Transcript of 38th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sharon Lough, Friday, November 20, 1998 at 10:00 am.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Sharon. Is that a new cast?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, I just got it a few days ago. It's removable, so now I have no excuse for not bathing.
Dr. Balis: Good for you.
Ms. Lough: Not really. I was starting to enjoy stinking in my own juices. I could offend people without even trying.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. I have a feeling I'm going to regret asking this, but what's in the plastic bag?
Ms. Lough: It's all the dead skin I peeled of my foot. There's a lot of it, see?
Dr. Balis: Yes, I see.
Ms. Lough: It's really neat, huh? Right after they gave me the removable cast, I spent an hour picking off all the dead skin that accumulated. It was fascinating, like looking at the rings of a giant redwood. It came off really easily, too, like an orange peel.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: The amount of toe jam I've produced was also very impressive, but I didn't have a vial to put it in, so I can't show you.
Dr. Balis: How unfortunate.
Ms. Lough: My right foot smells weird when I take of the cast. It smells different from my left foot.
Dr. Balis: Do you spend a lot of time sniffing your feet?
Ms. Lough: Everyone needs a hobby. But I couldn't help but notice the aroma when they took the cast off. My toe hair has reached prodigious lengths. Want to see?
Dr. Balis: I realize this is an absorbing subject for you, Sharon, but let's move on, all right?
Ms. Lough: Have you ever tried the Biore strip?
Dr. Balis: Isn't that a kind of tape you stick on your nose?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, it pulls out blackheads and pus.
Dr. Balis: Sharon...
Ms. Lough: They don't really work for me, no matter how long I leave them on.
Dr. Balis: Is that how you got that scar?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, I fell asleep while wearing a Biore strip. Those things aren't very forgiving once they dry out.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: Rob gets great results with a Biore strip. When I pull the strip off after ten minutes, it's covered with hundreds of little gray columns of pus. He's a gold mine for pus and blackheads because his skin is so oily. He doesn't like it when I pick at him, though.
Dr. Balis: I wonder why.
Ms. Lough: If it weren't for me, he'd have a dirty-blonde Afro sprouting out of each nostril and ear. I'm doing my wifely duty keeping him well groomed. It's a very primal form of bonding, very animalistic. And animals eat each other's lice and dead skin to express affection and ownership.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: I'm collecting our Biore strips to make a collage. It's hard to store them, though--I keep smashing down the pus columns. If I brought one in, you could hang it on your wall.
Dr. Balis: I'd rather not.
Ms. Lough: I think a Biore strip collage would bring out a response in your patients.
Dr. Balis: Yes, they'll be filled with the sudden urge to seek therapy elsewhere.
Ms. Lough: Why are you being so negative? You're the one who keep telling me to do something creative. Now that I've found something that interests me, you have to trash my artistic aspirations.
Dr. Balis: I'll support your creative efforts, but I won't necessarily hang them on my wall.
Ms. Lough: It would mean a lot to me if you did.
Dr. Balis: Please, be serious, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: I am serious. Pus is a serious subject. Just ask any teenager with acne.
Dr. Balis: Sharon...
Ms. Lough: Every time I see someone with bad skin, I have to resist the urge to go up to them and gaze deeply into their pores and pimples.
Dr. Balis: Are you going back to work soon?
Ms. Lough: Why is it every time I talk about something that brings me joy and fulfillment, you have to bring me down to earth with a resounding thud?
Dr. Balis: That's my job. Will you be returning to SII soon?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, in a few weeks.
Dr. Balis: You don't sound happy about it.
Ms. Lough: Very perceptive, Doctor Balis. I wasted the entire summer, getting stoned, watching TV, surfing the Net. I'm not ready to go back to work.
Dr. Balis: Did you enjoy your time off?
Ms. Lough: I would have preferred time off with full mobility, but yeah, I did like sleeping until noon and goofing off all day. Rob can't get into it. I've tried to enlighten him on the joys of sloth and slovenliness, but he doesn't see the light. He insists on working, even though his doctor ordered him to take some time off.
Dr. Balis: How is Rob doing? Is his hand better?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, the swelling diminished after the doctor prescribed tetracycline. You were right, it was an infection caused by the cat bite.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. How is your foot? Are you in any pain?
Ms. Lough: It aches when I do a lot of walking, but it's much better, unfortunately. My back hurts, though, probably from having my balance thrown off.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. You might try some exercises...
Ms. Lough: I'm not in any condition to be running marathons right now.
Dr. Balis: I didn't say you should run cross-country, but some moderate exercises would be beneficial. The muscles in your legs have probably atrophied from lack of use.
Ms. Lough: That's okay. The increased girth at my waistline more than makes up for it.
Dr. Balis: The gained weight--especially around your midsection--will only exacerbate your back problems.
Ms. Lough: If you write me a prescription for Dexedrine, I'll be skinny as a rail in no time.
Dr. Balis: You know I won't do that, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: Damn. It was worth a try.
Dr. Balis: Smoking marijuana also promotes weight gain. That's part of the rationale behind the Medical Marijuana movement--it stimulates appetite.
Ms. Lough: Don't I know it. Why is everything good has to be illegal, immoral, or fattening?
Dr. Balis: You could ask your doctor to suggest some exercises to strengthen your legs and upper body.
Ms. Lough: No, he's with CalaCare HMO, he doesn't give a shit about my well-being.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: No offense to you, of course. You're actually pretty compassionate for an HMO shrink.
Dr. Balis: Thank you. As I was saying, moderate exercise can invigorate as well as strengthen. You might find your moods improving if you exercise regularly.
Ms. Lough: I have to stay cranky and irritable. I don't want to lose my edge.
Dr. Balis: Have you been using the relaxation tape?
Ms. Lough: Sometimes. I use it at night when I can't sleep.
Dr. Balis: You might want to use the tape in the morning, when you first get up. How is your class?
Ms. Lough: Uh.
Dr. Balis: I see. Why do you feel this way?
Ms. Lough: Half the class has dropped out, and no one's contributing anything to the Shitty Rag.
Dr. Balis: Have you been writing?
Ms. Lough: I've been too busy slogging through reams of dreck. I told Doris we should make this edition of the Shitty Rag a blank book. People can fill it with their own pretentious drivel.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: Mind if I step out a little early?
Dr. Balis: We still have some time left...
Ms. Lough: I have a sudden urge to go for an invigorating walk around the block.
Dr. Balis: You do?
Ms. Lough: No. Actually, I want an oatmeal carmelita from Starbucks.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Lough: Do you want one, too?
Dr. Balis: No, thank you.
Ms. Lough: Okay then. Bye.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Sharon. Happy Thanksgiving. Oh, remember that we won't have a session next week, okay, but I'll see you on the following Friday?
Ms. Lough: Sure.
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