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A Myriad Of Issues Requires Many Avenues Of Help

This is the third installment in the three-part vignette.

We met Baxter who was referred for counseling by his PCP. He has been living alone. His wife passed away. His adult children live a distance away. His siblings, too, live a distance away. He has been essentially quarantining during COVID-19.

He has food stuff delivered. He eats sparingly. He suffers from the pain of psoriasis. Basic life functioning including sleep has been impacted. Wearing clothing became restrictive.

We ended the second session with food for thought. If Baxter views counseling as a healthy choice to face identified and yet to be identified problems, then we can plan accordingly. In the present time, I suggested that we include a community-based outflow to complement my entry into his treatment.

How are you today, Baxter?

“I feel a little better. I tried reading a magazine before bedtime. Usually, the pain keeps me restless and irritated. Then I watch a movie. Sometimes it distracts me. A good night’s sleep for me consists of tossing and turning. I lie awake; sometimes I fall asleep. I don’t sleep for more than three hours. I have to confess to you. Sometimes I awake to pain and scream in frustration. Good thing (he chuckles) I live alone. Someone living with me might think I’m crazy. Do you think I’m crazy?”

No Baxter. For anyone experiencing pain that impacts your basic daily functioning, yes…I can see that you’d scream in frustration. We need to talk about your psoriasis. Are you taking medications for psoriasis?

“Yes but it doesn’t seem to work.”

Do you have any other medical problems, Baxter?

“Yes, I have diabetes 2. I don’t think my numbers are good.”

When did you last see your PCP?

“Not since COVID. We spoke by telephone. I don’t do Zoom. Do you think I need to see her?”

Yes, I do. Definitely, Baxter. All inclusive, I think your PCP referred you for counseling to get you up and going. You’ve been suffering from medical problems that might be situationally affecting you emotionally. You need consistent sleep. Also, you need to follow a registered diabetic diet. Sounds like both areas have room to grow. What do you say, Baxter?

“I guess I have to agree.”

Are you able to cook and prepare a diabetic diet, Baxter?

“My wife was the primary cook. She made good meals. I was healthier then. She helped me watch my diet. I did good.”

What happened after your wife passed?

“Like I told you, neighborhood ladies came around for weeks. They brought food. Sometimes I ate; sometimes the food went to the waste basket. I started to feel sick. I ate too many bad foods like desserts. Guess my diabetes ran ragged, if you get what I mean. Each of my kids took turns staying with me for a few days. I finally saw my doctor at the kid’s insistence.”

What did she say Baxter?

“I remember that she paid her respects for my wife’s passing. You see, my wife came to all my doctor appointments. She listened to the doctor and helped me follow a healthy diet and lifestyle.”

You know, Baxter, I wonder if you’ve, in all due respect, grieved a mighty big loss? You describe her as compassionate and loving (Baxter starts to cry).

“Yes, Sir, she was a wonderful woman. We had a lot of years together. Can I tell you something?”

Certainly, Baxter.

“When she died I was a wreak; I missed her so much. (Starts to sob). She did for me. I did for her, too. I have no one to give my love to. I have no one to love me. Oh, God! (Continues to sob). She was a good neighbor. When neighbors had their own joys or losses, my wife was there to comfort them and/or share in their joys. Can I tell you a silly goofy story about my wife?”

Sure.

“One day she made a scratch cake. The house was filled with the aroma. It was a Saturday and both of us were off work. I couldn’t help myself and went up to the cake and sniffed it. She came into the kitchen. She told me that the cake was off limits. The cake was for a neighbor whose daughter just had a baby. If I dare touch the cake, she’d knock me out. Then she laughed her butt off. Then she said that the cake wasn’t healthy for my diabetes. I had forgotten. I don’t think the neighbors would have appreciated a partially eaten cake.”

Baxter, how do you feel about your neighbor women stopping their visits?

“Oh, man. Betsy brought a kindness my wife Monica brought to her. They were similar in their kindness. She comforted me after everyone else went to the wayside. We laughed and cried together. We had no thoughts of fooling around. I respected her. When she told me her husband forbids her from further visits, I was hurt. I had no one to talk to about wife. She was my last visitor.”

Baxter, I’d like to propose that you strongly consider several things. One, I want to link you with the Mental Health Association. They have good folks who may be of assistance. They can assess your needs. They work with folks who experience mental health problems.

Secondly, I’d like you to consider ongoing therapy.

Also, you might talk with your PCP about a vaccine so you feel safer medically. We can plan phone sessions, home visits or sessions at my office. Thirdly, I think you need to contact your PCP for a face-to-face visit. You’ve had lots of losses. It’s time to think about experiencing joy in your life.

Ready for that, Baxter?

“I think so. Glad to have you and others in my life. I’ve been lonely too long and have neglected myself. Thanks.”

We made another appointment.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

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