cat, and rushes out without another word. The strange thing is it's almost a week now and I haven't seen her since. I'm really starting to get worried. I mean she hasn't even come by for her stuff or anything.
Dr. Balis: Is that the hand, the one with the bandage? Can I take a look at it?
Mr. Hossfeld: Sure. It's kind of gross though.
Dr. Balis: Uh, Peter, have you taken this to a doctor yet?
Mr. Hossfeld: No, why?
Dr. Balis: This is showing signs of infection, and you really need to have it taken care of.
Mr. Hossfeld: Like maybe a comfrey-leaf poultice?
Dr. Balis: I was thinking more in terms of the emergency room. Human bites can be extremely dangerous, and this needs treatment now.
Mr. Hossfeld: Not back to the hospital--I just got out!
Dr. Balis: That's another reason for concern; you're in a vulnerable condition right now, so you have to be extra careful. I'll tell you what. I know a few good general practitioners. I'm sure I can get one of them to slip you into the schedule right now, would that be okay?
Mr. Hossfeld: I guess so, but I don't think it's that big a deal, really. It hardly hurts at all. I just can't believe she's really gone. And I mean, like what about the baby?
Dr. Balis: Well, like you said, it's the woman's choice. And it may be that she was mistaken about the pregnancy in the first place, or she miscarried--there's not too much you can do if she chooses not to communicate with you, so don't worry about it. Let's see what you can do about putting yourself back together--starting with that hand, all right?
Mr. Hossfeld: Yeah, okay, whatever you say, Doc.
Dr. Balis: We're about out of time, but give me a couple of minutes to make a couple of phone calls and hook you up with a doctor who can treat that hand of yours. It's really good to be seeing you again--I hope you can keep coming back.
Mr. Hossfeld: Yeah, me too. I'll wait out here while you call.
Dr. Balis: Great. I'll just be a minute.
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