Transcript of 10th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Kester Langford, Tuesday, October 28, 1997 at 1:00 pm.

Mr. Langford: Good afternoon, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: Good afternoon, Kester.
Mr. Langford: I was really excited about coming here today. Quite a bit different from the way I've been feeling the last couple of times.
Dr. Balis: What's going on?
Mr. Langford: Before I get into anything, I'd like to thank you for the help with my medical situation.
Dr. Balis: You're welcome. What happened?
Mr. Langford: I don't know and I don't really care what you said to those people over at the clinic, but whatever it was, it provided me with an appointment that didn't exist prior to your phone call.
Dr. Balis: Good. So what happened? What was the diagnosis?
Mr. Langford: I feel like I want to describe to you, blow by blow, each excruciating, irritating, and genuinely painful moment, but I'm just going to give you the highlights--my relationship with the medical profession is not worth my time and effort.
Dr. Balis: Okay. Just tell me what you really want to tell me.
Mr. Langford: All my tests came out negative--I don't have cancer. But the road to finding out this life-changing information was certainly no picnic. I went to see my doctor--he was on vacation. So I saw his associate. I complained about having stomach cramps, so he sent me for an ultrasound and a series of blood tests. That struck me as odd, but I'm not a doctor. So I reluctantly agreed to have the tests.
Dr. Balis: Ultrasound is often used as a non-intrusive diagnostic imaging tool.
Mr. Langford: Although it may be non-intrusive, it involves a close relationship between the technician and the patient--in this case, me. After the technician finished smearing me with a lubricant and taking his readings, he just said, "Use the sheet to wipe yourself off, it doesn't stain." That was it. That was the extent of his bedside manner.
Dr. Balis: How did you feel about that?
Mr. Langford: I felt alone. I felt like I was trying to fight for my life, to determine that I wasn't seriously ill, and that tech just saw me as a paycheck--a way of paying his rent. When you're sick and feeling physically and emotional weak, you're more sensitive to how people treat or mistreat you.
Dr. Balis: When you're not feeling up to par, you are more vulnerable.
Mr. Langford: I sure am. Thanks to your intervention, I was able to find out that I didn't have cancer on the same day I took my blood pool scan. There I was, lying on my back on a board no more than eighteen inches wide, having to keep my arms stretched out back behind my head--extremely painful on my shoulders. I had to stay that way for forty-five minutes while a camera turned 360 degrees around my chest area. In addition to the pain, I had to listen to technicians talking in the room about their personal lives. It was scary and demeaning.
Dr. Balis: What was scary and demeaning?
Mr. Langford: I was afraid that I would have to do the test over because of the times that I had to move a little bit to find a less painful position--trying to relax my arms and shoulders. I didn't feel cared about and nurtured. Human compassion was not present in that room. Maybe you think that I shouldn't expect some warmth and compassion from so-called healing professionals, but I still think it's really important.
Dr. Balis: You deserve to be treated with dignity. We all want compassion and warmth. But when we expect it, there is a chance of being disappointed when we don't get it.
Mr. Langford: You'll get no argument from me, Doc.
Dr. Balis: It's clear that you've been very worried about your health...
Mr. Langford: To tell you the truth, I thought that I was taking it in my stride. But it had much more of an impact on me than I had realized. When they found the tumor in my liver, I really thought that was going to be it--three months and then the end. My experience two years ago with my best friend's liver cancer has been vividly in my mind--to distraction, I might say. I really don't think I'm very afraid of dying. It's more about not having a future to achieve a level of success that I've been working or, at the very least, planning towards for decades.
Dr. Balis: Do you want to talk a little about that?
Mr. Langford: Not really, but I'd like to tell you about my sigmoidoscopy. Anytime someone says that it's really no big deal to have a two foot flexible tube shoved up your ass, you can tell them they are fucking liars.
Dr. Balis: It sounds very unpleasant to me.
Mr. Langford: The doctor's presumed humorous comment, "It never hurts me," was less than comforting. At the end of the ordeal with my ass still lubricated, the doctor said, "Sit up, you can leave. Everything looked fine." I had lubricant all over my rear and down my leg. I had to go to the bathroom to clean myself up. I was really pissed at the lack of consideration. And to make matters worse, when I got out of the bathroom, the doctor and the nurse had disappeared into the other rooms with other patients--no sit down with the doctor and discuss his findings; no common manners or decency; just, "You can leave, a report will be sent to your primary care physician."
Dr. Balis: That does seem to be a little cold.
