And The Shrink Really Did Have A Couch!

On Monday I met with a pain psychologist.

The meeting was a required step by my medical insurance in order to proceed along the path towards having a bionic arm.  (You remember the evil Anthem Blue Cross, right?)

A bionic arm will match my bionic nipples and make me into, basically, a Bionic Woman.

That has to be a good thing, right?

For the purpose of today's post I will call the pain psychologist Dr. Shrink.

I have a confession to make.  I am, perhaps, the only person in Southern California who doesn't have a therapist (which is not to say my crazy-ass couldn't use one).  

I had never been to a psychologist's office before and I was a little nervous.  

Oh, there was the day when I found out I was going to have my third and WORST surgery.  I called a friend who is a professional "counselor."  I was sobbing uncontrollably and he agreed to calm my ass down.  He did a great job of it too.  Really, he and The Torturer are the ones that got me through that surgery.

But a full-fledged psychologist?

No … this visit was a first.

I almost laughed when I walked in.

There was a REAL couch! 

I thought The Counseling Couch was just something we see in movies?

I guess not.

"Why are you here?" Dr. Shrink asked right off the bat.

"I was in a car accident about four years ago.  There have been six surgeries …. and now they are going to try implanting electrodes …."

He asked me questions.

I answered.

I was a little nervous and shy.

This man was, after all, getting paid to analyze me, my pain, how I'm holding up mentally and emotionally.

It felt kind of weird to be there.

I had a sudden urge to blurt out inappropriate things like:

"Sometimes I have really bad days is that okay or not?"

Or –

"Am I showing too much cleavage to be in a shrink's office?"

Or –

"I'm all right today, but I was curled in a ball whimpering in pain a week ago."

Or –

"Even my physical therapist rejected me – I must be really fucked up!"

But I didn't.

(BTW, having your physical therapist, who also happens to be your good friend, reject you leaves deep and lasting scars.)

I answered Dr. Shrink's questions honestly and I hoped he wouldn't declare me bat-shit crazy.

After we talked for awhile, he showed me the device which will most likely be implanted into my body.  (Nothing is definite still; there are many steps to this process.)  We talked about it at length.  He explained the realities of the surgeries (two of them) and I asked questions.  It was both informative and reassuring.

There were a few notable moments for me in my "session."

First, there was no doubt in my mind Dr. Shrink UNDERSTANDS.

I can never find the words to express this adequately, but living with a lot of pain is similar to living alone.  It's extremely isolating.  No one in my immediate world "understands."  They can't – and I wouldn't want them to.  To understand means to live with pain that is always, always, there.  When I come across someone who I know DOES get it - it's calming to my soul.  It's a moment, however brief, of NOT being alone.

Dr. Shrink asked how the accident, and living in pain since, has affected my marriage.  I wasn't expecting the question and I was momentarily speechless.

I knew, in an instant, he comprehended everything I didn't say.

Chronic pain damages everything in its path.

When he asked what I do in the way of exercise and physical activity.  I explained what I can and can't do with an aside of, "My physical therapist wanted me to … but  …."  He replied, "Most physical therapists are trained to treat acute pain, not chronic pain."

Just like that I was absolved from leftover guilt from not being able to do everything everyone else thinks I should be able to do.

He understood.

In fact, all his questions made me feel like I'm doing really well despite all the obstacles the last four years have brought.

Have I ever mentioned how much I beat myself up for not being stronger, handling things better, being a better mom, a better wife, the inspiring person I wish I could be?

My time with Dr. Shrink also made me realize it would have benefited me A LOT to have seen a pain psychologist when I was going through surgery after surgery.  I wish I had.  I might not have felt as alone.  I might not have constantly asked, "Why me?"

I don't think I even knew pain psychologists existed at the time.  I certainly had no idea how to find one.  Also, I was so drugged up from all the surgeries, I don't think it ever occurred to me.

It's a little sobering to realize if I had had Dr. Painless and Dr. Shrink in my life three or four years ago … hell might not have been nearly as hellish as it has been.

