Transcript of 17th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sharon Lough, Friday, May 15, 1998 at 10:00 am.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Sharon. My goodness, what happened?
Ms. Lough: I broke several bones in my foot. I'm on crutches for at least a month, that's what the doctor said.
Dr. Balis: How did this happen?
Ms. Lough: Charlotte backed her car over my foot.
Dr. Balis: She did what?
Ms. Lough: I was in so much shock, the pain didn't even register until later. Charlotte didn't see me, and I didn't get out of the way fast enough. I don't think it was deliberate, even though she does have some animosity towards me.
Dr. Balis: What makes you say that?
Ms. Lough: She holds me responsible for breaking up her marriage, but Rob says it was broken to begin with--it had been for several years. I was pretty pissed off at both of them, but I've calmed down since then.
Dr. Balis: You're not angry anymore?
Ms. Lough: I wish I could say that. Actually, I think all the painkillers I've been taking have rendered me "comfortably numb" like the Pink Floyd song.
Dr. Balis: What painkillers are you taking?
Ms. Lough: Charlotte was leaving in a hurry--she and Rob had been arguing again--she backed out without looking. I didn't realize she was backing up; then I heard my bones crack. All I could think of was that I needed to get to the emergency room. Charlotte and Rob were screaming at each other when it happened. Rob said that if I waited a few minutes for him to take care of Charlotte, he'd drive me to the hospital. I was so pissed off that he wanted me to wait when I was in so much pain, that I hobbled to my car and drove myself.
Dr. Balis: You drove yourself to the hospital with a crushed foot?
Ms. Lough: I had a hard time driving, and it was really hard hopping from the parking lot to the emergency room entrance. Emergency is a real zoo. The television show "ER" doesn't do it justice. And it didn't help matters that I was fuming mad. I was so pissed off at Charlotte for squashing my foot and at Rob for being such an ineffectual wimp.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. What kind of painkillers have you been taking?
Ms. Lough: Tylenol with codeine. It really helps with the pain.
Dr. Balis: Good. Are you able to work?
Ms. Lough: I took a day off so I could get used to the crutches. It's a little hard getting to and from work. But most of the time when I'm at SII, I'm sitting, so it doesn't matter much.
Dr. Balis: I see. How are things at work?
Ms. Lough: Everyone's been very solicitous. It's really annoying. Godzilla--that terminally perky, self-appointed doyenne of office hospitality--gave me a get-well card signed by everyone and another box of candy. I wonder if she's fattening me up for the slaughter.
Dr. Balis: It could have been meant as a friendly gesture.
Ms. Lough: I hate happy, positive people. Every time she gives me one of her Novocaine smiles, I want to kick her teeth in. I just want to put her head on a pike.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: It's odd. The people at work are going out of their way to be nice to me, offering to get me lunch and carry my things. And I've always thought they didn't like me. When Godzilla gave me another box of candy--the same kind that she gave me in the hospital--it led me to think that she might regard chocolate as some sort of magical elixir. Well, either that, or she bought a large quantity of See's 1-pound Nuts-and-Chews boxes at a discount. Rob, on the other hand, has been a real...well, he's not bending over backwards to help me out around the house. And I think he should, because it was partially his fault or rather his wife's fault. Maybe it's not reasonable to hold him accountable for what his wife does.
Dr. Balis: Have you tried talking to Rob about this?
Ms. Lough: No. I'd much rather avoid him. He was getting on my nerves anyway.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Lough: Do you know if this is a National Cripples Month or something?
Dr. Balis: The politically correct term is "disabled." No, I don't think so.
Ms. Lough: I've been hearing a lot about the Americans with Disabilities Act and the rights of the disabled lately. There was a big discussion on KQED-FM's morning show, "Talk of the Nation." It went on forever! I got so sick of listening to them whine.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: Disabled activists are really irritating. It's overkill to expect society to make so many concessions to a problem that affects such a small minority. And do you know what's ironic? With my situation--having to struggle with these crutches up and down the stairs, in and out of bathrooms--I should be sympathetic to their cause, right? Because for the next couple of weeks, I'm disabled, too.
Dr. Balis: Why do you suppose you aren't more sympathetic to the needs of the disabled?
Ms. Lough: Because they're so fucking arrogant and demanding, that's why. Look at all the handicapped parking spaces you see. How many people actually use them? Half the time, they're empty--yet another example of political correctness gone amok. I can't use the handicapped spaces, not even with my leg in a cast and with these crutches, because I don't have one of those blue handicapped parking permits. It's unfair that a person couldn't get a "temporary disability" clearance or something, because of an injury.
Dr. Balis: You can. You should ask your general practitioner to write you a request for temporary disabled parking card.
Ms. Lough: Really? Well, I've heard other complaints that the ADA goes too far. Did you know that people who are mentally ill qualify as disabled under the ADA?
Dr. Balis: Yes.
Ms. Lough: Do I qualify? I'm a real basket case. I have the scars to prove it.
Dr. Balis: You seem to be managing well.
Ms. Lough: I wouldn't mind being labeled a sickie if I could sit at home in front of the television all day and collect a government check.
Dr. Balis: Don't be so quick to judge. Being dependent on SSI is hardly easy or fun. For many, it means having to get by on very little. It's difficult to subsist on a small income in a city like San Francisco.
Ms. Lough: Well, I have to admit that's true. Godzilla's disabled.
Dr. Balis: Godzilla?