Mr. Langford: For me, that's an understatement. Many times, I take medicine and my condition gets better in a week or two. Sometimes, I don't take medicine and my condition gets better in a week or two. Sometimes, I take herbal teas and remedies and my condition gets better in a week or two. No wonder I would rather talk with a compassionate herbalist and natural healer when I think I need medicine. What's amazing is that the past couple of weeks were filled with some joys mixed in with all that pain and worry. My friend Me has been a true angel. She took me to my appointments and stayed with me, when they would let her, during my testing fiasco. She listened to me during my rants and raves about being treated like a number, and she loved me when I needed it and just held me when I needed that. She's very intuitive. I'm getting pretty attached to her, and she seems to feel the same. Who knows? Maybe this one is the one. That's so funny. After all these years, I'm still hoping to find a long-term relationship. It's wonderful to think about her.
Dr. Balis: That is a very wide smile you're wearing.
Mr. Langford: Yeah. That reminds me, I got a letter from Evelyn. Life's so bizarre. She took five pages to finally tell me that she met someone, had fallen in love, and will be getting married. As I read the letter, I was reminded of the letter that I never wrote her about my relationship with Me. I was so concerned about hurting her feelings and losing her as a friend. And now, she wrote me the same type letter that I was going to write her. I sent her my congratulations and told her about Me and my medical problems. I also told her about something that's coming up at the gallery--it looks very promising.
Dr. Balis: Something new?
Mr. Langford: The gallery is having a group show of seven artists, and I've been asked to participate. Of course, I agreed. I'll know more soon. They want to test-market my marks before they give me a one man show. When I think about the whole idea of a "one man show," it really reflects my solitary life. I don't want to be a one man show. I want my life to be filled with more than just myself. Fortunately, I'm getting what I want right now. And I'm not going to die any time soon.
Dr. Balis: Do you feel good about the way things are going now?
Mr. Langford: Even with all the mental and emotional and physical pain I still have, my outlook is pretty good.
Dr. Balis: I'm pleased to hear that.
Mr. Langford: I don't know where this is coming from, but sometimes, I think that you're judging me--I'm just a diagnostic category for you analyze. I don't want to insult you, because I also know that you've helped me a lot during the time we've been together, but this thought has crossed my mind.
Dr. Balis: I don't feel insulted by your feelings. It's my job to diagnose and come up with a treatment plan for my patients. And that's an ongoing process. But I see you as a human being and not as a diagnostic category.
Mr. Langford: I believe you. But I also have certain feelings sometimes and...uh...
Dr. Balis: I'm glad that you're sharing these feelings openly with me.
Mr. Langford: Thanks, Doc. I received a letter and then a phone call from my brother. This letter was much less preachy and more down to earth. Of course I have a healthy skepticism, but the tone seemed genuine. He said that he'd understand if I wouldn't want to speak with him when he called, but that he would give it a try anyway. When he called, we talked together for about thirty minutes, and it was surprisingly pleasant. I feel like this gigantic weight is starting to lift off my shoulders and off my life.
Dr. Balis: Can you describe this feeling?
Mr. Langford: Kind of. The word "family" would always give me a feeling of uneasiness. And my relationship with my brother--or my lack of a relationship--fueled my negative attitude. There must be very positive aspects to having a brother, and I've missed that in my life. In my younger years, I think the lack of a sibling at home was a factor during my promiscuous period. Fortunately for me, AIDS and HIV hadn't raised their ugly head yet. It was just gonorrhea then, and penicillin usually took care of that.
Dr. Balis: Times have definitely changed our attitudes about sex and sexuality.
Mr. Langford: It has definitely changed my attitudes and my behavior.
Dr. Balis: Do you always use protection?
Mr. Langford: Mostly abstention. But in the beginning of a new relationship, I get tested and have my future partner get tested. Until we get our results, we usually wait. But sometimes when we can't seem to wait, I use latex condoms, and I'm very conscious when I withdraw.
Dr. Balis: Good. That's about all the time we have today. Is there something that you'd like to add?
Mr. Langford: Well, I feel a little uncomfortable about having made that "just a diagnostic category" comment, but I guess you actually commented on that.
Dr. Balis: I appreciate you worrying about hurting my feelings. But I can handle it, and so can you.
Mr. Langford: Thanks for that. Maybe I was fishing for another compliment. But that can be a subject for another session, right, Doc?
Dr. Balis: Exactly. I'll see you in a couple of weeks.
Mr. Langford: That will be fine. Goodbye, Doc.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Kester.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

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

Button to Kester Langford's Transcripts Transcripts of Kester Langford's Communications
Button to Kester Langford's Patient File Kester Langford's Patient File

TCT Bottom Bar Links to Top of Page Pipsqueak Productions © 1997. All Rights Reserved.