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Archive for the ‘Liz’ Category

Just before my first session with Liz, Teresa, her home health aide, warned me that she could be a bit “moody.” I wasn’t sure what that meant exactly but I had known my share of moody patients. One day they might swear at me, another day tell me that they loved me. I was trying to be ready for anything Liz might throw at me.

We entered her room and she was in bed, with her eyes closed. “Liz,” said Teresa, “This is Eva. She’s here to give you a massage.”

Liz opened her eyes slightly, glanced at me, and closed them again. “Do whatever you want with me.” Not exactly an enthusiastic endorsement of the therapy she was about to receive, but I took it as consent nonetheless.

She spent the next 20 minutes pretending to be asleep while I massaged her legs and feet.¬†Finally, as I was massaging her shoulder, I decided to try to end her game of possum. “Liz, how does this feel?”

She opened her eyes and stared into mine. “You’re so pretty,” she exclaimed. She closed her eyes again and kept them closed for the rest of the session, but I understood that, by complimenting me, she was trying to say that she was enjoying her massage.

The next week, when I went to see her again, I got some more context for her behavior. It turns out Liz is not merely “moody,” but she suffers from bipolar disorder. Although she is being treated with medication, her moods still vary widely.

During our session she started out resentful, then she began to trust me and relax. When her massage was over, I asked her if I could come back the next week. “Definitely,” she said. My challenge will be to arrive at the next session free of any expectations and prepared to have to earn her trust again.

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