Another day, another new experience. As my readers know, I’ve been somewhat depressed. My gerontologist suggested that I see a counselor; and, as much as I didn’t want to engage with a counselor, I said I would give it a try. Today was my first telesession.
One career path I contemplated was becoming a psychiatrist. I was accepted in a psychiatry residency at Stonybook in New Jersey. Ultimately, I chose a family medicine residency; and, while I’m glad I did, I maintained a lifelong interest in counseling. I was blessed to be mentored by an exceptional doctor. I sat with Harry at my friend’s wedding. I remarked that there were times when I couldn’t discern whether Harry was a patient or the doc. Harry responded by telling me that he had the same problem. He said, “When I’m not sure whether I’m the patient or the doc, I look for a diploma. If the diploma is in front of me, I’m the patient. If it’s behind me, I’m the doc.” As always, Harry had a lesson to teach and, on that day, the lesson was that we all have emotional issues and what is truly important is that we recognize ours and put them in their proper space.
Of all of Harry’s lessons, the most valuable occurred at 3 a.m. I was on medicine call and bumped into Harry at the nursing station. Harry insisted that I do a thorough history and physical on the gentleman in room 315. I told him I was exhausted and going to bed! Harry pulled rank and insisted that I see him now as he was going home in the morning. I gave in and met a 50 something, overweight, balding truck driver. I did a half ass history and exam, thanked the patient for putting up with me and started for the door. The patient stopped me in my tracks, reminded me that his doc wanted me to do a thorough H&P. Turns out, the patient was a female who had been on male hormones for years. The lesson was that you can’t cut corners and you can’t believe everything you see or hear. I never forgot Harry’s lessons and my patients benefited immensely from his teaching.
So, I’ll put aside my doubts aside and give counseling my all. Conversing with my new counselor was interesting. She started by discussing the rules she lives by, all of which I lived by for my entire career. She administered a screening test called a PHQ9. I must have administered that test a thousand times. I had scored myself before she finished the test and knew that, according to the results, I was moderately depressed. I also recognize the tests limitations. Overall, being on the patient side of the room was a new experience.
My new counselor was pleasant and seemed competent. She certainly has her hands full. Having treated depression for over 35 years, I know too much. Nonetheless, I am willing to give counseling a chance. It sure would be nice if she has a little magic.
In the meantime, one of my patient/friends recommended that I volunteer at the Humane Society. He volunteers to sit and pet/love dogs that desperately need attention and he thought it would be good for me. I know how much I love when Renee pets my belly so I figure petting dogs’ bellies will make them feel good too.
Renee, it’s time!
Here’s your music and joke for today.
Q. How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?
A. One, but the light bulb has to want to change.