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Coming To Elblows

, , , , | Right | August 25, 2021

I work in a clinic that provides massage therapy. I was the only person in the clinic on a Saturday morning, with three appointments booked. The first two were booked back-to-back, and then there was an hour break before the third appointment, which was the last of the shift. 

When I arrived, there was a message on the answering machine that the second appointment needed to reschedule, so I called the third appointment to try and move her up so I wouldn’t be wasting two hours. She said rudely that she couldn’t come any earlier because her son’s birthday party was that day and she’d told me that when I took the booking. I wasn’t the one who made the appointment. 

I waited almost three hours; she was late. She was a first-time client, so she needed to fill in a medical history form, which she complained about doing because she was only there for a sore elbow. The form tells me about possible allergies, mobility issues like getting onto/off the table, or anything I should be aware of like epilepsy. It’s a necessary document.

During the hour-long appointment, she only wanted me to work on her elbow. About twenty minutes in, my own thumbs started to hurt so I switched to using a wooden “thumb”. She complained that it hurt. I explained that I was damaging my own joints by continuing, but she kept complaining about how she was taking time away from her son on his birthday and I was making things difficult for her, and all she wanted was someone to fix her elbow.

Massage was not going to “fix” her obviously long-standing soft tissue injury in an hour.

Afterward, while I was washing my hands in icy water because my hands were in pain, she stormed out of the room, yelling at me for making her elbow worse. She did actually pay, throwing cash at me and blaming me for the pain she was now experiencing. 

I gave up. I just wanted her out so I could go home. 

On her way out, she said she was never coming back. Good!

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Clearly, Babies Fix Everything!

, , , | Healthy | May 26, 2021

My husband decides to see a therapist to talk mostly about work burnout and how to deal with it. After their first meeting, he comes home looking extremely upset.

Me: “Are you okay?”

Husband: “I am never seeing that whack job again!”

Me: “Yikes! That bad? What happened?”

Husband: “We were going over what my home life is like and I told him you’ve been dealing with depression for almost your whole life… and he told me to get you pregnant so that you would be too busy to worry about yourself!”

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He Did His Research… But At What Cost?

, , , , , | Healthy | November 14, 2020

When I am a graduate student, I go to my university’s health clinic for routine HIV screening. My personal history is very low risk, but I am a sexually active gay man, and the CDC recommends testing of all MSM — men who have sex with men — every three to six months.

The testing at this clinic involves making an appointment, filling out a questionnaire, talking with a counselor, getting blood drawn, and then talking with a counselor again a week later. All of the counselors are, themselves, graduate students in either physical or mental health programs; most of them are not really prepared for a patient who can quote health statistics from the most recent literature on population-level studies of HIV-positive individuals in high-income countries.

The first few times are fine, though the counselors clearly are a bit surprised to be dealing with someone who hasn’t had drunken unprotected sex and is now worried about it, but is just there for routine testing.

Then, I have the Awful Counselor.

Awful Counselor: “When were you last tested?”

Me: “Either four or five months ago. I know it was in [Month], but I don’t remember if it was at the beginning or end of the month.”

Awful Counselor: “How many sexual partners have you had since then?”

Me: “One partner in that time frame, oral sex only.”

Awful Counselor: “Is this a new partner?”

Me: “No. I’ve had sex with him before, too. He’s one of my four partners so far in my life.”

Awful Counselor: “So, why are you here?”

Me: “Because health authorities recommend regular testing for any sexually active MSM?

Awful Counselor: “But you were here less than six months ago. No one should be tested more often than once a year unless they’re doing something they shouldn’t be.”

Me: “Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the CDC specifically say that any sexually active MSM should be tested every three to six months?”

Awful Counselor: “Yes, but that’s wrong. It clearly shouldn’t be more often than once a year.”

She then rants about why people should get tested less often.

Me: “Well, okay, but I’m going to follow the CDC recommendations here. I trust them.”

Awful Counselor: “And you list yourself as low-anxiety?”

Me: “Yes. I know from my personal history that my odds of having contracted HIV are very low. But, there’s value from a public health standpoint if there’s more widespread compliance with recommended testing protocols.”

Awful Counselor: “Well, no one with the history you list would be here if they’re not anxious. So, either you are high-anxiety or this is not your accurate history. And that makes me wonder what else you’re lying about.”

Me: “Excuse me? You’re… accusing me of lying because I’m following CDC guidelines?”

Awful Counselor: “It’s possible that it’s not intentional on your part. But there’s no way everything you’ve said is true.”

Me: “You have literally no way to know that. And it’s also not even remotely your job to determine that. We’re done here.”

I left her office, told the secretary that the counselor hadn’t given me my paperwork for the blood draw, and went down to get the draw. I also grabbed a comment card and filled out how ludicrous and inappropriate the counselor was. For the rest of my time as a student there, I asked for a different counselor if I was assigned to the Awful Counselor. I don’t know how she kept that job.

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My Therapist, Brian

, , , , , | Right | August 4, 2020

I am working with a hypnotherapist to stop grinding my teeth. He is a crass-humoured, grey-bearded man about twice my age. He is Jewish and knows I am a Christian, and every so often, we have the following conversation, if you can call it that:

Therapist: “I am one of God’s chosen people.”

He then seems to expect me to be fazed by the statement. I am not. I mean, even if there was any theological disagreement, that’s not something to get fazed by. Eventually, however, he comes out with something a little different.

Therapist: “I am the Chosen One.”

Me: “You’re not the Messiah; you’re a very naughty boy!”

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A Questionable Mood Change

, , , , | Right | July 30, 2020

I work at a community mental health agency as an outpatient counselor, assessing a client’s overall emotional functioning. 

Me: “I have some questions for you today, just to check in and see how you’re doing.”

Client: “You know what? I’m sick and tired of you and your f****** questions. I’m sick of people telling me what to do. I’m not coming back to this f****** place after today.”

Me: “If you prefer not to do this now, that’s okay. You can decide not to do the assessment; I’d understand.”

Client: *sighs* “Fine, I’ll do it. Let’s get this done.”

Me: “Would you say you feel irritable always, often, sometimes, rarely, or never?”

Client: “Never. I’m doing pretty good with that.”

I maintain composure and complete the rest of the assessment.

Me: *Finishing session* “I think we’ve done enough for today. Would you like to meet next week?”

Client: “Sure, this time works because I get out of work at three.”

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