Transcript of 1st Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Lloyd Major, Monday, May 19, 1997 at 12:00 pm. Also present was Mr. Roberto Christiani.

Mr. Major: Good afternoon, Charles. I hope you don't mind Roberto here. He's been following me around for about four months now, collecting information about my life and recording its events as he sees them. He's making a CD-Rom about what it's like to be the CEO of a large company.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Mr. Major. No, I guess I don't mind if Roberto stays for our session, although due to the nature of...
Mr. Major: Great, great. Sit down, Berto.
Mr. Christiani: Thank you, sir.
Mr. Major: So I want to start by saying that I have unlimited access to any top celebrities in your field, Charles. But I have confidence that the man who provides for the emotional needs of my employees can satisfy my exigencies as well.
Dr. Balis: I...
Mr. Major: Of course you can, Charles. SII only hires the best.
Dr. Balis: Actually, I was going to inquire what was the purpose of our session, Mr. Major. I just got a brief message from your assistant...
Mr. Major: It's therapy, Charles. Why else do you think I'd be here?
Dr. Balis: Well, I...
Mr. Major: It's hard running a company like Silicon Impressions. We always have to keep up with that cutting edge.
Dr. Balis: Are we talking about stress...
Mr. Major: Stress? That's part of my job. I live for stress. I have more than enough resources to give up the rat race, so to speak. But where's the fun in that? Do you plan to retire, Charles?
Dr. Balis: I haven't thought...
Mr. Major: Of course not. You're so young. I didn't realize you were so young. And a very good looking man, too, I might add. Don't you think, Berto?
Dr. Balis: Thank you, I...
Mr. Major: Oh, don't be modest, Charles. We're all men here. Looks are an asset. Ugly people have a much harder time in life. But I'm sure you know that--your patients must talk about this all the time.
Dr. Balis: Mr. Major, perhaps you can tell me why you thought it necessary to seek my help.
Mr. Major: It's my nose.
Dr. Balis: What?
Mr. Major: My nose. I've had problems with it since I was a little boy. Do you have allergies, Charles?
Dr. Balis: Sometimes.
Mr. Major: Lucky man. I really suffer. There are times of the year when I have to move out of the Bay Area just to keep my sanity. My assistant gets daily reports on the pollen count in the area and if it gets above a certain number, she arranges for my jet to be ready that morning and changes my schedule to accommodate. It's terrible, Charles. My life is controlled by my sinuses.
Dr. Balis: Have you thought of allergy shots?
Mr. Major: I tried all that stuff at one time or another. It's all placebo--they hope if they could fool your mind into thinking that it can cope with all the crap in the air, the patient will actually feel better. Never worked for me.
Dr. Balis: So how do you think I can help?
Mr. Major: I think you might not really understand the extent of my problem, Charles.
Dr. Balis: No, I'm afraid I don't.
Mr. Major: As a child, I was addicted to nose drops--I was an antihistamine junkie. I couldn't go to bed without having that little bottle of nose drops by my bed. It's not that I was necessarily going to use them that night, but I was afraid of waking up in the middle of the night not being able to breathe. When my family moved to this country from Hungary, one of my biggest fears was the loss of my nose drop supply.
Dr. Balis: There are nose drops available in the United States.
Mr. Major: Of course there are. But I was young and was not aware of that fact. Look. I have to be able to breathe all the time. I have to be able to breathe through my nose. Deep breaths like this--ahhhh! If I can't do that, I can't sleep. I just lie there, desperately trying to breathe.
Dr. Balis: Can you please describe what you feel during those times, Mr. Major?
Mr. Major: The feelings are very strong. It's like I'm trapped somewhere. Like there's not enough oxygen in the room. I feel anxious and stressed. I would do anything to clear my nose. I overdose on nose drops, using them at a rate of ten...twenty times more than recommended. I try combining different brands of antihistamine pills to achieve my most desired goal--to breathe through my nose again. I've experienced times when I was ready to rip my nose off my face. Charles, what I'm talking about is not a mild desire for a clear nose. I need to be able to breathe. The heaviness of the sinus pressure drives me insane.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Mr. Major: I realize that my reaction to what people call a "runny nose" is somewhat extreme.
