Transcript of 4th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Lloyd Major, Tuesday, April 7, 1998 at 3:15 pm.

Mr. Major: Well, Doctor, you're looking very well.
Dr. Balis: Mr. Major...Lloyd, please come in. How can I help you today?
Mr. Major: Knew I was coming?
Dr. Balis: Well...
Mr. Major: My secretary never skips a bit.
Dr. Balis: Yes, he called a few moments ago.
Mr. Major: Well, good then. Do you mind moving that box of tissues a bit closer, please?
Dr. Balis: Not at all. Allergies?
Mr. Major: They're a killer this season. As much as I'm into it myself, I hate to see all those plants procreating so wildly.
Dr. Balis: I've heard that El Niño will be bad for allergy sufferers.
Mr. Major: Bad?
Dr. Balis: Well...
Mr. Major: That's one of those understatements that I hate so much. Bad. What do doctors really know about what it feels like to suffer from air deprivation? And don't tell me that I can inhale through my mouth.
Dr. Balis: I wasn't going...
Mr. Major: God, what wouldn't I do to be somewhere in Hawaii or even Arizona right now.
Dr. Balis: So what's...
Mr. Major: Work. That's what keeping me here, Doctor. I'm sure you've heard of the little surprise we're planning on announcing next week?
Dr. Balis: I have a little.
Mr. Major: Yeah. It's going to be big, and I've got to hang around here until it happens. We wouldn't want something to go wrong at the last minute, would we?
Dr. Balis: I'm sure your staff is competent enough to take care of any emergency.
Mr. Major: Perhaps. Do you know something I don't, Doctor?
Dr. Balis: I...
Mr. Major: I'm sure you do. I think I would have enjoyed being a psychiatrist in some other life. To sit back and listen to people open up their souls to me like that...
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Major: I'm not criticizing your choice of profession, Doctor. In fact, I think it's interesting. Very interesting.
Dr. Balis: It is. But I'm sure that's not what you came to see me about, is it, Lloyd?
Mr. Major: Always to the point.
Dr. Balis: I'm sure you have a very busy schedule...
Mr. Major: Are you expecting a patient, Doctor?
Dr. Balis: As a matter of fact, I do have someone scheduled thirty minutes from now.
Mr. Major: Ah.
Dr. Balis: But I would be happy to set up an appointment with you, if you prefer.
Mr. Major: No. I'm never sure how my life is going to unfold from hour to hour. I'm sure you can understand that, Charles.
Dr. Balis: Well, we have thirty minutes.
Mr. Major: Actually, I just came in to blow off some steam, Doctor. It's great to have a company psychiatrist on call just seconds from my office.
Dr. Balis: I'm glad I'm convenient. So what's seems to be the problem?
Mr. Major: I had a full blown panic attack about half an hour ago. And I thought of you, Charles.
Dr. Balis: Do you know what precipitated the attack?
Mr. Major: It's always the same--breathing, or the lack of it, to be precise.
Dr. Balis: Can you breathe through your nose now?
Mr. Major: No. Well, maybe just a bit. I took some Nasacort and used it in combination with Afrin. It helped a bit.
Dr. Balis: Nasacort?
Mr. Major: It's a steroid in the form of a nasal spray. And Afrin is a nasal decongestant delivered in a similar fashion.
Dr. Balis: I see. Allergies are not my specialty.
Mr. Major: I imagine not.
Dr. Balis: What were the symptoms of the attack?
Mr. Major: I felt a large a giant elephant was sitting on my chest, squeezing the life out of me. It seemed impossible to take a breath. I could feel my heartbeat through my entire body. It felt like my eyeballs were pulsating with every beat. I had a partial loss of vision--everything seemed to get a lot darker and slightly out of focus.
Dr. Balis: Give me your hand, please. Now, hold on for a minute.
Mr. Major: I feel more comfortable while we're talking.
Dr. Balis: I just want to take your pulse.
Mr. Major: I know. But I think it's normal.
Dr. Balis: It seems to be. Any other symptoms?
Mr. Major: I felt hot and cold at the same time.
Dr. Balis: Explain please.
Mr. Major: It was as if my skin got chilled on the outside, but parts of my body got burning hot.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Major: My underarms felt almost painful, like there were long needles thrust deep into me.
Dr. Balis: How long did the attack last?
Mr. Major: It's hard to judge. As you know, time perception changes radically during episodes like these.
Dr. Balis: How often do you get these panic attacks?
Mr. Major: Too often.
Dr. Balis: How often is that?
Mr. Major: A few times a night. It doesn't happen too much during the day because my mind tends to be preoccupied with other things. In fact, I find that work is one of my only salvations. Entertainment, like movies for example, just doesn't do it--there's too much room for extra processing, so to speak.
Dr. Balis: I think I understand. So you came here to distract yourself from thinking about your inability to breathe.
Mr. Major: That's it.
Dr. Balis: Does it work when you talk about the problem?
Mr. Major: Talking about it gives me some form of control over it, I suppose. So it's not a problem. It's letting go that''s like falling into an abyss.
Dr. Balis: What are you taking to relieve your allergy symptoms, Lloyd?
Mr. Major: I take Clariton D, a few nasal sprays including the steroids...
Dr. Balis: I assume Clariton D has a decongestant in it?
Mr. Major: It does.
Dr. Balis: Do you take any additional decongestants?
Mr. Major: The spray. But I try to control the impulse for quick relief.
Dr. Balis: Really?
Mr. Major: Too much of that stuff only makes matters worse. But I managed to get the company to produce a spray that can be taken every four hours. People like me have to have control, Charles. What good is the medication when you can only use it every twelve hours? My problem requires more action than that.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean? I don't understand.
Mr. Major: The Afrin people, they only had a twelve hour version. They thought it was a plus that you'd only have to use the product once every twelve hours. Well, I know Charlie Drake over at Schering-Plough and I explained the problem. Now, they came out with a four hour version. It gives a feeling of having more control.
Dr. Balis: You managed to get a pharmaceutical company to come up with a new drug that was more to your liking?
Mr. Major: It wasn't just for me. I consider it a major victory for humanity. But I can see how you might not see it that way.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Major: It's always about control, Charles.
Dr. Balis: How do you feel now?
Mr. Major: Still a bit off balance, but better.
Dr. Balis: Do you think you'll have another attack?
Mr. Major: I will, but it might not happen until tonight. I swear, I feel like tearing out every single tree and blade of grass from the downtown area. I hate open space in the spring. How much do you think it would cost in political capitol?
Dr. Balis: I have no idea.
Mr. Major: So many people would benefit from an allergy safe zone. Well, it's something to think about, although I guess it's not feasible. Can you imagine just how many critical decisions are affected by presence of allergens in the air? It would clearly be a socially responsible thing to do.
Dr. Balis: Somehow I just don't see the voters approving a mass plant eradication program in San Francisco.
Mr. Major: Well, this is the year to do it--more people will feel the debilitating affects of pollen on the human immune system this year than in the last ten.
Dr. Balis: Perhaps. Lloyd, our time is up now. I have a patient waiting for me.
Mr. Major: Well, I guess this has served its purpose.
Dr. Balis: I'm glad to be of help. It was nice to see you, Lloyd.
Mr. Major: Sure. And go buy some stock, Charles.
Dr. Balis: Thanks for the tip.
Mr. Major: Good day.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye.
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