Ms. Lough: Yeah. She has every one of those bullshit disease-of-the-week syndromes: chronic fatigue syndrome, post-traumatic-stress disorder, name it. What a steaming crock. Her most obvious problem is her weight. She isn't even on crutches, and she gets one of those blue handicapped parking thingies. She could obviously use the exercise, but she gets the best parking spaces and hardly has to walk at all.
Dr. Balis: Again, Sharon, don't jump to conclusions. How much do you really know about any of the conditions you just mentioned?
Ms. Lough: Sitting next to her, I hear plenty. If she's really in such bad shape, how come she manages to come to work every day?
Dr. Balis: Some people choose to work in spite of serious, even painful, physical disabilities. Think of it as a triumph over adversity.
Ms. Lough: I prefer to think of it as fishing for sympathy.
Dr. Balis: I've treated patients with some of the disorders you've just mentioned. It's a common misperception that a person suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is malingering, but I can tell you from personal experience that isn't true. It's a heartbreaking condition that robs these people of the chance for a normal life.
Ms. Lough: Well, most of the problems Godzilla described are so vague: muscle aches, poor coordination, insomnia, feeling tired all the time. Half the planet has those symptoms.
Dr. Balis: What your co-worker experiences might be more severe than you realize. I can say with authority that hypoglycemia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome do exist and they all can be severely debilitating.
Ms. Lough: I guess I don't sound very compassionate. But I'm not saying, "Kill all the cripples," like Doctor Kervorkian. Did you know he actually said that some quadriplegics would be better off dead?
Dr. Balis: Doctor Kervorkian has never been known for either his political correctness or his bedside manner. I suggest you explore the real reason why a discussion of the Americans with Disabilities Act provokes so much animosity in you.
Ms. Lough: It's mostly envy. I'm not screwed up enough to be considered "disabled." But I think I'm right on the cusp. I'd be less hostile if I could only get one of those blue handicapped parking thingies.
Dr. Balis: Ask your doctor. But bear in mind that your injury is only temporary. There are many disabled people who live with permanent conditions that are much more severe.
Ms. Lough: Yeah, well...
Dr. Balis: Did you return to the recovery group?
Ms. Lough: Yes, but it's for the last time. I don't want to go back.
Dr. Balis: Why not?
Ms. Lough: Rational Recovery doesn't push meetings the way AA does.
Dr. Balis: As I said earlier, it's important to have support in the early stages of recovery, particularly when you've used highly addictive substances like methamphetamine and heroin.
Ms. Lough: I'm not comfortable there. And it's hard for me to schlepp around on these crutches.
Dr. Balis: I think it would be a good idea for you to continue with the group for at least another month. It will give you a good foundation.
Ms. Lough: Do you realize how hard it is for me to get around? I've come close to falling a few times. If I fall and break my head getting to and from this meeting, you're going to feel very guilty.
Dr. Balis: Why aren't you comfortable there?
Ms. Lough: Well, I met that guy...
Dr. Balis: Yes?
Ms. Lough: Well, he's very attractive and...
Dr. Balis: Is that the reason why you don't want to return?
Ms. Lough: Pretty stupid, isn't it?
Dr. Balis: Are you uncomfortable because you're attracted this man?
Ms. Lough: He's very physically attractive, one of those pretty boy types. I have a feeling he might be gay. Some gay men are exceptionally attractive and really work on their appearance, you know?
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Did you speak to him the last time you went to the group?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, he said hi to me. We talked a little bit. But I can't stand the pressure of being social.
Dr. Balis: Do you ordinarily go out of your way to avoid people you're attracted to?
Ms. Lough: Yes.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. It sounds like he's just being friendly. Your attraction to him doesn't necessarily have to interfere with that.
Ms. Lough: While we were talking, he mentioned that he liked to go to this leather bar. He's into the S&M scene, I think. He was subtle about it; he didn't play the name game, showing off how many important people he knew or how many exclusive parties he went to. But I get the feeling he's more involved than he lets on.
Dr. Balis: And does this make you uneasy? Are you afraid you might be drawn back into that kind of lifestyle?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, maybe. I just don't want to be around it anymore. And I can't stomach all the social interaction. Just making conversation is excruciating. I don't even want to leave the house half the time. I'd like to work at home, or better yet, collect a government check so I don't have to face the world at all.
Dr. Balis: I think you'd miss human interaction.
Ms. Lough: I can get that through the TV or through my computer--one idiot box or the other.
Dr. Balis: Well, whether or not you return to the group is your decision. But I think it would be beneficial for you to go back at least a few more times. And regarding that man you've met...
Ms. Lough: Tony.
Dr. Balis: Has it occurred to you that Tony might be just as insecure and frightened as you are? He probably takes some comfort at seeing someone familiar when he goes to these meetings.
Ms. Lough: I doubt that. He's pretty confident. And someone with his looks usually doesn't suffer from a low self-esteem.
Dr. Balis: I could argue that, but our time is up.
Ms. Lough: Thank God. I was beginning to wilt under all your unrelenting scrutiny.
Dr. Balis: I'll see you next week, Sharon. Be careful.
Ms. Lough: Yeah, I will. Bye.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

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

Button to Sharon Lough's Transcripts Transcripts of Sharon Lough's Communications
Button to Sharon Lough's Patient File Sharon Lough's Patient File

TCT Bottom Bar Links to Top of Page Pipsqueak Productions © 1998. All Rights Reserved.