Let the Good Times Roll
Jenna finished her classes and internship and now was referred to as Dr. Jenna Woods. She was so proud to graduate after all this time. She still needed two more years to work with another psychiatrist before being able to set up her own practice.
She asked her husband, Mark Powers if she could work under him. When he said “yes”, Jenna felt so lucky. Mark was one of the most famous psychiatric doctors in the San Diego area. His clients consisted of a variety of people from all walks of life, but mainly clients that suffered from exposure to Agent Orange and PTSD.
That was Jenna’s specialty. She hoped to learn from Mark. His methodology was different than hers and that always was helpful. She was would expand the knowledge she already had from school by incorporating Mark’s theories and practices into her own.
“Jenna, welcome to my world. I am so glad to have you aboard. Maybe you can shadow me as a starter. Is that okay with you?” asked Mark.
“Of course. You are a guru in the psychiatric world! I am ecstatic about even being in the same room as you. I hope to glean many of your best practices so I can incorporate them into my sessions.”
Jenna was so excited. It was her first day as Dr. Jenna Woods. As she walked into her office, she felt a chill run down the back of her neck. Suddenly Jenna had a flashback of Brad. She wondered what he was doing and if he was okay.
What if Brad asked her for some help? Would she offer to counsel him? No that would never happen, she thought. She cannot counsel a family member.
“Jenna, could you please check my calendar to see how many patients we have today? Thank you” came a soft voice from Dr. Powers’ office.
She looked at the appointments scheduled for today. “I count five appointments starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m.”
“Looks like we have a full day ahead. The way I’d like to work today is to start the session alone. You can view the session from behind the one-way mirror. After the session, you and I can discuss the reason I handled the patient the way I did. I use many techniques and some of them may be new to you. Are you okay with that to start?”
Jenna thought for a second, “that will be fine. Let’s get going. I can’t wait.”
Their first patient was waiting. Dr. Powers opened the door and invited the patient into his office. Dr. Powers was quiet and soft, yet strong, firm and approachable. The young man stepped into his office.
“Come in and sit down, please. I’m Dr. Powers. What is your name?”
“My name is Harry and I’m really nervous. I’ve never talked to a real doctor, I mean psychiatrist.”
“Harry, it is a pleasure to meet you. I want you to sit back and relax. Can you tell me why you came to see me today?”
“Yes, I have not been able to keep a relationship ever since I came back from Vietnam.”
Dr. Powers probed, “what do you mean when you say you cannot keep a relationship?”
“I’m on my fourth marriage and I’ve failed. Ever since I returned from the war, I haven’t been able to get close to my spouse. I lose my temper and don’t want to be with anyone. It’s horrible. I do things I can’t explain. I get out of control quickly. They blame me, but I know it’s them. They push me until I lose my temper.”
“When did this first begin?” he questioned.
“It all began when I returned home from Nam in 1968.”
“Did something happen on that deployment specifically that you can recall?”
“I don’t recall anything specific. I mean it’s all a big blur to me and the only time I remember it is when I have those freaking nightmares.”
“Do you want to tell me about them?” Dr. Powers softly asked.
“I wake up sweating, shaking and screaming. I don’t know why.”
“When you wake up from these nightmares, do you remember anything about your dream state?”, Dr. Powers gently probed.
“The only thing I can remember is killing the women and children of Vietnam. We had to, they were collateral damage and needed to be eradicated. It was them or us.”
“How did you feel when you knew you were killing women and children?” probed Dr. Powers.
“I was eighteen years old. They told us we had to do this. I cry every time I think about it. I didn’t really want to do it, but orders were orders.”
They continued their discussion for another twenty minutes. Always gently and calmly asking the patient questions that might not trigger an eruption or outburst.
Dr. Powers was careful to take his time and explore his patient’s status as of today. He was careful to ask the necessary questions without causing the patient to go into an altered state and become violent. He was there to guide him through the process not to agitate him.
“I think we need to meet again for an hour in a few days. Would you like to schedule an appointment with me?”
“Yes, I would like to do that” muttered Harry.
“Please see my associate to schedule an appointment. I look forward to seeing you again.” Dr. Powers stood up and led him to the door.
Harry walked up to the desk and looked at the pretty female sitting there. “Hello, I’m Harry and I need to schedule an appointment for later this week.”
“Harry, Dr. Powers has an opening on Friday at 2 p.m. Is that good for you?”
Harry replied, “That sounds great. I’ll see you on Friday.”
Jenna waited for Dr. Powers to exit the room. “Doctor, can we talk about your session now?” asked Jenna. She wanted to see where Dr. Powers was going with his probing questions.
Dr. Powers sat down in his private office and encouraged Jenna to “ask away”. It felt so good to bounce ideas off an expert.
“Dr. Powers, why were you asking Harry so many questions about his experience in Vietnam?”
“I was trying to get him to recall the details of his nightmares.”
“What would that do?” questioned Jenna.
“I’ve treated so many military men and women who come back from the war after having a traumatic experience that was unpleasant. They come back with PTSD and it ruins their lives. Until they can reconcile their feelings, they cannot become a loving person again. They shy away from any close relationship because they do not want to talk about their experiences with anyone else. They exhibit a very serious trauma that may take a lifetime to get over.”
Jenna was so happy to be working with Mark. She was so glad to be involved in his life. Not only was he handsome, but he was kind and patient. These were qualities she yearned for all the years she was married to Brad.
She was grateful to be able to spend the workday with Mark, then go home with him and spend their private time together. She finally reached the pinnacle of what she dreamt a relationship should be like – his name was Dr. Mark Powers.
The day seemed to fly by. It was time for the last patient of the day. The door opened, and Jenna’s mouth dropped. It was Brad. Jenna froze unable to move or speak. She didn’t expect Brad. How could she have missed his name on the appointment roster? She gazed down on the appointment calendar and saw Martha’s name.
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