Dr. Balis: It is.
Mr. Major: But it's there. And I've struggled to live with it for fifty-six years! The torture. And the funny thing is that when I'm not congested, I can't even imagine how it would feel not be able to breathe through my nose. But when it happens..."my kingdom for a nose!"
Dr. Balis: You're describing symptoms of panic associated with the inability to breathe through your nose.
Mr. Major: Panic. I think that's a good term to describe what I feel. I think you're beginning to understand me, Charles.
Dr. Balis: How often would you say you find yourself in such a desperate state?
Mr. Major: I try to avoid it as much as possible of course--leaving town during high pollen count days, getting flu shots each winter, having special air filters in my office and home. I've been experimenting with interferon drops, but that's all kind of hush hush. I do all that I can to minimize my danger. But there are still those dreaded nights.
Dr. Balis: Nights? Would you say that your distress is greater during the night?
Mr. Major: I think it has to do with body positioning. During the day, the vertical alignment of the body keeps the sinuses from becoming completely clogged. But at night...I do what I can with pillows. But it's usually of little help. Nights are the worst.
Dr. Balis: If you actually fall asleep, are you able to stay asleep or does your inability to breathe wake you up?
Mr. Major: I have a great deal of difficulty falling asleep during those times, even with high amounts of antihistamine in my system.
Dr. Balis: But once you are able to fall asleep, can you continue and get some rest? Or...
Mr. Major: If I'm lucky. But usually it's about two to three nights of hell for a common cold. I'm intimately familiar with the progression of a sinus infection. I know all of its phases. So I'm very good of predicting just how long my suffering will last. There's some relief in knowing the exact duration of torture--I can mentally prepare myself for it. But this only partly alleviates my horror.
Dr. Balis: I see. There are a few things you said that raise flags for me.
Mr. Major: Only a few?
Dr. Balis: I'm worried that you might be overdosing yourself with antihistamines and thus instead of relieving the problem, you are contributing to it. The body's reaction to an antihistamine overdose is to produce even more...
Mr. Major: Don't you think I know that, Charles?
Dr. Balis: But why...
Mr. Major: I didn't get to be the CEO of a large computer company, not to mention a self-made millionaire, by not doing such simple research as reading a label on the back of a medicine package. But I need to feel some degree of control over my breathing. You know, Charles, I no longer use the 12 or 24 hour lasting medications. Why not, would you ask? Because I prefer the short-term ones--they give me more control. I could do something about my problem every 3 to 4 hours instead of waiting a whole day.
Dr. Balis: I see. Mr. Major, why don't...
Mr. Major: Charles, I'm being beeped.
Dr. Balis: Hmm?
Mr. Major: Berto, get your stuff together, we've got to go.
Mr. Christiani: Yes, sir.
Mr. Major: Why don't you take a couple of days to think about my problems, Charles. And then get back to me. I'll try to arrange something in my schedule to stop by your office soon.
Dr. Balis: Okay, Mr. Major, as you wish.
Mr. Major: My assistant will get back to you. Oh, and let me say that you're really doing fine work here.
Dr. Balis: Thank you, Mr. Major.
Mr. Major: There are so many people at SII that could use your services.
Dr. Balis: I...
Mr. Major: I'm aware of who you're seeing, Charles. And those individuals need your help. I wish you were around for Helen.
Dr. Balis: Helen?
Mr. Major: Yes, Helen Gregory. Oh, you know her? You must have been with the company longer than I thought. Helen's been gone for awhile.
Dr. Balis: I know.
Mr. Major: She was a fine woman. A bit on the strange side, but she could drink bourbon and smoke cigars with the best of us. We often had a few together after work.
Dr. Balis: Really?
Mr. Major: Fine woman. I miss our chats. Have you heard from her recently, Charles?
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry, sir. I really can't discuss my other patients.
Mr. Major: Of course not. Just an idle thought. But I've got to get going now, Charles. Keep up the good work.
Dr. Balis: Thank you, sir.
Mr. Major: Good day. Come along, Berto.
Mr. Christiani: It was very nice to meet you, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: Likewise.
Mr. Christiani: Goodbye.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye.
Arrow, Left, Up & Out Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

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