But?

Bygones.

Of course, no visit with me can go without a few "24 moments."

Towards the end of my visit with Dr. Shrink I had to take a written test.  

Seriously!  

It was several pages long.  The purpose of the written test was to assess my pain level and also my state of mind.  (As an example, it asked how I see my future and one of the possible answers was along the lines of "I don't have one.")

Happily, I'm not suicidal.

Somehow, the taking of the test evolved into a discussion of pens and – without thinking (as usual?!), I handed Dr. Shrink a pen of mine.

It had "Twenty Four At Heart" and my website address engraved on it.

BAD MOVE!

Do I really want a psychologist who is in the process of writing a report evaluating my mental health perusing the archives of Twenty Four At Heart?  Or for that matter, reading about my brazilian bikini waxes?

I think not.

He promised not to come visit here until he finished writing my evalutation report at the end of the day.

** Waving to Dr. Shrink! **

Aack!

© Twenty Four At Heart 

21 Responses to “And The Shrink Really Did Have A Couch!”

  1. Deidre

    I am so glad he understood! Just that alone probably made the experience therapeutic and worth while.
    This is exactly why I don’t have anything written up with my blog’s name on it…

  2. Joanne

    You know you are probably our very mostest favorite type A underachiever ( I dont think there are many of those! LOL).
    But I feel compelled to add my two cents. I think a lot of your readers ( I could be wrong) do NOT think that the Torturer is a “good friend”, and I get a little mad at him all over again when I hear you feeling that loss. On the other hand, he probably still sneaks in here to see what you are up to. so if he is your friend, he is a selfish one! Or I could be talking out my butt, who knows??

  3. di

    Anytime a device is going to be implanted the receiver of the implant is required to speak to a psychologist prior to the surgery. It’s routine. They want to know that you are capable mentally of receiving it because it’s a big deal ‘mentally’ for some people. Hope this will be the answer to your pain, Suzanne and keep it under control for you.

  4. Lori

    I hope all of this works out for you. I wish I didn’t but I get all of what you write here. You are so right, living in constant pain isolates you…a person has to make a conscioius effort to not do so. Pain sucks. There are days I still want to throw in the towel and others that I rise above. I pray that very soon you will find the right answers to help you…if it’s this new implant that I pray it goes very well and you find yourself feeling much better. XX

  5. Tami

    Ha ha! It probably is a good thing for a pain psychologist to read the real deal from a pain paitient! As for the torturer, I agree with Joanne. A good friend doesn’t do what he did and turn their back to walk away forever. There’s no excusing his behavior towards a friend (or a patient for that matter). My only thought on him was that either he hated you always or he fell in love with you and couldn’t deal with it so he pushed you away as harshly as he could. When will you get the electrodes? I hope it works for you!

  6. Kelly

    In fact, all his questions made me feel like I’m doing really well despite all the obstacles the last four years have brought.
    You ARE doing really well. Look at you! Look what you’ve accomplished with 24, with your camera, with your LIFE – !!! We all have days of beating ourselves up but few of us could accomplish what you have and you’re living in constant pain and with an arm that doesn’t function correctly. You do inspire us daily and you should give yourself a giant pat on the back.

  7. Jan

    Girl.
    There is so much GOOD in this post I can’t even begin to describe it. It makes me simultaneously want to cry for you and give you a great big high five. Although we’d have to do it left-handed and I don’t thing either of us is coordinated enough to pull that off – we’d end up smacking each other in the head.
    Any chance you’ll be able to see more of Dr. Shrink, at least on a semi-regular basis?

  8. SnoozanK

    Ya know, just a thought here, but if you were truly “aaack” and concerned about your doctor reading here, perhaps you should not write about your doctor.
    I go to a psychiatrist and a psychologist and have for years. There’s this thing called boundaries. They go both ways.

  9. Siren

    Whoa. ^That^ seems a little harsh. Not to mention completely off-base.
    Suzanne’s “aaack” wasn’t about what Dr. Shrink might read about himself, but what he might read about her. She hasn’t said anything here that’s inappropriate or that crosses any boundaries.
    My advice, Suzanne, would be to ignore the previous comment. Keep writing about all the things that matter.
    And you know what? Even if Dr. Shrink cheats and reads your blog, he’s just going to end up with a better understanding of who you are and what matters to you. And if he has a heart, knowing you better will just result in him caring about you, like all of us do.

  10. WebSavvyMom

    –>Years ago in Catholic school, it was discussed why there is evil in the world. The answer: so we know what is good. I always think about this when I’m sick and that I’ll appreciate being healthy. You make me appreciate being “pain free” every time I read a blog entry of yours like this one.
    ~deb

  11. Michelle

    Wow! What’s Snoozank’s problem? Defensive much? You didn’t cross any boundaries, you weren’t worrying about what dr shrink might read about himself. Clearly there is a reason why Snoozank needs to see two shrinks at one time. I suggest she continue going for a long long time and maybe even take in her above comment to show them so they can get a good feel for her anger issues. Yikes! Sorry you were subjected to a comment like that!
    On a more positive note, I think its awesome you’re moving along in the process for the nerve blocker/stimulator thing. I hope it helps a ton!
    xoxoxo

  12. amanda

    If I had been in a car accident and gone through all you have, I would be on the couch, drugged up every single fucking day. You are strong. So much stronger than most of us would be. I’m so hoping the electrodes bring you improvement. As for the commenter Snooz-whatever, she’s obviously got some big problems to deal with just ignore or delete her comment.

  13. SnoozanK

    SnoozanK’s here to talk about her “problem.” Nice, Michelle.
    1. I hate to read anything that allows the stigma attached to seeing a “shrink” to continue. Such as calling them shrinks. And talking about couches.
    2. Going to see a “shrink” is nothing to “ack” about. He or she is a medical professional who can help you with tons of stuff.
    3. If one were concerned about a “shrink” knowing one’s personal thoughts (which is kind of what they are for) it makes zero sense to write about them once you’ve established you’ve inadvertently given them your blog address.
    That’s all. Attack away. I’m gone.

  14. Jenn in Tenn

    Well yaaay for you! Yet another post by 24 that got me teary! It’s all good though. So glad it went well and who cares if you are bat-shit crazy?! We all still love you!

  15. Lara

    I’ve gone to a shrink for ages. I don’t see anything the least bit offensive in this post. I call my shrink a shrink. Doh! 24 says she wishes dr shrink had come in her life sooner. I read that as advocating for people to get help. Nothing negative to get our panties in a bunch over if you ask me. On the plus side, I find all sorts of warm and fuzzies in this post and I say you GO girl!

  16. karen

    Glad you have gotten some relief in finding someone you were able to confide in, and… you felt understood. So important.. don’t sweat the blog-reading doc. I think you just gave him a compliment.

  17. Meg

    Glad the appt went well and that dr shrink was a GOOD doc. I think the torturer was NOT a good friend. Not even close. I still don’t understand how he could possibly have done what he did and hurt you the way he did. Also I’m very curious about these electrodes and how it works. My sister has back problems and I wonder if it is something that could help her? Oh, also that snoozy person – very uncool and off-base with that comment. Strange!

  18. Alexis

    It’s one of your endearing qualities: nothing to hide! Not even from your shrink! LOL

  19. Maggie

    HI DR SHRINK!! Thanks for taking such good care of our beloved 24!
    I am SO happy that your appointment went well. SOOOO happy! I hope that this all works out and that you are soon much much more comfortable!!

  20. Jenny in MN

    So happy you were able to have this appointment/experience. Until you have chronic pain, you really can’t imagine how it chips away at so many areas of your life, it isn’t just you..you are not alone. Yes, knowing that is a small weight lifted, huh?
    I hope the tears and frustration you’ve experienced become less and less. Sounds like you have a good support system that is getting stronger. Hang in there!
    Gentle hugs and hoping for less pain for you…
    Jenny

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